Category Archives: It’s all about me

Coming soon!

Very excited that two book projects that have been very close to my heart for some time are both moving towards publication. First, in a few months, Antisemitism and Islamophobia in Europe: A Shared Story?, edited with James Renton (actually he did far more of the work than me) will be out with Palgrave.

This is the first book to examine the relationship between European antisemitism and Islamophobia from the Crusades until the twenty-first century in the principal flashpoints of the two racisms. With case studies ranging from the Balkans to the UK, the contributors take the debate away from politicised polemics about whether or not Muslims are the new Jews. Much previous scholarship and public discussion has focused on comparing European ideas about Jews and Judaism in the past with contemporary attitudes towards Muslims and Islam. This volume rejects this approach. Instead, it interrogates how the dynamic relationship between antisemitism and Islamophobia has evolved over time and space. The result is the uncovering of a previously unknown story in which European ideas about Jews and Muslims were indeed connected, but were also ripped apart. Religion, empire, nation-building, and war, all played their part in the complex evolution of this relationship.  As well as a study of prejudice, this book also opens up a new area of inquiry: how Muslims, Jews, and others have responded to these historically connected racisms.

The volume brings together leading scholars in the emerging field of antisemitism-Islamophobia studies who work in a diverse range of disciplines: anthropology, history, sociology, critical theory, and literature. Together, they help us to understand a Europe in which Jews and Arabs were once called Semites, and today are widely thought to be on two different sides of the War on Terror.

Here are the contents:

1 Introduction: The Shared Story of Europe’s Ideas of the Muslim and the Jew—A Diachronic Framework | James Renton and Ben Gidley

Part I Christendom

2 Ethnic and Religious Categories in the Treatment of Jews and Muslims in the Crusader States | Andrew Jotischky

3 Antisemitism, Islamophobia and the Conspiracy Theory of Medical Murder in Early Modern Spain and Portugal | François Soyer

Part II Empire

4 Fear and Loathing in the Russian Empire | Robert D. Crews

5 The End of the Semites | James Renton

Part III Divergence

6 The Case of Circumcision: Diaspora Judaism as a Model for Islam? | Sander L. Gilman

7 Islamophobia and Antisemitism in the Balkans | Marko Attila Hoare

8 Antisemitism and Its Critics | Gil Anidjar

Part IV Response

9 Antisemitism, Islamophobia and the Search for Common Ground in French Antiracist Movements since 1898 | Daniel A. Gordon

10 The Price of an Entrance Ticket to Western Society: Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Heinrich Heine and the Double Standard of Emancipation | David J. Wertheim

11 The Impact of Antisemitism and Islamophobia on Jewish–Muslim Relations in the UK: Memory, Experience, Context | Yulia Egorova and Fiaz Ahmed

Further in the future, my first sole-authored monograph, Citizenship and Belonging: East London Jewish Radicals, has a publication date with Manchester University Press in the Racism, Resistance and Social Change series edited by John Solomos, Satnam Virdee and Aaron Winter.

Racism, Resistance and Social Change is committed to providing a forum for the publication of challenging and innovative scholarship on questions about race, racism and ethnic relations. We have seen intense debate about these issues both globally and within particular geopolitical environments. Our main objective in this series is to provide a forum for scholars from a range of theoretical and political perspectives to publish their work and to develop a dialogue that has an international and multidisciplinary focus. We aim to publish both theoretically driven research as well as research with a more historical and empirical frame.

 

Authors will be asked to address at least one central theme:

  • Mapping the changing forms and nature of racism in the contemporary age
  • Understanding racism over the longue duree, or re-connecting the present to the past
  • Anti-racism as intellectual and social movement

Forthcoming Books in series:

  • Margarita Aragon, African and Mexican American Men and Collective Violence, 1915-1965: Racial problem headaches (Autumn 2017)
  • Ben Gidley, Citizenship and belonging: East London Jewish Radicals 1903-1918 (winter 2017)

Series Editors: John Solomos, Warwick University, Satnam Virdee, University of Glasgow and Aaron Winter, University of East London,

 

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Antisemitic anti-Zionism: the root of Labour’s crisis

Alan Johnson’s submission to the Labour Party’s Chakrabarti inquiry on antisemitism and other forms of racism, published by Fathom, quotes my work. Here are some extracts:

Antisemitism is the most protean of hatreds and it has shape-shifted again (Gidley 2011). … Continue reading


CIRIS Interview on London’s diaspora communities

This was published on the Cambridge Institute on Religion and International Studies blog.  Huge thanks to Margot and Chris for the interview and transcript.

