EASA2018: Staying, Moving, Settling

(P141)
The (im)mobility of race: European perspectives [Anthropology of Race and Ethnicity Network]
Location SO-E413
Date and Start Time 16 Aug, 2018 at 09:00
Sessions 2

Convenors

  • Damani Partridge (University of Michigan) email
  • Markus Balkenhol (Meertens Instituut) email
  • Jasmijn Rana (Leiden University) email

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Short abstract

This panel will work through the relationships between race and mobility. How mobile are the concepts of race and racialization? How does race limit and how does it enable movement? How do race and racializing processes affect the conditions under which people move?

Long abstract

Race continues to be central to how people move or get moved in contemporary life. In its affective, physical, and figurative dimensions, race continues to move people. Beyond the movement of bodies, race also moves in and through social media, policing, security networks, forensic and biological sciences.

This panel's main concern is to explore anthropological ways of understanding the role of race in current modes of mobility. In these complex circumstances, race becomes itself a mobile concept as well as a lived reality that is both durable and constantly in flux. We propose a panel to examine race not as a fixed thing, but as a social process, always in the making, unfolding its continued power relations as both malleable and slippery for some and seemingly fixed for others depending on when, if, and how they move.

How can one understand race both as a category of everyday life and a means for social analysis? Can an anthropological approach reconcile the mobility of race as a concept on the one hand and the role of race in social issues of mobility on the other hand? This panel welcomes both ethnographic and theoretical papers to explore these issues from a European perspective.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

'There is no friction here': Racial Stuckedness in Europe & Status Migration to Dubai

Author: Jaafar Alloul (University of Amsterdam/KU Leuven) email
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Short abstract

This study looks at the ways in which race matters in Europe too, both in the lives of 'second-generation' Maghrebi-Muslim minorities, who leave behind their native Belgium, France, and The Netherlands in search of social mobility in Dubai, as well as on the level of social analysis in anthropology.

Long abstract

Can race spur emigration? While most studies on racial formation treat local dynamics, this case investigates the importance of race across societies by studying the migratory dispositions of the 'second-generation' in Western Europe. Born as EU citizens in countries like France, Belgium, and The Netherlands, some of the skilled descendants of 'guest workers' from North Africa now seek to leave their native Europe in coping with a sense of 'racial stuckedness', felt to be curbing their aspired social mobility. Based on multi-sited fieldwork in Europe and Dubai, I first unfold how my interlocutors were able to remake race (and an emotional sense of belonging) after resettlement in the Arab Gulf - by drawing more freely on and even blending powerful local social statuses ('expat', 'European', 'Arab', 'Muslim') - and then recount how they look back at their former condition in Europe from abroad. My observations challenge the idea that holding citizenship necessarily correlates with a sense of inclusion, neither in Europe nor Dubai. They also suggest that racial categorizations are not only mutable throughout time but also partly malleable across social space. While migration is known to serve as a general means to further economic mobility, it remains less discussed as a specific minority technique for navigating racialized impediments and hierarchies, not least in relation to ethnic minorities in Europe. By expanding on Bourdieu's seminal work on the Forms of Capital, I ultimately seek to unearth further a theory of 'racial capital'.

Mitigating the price of the ticket: racialised patterns, identity bricolage and hidden costs of social mobility for academically high-achieving Roma college graduates in Hungary

Authors: Judit Durst (Institute for Minority Studies) email
Margit Feischmidt (Hungarian Academy of Sciences) email
Zsanna Nyiro (MTA TK ) email
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Short abstract

Is there a racially patterned mobility trajectory for academically successful college educated Hungarian Roma of disadvantaged family background? How ethnic (racial) capital can be mobilised through the process of upward mobility to mitigate the cost of and the “injuries” of moving class through educational credentials?

Long abstract

Social and public policies present upward social mobility as an unambiguously progressive process. Yet, apart from a few but inspiring exceptions (e.g. Bourdieu’s ‘habitus clivé’ concept; the ‘hidden injures of class’; or the so called ‘hidden cost” or “prices of mobility’ thesis), there is a lack of systematic empirical studies in Europe to explore the experiences of ‘racialised’ individuals and the impact (‘prices’) of changing class through upward mobility on them.

