UCL Anthropology


Toyin Agbetu


UCL Email: toyin.agbetu.14@ucl.ac.uk
Websites: www.ligali.org/toyin.html
Year of Start: 2016
Supervisors: Dr Haidy Geismar (Primary), Prof Michael Stewart (Secondary), Dr Catalin Brylla (Third)
Subject: Social & Cultural Anthropology
Fieldsite: East London

PhD Research

The gentrification of protest? A study of activism in East London

My research project is looking at the current form of activism based on education and self-help activities that exist in Hackney, East London. It considers how people imagine themselves 'changing the world' and whether having access to informal spaces of learning would help.  It also explores whether the way people exercise their socio-political agency through protest may be altering because of the changing demographics in the area.

To do this, I am working collaboratively with Hackney Museum and the Anti-University Now movement to document and learn from the intersections between official and unofficial activist culture. I am also producing an accompanying film that will include contributions from local residents and other members of the public to discover how they see activism today.

This project adopts a 'decolonising' approach that is about ensuring academia works to free people from inequality and dehumanisation. To that end, the documentary film supplementing the written thesis will share the outcomes of this study inside and outside the university. It is my hope that the research also provides evidence on the needs and methods in which the various self-help groups of East London can empower themselves.


Image from the field: Following the protest over the death of Rashan Charles held outside Stoke Newington police station, there is a tense face off with police at the young people's vigil for Rashan (Dalston, July 2017)

Research Interests

  • Activism, Resistance and Social Movements
  • Education (Formal and Informal), Critical Pedagogy and Organic Intellectualism
  • Political Theory
  • Decolonising Methodologies
  • Pan Africanism
  • Museums and Material Culture


1. Agbetu, T. (2010) Ukweli: A Political and Spiritual basis for Pan Africanism, London: Ligali.

2. Agbetu, T. (2011) 'Restoring the Pan African perspective: Reversing the institutionalization of Maafa denial' in Smith, L. (ed.) Representing enslavement and abolition in museums: Ambiguous engagements. New York: Routledge, pp. 61-74.

3. Agbetu, T., Callaghan, R. & Hassan, N. (2011) 'Editors' Introduction' in Hassan, N. (ed.) UEL reader on issues in multicultural Britain. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

Teaching Experience

2013-2014: Teaching Assistant for the course Perspectives on African Experience at SOAS

Education History

  • 2016: PhD Candidate in Social and Cultural Anthropology - University College London
  • 2014-2015: MSc (Distinction) in Social and Cultural Anthropology - University College London
  • 2009-2012: BA (First Class Hons) in Education and Community Development - University of East London

Honours, Awards & Funding

ESRC PhD Studentship

Additional Information

Community educator at the Ligali Organisation