Guided tour

Oxford: Original Uncomfortable Tour – by Oxford Students

Oxford: Original Uncomfortable Tour – by Oxford Students

Activity provider: Uncomfortable Oxford Ltd.

From US$ 17.90 per person

Join an unusual discussion-based tour, walking and talking around Oxford. Ponder questions about controversial histories, legacies of empire, inequality, race, gender, and class discrimination.

About this activity

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Duration 1.5 hours
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Live tour guide
Wheelchair accessible
Private group available


  • Discuss how Oxford gained power globally, through streams of money linked to the slave trade and the training of Victorian imperialists.
  • Learn about the contested access of women and black and minority ethnic groups to the University and their commemoration today.
  • Explore Oxford's urban landscape to understand the unequal access to the city centre, wealth inequalities, and the ancient tensions with the town.
Full description
The Decolonial Walking tour of Oxford focuses on the question of how the University of Oxford gained power first locally, then globally, becoming the recognizable name that we know today. The tour starts with the history of Oxford itself as a town contending with a growing university, a history marked by violence and power imbalance, the effects of which still shape the space of the modern city. Yet quickly, the question of who holds power over the city streets takes a new turn as the tour takes participants to the much-debated statue of Cecil Rhodes, throning above two kings of England on the façade of an Oriel College building facing the High Street. The discussion is about both the power of statues and the historical legacy of the individual, and invites views coming from over places, to better understand how heritage debates are more about the present than about the past. This approach continues throughout the tour, creating connections between the past and the present that go beyond simple simplistic narratives. All Souls college library tells us the story of how West European countries benefited from the institution of slavery through the example of Christopher Codrington, an early modern almunus and donor, who was himself a slaveholder in Barbados. It asks its audience to wonder about how these histories still shape our lives today, who is remembered or forgotten, how to meaningfully diversify and transform what we see in the public space? The tour continues across the old city centre, stopping at famous sites such as the Radcliffe Camera, the Bodleian Library, the Sheldonian Theatre or again Oriel College, asking the question of who is represented in the urban landscape and architecture, who is invisible, and what it meant in the past. Leading discussions on the access of women to education, the opening of the University to students coming from the British colonies and the discriminations they faced, or the question of class and unequal access to the University, the guide will lead the participants through complex but productive and respectful discussions of uncomfortable topics and their lingering effects in the present. Finally, the tour will end on Bonn Square for a discussion of war memorials, colonial wars, and imperial amnesia, to encourage participants to continue these discussions together once the tour is over. The Decolonial Tour is also an introduction to the ethos and mission of Uncomfortable Oxford, with a systematic questioning of modes of memorialization: who is commemorated, who is overlooked, what do statues, names, and memorials really mean, and how does the historical significance we ascribe to individuals and events change over time?
  • Free stickers at the end of the tour
  • Access to reading lists to learn more about the topics covered
  • Arranged starting point [for groups only, within the city centre]
  • Hotel pick-up and drop-off
  • Food and drinks
  • Gratuities

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Meeting point

Please arrive at the meeting point 5 minutes before the activity starts. Please have your ticket voucher on your phone or printed. Look out for a guide holding an Uncomfortable Oxford tote bag.

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Important information

Know before you go

  • The tour includes some street crossings and sections with cobblestones
  • The tour covers about 2 km and lasts 1.5 h
  • On weekends, central streets may be quite busy
  • You can change your ticket for a different date free of charge up to 24h before the tour.
Customer reviews

Overall rating

5 /5

based on 1 reviews

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Well paced tour. Very insightful. Great job by Uncomfortable Oxford!

May 15, 2022

Product ID: 417039