The struggle continues
The struggle against racism is still very relevant, according to a conference hosted by the University of East London.
Despite it being 50 years since racial discrimination was outlawed in this country, the recent rise of far-right parties like Golden Dawn in Greece, the National Front in France and UKIP in the UK, reminds us that racism is never very far away.
A one-day conference organised by UEL’s Centre for Migration, Refugees and Belonging, in conjunction with the British Sociological Association’s Race and Ethnicity Study Group, gave a historical context to the issue.
The conference, part of the Economic and Social Research Council funded seminar series ‘Racism and Political Mobilisation’, was organised by Professor Gargi Bhattacharyya and Dr Aaron Winter from UEL, along with Professor Satnam Virdee from the University of Glasgow.
The conference responded to the need to understand how and why people have mobilised around ethnicity to challenge racism or to fight for social justice. These questions become more urgent in the context of the resurgence of racist movements across Europe, as Professor Bhattacharyya explained.
“At a time when anti-immigration parties are on the rise, migrants are drowning in the Mediterranean and the question of police violence against black communities is reigniting protest in the US and elsewhere, this series looks again at how we understand racism and how people have tried to challenge it,” said Professor Bhattacharyya. “The focus was on uncovering what allows people to challenge, the approaches that they use and the alliances that they make, because we desperately need to build such alliances now.”
At the conference, various manifestations of anti-racist resistance were critiqued. Under the banner of Anti-Racism in Historical Perspective, Stephen Ashe and Laurence Brown from The University of Manchester’s Centre of Dynamics of Ethnicity examined the struggle against racist violence in east London in the 1970s.
Sukhwant Dhaliwal from the University of Bedfordshire and Kirsten Forkert from Birmingham City University debated ‘Resisting the Go Home Van and other Home Office immigration campaigns’.
Other topics tackled on the day included ‘Black Power: From The Black Panther Party to #Blacklivesmatter’; ‘The story of British Bangladeshis’; ‘the Gender Segregation on Campus’ furore; and the mainstreaming of racism in France.
Future events in this series will be held in Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow and Leeds, with a final conference in London in December 2016.
Notes to Editors
The University of East London (UEL) is a global learning community with students from over 120 countries world-wide. Our vision is to achieve recognition, both nationally and internationally, as a successful and inclusive regional university proud of its diversity, committed to new modes of learning which focus on students and enhance their employability, and renowned for our contribution to social, cultural and economic development, especially through our research and scholarship. We have a strong track-record in widening participation and working with industry.