Among the professional middle class of stigmatised, historically racialised minorities (like the Roma in Europe) those who have achieved extreme rates of intergenerational mobility, face unique challenges during their mobility path. Their challenges emerge from the difficulties of maintaining intra-class relations with poorer ‘co-ethnics’ (people from the communities they were brought up in), but also managing interethnic relations with the majority population. The response to these problems is the emergence of “minority culture of mobility”, for instance, the creation of ethnic professional organisations and the mobilisation of ethnic (racial) capital to facilitate the upward mobility process.

Throughout this paper, we focus our attention on the question of mobilization of ethnic or racial capital in the case of an influential ethnic organisation and address the question what effect it has on the ethnic and racial identity formation of their members and whether it can mitigate the costs of their upward mobility. We base our arguments on our institutional ethnography at a Roma social street theatre group (Independent Theatre) and on 60 in-depth narrative interviews with Hungarian Roma college educated people.

Moving race from Europe to elsewhere: the circulation of race as a scientific object from Germany and the racialization of difference categories in India

Author: Thiago Barbosa (Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient / Freie Universität Berlin ) email
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Short abstract

Based on a material-semiotic analysis of the knowledge production at a race research institute in Berlin in the 1920s, I discuss the mobility, adaptability and malleability of race as a scientific object from there to elsewhere, following the work of anthropologist Irawati Karvé (1905-1970).

Long abstract

The production of knowledge on the notion of “race” was central in the anthropological practice in Europe, probably most notably in Germany in the first half of the twentieth century. My paper explores how race was produced at and moved to and from a central node in the global network of physical anthropological research, the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics (KWI-A) in Berlin, Germany. Between 1927 and 1944, the KWI-A assembled researchers, research technologies and objects, all from different parts of the globe.

Having the KWI-A in Berlin as focal point of my analysis, I shed light on the flow of racialized knowledge production formed by and around the work of anthropologist Irawati Karvé (1905-1970). I first turn my gaze upon the movement of research objects (most notably human remains obtained in German colonial expeditions) and research technologies (especially anthropometric measurement devices designed in Switzerland and Germany) that allowed Karvé and colleagues to produce scientific knowledge about human races. In a second move, I turn my gaze to how race as a scientific object is moves along the movement of Karvé and the anthropometric measurement devices and other objects taken by her from Berlin to new research sites in Maharashtra, India, where the studied difference categories of “caste” and “tribe” will be racialized.

Thus, motivated by a critique of racialized knowledge production from Europe onward, I contribute to this panel by discussing the transnational movement of race as a scientific object and its racializing effects.

Racial types in science and medicine

Author: Ricardo Oliveira Santos Gomes Moreira (Instituto de Ciências Sociais da Universidade de Lisboa) email
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Short abstract

A current controversy around the usefulness of the concept of "race" merges science and politics into a lively debate. However, deep in the heart of laboratories, there remains a racialized schema of classification apparently kept to support cutting-edge biomolecular and medical research.

Long abstract

The debate about the usefulness of the idea of "racial" types for classifying variations observed between human populations is still worth of some academic and science communication press, almost twenty years after the genetic revolution deemed the concept of race as dead.

Public debates keep renewing the scientific relevance of thinking about racial categories for understanding genetic differences between human populations (e.g. Banton, 2013, National Geographic magazine (April 2018), Reich, 2018). More than confronting "social construtivism" with biological truths, what is at stake is the usefulness of the concept of "race" for understanding contexts where it plays a major role in determining access to social, material, or scientific resources. Even where the lack of biological grounds for the use of racial categories is consensual, the sociological programme of research makes it relevant in the current political moment.

Still, biomedical research and genetic medicine have not given up the use of the old racial categories in current practices of amassing population data and biological collections for laboratory use.

This paper focus an ethnographic research in progress in a European biomedical context about the ways biomolecular and biomedical research continue to reproduce racial classifications in its scientific work, and confronts this use with larger political and sociological usages of the concept of race.

Racialized Emotions: Empathy versus Envy

Author: Esra Ozyurek (London School of Economics) email
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Short abstract

This presentation focuses on moments when Muslim minority Germans are judged as not engaging with the Holocaust correctly and not showing enough empathy with its victims. It discusses how empathy assumes a certain subject position, leaving other emotions racialized and outside the moral fold of the German/European identity.

