Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
RN31_02: Contextualizing Racism
Wednesday, 21/Aug/2019:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Markus End, Technical University Berlin
Location: UP.4.213
University of Manchester Building: University Place, Fourth Floor Oxford Road

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“The Most Dangerous Racism Today is the White Man in the Suit Who’s Got Positions of Power to Employ People”: White Privilege, Racial Exclusion and the Silencing of Racism

Madeline-Sophie Abbas

University of Manchester, United Kingdom

The upsurge of racial and religious hate crimes following the Brexit vote has brought these more tangible expressions of disadvantage affecting racial and religious minorities in Britain to the fore. Yet whilst overt acts of hate, although highly disturbing, can potentially be more easily identified, named and countered, implicit and more covert acts of racism that underpin structural inequalities provide a more complex terrain in which to address persistent exclusions facing Britain’s minorities within predominately ‘white spaces’ characterising Britain’s institutions. Drawing on interviews with British Muslims, I examine practices of silencing around acts of racism, the intangibility of racial exclusions which are often implicit, unspoken, and denied, and how these enable white privilege, and the racialised hierarchies on which it is premised, to persist. I argue that structural inequalities that permeate spaces such as work propose a more long-standing danger by maintaining hierarchies of social inequality and disadvantage, both economic and social, by denying opportunities for British Muslims to succeed. I show that where British Muslims name acts of racism, their claims are often forcibly denied by a failure to ‘see’ racism: ‘surely racism doesn’t still exist?’ Whilst policies addressing racial and religious inequalities provide some recourse to counter exclusionary practices, I interrogate their ‘non-performativity’ (Ahmed, 2004) and the emotional and psychological costs that British Muslims experience to be heard as well as acts of resistance that they engage in.

Key words: British Muslims, racial exclusions, racism, silencing, white privilege

Ahmed, S. 2004. ‘The non-performativity of anti-racism.’ Borderlands e-journal 3(2)

Racism, Black Movements and Census in Portugal: from invisibility to counting

Nuno Manuel Ferreira Dias

ISCTE-IUL, Portugal

Almost immediately after decolonization, immigration from former colonies started to serve the requirements of the urban Portuguese economy. The incorporation of these populations in the labour market was accomplished predominantly through low pay and low status jobs. Additionally, their phenotypical circumstance added evidence of increasing spatial segregation maintaining non-white populations inside specific metropolitan neighbourhoods. Although their concentration on restauration, cleaning and construction sectors is long noted in literature, correlated with the absence of upward social mobility trajectories of black populations, the constitutional impossibility of collecting data based on ethnic, racial and/or skin colour criteria is preventing the quantitative evaluation and argument validation on structural racism and its objective impact on these populations.

The inexistence of such data is also implied as a reason why denial of institutional racism is mainstream in Portuguese society. However, in the last couple of years, black movements have emerged beyond the scope of the traditional immigrant associative movements based on national origin and area of settlement and changed the debate topics from housing and human rights to a broader affiliation area, namely around skin colour and African ancestry.

Resorting to a set of interviews with key actors involved in this process (government authorities, academics, black activists, political parties, immigrant associations, etc.), this article opens with a comprehensive view on the current data regarding institutional racism and its limitations; categorizes the different perspectives and protagonists that shaped the public discussion on gathering ethnic data; theorizes its importance in the consolidation of the current black movement in Portugal and vice-versa; and discusses the meaning of this tool to anti-racist movements and their participation on the ongoing debate.

Institutional and Exclusive Solidarity, Racism and Absent Presences – Discussing the Eclectic Foundation for Restrictive Welfare Policy in Austria

Andreas Schadauer

University of Vienna, Austria

Austria is facing substantial changes in its welfare system, but not all members of the society are affected equally. To legitimise these inequalities, a majority opinion based on the 2017 National Assembly election is, among others, regularly enacted positioning the voting public as absent presences within the ongoing policy debates. But absent, they are very much subject to eclectic interpretations. Another iteration of this (at least rhetorically) influential actor/actant is enlisted by a survey conducted around the 2017 election on the topic of solidarity in times of crisis (in framework of the project SOCRIS). Within this survey population, rather a minority expresses interest in reducing public support for socially vulnerable groups as currently implemented by policymakers today and in doing so made ontologically powerful and socially influential. The survey material available offers the opportunity to discuss the common denominator unifying these empowered advocates of reduced public support.

For this presentation, one specifics will be introduced in more detail. While varying in most quantified characteristics like occupation status, Autoritarism, etc., variables counting discriminatory attitudes against “foreigners” prove to be the most reliable predictors for the expressed desire for limited institutional solidarity. It is then asked, to what extend this quantitative narrative in conjunction with the (few) studies on the role of racism in Austria supports the depiction of racism as a constitutive mainstay of social inequality and whether the projected welfare arrangements can be seen as (further) institutionalising and cementing inequality based on exclusionary-racifying attitudes? The presentation attempts to address these questions by connecting the concepts of absent presences, institutional and exclusive solidarity and the survey narrative in light of the current welfare policy.

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