Racialization, whiteness and politics of othering in contemporary Europe

Interdisciplinary symposium organized by Nordic Summer University (NSU) and Mobilities and Transnational Iceland organize at University of Iceland, Reykjavik, November 25-27, 2019.

Race, racialization and whiteness remain contested topics in contemporary Europe (Böröcz & Sarkar, 2017; Dzenovska, 2018; Fassin, 2011; Imre, 2005; Loftsdottir & Jensen, 2012), central to the very notion of what Europe is, and for whom. The importance of race and racialization in the European context has been highlighted on multiple instances over the past years: for instance, by the public reception and media portrayals of the “refugee crisis” in 2015; the rise of right-wing parties and racist rhetoric in different European countries; as well as conflicts and anxieties related to labour mobility within the EU, which played a significant role in the Brexit referendum (Dzenovska, 2017; Loftsdóttir, Smith, & Hipfl, 2018). The so-called “refugee crisis” of 2015 and related fears of increasing number of non-white migrants in Europe (re)activated various threat scenarios and calls to “protect the homeland against dangerous outsiders” (Wodak, 2015: 66-67). These political sentiments go hand in hand with increasing islamophobia (Balcer, 2019) and antisemitism (Druez & Mayer, 2018).

These struggles and anxieties over Europe, its subjects and boundaries, seemingly triggered by current events, are rooted in history. They signify how Europe’s colonial past continues to mark its present (Danbolt & Myong, 2018; Hvenegård-Lassen & Maurer, 2012; Jensen, Suárez-Krabbe, Groes, & Pecic, 2017). Dominant representations of the Other, current processes of racial, ethnic and religious othering echo former Orientalism, which reinforces the trope of a normalized white European identity. Moreover, despite almost 30 years having passed since the fall of the Iron curtain, divisions between East and West continue to constitute an inter-European axis of difference- along with other divisions, like one between North and South (Dzenovska & De Genova, 2018; Fortier, 2006; Kuus, 2004; Kalnačs, 2016). These political processes underline the need to creolise established understandings of Europe’s colonial history as a thing of the past and a homogenized, white European identity as the norm (Boatca, 2019). This symposium aims to unpack in which ways and to what effects racialization continues to shape European spaces, bodies and politics.


Monday, November 25th

14:30 – 15:00: Registration

15:00 – 15:40: Welcome, introduction to NSU and Mobilities project

15:40-16:20: Linda Lapiņa  ‘Teaching Race by a Representative of Whiteness’? Racialization, Whiteness and Intersectional Pedagogy in Higher Education

16:20-17:00: Mantė Vertelytė  Challenges for Antiracist Education in Danish Schools: Theorizing Antiracist Education as Mood Work

Tuesday, November 26th

9:00-9:40: Kris Clarke  Challenging the Whiteness of Social Work in Contemporary Curricular: Enacting Decolonization

9:40-10:20: Jessica Nogueira Varela  Migration, Racialization and Black Women Writers: Defying European ‘Color-Blindness’ through Auto/Biographies

10:20-10:40: Coffee break

10:40-11:20: Irma Budginaitė-Mačkinė & Dominika Blachnicka-Ciacek  ‘But you do not sound Eastern European’: the Ambiguous Lives of the ‘Other Whites’ in Brexit Britain

11:20-12:00: Kamila Fiałkowska & Karolina Barglowski  Migrating ‘West’ in Post-Enlargement Europe: Theorizing Narratives and Counter-Narratives of Belonging in the Example of Poland

12:00-13:30: Lunch

13:30-14:10: Jaanika Kingumets  Estonian Migrants in Finland Constructing Allies and Others through Culture and Whiteness Talk in Facebook Conversations

14:10-14:50: Sophie Schmalenberger  Performing White Victimhood: The AfD and the ‘Chemnitz Case’

14:50-15:10: Coffee break

15:10-16:30: Film screening and discussion: Marta Sigríður Pétursdóttir  Æ Íslendingasamfélagið á Kanarí

Wednesday, November 27th

9:00-09:40: Akvilė Buitvydaitė  Processes of Othering in Lithuania, taking point of departure in Ričardas Gavelis’ novel Vilnius Poker

9:40-10:20: Alaaddin F. Paksoy  Turkish Orientalism Towards Syrian Refugees

10:20-10:40: Coffee break

10:40-11:20: Catalin Berescu  Racialized Planning as a Micro-Imperial Form of Governance of Subaltern Groups

11:20-12:00: Armanc Yildiz  Integration as Whitening: A Queer Refugee Shelter in Berlin

12:00-13:30: Lunch

13:30-14:10: Mariska Jung  Be/coming Civilized: Whiteness, Multiculturalism and Animal Ethics

14:10-14:50: Ana Svetel  Perceptions of Perfection: Imageries and Narratives about the ‘Nordicness’ Outside the Northern Europe

14:50-16:00: Concluding discussions, Evaluation and Future Collaboration Possibilities

16:00: Farewell