The Daily Telegraph

Oxford drops name of Oriental faculty

- By Louisa Clarence-smith Education Editor

THE University of Oxford has renamed its Oriental Institute over “unfortunat­e connotatio­ns” of colonialis­m and imperialis­m.

A review ruled that the name of the Faculty of Oriental Studies was “outdated” after an 18-month consultati­on with students, department members and other interested parties.

It has been renamed the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. Its headquarte­rs, known as the Oriental Institute since 1960, has also changed its name.

The department said the term “oriental studies” was “felt by many to be outdated and to have unfortunat­e connotatio­ns of colonialis­m and imperialis­m”.

In a statement, Prof David Rechter, faculty board chairman, said: “Many considered the word ‘oriental’ to be inappropri­ate and, while the change will not affect what the faculty researches and teaches, it does better reflect the breadth and diversity of the academic activity in the faculty.”

The renaming follows a series of measures by universiti­es to reconsider their links to colonialis­m and the British Empire after the Rhodes Must Fall movement in 2015 – which saw students demand the removal of a statue of the colonialis­t Cecil Rhodes from Oriel College – and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement.

In 2016, Jesus College at the University of Cambridge took down a bronze cockerel statue which had been looted during a British colonial expedition to Nigeria in the 19th century, after students asked for it to be repatriate­d.

Earlier this year, Clare College at Cambridge renamed student halls known as “the Colony”, saying the name had “connotatio­ns which do not reflect the values of the college”.

The renamed Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, establishe­d in the 19th century, states on its website that it rejects “colonial and Eurocentri­c approaches”.

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