This panel explores how whiteness, as a hegemonic discourse, positionality, and area of academic inquiry, operates as a backdrop to national, global and academic debates around staying, moving and settling in Europe.
The rise of far-right nationalisms across Europe has produced a great deal of interest on xenophobic political movements, challenges to multiculturalism, and the impact that these discourses have on the everyday lives of migrants. However, much of the recent scholarship has focused on the racialization of migrants themselves, rather than reflecting on the wider national, historic and global contexts that have influenced the perception and reception of migrants in Europe. Behind these debates, whiteness operates as an unremarked background (Ahmed 2007), informing not only how migrants are portrayed, but contributing to the rise of right-wing xenophobic nationalisms across Europe. We therefore invite ethnographic explorations from different European contexts that unpack the modes, methods and meanings of whiteness and white habitus (Bonilla-Silva et al 2006) and the impact this has on migrants' lives. Papers may address how whiteness operates in political campaigns, contemporary migration discourse, 'colour-blind' or 'race-blind' state policies, or coverage of or responses to terrorist attacks. We also invite multi-sited ethnographies (Lundström 2014) or contributions that move towards or challenge a global understanding of hegemonic whiteness. Finally, in order to build toward a European critical whiteness studies, we welcome contributions that probe the utility and adaptability of Anglophone academic theories of whiteness. How can whiteness theory move across borders and academic traditions, and what can ethnography contribute to its adoption or reinvention?