Long abstract

In the last decade there is a widely shared discomfort about the way the racialized Muslim minority Germans engage with the Holocaust. They are accused of not learning the correct lessons from it, not showing empathy towards its Jewish victims, and as a result re-importing anti-Semitism to a country that has otherwise dealt with it. In my ethnographic research about diverse Muslim engagements with the Holocaust shows that when Muslim minority members were judged as not empathetic enough were the moments when they were seen as expressing fear that something like the Holocaust may happen to them and envy that Islamophobia was dismissed at the expanse of recognizing anti-Semitism. By focusing on such instances in which the emotional reactions of Muslim minority Germans towards the Holocaust are judged as not empathetic enough and morally wrong, this presentation explores ethnically exclusive processes behind Holocaust commemoration as the basis of German national identity. Expanding Edmund Husserl’s embodied approach to empathy to a socially situated one, through focusing on the process of paarung, allows to reinterpret the exact moments of fear and envy, seen as failed empathy, as instances of intersubjective connections at work. Hence grandchildren of workers who arrived Germany after the World War II to rebuild the country resist an ethnisized commemoration of Holocaust and engage with it keenly through their own subject positions. Socially situated empathy can be seen as the basis of unanticipated connections across ethnic, national, racial, and class backgrounds.

Return or continuation of racism in sport? Muslim women in sport and integration discourses in Europe

Author: Jasmijn Rana (Leiden University) email
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Short abstract

Femininity of migrant women is often constructed as antagonistic to physical activity, positioning them as in need of 'saving'. Based on my research on kickboxing, this paper argues that both policies and research reinforce racial and social-class hierarchies and other forms of inequality.

Long abstract

The greatest paradox of sports is that 'it is an arena where certain forms of racism, particularly cultural racisms, have been most effectively challenged. Yet, at the very same time, it has provided a platform for racist sentiments to be most clearly expressed' (Carrington and McDonald 2001: 2). The question of race or ethnicity within sports in Europe has long suffered an eclipse. Because the focus has often been on class positions and how habitual practices reproduce them, other axes of differentiation, such as gender and race, have largely been neglected. The few studies that have taken racism seriously, have by and large focussed on right-wing sentiments among fans of working class sports, such as football (soccer). Nevertheless, an emergent body of work has begun to address the sport practices of specific ethnic minority groups in Europe, and for more than a decade, the study of sports and racism has been on the rise. In many of these studies however, the femininity of ethnic minorities is often constructed as antagonistic to physical activity, positioning women of migrant backgrounds as 'lagging behind' and in need of 'saving'. Starting from my own ethnographic field research on women's kickboxing, in this paper I argue that both the policies that are discussed in these previous studies, as the studies themselves, reinforce racial and social-class hierarchies and other forms of inequality.

Whiteness(es) on the move: the raced experience of Portuguese migrants in Angola

Author: Carolina Valente Cardoso (School of Global Studies GU) email
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Short abstract

Drawing on the everyday life experiences of Portuguese contemporary migrants in Angola, this paper explores relationships between race and North-South mobility.

Long abstract

Recent ethnographic studies conducted in sub-Saharan countries urge us to consider the specificities and multiplicity of whiteness(es) and white subjectivities outside of the Global North – namely, its conspicuous, contested and often resented character (Gressier 2015; MacIntosh 2016; Zyl-Hermann & Boersema 2017)

This paper contributes to these discussions with empirical insights gathered through participant observation among Portuguese people living and working in Benguela (Angola) in the year 2015.

Similarly to other cases described in the literature, one can encounter in post-colonial Angola simultaneous indication of a prevailing cultural hegemony of whiteness and the remnants of an anti-colonial and anti-white rhetoric. Suggesting thus that whiteness can be perceived by the mobile subjects as both asset and hindrance, I describe my informants’ strategies to make sense of, face up to or circumvent the different local discourses simultaneously at play; and I refer the collective narratives they would summon to ‘de-racialize’ and thus legitimize their presence (namely, Portuguese “nationhood narratives of in-betweeness” or even “dubious whiteness” [Fernandes 2017]) or the allusion to the specificities of the particular geo-economic configuration.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.