Dr Diljeet Bhachu: Decolonising the Musical University

Part of the Music Research Colloquium


In summer 2020, I co-hosted Decolonising the Musical University, an online two-day conference exploring themes of structural inequality, accessibility and colonial legacy in Music Higher Education contexts. In this talk, I will reflect on the challenges of engaging in processes of decolonisation in higher education and musical contexts, from the practical to conceptual. I will also offer my thoughts on why we might want to decolonise, and the ethics of attempting this work, in the context of recent surges in EDI and anti-racism activism.


Dr Diljeet Kaur Bhachu is a musician, educator, researcher and activist based in Glasgow. Graduating from the renowned BA Applied Music programme at the University of Strathclyde in 2011, where she also completed her Masters, she completed her PhD at the University of Edinburgh in 2019, with funding from the AHRC through the Scottish Graduate School for Arts and Humanities (SGSAH). Diljeet’s currently work portfolio includes teaching at several HEIs, and conducting research on behalf of the EDIMS network into EDI issues in Music HE.

Diljeet is an activist with the Musicians’ Union (MU) and University and Colleges Union (UCU). She is currently the vice chair of the STUC Black Worker’s Committee, and has recently begun her first term as a member of the MU’s Executive Committee. Diljeet is passionate about equality and equity in the creative industries in Scotland, and also about tackling these issues across the arts education sector, which is where her current research is focussed. In 2017 she co-founded the Scottish-Asian Creative Artists’ Network (ScrAN), to address the issues specific to Scottish-Asians working in the creative industries in Scotland. Diljeet is a co-organiser of the Decolonising the Musical University conference that took place virtually in July 2020.

Diljeet is one half of flutes/taiko/electronics duo Velma, with Georgie White. She is in the live band for Kapil Seshasayee, and features on his debut album A Sacred Bore (2018). She also improvises and writes for her own solo project with flutes and electronics and is currently writing her debut album. You can read some of Diljeet’s poetry in The Colour of Madness, a BAME Mental Health anthology published in 2018.

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