Decolonising the Field, Decolonising Ourselves
Over the next 12 months, a group of different stakeholders will work to collaboratively design a robust, multi-year programme to set in motion a decolonising process for the digital rights field in Europe.
The vision we are working towards is a digital rights field that is intertwined with the racial, social, economic and environmental justice fields. Which raises the question: are we at DFF, as a funding and field supporting organisation, able to support this interconnected, holistically working field of the future?
When DFF was set up in 2017, its working methods and activities were shaped in response to the needs of a field that was doing great work, but very much from a specific perspective.
The answer to that question is “probably not”. When DFF was set up in 2017, its working methods and activities were shaped in response to the needs of a field that was doing great work, but very much from a specific perspective. A glance at our strategy meeting group photo from 2018 probably says more than a description can. Things are slowly changing, especially since starting the decolonising journey.
Our 2021 — virtual — strategy meeting was joined by more organisations working on racial, social, and economic justice than any of its predecessors, including those working on the rights of sex workers, people with disabilities, and LGBTQI people, as well as those doing anti-racist and environmental justice work. In addition, this strategy meeting saw more organisations than ever before with a geographic scope outside of Europe, rooted in a growing awareness of the global interconnectedness of our work. However, the road is still long and much bigger change is needed — not just at DFF strategy meetings, but across the field.
Part of that looks at our role as a funder and interrogating our funding criteria, processes and procedures to identify and address any barriers
To both be a better supporter and funder of the intersectional digital rights work we hope will be the norm in a few years’ time and to be the change we want to see in the world, DFF is engaging in its own, internal decolonising process.
Part of that looks at our role as a funder and interrogating our funding criteria, processes and procedures to identify and address any barriers we might be creating to funding flowing to there where it is most needed. A similar reflection applies to our field support work: how can we break down silos and move towards a place where all strands of our work are fully integrated with our decolonising and digital rights for all work?
What structures, organisational culture and practices can we change to be a better employer for a truly diverse team?
We also need to do internal work. What structures, organisational culture and practices can we change to be a better employer for a truly diverse team? What support does the team need to reflect on their own mindset and approach? And how can we decolonise our governance?
These are not easy questions and it will probably take us a while to make progress, with lots of trial and error. But we are excited by that prospect, and even more so about all the much-needed work this will allow us to facilitate.
As always, we welcome your reflections and recommendations, and we will make sure to share our lessons learned along the way!