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Year 12 Students Visit Oriel to Receive Rex Nettleford Prizes for Essays on Colonialism and its Legacies

The Rex Nettleford Prize for Essays on Colonialism and its Legacies is multidisciplinary, giving students the opportunity to approach different aspects of colonialism from a wide variety of perspectives.

The questions this year were:

  1. Are colonialism and imperialism the same?
  2. Is it possible to study past colonialism entirely ‘according to the values of its time’?
  3. Our culture is increasingly recognised as being global. Is this a legacy of colonialism?
  4. ‘Language is an essential tool of colonial domination.’ Discuss this statement in relation to a particular colonial and cultural context of your choosing.

During its first year, the competition attracted over 30 entries from talented Year 12 students all over the UK. The quality of entries was so high that two winners, who each received a prize of £250, and six commendations were awarded.

This year’s winners both chose to tackle the same question, although took very different approaches in their answers.

Alisha Mafaas’s essay had an historical focus and explored the colonisation of Sri Lanka by the Portuguese from 1505 to 1658, looking at how language was an essential tool in the assertion of colonial domination, and how linguistic influences continue long after colonies have been relinquished.

Read Alisha’s essay here.

Panod Pongpattanapun’s essay also explored the topic of language as a tool of colonial domination, making use of linguistic theory to discuss the effects of languages in colonial policies in South Africa during the period of British colonial domination from the early 1800s.

Read Panod’s essay here.

Oriel’s Regius Professor of History, Lyndal Roper, said of the winning entries: “These were very impressive essays which showed real engagement with conceptual and theoretical issues – and mastery of complex detail too. Beautifully written and complexly argued, they demonstrated how colonial history can be written differently when we ask new questions. I was amazed by the high level of all the entries I read.”

We were delighted to award Alisha and Panod with their well-deserved prizes and wish them the best in their future endeavours.

Our congratulations also go to the six students who narrowly missed out on a prize and were awarded special commendations:  

Lamisa Ahad, Taslima Begum, Ronan Dhadra, James Hunter, Cameron McNaughton-Smith, and Samuel Richardson.