Author Archives: bengidley

About bengidley

Senior Lecturer at the School of Social Science, History and Philosophy at Birkbeck, University of London.

Parliamentary event: Understanding Islamophobia and Antisemitism in Europe and the UK in 2018

10 January 2018 10 am-11.30

This event presents recent academic research findings, based on the book Antisemitism and Islamophobia in Europe: A Shared Story?, newly published by Palgrave Macmillan and edited by Dr James Renton (Edge Hill University/European University Institute, Florence) and Dr Ben Gidley (Birkbeck, University of London). The discussion, aimed at politicians, policy-makers and civil society, will focus on questions such as:

  • How have antisemitism and Islamophobia related to each other in different European contexts, historically and today? How can we understand this connection?
  • How did the term “Semite” come to refer to the Jews, and how is it connected to the term “antisemitism”?
  • Is Europe a secular continent – or a Christian one? And what does this mean for Jews and Muslims?
  • How can we combat antisemitism and Islamophobia together today? What historical resources can we draw on in building solidarity against racism?

For details of the book, see http://www.palgrave.com/gb/book/9781137412997.

Hosted by the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism. Co-organised by Monitor: Global Intelligence on Racism, based at the Robert Schumann Centre for Advanced Studies at the European University Institute.

The event introduced and chaired by Nusrat Ghani MP, will include a short presentation of research by the co-editors, followed by a panel discussion and questions. Panellists will be Omar Khan (Runnymede Trust), Karen Pollock MBE (Holocaust Educational Trust) and Danny Stone MBE (Antisemitism Policy Trust).

Please email Ben to register to attend.

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Reply to Atzmon

Gilad Atzmon wrote – and Ha’aretz published – a reply to my op ed about him. Here is my reply to his reply, which I did not send to Ha’aretz.

Gilad Atzmon starts his letter by calling me a “Zionist”. Normally, I would reject that designation, but Mr Atzmon has called my friends in the (anti-Zionist) Jewish Socialist Group “anti-Zionist Zionists” because their commitment to Jewish culture and identity marks them out as “tribalists” and therefore “Zionists”, so maybe from him I should take it as a compliment.

Tellingly, he continues that I “failed to properly source a single accusation” against him, and that I instead cited “opinions printed in extreme Zionist and Jewish outlets”. My article indeed cited a couple of Jewish outlets, such as the Jewish Chronicle and the Community Security Trust, although to most people these wouldn’t count as “extreme” Jewish outlets. But mainly I cited anti-racist and left sources: the anti-fascist Hope not Hate, Socialist Unity’s Andy Newman, the former SWP activist Richard Seymour, and Palestine solidarity campaigners such as Ali Abunimah and As’ad AbuKhalil. Anyone who thinks those are “extreme Zionist and Jewish outlets” has, well, issues.

Mr Atzmon continues “in my entire career I have never referred critically to Jews or anyone else as a race, biology or people”. The “as a race, biology or people” bit is essential, because his attacks on what he calls “Jewishness” are not framed biologically, but as attacks on “Jewish ideology”, “Jewish identity” and “Jewish power”. However, his writings tend to short-circuit rapidly from this distinction to race. For example he has written that “I contend that all forms of Jewish politics are ethno-centric and to a certain extent, racially driven.”

And he uses all the standard tropes of racial antisemitism when he talks about Jewishness: in his Reading talk he spoke of Jewishness as “following mitzvot” and said the “Jewish lobby is a cosmopolitan lobby”. In his other recent writings, he has repeatedly insisted that “Jewish power is the capacity to silence the discussion of Jewish power”. He obsessively uses the word “tribal”. He repeats alt-right conspiracy theories, for example muttering about “[George] Soros’ funded front (Antifa, Black lives Matter, LGBTIAP groups etc.)”.

