We the undersigned are writing to express our most profound concern at the proposed redundancy of Dr José Lingna Nafafé, Lecturer in Sociology in the School of Government and Society.
As students and colleagues who have had the opportunity to learn from and work with Dr Nafafé in his ten years at this University, we are deeply distraught with the news that such an internationally-recognised scholar and dynamic teacher has been targeted for compulsory redundancy, and for reasons which simply don’t add up.
Dr Lingna Nafafé has been told that he is being made redundant as part of the phase-out of Media, Culture and Society (MCS) at Birmingham. Yet, his core teaching and research is in Ethnicities, within Sociology. There are no grounds to consider Dr Nafafé as a lecturer specializing in media, culture or society. In fact, he is the sole permanent academic specialising in Ethnicities in the School of Government & Society – an area which the University has recently affirmed as crucial with the launch of its major Superdiversity Institute.
Several weeks into the term, the School still has not found an instructor able to teach the five-week Ethnicities portion of a core first year Sociology module, Social
Divisions, and has no permanent academic staff to teach a second year prescribed module, Ethnic Relations in Britain. It is therefore clear that Dr Lingna Nafafé’s forced exit will leave a major and continuing gap in teaching provision in the area of ethnicities.
It also will leave a gap in research expertise, robbing Birmingham students and colleagues of an emerging international leader in the field. Some recent accomplishments include:
-a book contract with Oxford University Press, the top-ranked social science press globally
-a prestigious British Academy grant to study migration and social integration in the UK and other EU countries
-invitations to share research findings at the highest levels, including at Oxford University, with Parliamentary committees, and with Vatican Radio in Rome
Forcing Dr Lingna Nafafé to leave will undermine the capacity of the School to attract high-caliber doctoral researchers and produce quality outputs in the areas of ethnicity, identity, migration, post-colonialism and Europe-Africa relations. It will mean that hundreds of undergraduate students will be taught by staff with far more limited knowledge of these areas.
Further, this mystifying redundancy will significantly weaken the University’s claim in its own Equality Scheme that it seeks a ‘longstanding commitment to the promotion of equality’. Dr Lingna Nafafé is one of a mere handful of permanent staff members in the School of Government & Society who is of ethnic minority background, and again the only one with significant expertise in Ethnicities.
Dr Nafafé’s work in the community, he has organised for Birmingham City Council to carry out their citizenship ceremony at the University as part of the Ethnicity and Migration module. The Vice-Chancellor thanked him for his work on Ethnicity with 500 people attending the ceremony.
For all of these reasons, we call for the University and the College of Social Science to abandon this forced exit and allow Dr Lingna Nafafé’s students and colleagues to continue to benefit from his excellent teaching, his internationally recognized research, and the myriad contributions he makes to the academic environment.