Migration and minorities

Racism in Europe: A Cross-National Perspective

June 28, 2021 13:15
June 28, 2021 14:45

Milena Chimienti, HES-SO, HETS-Geneva (CERES); Didier Ruedin, University of Neuchâtel, SFM, On the Move

Discussant: Graziela Moraes Silva, Associate Professor, IHEID, Graduate Institute


Manuela Bojadzijev, Professor, Berliner Institut für empirische Integrations-und Migrationsforschung

Sarah Mazous, researcher at CNRS, attached to CERAPS

John Solomos Professor of Sociology, University of Warwick

Europe has been criticized for its “political racelessness” (Goldberg 2006) which tends to invisibilise racism and racial discrimination. Whilst this has been identified as a common trend in the Continent, its meaning, justifications and consequences vary across national contexts. This semi-plenary aims to provide a comparative picture of the conception of race and racism in different European countries and to highlight similarities and differences. Comparing conceptions and experiences of racism will allow to us understand the way race is socially constructed across different contexts and to which extend these differences lead to specific forms of racism (Moraes Silva 2020). 

The different contributions will discuss the everyday experiences of racism and the macrosocial racialised structures attached to them in singular national cases. The contributions will focus on the public attitudes and debates on race/ethnicity and racism, as well as on the policies and legislation for racial/ethnic equality and against racism. Together, these contributions will help us better understand how European racisms are currently conceptualized, in particular, why some experiences of racism are identified in certain countries whilst they are not in other contexts despite similar indicators of inequality and discrimination (Lamont et al. 2016). 

Racism and/or Racisms? A perspective from Germany 

Manuela Bojadzijev, Professor, Berliner Institut für empirische Integrations-und Migrationsforschung

In the light of the development of research on racism in Germany, this contribution attempts to diagnose the central shifts of recent years. After decades in which research on racism was institutionally rather scarce, we now observe an increased interest. It is based on the persistent work of actors in the field of theory and memory work, changing linguistic patterns and educational policy work, migration policy interventions, victim counselling and much more. All of this often created synergies between activists, artists and media workers as well as academics. However, it has also created and provoked strong distortions in public debates, semantic shifts and conceptual foreshortening.  

Manuela Bojadžijev is Professor at the Institute for European Ethnology at the Faculty of Humanities at Humboldt University in Berlin. She is also head of the "Social Networks and Cultural Lifestyles" department at the Berlin Institute for Integration and Migration Research (BIM) at Humboldt University and a visiting professor at the Faculty of Cultural Studies at Leuphana University Lüneburg. 

Republican Abstract Universalism and the Unspeakable making of Race

Sarah Mazous, researcher at CNRS, attached to CERAPS

Drawing on an ethnographic survey conducted in a préfecture and in a municipalité of the Paris periphery, I analyze how republican universalism operates as a “particularizing” tool enacting whiteness. Starting from the paradoxical situation in which white state officials define themselves as race-blind and universalist whereas they are keen to racially ascribe people of color, I argue that race blindness is in fact a form of white blindness to racialization. People of color who subscribe to the ideology of the color-blindness tend to adopt a position whereby their loyalty toward the requirement of race blindness is supposed to protect them from suspicions raised by the racialized identity they are assigned to. But in practice, this stance internalizes the white view on them. In conclusion, I discuss the link between white race blindness and the failure of policies against racial discrimination in the French republican context.

Sarah Mazous is research fellow at CNRS, attached to CERAPS. She was previously Marie Curie Fellow at the Humboldt University of Berlin and postdoctoral fellow at the ANR Global-Race and ERC programs MORALS - Towards a Critical Moral Anthropolgy. Her work focuses on anti-discrimination in France, public employment schemes for young people from working-class and racialized backgrounds, and nationality policies in France and Germany. They are based on an ethnographic method and mobilize Critical Race studies, the sociology of law, the sociology of public policies and the critical anthropology of morality. She is the author of La République et ses autres. Politiques de l'altérité dans la France des années 2000, Lyon, ENS-Editions, 2017 and Race, Paris, Anamosa, 2020.

Where Do We Go From Here? Research and Political Agendas on Race, Racism and Immigration

John Solomos Professor of Sociology, University of Warwick

In the contemporary environment we have seen important transformations in both research and scholarly agendas about race, racism and immigration. This paper provides an overview of some key areas of debate and scholarship during period, highlighting important sites of debate and controversy. In exploring these issues, the paper seeks to situate these trends within the wider political and social transformations we have seen in this period, emphasizing the linkages between scholarship and politics in this field, key areas of research and the emergence of new challenges to existing research agendas. In developing this overarching view of the transformations we have seen during this period the paper will outline possible avenues for developing new research agendas and concludes by looking forward to the emergence of news areas of scholarship and research, as evidenced in contemporary debates about the shifting boundaries of research on race and racism, in contemporary Europe and more generally.

John Solomos is Professor of Sociology at the University of Warwick. He has researched and written widely on the history and contemporary forms of race and ethnic relations in Britain, theories of race and racism, the politics of race, equal opportunity policies, multiculturalism and social policy, race and football, and racist movements and ideas. His most recent books are Race, Ethnicity and Social Theory (forthcoming, Routledge) and Race and Racism in Britain 4th Edition (2018, Palgrave Macmillan). His most recent edited books are Theories of Race and Ethnicity: Contemporary Debates and Perspectives (Cambridge University Press 2015, co-editor with Karim Murji) and Routledge International Handbook of Contemporary Racisms (Routledge 2020). He is co-editor of the journal Ethnic and Racial Studies, which is published 16 issues a year by Routledge. He is also co-editor of the book series on Racism, Resistance and Social Change for Manchester University Press and General Editor of The Routledge Encyclopedia of Race and Racism.

Graziela Moraes Silva (discussant): Her current research focuses on comparative race relations and elite’s perceptions of poverty and inequality. She is also one of the editors of the Journal of Latin American Studies, the Latin Americana and Caribbean Ethnic Studies and the International Development Policy. Her latest publications include: “Seeing Whites: Views from black Brazilians in Rio de Janeiro” Ethnic and Racial Studies, 43,4 (2020): 632-651 (with Luciana Souza Leão and Barbara Grillo); "Technocrats’ Compromises: Defining Race and the Struggle for Equality in Brazil, 1970-2010" Journal of Latin American Studies, 50, 1 (2018): 87-115 (with Brenna M Powell); Getting Respect: Dealing with Stigmatization and Discrimination in the United States, Brazil and Israel. Princeton University Press, 2016 (with Michèle Lamont, et al.).