12249599_670502763092886_1394241603932128199_nIn November 2015 Birkbeck University’s Dr Ben Gidley gave a lecture at CIRIS on Christian, Muslim, and Jewish diaspora communities in London. Here CIRIS research associates Margot Dazey and Chris Moses ask Gidley about the state of diasporic research, his own research on diaspora groups within London’s famously diverse East End, and the policy implications of such research.

CIRIS: Can you tell us about the main aims of the Oxford Diasporas Programme, as well as those of your specific project? Continue reading


Blogging migration research

All of my COMPAS blogposts, which I have featured on this website, have now been migrated to the new COMPAS website and archived in one place. Here they are, with links to the new permanent url:

Continue reading


Fifty days in the summer: Gaza, political protest and antisemitism in the UK

The All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism has published a report they commissioned me to write.

This is the opening page:

On 12 June 2014, three Israeli teenagers were abducted in the West Bank, against a backdrop of heightened tension between the Israeli state and Palestinian forces, including a renewal of settlement-building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The abduction was followed by days of escalating violence, including a massive Israeli policing operation in the West Bank, the murder of a Palestinian teenager after the bodies of the kidnapped Israelis were found, and increasing numbers of rockets fired from Gaza into Israel. A series of Israeli air strikes on targets in Gaza on the night of 30 June-1 July marked the start of sustained Israel’s military engagement, and Operation Protective Edge was launched on 8 July, comprising initially of airstrikes on targets associated with rocket fire (with around 200 people killed in the strikes), followed by ground engagement a week later. De-escalation began on 3 August, with Israel withdrawing ground troops from Gaza, and an open-ended ceasefire concluded this round of the conflict on 26 August. In total, over 2100 Palestinians were killed (with estimates of civilians ranging between 50% and 76% of the losses), along with 66 Israeli combatants, 5 Israeli civilians and 1 Thai national.

There were demonstrations against Israel’s prosecution of the conflict across the world, including several in the UK, as well as other manifestations of protest, such as public calls for and acts of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel. There were some reports of antisemitic content in some of these demonstrations, against a broader context in which antisemitic incidents spiked dramatically. Over 130 antisemitic were recorded by the Community Security Trust (CST) in July, making it the highest monthly total since January 2009 (a previous period of war in Gaza and Israel’s Operation Cast Lead).

This short report examines the 2014 protests, exploring the extent and degree of antisemitism in the anti-Israel protests, as well as the reporting of this antisemitism and its impact on the Jewish community. It focuses in particular on the 50 days of Operation Protective Edge.

The research questions which this report attempts to address are:

  • What were the predominant discourses in the UK protests relating to Operation Protective Edge?

  • Were antisemitic discourses present? If so, how prevalent were they?

  • Are UK protests relating to Operation Protective Edge comparable in scale and in discourse to protests relating to other conflicts?

  • How do these issues relate to mainstream and Jewish media reporting on the conflict and on the demonstrations?

  • How do these issues and their media representation affect Jewish feelings about antisemitism?

My report was one of a series of sub-reports which are also available on the APPGAA’s website. These sub-reports were drawn on in the APPGAA’s own report and recommendations.

For the purposes of shameless self-promotion, here are extracts from the report which cite me: Continue reading


Servicing super-diversity

This is my latest COMPAS blog post. You can read the original here. The photos are by me.

In the 1890s, philanthropist Charles Booth and a team of assistants – the pioneers of sociological research in the UK – walked the whole of London, visually noting the wealth of each street’s inhabitants, to construct their Maps Descriptive of London Poverty. The maps coded streets by colour, with scarlet red and gold marking the “well-to-do” and the “wealthy”, dark blue and black representing the “casual poor” in “chronic want” and the
“vicious and semi-criminal” “lowest class”. Southwark, just across the Thames from the City of London, was a mass of dark colours.

A hundred years later, the New Labour government created an Index of Multiple Deprivation to map new forms of poverty, dark blue for most deprived and gold for least. Again, the northern wards of Southwark were swathed in darkness, with the area around Elephant and Castle especially dark blue.

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More recently, the estate agents Savills has produced a different map of London, with dark blue representing areas where house prices were declining, and Booth’s scarlet red now used to mark zones moving “upmarket”. This time, in what the Economist called “the great inversion”, the former dark zones of Southwark had become vivid red property hotspots.

Elephant and Castle, in the heart of this area, exemplifies London’s sharp changes: commercial student housing, warehousing study migrants from the rising powers of Eastern Asia; luxury pied a terres in developments in a rebranded “South Central” quarter; social housing redevelopments that result in the decanting of long-term residents out to London’s far suburbs; a growing hub for Latin American enterprise.