As the legacy of the Holocaust has left explicit raciology toxic in our culture, many racists on the far right have avoided openly using the language of race science, preferring for instance to dwell on “cultural” rather than racial difference and to use terms from the classical lexicon of racial antisemitism or names like Soros as code-words for the deeper agenda. Atzmon’s writings on “Jewishness” fit well into this paradigm.

On one point Mr Atzmon concedes my charges are “correct”: that his writings “are circulated by some right-wing and conservative outlets and thinkers”. That, however, is not a charge I made. I said they are “widely circulated on far right websites”. It is not mainstream conservative websites who like Atzmon, but Holocaust deniers, neo-Nazis and white supremacists.

He qualifies his concession: “they are at least as popular within left-wing outlets and progressive circles.” I am curious which outlets he refers to, as his views have become increasingly toxic to the point where even those few left sites which once gave him a platform, such as the Socialist Workers Party, now seem to find him an embarrassment.

Ben Gidley, London


Cities acting for migration

The Columbia Global Policy Initiative has made a submission about the role of cities to the Special Representative of the Secretary General for International Migration in relation to the Global Compact for Migration. It includes this claim:

local authorities and mayors in particular play a crucial role in framing greater diversity as a complex but fundamentally fruitful outcome of globalization.

This claim is referenced with a citation to a report I co-wrote: Elizabeth Collett & Ben Gidley, ESRC Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS), University of Oxford, Attitudes to Migrants, Communication and Local Leadership
(AMICALL) — Final Transnational Report (2012) see at https://www.compas.ox.ac.uk/media/PR-2012-AMICALL_Transnational.pdf .


Pourquoi les progressistes anglais célèbrent encore un grotesque antisémite et un négationniste ?

A French translation of my Ha’aretz op ed is published here.

Full text: Continue reading


Gilad Atzmon in Reading

I have published my first op ed in Ha’aretz. The title is theirs not mine. It’s online here, the opening below.

Opinion Why Are U.K. Progressives Still Celebrating a Grotesque anti-Semite and Holocaust Denier?
When a publicly-funded community center hosted the Jew-hating Gilad Atzmon, it blocked anti-racists on Twitter who challenged the decision. For many on the U.K. left, the denial of anti-Semitism has become a reflex

Ben Gidley Oct 30, 2017 10:30 AM Continue reading


Being Jewish After Balfour: The 1917 Revolution

Date: Thursday 23 November 2017

Time: 7-8pm

Price: Free with Museum entry

Categories: talks

In this talk, Dr James Renton will discuss how the Balfour Declaration transformed what it meant to be a Jew in the world. Rather than a story of Jewish empowerment, he will argue that this revolution was shaped by the interests and power of imperial states and a global political system. At its heart, the talk will grapple with the controversial question of how much control do Jews have over their own identity?

In October 1917, only a minority of Jews believed in Zionism, and many were strongly opposed. Jews who were desperate to be accepted as loyal citizens in the countries that they called home were horrified by the idea of a Jewish nation. Even those who were indifferent to Zionism shared the mainstream assumption that the movement was a utopian dream. This situation changed overnight with the Balfour Declaration- an event that permanently altered the politics of being a Jew.

Dr James Renton is the author of The Zionist Masquerade: The Birth of the Anglo-Zionist Alliance, 1914-1918, and co-editor with Ben Gidley of Antisemitism and Islamophobia in Europe: A Shared Story? He is Reader in History at Edge Hill University and Visiting Fellow at the European University Institute.


