Sara Ahmed: If the Doors Could Talk? Diversity, Complaint and Institutions

September 30, 2019

If the doors could talk, what would they tell us? This lecture draws interviews with staff and students who have made complaints within universities that relate to unfair, unjust or unequal working conditions or to abuses of power such as sexual and racial harassment. In many accounts of making complaints, doors come up. Complaints are made confidential as soon as they are lodged; complaints happen “behind closed doors.” What can we learn about institutions from how doors come up? Doors can be how some are shut out; they can also be how some are shut in. Doors are not just physical things that swing on hinges (though they are that); they are also mechanisms that enable an opening and a closing. In dialogue with critical race and critical disability scholarship, the lecture explores how the figure of the open door can be used to create the impression of accessibility, diversity and inclusion, showing how doors can be closed by appearing to be open.