Webinar: 20 January - 2021

First Anti-Racism Seminar - series

The First Seminar Organized by the Anti-Discrimination Working Group in 2021: Reflecting on the Relationship Between Racism and Migration Studies in the UK, the Netherlands, France, and Italy.

Seminar 1: Led by Parvati Raghuram. Speakers: Darshan Vigneswaran, Leon Moosavi, Nina Sahraoui & Alfredo Alietti. Chaired by Marco Martiniello

In the wake of protests erupting in the summer of 2020 as a result of the killing of George Floyd, IMISCOE launched a seminar series initiated by the Anti-Discrimination Working Group led by Parvati Raghuram. The first of three seminars, chaired by Marco Martiniello, was a great success with over 100 participants joining the online discussion. The level of engagement displayed during the seminar attests to not only the need for such discussions but also the interest from the community to engage in a conversation. Martiniello guided the seminar by raising questions ranging from the historical context of the current debate to the role of research and the potential of change. Insights on these topics were shared from the perspective of the UK by Leon Moosavi, the Netherlands by Darshan Vigneswaran, France by Nina Sahraoui, and Italy by Alfredo Alietti.

In order to understand the current debate, the speakers explored the various historical contexts which have had a profound impact on how racial discrimination is being discussed today. While all four countries share a history of colonialism, each is characterized by their own set of historical elements. For instance, Nina Sahraoui explored the relationship between France's historically colour-blind approach and recent modifications of the constitution to remove the term race from the first article. The discussion of different national experiences highlighted that while racism transcends borders, it is a construct emerging from unique national contexts.

The speakers also touched upon the issue of ethnic registration and quantitative data collection on racial discrimination. Darshan Vigneswaran demonstrated the limitations of research as a result of lacking adequate self-identification data and the vocal backlash associated with any form of ethnic registration. Furthermore, Nina Sahraoui elaborated on the polarization within French academia where research into race is perceived by some as a threat to national unity or even as ‘racist anti-racism’. This raises questions about the current status quo of quantitative data collection and the implications of new approaches.

Another point raised in the discussion was the difference in how public debate is currently being shaped. While Leon Moosavi described a sense of political correctness overshadowing the severity of the situation, Alfredo Alietti explained a shift towards the normalization of publicly displayed racism. Nonetheless, all speakers acknowledged the powerful impact the Black Lives Matter movement had on political mobilization. Alietti highlighted the mobilization of, especially younger people and the traction the movement gained in mass media. However, Moosavi expressed his concern about lacking representation of other minorities under the term Back Lives Matter.

Ultimately, what became clear is the importance of the responsibility each person, each institution, and each nation carries in the fight against racism. IMISCOE strives to continue this crucial conversation in the next seminar of the series on the 12th of February and other future initiatives organized by the Anti-Racism Working Group. For those who were unable to attend the first seminar, a recording can be accessed on the IMISCOE Website along with relevant literature provided by the speakers and participants.

By Leo Wohrle

Reading tips from our speakers and audience

Regarding concepts and discourses around 'immigrant integration' Schiocchet, Bauer-Amin, Six-Hohenbalken and Gingrich problematise the notion in the context of ideas around 'refugee integration' in Austria 

Also see: The New York Times - Call It What It Is: Anti-Blackness and "Wisdom is like a baobab tree: no individual can embrace it Working and Learning together towards empowerment of female refugees"

Missed the seminar?