Islamophobia and Antisemitism in Christian Europe: an Intertwined History

Pears Institute Lunchtime Seminar

Speaker: Ben Gidley, Birkbeck, University of London
Date: Tue, Oct. 10, 2017
Time: 1:00pm – 2:00pm
Venue: Birkbeck, University of London
Free event for scholars: Email pearsinstitute@bbk.ac.uk for further information.
Details: This paper, drawing on a newly published book edited by James Renton and Ben Gidley, explores the changing ways the figures of the Jew and the Muslim have been used to mark the borders of European identity – an identity that remains normatively Christian despite a rhetorical drift to secularism, the “Judeo-Christian” or the multifaith. The paper argues that these two figures have been constitutive outsiders shaping what Europe is. Both forms of racialisation have mutated over time and in different parts of the continent, and understanding this, the paper argues, requires a rigorously comparative and rigorously diachronic perspective. Each form of racialisation has occurred independently of the other, but more often they have taken on meaning in relation to each other, and so analysing both anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim racism is enhanced through case studies which excavate their relationship

Me vs Jeremy Irons

I was quoted in London Student‘s article about Jeremy Irons telling the striking security workers who work next door to my office at the University of London to “be reasonable”.

Here’s the quote:

The Twitter reaction to Irons wading into the conflict was largely negative. Daniel Stone called his speech “utter condescension”, while Ben Gidley accused him of “whitesplaining to migrant workers”, calling his speech “appalling”. Seambreamlatte wrote: “How patronising and historically ignorant can you get”.

Here’s my tweet:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js


Book giveaway: Ethnography, Diversity and Urban Space

Ethnography, Diversity and Urban Space book cover.

From the British Sociological Association:

This month we have five copies of Ethnography, Diversity and Urban Space [Routledge], edited by Mette Louise Berg, Ben Gidley and Nando Sigona, to giveaway to our members.

This book explores how people live with diversity in contemporary cities and towns across Europe. Drawing on ethnographic studies ranging from London’s inner city and residential suburbs to English provincial towns, from a working-class neighbourhood in Nuremberg to the streets of Naples, Turin and Milan, chapters explore how diversity is experienced in everyday lives, and what new forms of local belonging emerge when local places are so closely connected to so many distant elsewheres. The book discusses the sensory experiences of diversity in urban street markets, the ethos of mixing in a super-diverse neighbourhood, contestations over the right to the provincial city, diverse histories and experiences of residential geographies, memories of belonging, and the ethics and politics of representation on an inner city estate. It weaves together ethnographic case studies with contemporary social and cultural theory from the disciplines of anthropology, sociology, geography, cultural studies, and migration studies about urban space, migration, transnationalism and everyday multiculture.

If you are interested in receiving one of these free copies, please email Claire Simmons with your name and postal address and we will pick five winners at random in June. Please note that you must be a BSA member to enter this book draw. If you aren’t a member and would like to find out how to become one and see what other benefits are available to you please visit the Membership section.

 


Migrant Cartographies

On May 12 at Goldsmiths:

Goldsmiths Sociology Department's photo.
MAY12

Migrant Cartographies: Cities, Circuits and Circulations

Public

Cities are in part constituted in myriad enactments of migrant presence which generate urban dialectics of self-and-city composition. Cities also condense many of the challenges we face in migration in the generation and navigation of local circuits composed through forms of social provision, distributions of opportunities and social goods, labour markets and so on, making cities a crucial scale for the research and analysis of transnational migrant mobility. Circulations of transnational migrants within and between cities articulate other circulations – of money, objects and various forms of property – providing a challenge in thinking about the ways in which these circuits might be connected.

This symposium intends an interrogation of cities through the transnational mobilities co-composing them. It aims to develop a conversation among scholars of migration, mobility and urbanism reflecting on, developing and refining some of the conceptual categories we use in our research. It invites interrogation of transnational urbanism’s underlying logics and theoretical frameworks in concepts like circuit, migrant, city, mobility, migrant journeys, trajectories and circulations.
Continue reading


Humanity at Sea

I recently spoke at this event at the Columbia Global Center in Paris:

Humanity at Sea Maritime Migration and the Foundations of International Law, 1945-2015

Below the fold, a video of the event. At some point I’ll post the text of what I said.

photo Roni Horn

Photo: Roni Horn

February 8, 2017

This lecture will attempt to connect the dots between the current “refugee crisis” and several of its relevant historical precedents: actions of Jewish migrants to Palestine after WWII, Vietnamese ‘boatpeople’, Haitian refugees seeking to reach Florida, and Middle Eastern migrants and refugees bound to Australia. Through its engagement with history, the talk will outline a novel theory of human rights modelled around an encounter between individuals in which one of the parties is at great risk.

