Conference organised by
The MPhil in Ethnic and Racial Studies, Department of Sociology
University of Dublin, Trinity College;
in association with the British Sociological Association's Race and
Ethnicity Study Group, and the Sociological Association of Ireland (SAI)
EMMET LECTURE HALL, ARTS BUILDING
TRINITY COLLEGE DUBLIN
30-31 March 2005
Howard Winant, Department of Sociology, University of California, Santa
Barbara, author of The World Is a Ghetto: Race and Democracy Since World
War II (2001); Racial Conditions (1994) and, co-authored, Racial Formation
in the US (2nd ed, 1994).
Les Back, Goldsmiths College, co-editor of Theories of Race and Racism
(2000); co-author of Out of Whiteness: Color, Politics and Culture (2002)
Gargi Bhattacharyya, Department of Cultural Studies and Sociology,
University of Birmingham. Author of Tales of a Dark Skinned Woman: Race,
Gender and Global Culture (1998) and co-author of Race and Power: Global
Racism in the Twenty-First Century (2002).
Robbie McVeigh, Independent researcher, Derry, Northern Ireland. Author
of The Racialisation of Irishness (1996) and co-editor of Racism and
Antiracism in Ireland (2002) .
Piaras Macinri, Department of Geography, University College Cork, and
former director of the Irish Centre for Migration Studies.
With the coming of the Nazi party to power in 1933, the German philosopher Eric Voegelin published his book Race and State. For Voegelin, the political 'body idea' of 'race' was inherent in a theory of state. Voegelin was concerned with 'race' not because he believed in its usefulness as a scientific concept - he rejected this possibility outright - but because, like Michel Foucault (2003), he believed that understanding it was integral to the development of a complete understanding of the state. The relationships between 'race' and state, and racism and nationalism refer to the specific ways in which the latter two exist in what Etienne Balibar (1991) calls a relationship of 'reciprocal determination'. Nationalism does not bring about racism or vice versa, but by the mid-nineteenth century within the modern, expansionist European nation-state, one could not reach
its full potential without the other. By examining the mechanisms through which 'race' comes to politically serve state, these authors show how a political theorisation of the state under the conditions of modernity is unfeasible in the absence of an integrated analysis of the rise of the 'race' idea.
Despite the work of such authors, 'race' and racism in the post-War era
have been largely depoliticised. The state racism of Nazi Germany has been largely presented as an aberration from the course of liberal democracy in modern Europe. Colonialism too is portrayed as an excess or, at least, as not universally murderous. The racism of populations is explained by recourse to psychologising evocations of prejudice to be overcome through greater intercultural knowledge. The official histories of the West at best portrayed racism as a blot on the memory of the bloody twentieth century rather than, as Zygmunt Bauman (1989) has shown, as inseparable from the modern project. The work of the authors cited, along with others including Frantz Fanon, Aim? C?saire, Hannah Arendt, George Mosse and, more recently, David Theo Goldberg, Howard Winant, Enzo Traverso and Ivan Hannaford, stands in stark contrast to the received tradition in thinking on the history and sociology of modern racism. Today, the writings of David Goldberg on the Racial State theorises the possibility of racism in the absence of 'race' by tracing the development of the 'progressivist' racism
of the assimilationists from Empire to today's advocates of colour-blindness.
Despite this formidable corpus, and political concessions, such as the
recognition, in various Western societies, of institutional racism, the
analytical relationship of 'race' to state is still highly contested. In today's atmosphere of the heightened repression of immigration, racist policy-making masquerades as concern for social cohesion under threat from too much diversity or is linked to the security agenda of the post-9/11 world. Under these conditions, we witness a return to the old patterns of the 'social antisemitism' described by Arendt, this time targeting Muslims and the 'brown' skinned. The racialisation of Islam and the criminalisation of migration, controlled in detention centres and camps, finger printing, electronic tagging, and ultimately expulsion exemplify the practical implementation of the mechanisms of biopower in societies increasingly governed by fear of the unknown, symbolised by the archetype of the 'stranger'.
The proposed conference intends to examine the connection between 'race' and state from political, sociological and historical perspectives with direct reference to the United Kingdom and Irish contexts. How do these two differing , yet historically interlinked, polities fit into both European and more globalised discussions of the linkages between 'race' and state? For example, does Britain's opposition to Nazism endow it with a different history from that characterising the racialisation of the nation-state in Western Europe? Or does Ireland's position as the one of the only European
countries to have been colonised change the nature of the 'race'-state
relationship in present-day politics of immigration in Ireland? What role is played by the legacy of Empire in shaping the specific construction of the relationship between 'race' and state in both contexts; the one coloniser, the other colonised? How does this legacy position these countries, at the westernmost frontier of Europe, vis-?-vis both the European mainland and the North American context by which they have often been more greatly influenced? In a time of increased repression of immigration across the North, what is the place of these histories and legacies within the contemporary global migration regime, from which, despite the racism it engenders, discussions of the link between 'race' and state have been all but banished?
The conference is organised by the MPhil in Ethnic and Racial Studies, TCD in association with the Race and Ethnicity study group of the BSA, and the SAI. The conference committee includes: Max Farrar, School of Social Studies, Leeds Metropolitan University; Alana Lentin, EC Fellow, Refugee Studies Centre, Oxford University; Ronit Lentin, Director, MPhil in Ethnic and Racial Studies, TCD; Elaine Moriarty, Department of Sociology TCD; Karim Murji, Open University, UK.
Call for papers:
Papers may be theoretical and/or empirical but should engage with the
proposition, central to the conference aims, that 'race' as a political
idea and modern racism may not be fully conceptualised without consideration of the nature of the modern, Western state.
In addition to the invited speakers identified above, we are calling for a limited number of abstracts for:
Theoretical / empirical papers - 45 minutes
Empirical papers - 30 minutes
All papers will all be presented in plenary and organised so as to enable ample debate.
It is hoped that the conference will result in an edited collection.
Please send 150 words abstracts by 1 November 2004, to the MPhil in Ethnic and Racial Studies, email: email@example.com, or to Alana Lentin, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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