Super-diversity at the local level

Elephant and Castle is also the site of a COMPAS project, Welfare, neighbourhood and new geographies of diversity. This project, along with an ESRC Knowledge Exchange Fellowship, were the source for February’s COMPAS Breakfast Briefing, presented by my COMPAS colleague Mette Louise Berg and me. We asked “How do local authorities deal with the increasing diversity of their clients and residents?” The Powerpoint presentation is online, and podcast and summary are coming soon.

IMG_3525_elephant_arches

Mette opened by describing the concept of “super-diversity” at the heart of our project, the intensifying diversity of forms of difference concentrated in one place, as defined by COMPAS founder Stephen Vertovec. Vertovec’s work has opened up a research agenda that I have been pursuing with Nando Sigona, Mette Berg and other colleagues in the last half decade, with a conference in Oxford, a workshop in Birmingham, and an edited collection. It also informed a Home Office study on the varying impacts of migration in local areas (subject of a previous Breakfast Briefing by Jon Simmons), which included “super-diverse London” as one of its geographical clusters.

The Welfare, neighbourhood and new geographies of diversity project, which also involves Caroline Oliver, Hiranthi Jayaweera and Rachel Humphris, as well as photographer Simon Rowe, takes this agenda forward by piloting ethnographic research on how diversity is patterned differently at different stages of the life course, and how this impacts on service provision in a super-diverse space.

Understanding Elephant

figure for BB blogpost

My contribution to the Breakfast Briefing was to present detailed census analysis done as part of the project by Anna Krausova, exploring different patterns of diversity across multiple axes of difference in an area circumscribed by a 1 mile radius from Elephant and Castle. Mette then presented some of the findings from the education and housing case studies of our qualitative research. Continue reading


Coming soon: Ethnography, Diversity and Urban Space, the book

Ethnography, Diversity and Urban Space
Edited by Mette Louise Berg, University of Oxford, UK, Ben Gidley, University of Oxford, UK and Nando Sigona, University of Birmingham, UK

Across Europe, multiculturalism as a public policy has been declared ‘dead’ but, everyday multiculture is alive and well. This book explores how people live with diversity in contemporary cities and towns across Europe. It weaves
together ethnographic case studies with contemporary social and cultural theory about urban space, migration, transnationalism and everyday multiculture.

This book was originally published as a special issue of Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power.

Published by Routledge.

Flyer: Ethnography, Diversity and Urban Space UK Flyer [20% discount!] [pdf]


New report: Advancing Outcomes for All Minorities: Experiences of Mainstreaming Immigrant Integration Policy in the United Kingdom

Migration Policy Institute Europe has just published a new report by Sundas Ali and me on mainstreaming integration  policy in the UK. The work was done last summer as part of an MPI Europe project for the Dutch government described here. The work informed the Upstream project which we subsequently developed with Erasmus University Rotterdam. The following is from the MPI Europe website.

 

Although the United Kingdom has large foreign-born and native-born ethnic minority populations, there has been little policy activity in the area of immigrant integration in the country. Instead, since 2010 integration issues have been subsumed within broader concerns about diversity, equality, and social cohesion.

This report explores the United Kingdom’s unique experience with immigrant integration, which is strongly influenced by its colonial ties. Following World War II, the United Kingdom received a wave of migrants from its former colonies, many of whom were already British citizens, spoke English, and maintained strong ties to what they consider their mother country. As a result, native-born citizens have been reluctant to think of migrants as such, preferring instead to consider them minorities. Government programs and civil-society groups engage migrants, particularly migrant and minority youth, as part of communities rather than as discrete entities.

This mainstreaming of integration policy—attempting to reach people with a migration background through needs-based social programming and policies that also target the general population—has been supported by societal norms emphasizing inclusion and antidiscrimination as well as an ideological commitment to localism at the national level. These factors, combined with suspicion of top-down regulation, have led the national government to relinquish responsibility in integration matters to local governments. Localities, including case-study cities London and Glasgow, now have the space to develop innovative approaches to integration, but must overcome low levels of funding due to austerity measures. Continue reading


Integration, Disadvantage and Extremism: parliamentary report launch

Yesterday, the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism hosted a parliamentary launch of our report on integration, disadvantage and extremism, edited by David Feldman and me. David and I presented the report to the integration minister, Stephen Williams MP, and a small audience of MPs,  lords and officials. The event was chaired by John Mann MP. The report was published in May by the Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism and COMPAS.

Here is the text of what I said.

My job today is to say a few words about the recommendations made in this report. David finished on the importance of the role of central government in promoting and shaping integration in the UK. Running through our recommendations is a commitment to two related principles: the responsibility of leadership in combating extremism and the importance of evidence in making policy.