Continue reading


France and England on the verge of a nervous breakdown

From Kenan Malik’s Pandaemonium:

The French journalist Ilana Navaro has made a superb four-part radio documentary series for France Culture on social policies towards immigration and integration in France and Britain. Entitled La France et L’Angleterre au bord de la crise de nerfs (‘France and England on the edge of a nervous breakdown’), the documentary visits a ‘theological cafe’ in Paris and the Cambridge Muslim College, a sharia council in Birmingham, Goutte d’Or, an area in the 18th arrondissement in Paris with a large North African and sub-Saharan population, Brick Lane in East London, and Walsall, in the English Midlands. Among those interviewed are the anthropologist Sam Everett, the sociologists Ben Gidley, Amine El Yousfi and Benoit Coquard, the historian Nazneen Ahmed, Amra Bone of the Sharia Council of Birmingham, Pragna Patel from Southall Black Sisters, Shaista Gohir of the Muslim Women’s Network, the Parisian imam Mohamed Bajrafil, the religious historian and trainer, Samia Hathroubi, and myself. (My interviews are in episodes 3 & 4.)

Kenan posts the audio too, illustrated by some beautiful Arabic calligraphy.

Here’s episode 3:

https://www.franceculture.fr/player/export-reecouter?content=b93feec0-b60a-4b38-9070-8287ec083796


Sharia Councils: a user’s guide

From France Culture:
Réécouter La France et l’Angleterre au bord de la crise de nerfs (2/4):
Sharia Councils, mode d’emploi
55min | 17.01.2017

Exporter https://www.franceculture.fr/player/export-reecouter?content=eea81f3a-f459-47a8-8d47-5934677510da


ETHNOGRAPHIC ENCOUNTERS | 3 FEBRUARY | BISR

Ethnographic Encounters  – A One-Day Colloquium
Birkbeck Institute for Social Research

Starts 03 February 2017 – 10:00
Finishes 03 February 2017 – 16:00
Venue Birkbeck, University of London, London WC1B 5DQ
Payment and booking required
In this age of migration, social life – and especially urban social life – is increasingly shaped by patterns of globalisation and mobility that give rise to increasingly complex forms of diversity and inequality. Understanding encounters across proliferating lines of difference is therefore a vital challenge to social research. Such encounters occur in multiple domains, in particular in everyday life, and in specific spaces, especially in cities. In this context, urban space is linked or hyperlinked to several culturally and spatially non-proximate elsewheres, even for those whose everyday geography is intensely local, cramped. And small spaces contain multiple, incommensurable linguistic registers – as signs, messages and meanings travel – creating ever more complex configurations at the nano scale. People moving through this landscape need to learn to translate, much as ethnographers do – opening up ethical, political and also epistemological dilemmas.

Ethnography, with its granular attention to everyday lived experience, to the social meanings attached to the different elements of difference, and to the spaces which shape these – with its focus on what people do when they come together – offers the best vantage point for understanding encounters across lines of difference. But ethnography itself is also a form of encounter. This colloquium explores the ethical and epistemological issues arising in the ethnographic research encounter. It asks what are the limits to the forms of knowledge generated in the ethical encounter? What tools can be used to stretch these limits?

Confirmed Speakers:

Ben Rampton – Linguistic Ethnography and Intercultural Encounter
Ben has worked within applied and social linguistics to both ground linguistics in ethnographic observation and develop forms of ethnography that are able to attend to micro- or nano-level patterns of linguistic exchange, focusing on contexts (including the classroom and inner city streets) of intensified ethnic and linguistic diversity.

