Smina Akhtar



Research Title

Experiences of and Resistance to State Racism in Scotland

Research Summary

I use a case study approach to examine how state racism is experienced and how communities do resistance.

  1. The Justice for Sheku Bayou Justice Campaign was established following the death of Sheku Bayoh a 31 year old Black man in Kirkcaldy whilst he was being arrested in the early hours of 3 May 2015. His family and friends established the campaign because they became suspicious of the different accounts of Sheku’s death given to them by the police.  I use a social movements analysis to examine what motivated activists to get involved in the campaign and the factors which influenced their repertoires of activism.  I examine how state racism affects activism and how the state responds when it is the subject of a claim.

  2. Serco is a private company contracted by the Home Office to house asylum seekers across the UK, including in Glasgow. In July 2018 Serco threatened to evict 300 asylum seekers from their housing in Glasgow.  A campaign to challenge the evictions was established almost immediately involving politicians, NGO’s and grass roots organisations.  I use the concept of state racism to examine the states use of private contractors to carry out its ideological commitment to keeping the numbers of certain asylum seekers down, particularly those from Muslim countries and are racialised as such.  I examine the campaign as it unfolds, to stop the evictions and how it organises and articulates its resistance to look at how resistance is done when the state is using a third party to carry out its work.

  3. The education system has historically been used to do the ideological work of the state in the maintenance of hegemonic class relations. When Britain was a coloniser the education system was used to teach the masses to be loyal to the British Empire resulting in the erasure of the history of racism from the education system.  This case study will examine how working within a state institution impacts teachers experiences of racism and how they challenge it.          



Akhtar, S (17 November 2019) 'Sheku Bayou Investigation Was Not Fit For Purpose'

Akhtar, S (7 April 2019) ‘We must do more to make Scotland's education system anti-racist’ The National 

Akhtar, S (2019) The Diary of a Scottish Muslim Woman after the ChristChurh massacre   

Gunson, D., Nuttall, L., Akhtar, S., Khan, A., Avian, G., Thomas, L., ... Pautz, H. (Ed.) (2019). Spiritual Beliefs and Mental Health: A Study of Muslim Women in Glasgow. (UWS-Oxfam Partnership: Collaborative Research Reports Series; No. 4). UWS-Oxfam Partnership. 

Akhtar, S (2018) Sajid Javid, Racism and the State in North east Racial Equality Forum Briefing No 13

Akhtar, S (2018) The British State Is Using Gendered Racism As A Weapon Against Muslim Women in CommonSpace

Book Review 1992 Race and Local Politics, Wendy Ball and John Solomos (eds)

Smina Akhtar (2018) Rethinking racial capitalism: questions of reproduction and survival, Ethnic and Racial Studies,DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2018.1544653 



E039 Surviving Society with the BSA: Smina Akhtar by Surviving Society 
6 Jun 2019 - Justice for Sheku: Smina talks us through what we know (and don't know) about the death of Sheku Bayoh in police custody and the justice ... 


Graduate Teaching Assistant (2018-19)

Sociology 1A: Self & Society
Sociology 1B: Critical Research in Contemporary Societies

Additional Information

I have over 20 years’ experience of doing community development work within the Scottish voluntary sector.

I have a BA (hons) Politics from the University of Strathclyde and a MSc in Urban Policy and Practice from the University of Glasgow.

Member of The Scottish Parliament Cross Party Group on Tackling Islamophobia in Scotland.