Leigh Patel

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  • Writer, Educator, Cultural Worker

    My work focuses on the ways that formal education has consistely acted as one site of coloniality and oppression, and that education and studying is one of the strongest tools for liberation. Political education and critical analysis are essential in the work I do with others: imagining a new world.




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  • Media and reviews

    Praise for No Study Without Struggle


    “In her essential new book, Dr. Leigh Patel examines how to disrupt systemic inequality on our campuses. Hint: it isn’t checkbox ‘diversity’ programs and empty land acknowledgments but a real reckoning with the settler colonialism on which our universities were built and continue to capitalize.”
    Ms. Magazine

    “Challenging two centuries of US colonialist higher education, Leigh Patel provides an analysis of and a road map for decolonizing the settler-colonial university.”
    —Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, author of An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States

    “Today, most American universities have adopted obligatory land acknowledgments, recognizing that their massive billion-dollar campuses are on stolen land. And yet, inside the classroom, the administrative halls, the financial arrangements, and in the relations between universities and their neighbors, the legacy of settler colonialism persists, unremarked and unheeded. Until now. Leigh Patel delivers a powerful, penetrating analysis of the settler-colonial roots of the modern university and the consequences for higher education and our society at large. The lesson is clear: we can’t ‘reform’ the university; it must be decolonized through critical study and struggle. This book is the essential guide.”
    —Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination

    “Leigh Patel’s writing is consistently bold, concise, timely, and filled with nuances. . . . Her moving writing is backed by historical context that brings theory to light.”
    —Bettina L. Love, author of We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom

    Media interviews and talks


    Kirkus: Fully Booked



    NPR: The Confluence (start at minute 15)



    In the Thick



    Inside Higher Education



    Charis Book Circle discussion with Jalessah Jackson and karen g marshall






    Harvard Bookstore, in conversation with Jarvis Givens


  • Services

    One foot in the realities of oppression and one foot in freedom dreaming

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    Nonprofit and higher education consultation

    Building with integrity


    As a teacher in middle, high school, and university settings, I bring a breadth of experience for addressing colonialism and oppression in various settings.


    I have worked with private and public universities, community based organizations, private corporations, and individuals in strengthening the analysis and honesty required to create anti-oppressive communities.

    Rainforest forrest food: blue nunberries art by moonjazz

    Life Coaching

    Healing-Centered Coaching


    As a certified, healing-centered life coach, I work with clients, individually or as a community to identify ways that they can manifest their work in the world, with full reckoning of intertwined oppressions. I pursued this training through Blooming Willows, which has an explicit design to address how oppression impacts us but does not define us.