Sami Everett – Phenomenological ethnography, multi-lingual fieldsites and traffic in material cultureè
Sami is a researcher at the Woolf Institute in Cambridge, working ethnographically in Barbès, Paris, on the role of trust in religiously diverse urbanism. He previously worked on the multiple dimensions of Parisian Jewish identification to North Africa. His research practice has involved multi-lingual ethnography in complex settings, and tracking how intercultural and interreligious encounter is mediated through localised market relations.

Ruth Sheldon – Ethics and Neighbourly Encounters
Ruth is a sociologist and postdoctoral researcher in DPS working on the Dangoor Foundation “Ethical Monotheism” project. Her new book, Tragic Encounters, is an ethnographic exploration of Jewish-Muslim relations among students, while her current research explores the ethics of neighbourly encounters in Hackney.

Rachel Humphris – Ethnographies of Home Encounters
Rachel is an anthropologist. She completed her DPhil student at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology at Oxford and is now a researcher at the Institute for the Study of Superdiversity (IRiS) in Birmingham whose ethnographic work living with Romanian Roma families in Luton explored the concept of the “home level bureaucrat” and the “home encounter” between the local neoliberal state and migrant mothers.

Mette Louise Berg and Simon Rowe – Collaborative Visual Ethnography of Superdiversity
Mette is an anthropologist and a Senior Lecturer at in the Thomas Coram Research Unite at UCL IoE, who has worked on Cuban migrants in urban Europe and more recently on a collaborative ethnographic research project in Elephant and Castle, alongside ethnographic photographer Simon Rowe.

 

This event is open to all, but places are limited. Registration and payment are essential
£35 Standard | £25 Birkbeck Staff | £15 All Students & Unwaged

Book your place

If you cannot afford the fee, please get in touch with the BISR Manager, Madisson Brown, on bisr@bbk.ac.uk

Organiser: Dr Ben Gidley, Birkbeck, University of London

This Colloquium is supported by the Birkbeck Institute for Social Research, a hub for the dissemination and discussion of social research in London and beyond.

Contact name:

LONDON/PARIS JEWS/MUSLIMS

From the Woolf Institute blog:

Woolf Institute research in Paris: “Religion, social action and urban policy: London and Paris face to face” by Junior Research Fellow Dr Sami Everett

Critical comparative perspectives are key to thinking afresh about an object of study. This is why I organised a unique event called “Religion, social action and urban policy: London and Paris face to face” that drew together academics from across disciplines and actors of civil society working on or through faith. Each panel was carefully selected to give expert reflection on the differences and similarities between France and the UK (Paris and London) in terms of managing urban ethnoreligious diversity. Given the heightened suspicion of faith in Europe today, and in particular Islam, the event focused on attitudinal change. It quickly became apparent that central to this discussion is the vexed question of French secularism (laïcité), a key aspect of assimilationist policy, and its relationship to contemporary interaction between faith communities and religious discrimination.

[READ THE REST]

Here’s me:

Capturing faith and ethnicity statistics is another fundamental difference between the UK and France. French Republican ideals of neutrality and equality do not allow for such granularity in census data. Omar Khan Runneymede Trust director (London) gave a statistical overview of racial and islamophobic discrimination in employment using UK census data as a way of appealing to policy makers. By contrast, and in spite of having no data, Estelle Barthelemy, founder of Mozaïk RH  (a recruitment agency of diversity in the Paris region) works with to try and increase the number of ethnically and economically disadvantaged young people in upper tier (graduate) employment. Discrimination though, is also discursive (it permeates peoples’ political speech)  and paradoxically while important work has been done to limit  Islamophobic and anti-Semitic (but not only) hate speech, barrister Arié Alimi  and ethnographer Ben Gidley alerted us to the fine line between what at times people say and their behaviour i.e. people can work together and enjoy each other’s company yet speak in a prejudicial manner about one another.

ben-hanane

Ben Gidley and Hanane Karimi

 

The event was funded by the PSL-University of Cambridge partnership that seeks to strengthen intellectual collaboration between the UK and France. The Woolf Institute and the Faculty of History of the University of Cambridge organised the event with the French National Scientific Research Centre (CNRS) laboratory Groupe Religions, Sociétés, Laïcités (GRSL).

