CFP: Racialization, whiteness and politics of othering in contemporary Europe, Reykjavik November 25-27

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Call for Papers

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. Topics addressed in the symposium will include, but are not limited to:

  *   Hierarchies of race and “shades of whiteness” (Moore, 2013)
  *   Intersections between race, class and gender and (re)inscriptions otherness (Light & Young, 2009; Binnie & Klesse, 2013)
  *   Complexity of racial and ethnic (un)privilege (Salamuk, 2014)
  *   Securitization and tightening of borders/national frontiers
  *   Racialisation and affectivity
  *   Othering processes and racialization of Eastern European migrants, including migrants from the Baltic States
  *   (Anti-)immigration and integration discourses

Organized in collaboration with: Mobilities and Transnational Iceland project of excellence; University of Iceland.


Two-and-a-half-day seminar based on the paper presentations of the participants.

We invite scholars, journalists, filmmakers, educators, legal practitioners, social workers, activists, urbanists, writers, translators and interpreters, artists, and others to apply with presentations and/or advanced stage works-in-progress to share and discuss in an open, cross-disciplinary space. We are interested in contributions that address a range of concerns — scholarly, creative, material, ethical, pragmatic. We aim to bring together a diverse and motivated group of people to share projects and work collaboratively.

Application procedure: please send an abstract of max. 250 words and a short bio (max 150 words) to the organisers by September 23rd.

The symposium is free to attend. We can help organise and cover the cost of hotel accommodation for two nights, so please indicate whether you will need a hotel room. Kindly note that this means basic accommodation for participants who are not already funded by their institutions, and who are willing to share a double room. Those who wish to stay in a single room are welcome to pay the difference in cost.

We also hope to be able to offer a limited number of travel grants to reimburse the transportation costs of traveling to Reykjavik. Please enclose a brief application for travel funding with your abstract and bio if relevant. However, we suggest that individuals apply directly to their home institutions, art councils, local foundations or other sponsors for help covering these costs.

Successful applicants will be notified as soon as possible after the application deadline.

Linda Lapina, cand. psych., PhD, Assistant Professor of Cultural Encounters, Roskilde University, Denmark,
Anna Wojtyńska, Postdoctoral researcher, University of Iceland,
Irma Budginaitė-Mačkinė, PhD candidate, Vilnius University, Lithuania,

Balcer, A. (2019). Islamophobia without Muslims as a social and political phenomenon. The case of Poland. In Bevelander, P. & Wodak, R. (Eds.), Europe at the Crossroads Confronting Populist, Nationalist, and Global Challenges (pp. 207-228). Lund: Nordic Academic Press.

Binnie, J. & Klesse, C. (2013). ‘Like a Bomb in the Gasoline Station’: East–West Migration and Transnational Activism around Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Politics in Poland. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 39:7, 1107-1124.

Boatca, M. (2019). Europe Otherwise. On Decolonisation, Creolization and Inter-Imperiality.  Keynote address at 14th ESA conference ‘Europe and Beyond: Boundaries, Barriers and Belonging’, Manchester, 20th August, 2019.

Böröcz, J., & Sarkar, M. (2017). The unbearable whiteness of the Polish plumber and the Hungarian peacock dance around “race.” Slavic Review, 76(2), 307–314.

Danbolt, M., & Myong, L. (2018). Racial Turns and Returns: Recalibrations of Racial Exceptionalism in Danish Public Debates on Racism. In P. Hervik (Ed.), Racialization, Racism and Anti-Racism in the Nordic Countries (pp. 39–62). Palgrave Macmillan.

Dzenovska, D. (2017). Coherent selves, viable states: Eastern Europe and the “migration/refugee crisis.” Slavic Review, 76(2), 297–306.

Dzenovska, D. (2018). “Latvians do not understand the Greek people”. Europeanness and Complicit Becoming in the Midst of Financial Crisis. In K. Loftsdóttir, A. L. Smith, & B. Hipfl (Eds.), Messy Europe: Crisis, Race and Nation-State in a Postcolonial World (pp. 53–76). Berghahn Books.

Dzenovska, D., & De Genova, N. (2018). Introduction. Desire for the political in the aftermath of the Cold War. Focaal, 80, 1–15.

Fassin, D. (2011). Racialization: How to do Races with Bodies. In A Companion to the Anthropology of the Body and Embodiment (pp. 419–434).

Fortier, A. M. (2006). The politics of scaling, timing and embodying: Rethinking the ‘New Europe’. Mobilities, 1(3), 313-331.

Hvenegård-Lassen, K., & Maurer, S. (2012). Bodies and Boundaries. In Kristen Loftsdottir & L. Jensen (Eds.), Whiteness and Postcolonialism in the Nordic Region : Exceptionalism, Migrant Others and National Identities (pp. 119–140). Burlington: Ashgate.

Imre, A. (2005). Whiteness in Post-Socialist Eastern Europe: the Time of the Gypsies, the End of Race (A. J. López, Ed.). Retrieved from

Jensen, L., Suárez-Krabbe, J., Groes, C., & Pecic, Z. L. (2017). Introduction. In L. Jensen, J. Suárez-Krabbe, C. Groes, & Z. L. Pecic (Eds.), Postcolonial Europe : Comparative Reflections after the Empires (pp. 1–14). London: Rowman & Littlefield International.

Kalnačs, B. (2016). Comparing colonial differences: Baltic literary cultures as agencies of Europe’s internal others. Journal of Baltic Studies, 47(1), 15–30.

Loftsdóttir, K., Smith, A. L., & Hipfl, B. (2018). Introduction. In Messy Europe: Crisis, Race and Nation-State in a Postcolonial World (pp. 1–30).

Loftsdottir, Kristin, & Jensen, L. (2012). Introduction: Nordic Exceptionalism and the Nordic ‘Others.’ In Kristin Loftsdottir & L. Jensen (Eds.), Whiteness and Postcolonialism in the Nordic Region : Exceptionalism, Migrant Others and National Identities (pp. 1–13). Burlington: Ashgate.

 Druez, E., & Mayer, N. (2018). Antisemitism and Immigration in Western Europe Today. Is there a connection? The case of France. London: Stiftung EVZ, Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism, University of London.

Kuus, M. (2004). Europe’s Eastern Expansion and the Reinscription of Otherness in East-Central Europe. Progress in Human Geography, 28(4), 472-489.

Light, D. & Young,C. (2009). European Union enlargement, post-accession migration and imaginative geographies of the ‘New Europe’: media discourses in Romania and the United Kingdom. Journal of Cultural Geography, 26(3), 281-303.

Moore, H. (2013). Shades of Whiteness? English Villagers, Eastern European Migrants and the Intersection of Race and Class in Rural England. Critical Race & Whiteness Studies. 2013, 9(1), 1-19.

Salamuk, B. (2014). Whiteness, ethnic privilege and migration: a Bourdieuian framework. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 29(4), 370-388.

Wodak, R. (2015). The politics of fear: What right-wing populist discourses mean. London: Sage.

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