One of the central recommendations of the report, therefore, is listening to the grievances that drive intolerance in our society. The evidence collected in this report shows that grievances relating to disadvantage provide fertile ground for intolerance and division. To combat intolerance, therefore, we need to understand and address its social contexts.

For instance, Oxford sociologist Professor Anthony Heath shows that disengagement from the British mainstream is a function of what he calls the “integration paradox”: This paradox sees not Muslim migrants, but their objectively more “integrated” British-born children, becoming more sensitive to the inequalities of opportunity facing them in British society. Similarly, Vidhya Ramalingam, in collecting the evidence on far right extremism, shows that the appeal of the far right is not necessarily to the most disadvantaged among the white working class, but to those who are socially integrated in their communities but feel left behind by a rapidly changing Britain and distrustful of authority. We make a mistake, therefore, if we simply dismiss as ‘prejudiced’ those who are drawn to racist and extremist programmes – whether among the white or Muslim populations – as if they are fantasists. Rather we should see them, in general, as responding to real problems but with the wrong answers.

This points to a second key recommendation too: the importance of a whole community approach to integration, led by national government, to re-engage with those feeling left behind or disengaged. Not by targeting ‘problem’ minorities – an approach which reproduces the flaws of a divisive state multiculturalism: stigmatising groups, driving grievances and competition, promoting division over cohesion. But instead by calibrating mainstream policy levers towards ensuring that no group is left out of a concern for social mobility and social justice. For example, it is not integration policy but housing and schools policy that will stop a drift towards segregation where it occurs; it is not integration policy but employment policy that will reduce the growing gaps in employment outcomes across the population.

As MPs know from their constituencies, integration – or a lack of it – is experienced at a local level, on the streets of Britain’s towns and cities. But a national strategy is critical if we are to have any chance of overcoming the barriers to integration that create the conditions in which extremism festers. A national strategy isn’t necessarily about a new national funding programme. A national strategy is settingout detailed, concrete, substantive actions – for example, to narrow gaps in socio-economic and educational outcomes, or to eliminate segregation in schools and neighbourhoods, or to build a shared civic culture – but also a coherent methodology for measuring progress based on robust data: such a smart approach is the only cost-effective approach to doing social policy in a time of austerity. Again: the responsibility of leadership, grounded in evidence-based policy-making.

A third recommendation to put this responsibility into effect is around the way we communicate these issues. The kinds of grievances which give rise to softer forms of racism are often driven by inflamed discourse, by debates based on perceptions and assertions rather than facts. To this end, we all have a responsibility to promote evidence-based, balanced and open discussion and debate. This means finding a way to re-engage communities while using language that does not alienate, but rather speaks to their concerns about fairness, equality and justice: not lecturing about prejudice or common values, not dismissing grievances as “bigoted”, for example, but instead addressing their substance.

This approach builds on the record of the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism, which has worked to develop guidelines on electoral conduct and on hate speech in campuses.

In widening the focus from antisemitism to other forms of intolerance and extremism, this might mean, for instance, taking care in the use of numbers – inaccurate presentation of information leads to divisive debates and bad policy-making.

It might mean avoiding terms such as ‘native population’ – which can obscure the contribution and strong British identification of long-settled minority populations and conflate nationality with ethnicity.

And it might mean avoiding speaking of Britain’s diverse population as if it is composed of discrete and homogenous entities – ‘Muslim communities’ or ‘white working class communities’ – given that similarities across and differences within such communities are often at least as significant. Such terms, in failing to recognise the diversity and range of voices and positions within such populations, also fail to address the real structures of disadvantage that shape their experiences.

Addressing these structures of grievance is the best – the only – way to take forward the imperative to tackle all forms of intolerance in our society.


Political Violence, Terrorism and Extremism in Greece and Europe

London2014-10

Earlier this month I participated in this workshop of the Political Studies Association’s Greek Politics Specialist Group. The webpage has lots of the materials from the workshop and is well worth a visit.


Integration, Disadvantage and Extremism: report published

This is the report based on the parliamentary symposium we organised last year for the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism. The report is introduced by John Mann MP with an afterword by Baroness Sayeeda Warsi. Press release:

Report explores what drives far right and radical Islamist movements in Britain

27 May 2014

A new report, ‘Integration, Disadvantage and Extremism’, produced by researchers from COMPAS and Birkbeck, University of London, for the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism, examines what drives extremism in British society.

It suggests that Islamist and far-right extremism are often two sides of the same coin with radical ideologies being embraced by people who feel marginalised as they appear to offer an explanation for, or an answer to, a sense of grievance or lack of opportunity.