Read the GSRL blog post by Sami Everett and watch the conference videos here.

psl-conf


CALL FOR PAPERS: (UN)MAKING EUROPE – Islamism and the right; Antisemitism and racism

 The European Sociological Association has issued its call for papers for the 2017 conference, (Un)Making Europe: Capitalism, Solidarities, Subjectivities, which will be in Athens in September. The closing date is 1 February. The whole call is here.

This post is to draw your attention to the semi-plenary and stream organised by Research Network 31 (RN31), the network on antisemitism and racism. Here are those calls:

SP10 – Right-Wing Extremism and Islamist Extremism in Europe: Similarities and Differences

Coordinator: Karin Stögner, University of Vienna, Austria karin.stoegner@univie.ac.at

Right-wing extremism and Islamist extremism have a strange relation. While political right-wing extremist agitation often focuses on Islamist terror and instrumentalizes it for an agitation against Muslims and migration in general, Islamist-extremist movements refer to a “war of the West against Islam” in order to mobilize against the West in general. Despite these obvious differences, the two movements show striking similarities, such as antisemitism, homophobia, discrimination of women, homogenizing collective identity constructions, antidemocratic orientation, and authoritarianism. Both movements engage in an authoritarian rebellion against the ruling system and give themselves an anti-elitist image. Conspiracies and scenarios of impending doom play a major role in both. The “Jew” as the universal foe is central in both ideologies, just as a strict gender-binarity and a reactionary gender regime. Against this background Islamist extremism and right-wing extremism need to be viewed as competing authoritarian movements rather than opposite ideologies. For this semi-plenary session we call for contributions that explicitly relate the two movements to one another, referring to the similarities no less than the differences.

Issues that could be addressed by submission include: Antisemitism in right-wing extremism and Islamist extremism, including the image of Jews and Israel in both ideologies. How do the two movements relate to collective identity constructions, the nation and the Ummah? What is the role of gender-relations and gender-images in both ideologies? Which conspiracy theories can be found in both ideologies respectively? How do these issues contribute to a more general authoritarian and anti-democratic orientation within both ideologies? What are the historical, religious and socio-economic contexts in which the movements emerged and how are they connected?

RN31 – Ethnic Relations, Racism and Antisemitism

Coordinator: Karin Stoegner, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria karin.stoegner@univie.ac.at

The ESA Research Network 31: Ethnic Relations, Racism and Antisemitism invites sub-missions of abstracts for presentations at the 13th ESA Conference. We will hold sessions that focus on theoretical, methodological and empirical aspects of research on antisemitism and racism. This will include comparative studies. The network’s perspective is to bridge an exclusive divide between the understanding of antisemitism and of racism, exploring the correspondences and affinities, but also the differences and contrasts. Our over-arching question is to understand the material conditions and the social, political and historical contexts shaping variations of antisemitism and racism across time and across different European and global contexts.

In particular, we will focus on the role of antisemitism, ethnic relations and racism in current threats to democracy and democratic values in Europe; how antisemitic, xenophobic and racist myths, narratives and discourses circulate in the digital “post-truth” age. Specific questions might include:

– How can we explain the relationship between authoritarian populism, right-wing extremism and Islamism, three of the main dimensions of antisemitic, racist and xenophobic narratives? How can we explain anti-Muslim and anti-refugee hatred in Europe today?

– What are the gender politics of these formations?

– How can sociologists considering these questions intervene in debates on free speech, academic freedom and hate speech?

