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Accepted Papers:

Un/Doing Disregard: Postcolonial Legacies and Situated Knowledge Production in and on the European Union  


Alexandra Oanca (University of Leuven)

Paper Short Abstract:

Research on EU policy largely disregards colonial histories, racialization and whiteness as constitutive of the structures of power of 'Brussels'. While drawing from an ethnography of EU cultural policies, I reflect on the critical impulses and limits of calls to decolonize anthropology of EU/rope.

Paper long abstract:

European integration is often narrated as a post-war peace project and economic integration project that emerged in the wake of the devastation brought by two world wars, Nazism and totalitarianism. Yet, European integration emerged also as an alternative to declining empires, and part of a broader process of the sedimentation and recycling of colonial legacies. Even though the European Union has extended its membership beyond former imperial powers, colonial legacies continue to echo in the contemporary policies and representations of Europe. Despite that, scholars working in and on EU policy and bureaucracy largely disregard colonial histories and decolonization, racialization and whiteness as constitutive of the policy worlds and cultures of power of 'Brussels'. Our knowledge production is underpinned by a politics of disregard, by "acts of ignoring rather than ignorance" that limit what one can and should know in allegedly post-racial Europe (Stoler 2009:255). While drawing from an ethnography of EU cultural policies and cultural diplomacy and my own acts of dis/regard of race and ethnicity, I will argue that calls to decolonize knowledge production in and on EU/rope carry important critical impulses on the often-disregarded link between 'race', racialization and EU bureaucracy. Yet, these calls to decolonize might also end up providing policy-makers and academics with subtler modalities of articulating domination and perpetuating coloniality, as new research is increasingly dependent on EU funding that favors Western European universities in its quests to position itself as a stronger 'global actor'.

Panel P021a
Whose Horizons? Decolonizing European Anthropology [Anthropology of Race and Ethnicity Network]