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While difference between Europe and its "others" can be seen as a product of hegemonic legacies in asymmetric encounters, people are active agents in mobilizing and managing its elements. They produce new forms of belonging and differentiation by navigating through political and societal discourses.
Difference is produced through power relations (Said 1978; Gupta & Ferguson 1992). While it is not an inherent characteristic of a person or a group, certain political influencing public discourses often depend strongly on processes of othering and differentiation. In Europe, these produced current "others" in Europe's Muslim inhabitants. Political discourses, as well as organizations and activists allude to an inherent difference between those who identify as such and those who do not by propagating difference either as deviance to normative distinctions, or configurations of subjectivity and sentiments paradoxically stabilizing hegemonic legacies. Such a polarization leaves no space for middle grounds. Moreover, it ignores not only everyday realities but also phenomena which are neither the one nor the other or only appear through a fusion of elements in such encounters. The asymmetry in which such encounters of difference (Schiocchet 2017, 2018)appear, is based on imperial, colonial and hegemonic legacies, claims to modernity and revitalism. When, how and by whom are these elements that create difference mobilized in contemporary Europe? What influences their dynamics? What are the strategies that various actors use? This panel wants to steer a conversation on how difference is produced in contemporary Europe. By focusing on the mobilization of elements of difference, it neither ignores the legacies that shape asymmetries of encounters nor does it take difference for granted. Instead, it invites to illustrate the agency of people in mobilizing elements of belonging and differentiation, creating new forms of sociality and navigating through political and societal discourses.