We are also interested in submissions exploring philo- as well as antisemitism, and ostensibly liberal and critical forms of racism, nationalism and intolerance. For example, how does Israel figure in both antisemitic and philosemitic discourses of the Jewish other?

What kind of racist, intolerant or antisemitic views exist on the part of discriminated minorities? And does the discrimination faced by minorities in turn feed these views?

We also welcome presentations that highlight neglected forms of racism and racialisation (including anti-Roma discrimination or “anti-Gypsyism”) and presentations that explore the intersection of different racisms or of racisms with other axes of difference and power. We particularly welcome contributions that offer a comparative framing (e.g. cross-nationally or from the perspective of different European regions), presentations that offer a multi- or inter-disciplinary framing (e.g. drawing on history), and papers that offer theoretical and methodological innovation in studying our questions.


Aleppo, the Mediterranean: Humanity in dark times

I am thrilled to have had a piece published in the brilliant new online magazine Wildcat Dispatches, entitled “Who is Allowed to be Human? ‘Bare Life’ in Aleppo and on the Mediterranean“. I wrote this very quickly and very angrily. It’s about the stripping of biographical life away from so many people in our world, drawing on Arendt and Agamben. Here’s the first section, which I entitled “The Musselmann” (readers of Primo Levi will know that is the term was used in the concentration camps to refer to the drowned, the walking dead).

In Orwell’s 1984, Winston Smith describes watching a film of a boat full of refugees being bombed by a helicopter “somewhere in the Mediterranean”. A “middleaged woman who might have been a jewess” sits in the bow with a little boy in her arms, screaming and hiding his face in her chest; she covers him with her body “as if she thought her arms could keep the bullets off him”. The party members cheer as the boat explodes.

Writing in the aftermath of World War II, Orwell and his readers would have seen, on newsreels in the cinema, the harrowing images of barely alive survivors of liberated camps such as Bergen-Belsen and Buchenwald; of groups of stateless ‘Displaced Persons‘ drifting across Europe for years after the war ended; of boats full of Jews in the Mediterranean denied ports because of the fear of contagion or that they might be carrying terrorists, or sunk by British forces to prevent them reaching Palestine.

These camps and boats are the images invoked by the philosopher Giorgio Agamben in his concept of “bare life”: zoological life denuded of humanity through the state’s violence. He drew on Hannah Arendt, who had herself experienced internment as a refugee and had written in 1958 that “The chief characteristic of [the] specifically human life […] is that it is itself always full of events which ultimately can be told as a story, establish a biography […] bios, as distinguished from mere zoé”. Eric Santner names zoé stripped of bios as “creaturely life”, when human life “assumes the cringed posture of the creature”.

In the last few years, we have seen many – far too many – examples of such violently imposed creaturely life. Globally, well over 7,000 migrants– maybe as many as 10,000– have died trying to cross borders in 2016, including nearly 5,000 in the Mediterranean. On the route from Libya to Italy, one migrant dies for every 47 that make it. We have grown used to seeing images of people crammed into boats, or bodies stranded on beaches, but we rarely hear their names.

In Syria, whence many of Europe’s refugees are fleeing, the government has besieged rebel communities for five years, using starvation as a form of warfare; residents have struggled to maintain a liveable, biographical life as barrel bombs fall from helicopters day and night. The UN long since gave up counting the dead – when the toll reached a quarter of a million in 2014. In the latest phase of the war, we have watched – or, more often, turned away from – families in an East Aleppo reduced to rubble, sleeping in the snow before being packed onto buses by their aggressors and transported to unknown destinations.

READ THE REST.

I strongly recommend you spend time with the rest of Wildcat Dispatches, including the Wildcat Statement on Aleppo, Sarah Keenan’s “Another Refugee Dies at the Hands of the Australian Government“, Emma Patchett “On forced evictions and a never-ending winter for the Roma in France“, Gavan Titley’s “Filter Bubble – When Scepticism of the Mainstream Media Becomes Denial of Atrocity” and Mark Boothroyd’s “Aleppo Falls, and Humanity Falls With It“.

wildcat

 


Integration and opportunity: Blogging the Casey Review

Last year I invited to give evidence to Louise Casey’s review of integration policy for the government. The report of the review has now been published.

