The murder of George Floyd has sparked worldwide protests calling for justice and for an end to racist power structures that have sanctioned the killing and oppression of countless Black and Indigenous lives in the United States and around the world. ISSEME supports these demands.
As a scholarly organization dedicated to the study of early medieval England, we recognize that our field was born alongside a centuries-long campaign of imperialist violence and colonialism. Too often, medieval scholarship has served to naturalize racist hierarchies of power that have been used to justify the enslavement and subjugation of Indigenous peoples and people of African descent. We condemn in the strongest terms any co-option of elements of our field for racist purposes. We stand in solidarity with Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. There is no place for white supremacy in ISSEME.
ISSEME rejects all forms of discrimination and oppression. In renaming the International Society of Anglo-Saxonists in 2019, ISSEME took a symbolic step in repudiating racist and exclusionary hierarchies in our field, and in academia at large. We as a board are endeavoring to match that symbolism with reforms that we hope will make the Society more open and welcoming to all. At the same time, we call upon our members to take action within their own communities and institutions, to make them better and more just. As ISSEME is an international organization, that action will take different forms in different places and circumstances.
As individuals and collectively we understand that we have a role to play in combating systemic forms of oppression, including racism, and that our own past as an organization demands that we begin with brutally honest introspection. We have already begun this process, and it is our hope that the hard work in which we are presently engaged will establish the International Society for the Study of Early Medieval England as an inclusive, supportive organization for all scholars. For now, it is imperative that we affirm our support for those engaged in the work of dismantling systems of oppression, and our concern for our colleagues, coworkers, neighbors and all others who suffer as a result of the operation of institutionalized racism across the globe, and in this particular moment, in the United States. This we do unequivocally