Although the evidence base presented in the report is quite strong, most of it does not come from academic research, but rather from thinktanks or other policy literature. Among the academic research that is used, however, is Gemma Catney’s important work on the geographies of integration and segregation, and Sundas Ali’s work on second and third generation Muslims in Britain.

There has been a lot of commentary on the review, much of it critical. Leah Bassel’s piece for DiscoverSociety is especially worth reading.

I wrote two small thinkpieces on it. The first was published by the Sociological Review blog, entitled “Absent Experts and Public Debates About Integration“, in which I challenge sloppy conceptualisations of “integration” itself as well as draw attention to the value of qualitative and especially ethnographic research on how communities live together. This piece was re-published by the LSE Religion and the Public Sphere blog too.

Secondly, David Feldman and I wrote something for the Birkbeck Comment blog, on the importance of highlighting social justice and disadvantage in the integration debate (a point we made in our Integration, Cohesion and Disadvantage report in 2014).

market-778851_1280


Religion, Social Action & Urban Policy: London Paris face to face

From the GSRL blog:

Religion, Social Action & Urban Policy: London Paris face to face / Religions, action sociale et politique urbaine: Paris et Londres en face à face

On 17 March 2016, a conference took place in Paris at the GSRL. It was organised within the exchanges between PSL Research University and the University of Cambridge by Samuel Everett (postdoctoral researcher at the GSRL/Woolf Institute). Read the conference program.
My bit:
Secularism Faith & Community

While in London civil society is often openly infused with religious values, social initiative in Paris and its periphery is structured by laïcité. This panel explores these conceptions of state secularism and questions the realities of these ‘models’ within local urban contexts as ideas of class, race and religious identity increasingly intersect.

Ben Gidely [sic!] discussed three historical-social science research projects on which he has worked focusing on his historical and ethnographic work in East and North East London.

He argued that national-level policy can mould how people live together and in the UK.

He discussed the theory attributed to this idea: “conservative pluralism” in which the Church of England maintained overall religious supremacy by mediating for minority faiths.

Space and place nevertheless impact on interreligious relations such as those on Brick lane which fosters neighbourhood narratives of cosmopolitanism.

Finally, somewhat paradoxically, his research has shown that how people interact with one another does not necessarily concur with how they talk about each other i.e. racist speak can belie good relations.

The post includes videos. Here’s mine:

 


Diversidad cultural y conflictos en la Unión Europea

Ángeles Solanes Corella (ed.), Diversidad cultural y conflictos en la Unión Europea: Implicaciones jurídico-políticas (Tirant lo Blanch, Valencia: 2015, 1ª Edición; 2016, 2ª Edición).

Review by Javier García Medína (Universidad de Valladolid) in Cuadernos Electrónicos de Filosofía del Derecho No 34 (2016): Diciembre 2016, pp.320-324 [PDF]

Extract:

La aportación desde la perspectiva inglesa la representa el trabajo de Ben Gidley, para quien ha de reelaborarse el concepto de integración en un sentido más multidimensional y multidireccional, si se quiere dar respuesta adecuada a la integración de los migrantes y de las minorías. Ello implicaría  ransitar de la etnicidad hacia la clase social y desde el conflict de civilizaciones hacia cuestiones de justicia social. Por su parte Letizia Mancini se centra en la seguridad urbana en relación con el context italiano, cuestión central que no solo presenta la dimensión teórica sino su trascendencia y alcance en los aspectos sociales y políticos para la seguridad urbana y para la inmigración en la política italiana.

CEFD Número 34 (2016) | ISSN: 1138-9877 | DOI: 10.7203/CEFD.34.9416