The report, which offers new insights from ten leading academics and thinkers, says extremism and integration cannot be tackled at a local level alone. Nor can they be addressed in isolation from tackling issues of disadvantage and inequality. It suggests a unified national strategy is required to build community cohesion and integration, incorporating legal and policy responses, and with a renewed commitment to improving social mobility and racial justice.

Professor David Feldman, Director of the Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism at Birkbeck, University of London, who co-edited the report, said: ‘Xenophobia, Islamophobia and antisemitism are promoted by leaders and ideologues to drive many different forms of extremism. Their appeal to followers is rooted in social and political grievances. Intolerance and racism cannot be understood or fought in isolation from tackling their underlying causes.’

Report co-editor Dr Ben Gidley, Associate Professor in the Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS) at the University of Oxford, said: ‘Integration – or a lack of it – is experienced at a local level on the streets of Britain’s towns and cities. This research suggests a more effective national strategy is needed to overcome barriers to integration; otherwise, there is a risk that we create conditions within which extremism can flourish.’

One of the report contributors, leading sociologist Professor Anthony Heath from the University of Oxford, identifies what he calls ‘the paradox of integration’. He suggests that second generation British Muslims are becoming more aware of inequalities in British society than their parents’ generation were. ‘Simple caricatures of Muslims as leading separate lives will not do,’ concludes Professor Heath. ‘Non-Muslim British citizens must do their part too to live up to the ideal of providing equality of opportunity for their Muslim fellow citizens.’

Professor Heath, who led the Ethnic Minority British Electoral Survey (EMBES) in 2010, found that while 94% of Muslims born in Britain expressed their national identity as British or English, compared with 66% of first generation Muslims who migrated here, their perceptions of discrimination and exclusion have increased: 46% of second generation British Muslims felt there was prejudice against Muslims as compared with 27% of the previous generation; 20% of second generation Muslims also felt discriminated against because of their religion as compared with 8% in the first generation.

The reasons why people support far right organisations, as well as the UK Independence Party (UKIP), in Britain are also explored. Vidhya Ramalingam, from the London-based Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), argues that there is ‘a wide reservoir of tacit support’ in Britain for ideas put forward by the far right. ‘The UK has historically been fertile ground for movements thriving on discontent with mainstream political institutions, popular xenophobia and euro-scepticism,’ she adds in the report. She suggests that although the UK Independence Party (UKIP) is not a right-wing extremist party, there are overlaps between its policy proposals and those of the far right. Her review of existing research concludes it is important not to stereotype these groups or their assumed support base as being from ‘the white working class’.

UKIP’s ‘narrative of divide and rule’ is explored by Professor Ben Rogaly from the Sussex Centre for Migration Research and Dr Becky Taylor from Birkbeck, University of London. They explore what is meant by the white working class, arguing that UKIP seeks to separate “strivers” from the “skivers” to justify cuts in benefits, and immigrants and ethnic minorities from the so-called indigenous population. Their research includes case studies in Peterborough of white working class individuals who have moved to the area, and assesses their views of international migrants. The authors suggest that politicians ‘should be bolder in articulating the structures which give rise to common experiences of inequality and disadvantage, rather than focusing on external markers of difference’.

Read the full report

Integration Disadvantage and ExtremisimMay2014FINAL

Continue reading


The COMPAS Anthology: Integration

As part of the celebrations of its tenth anniversary, COMPAS has published Migration: A COMPAS Anthology, edited by Bridget Anderson and Michaek Keith, the print edition beautifully designed by Mikal Mast. You can browse it on the web at http://compasanthology.co.uk.

The initial idea was a kind of A-Z, a collection of keywords, and I was given the keyword “integration”. Here is my contribution.

Integration

Ben Gidley

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Integration – the stuff that happens after migration – has an ambivalent relationship to migration studies. The integration question has historically been posed in relation to the context of reception and, therefore, within the disciplinary boundaries of the sociological tradition. The sociological tradition was born with the emergence of the modern city; the question of the stranger within the city – the stranger who comes today and stays tomorrow, as Georg Simmel put it (1950) – has been one of its constitutive problems.

Classically in this tradition, though, the question has been posed in a way that brackets out and renders invisible the migrant journey.

Three problems for the classical sociological approach follow from this. First, it takes a receiving society perspective, as noted by migration scholars developing a more transnational or cosmopolitan perspective. Second, as the national state’s role is redefined by the turbluence of globalisation, an integration discourse which ‘sees like a state’ is increasingly inadequate. And, third, it raises the question of what it is that migrants integrate into.

All three of these problems were present in Emile Durkheim’s reflections at the start of the 20th century. For Durkheim, in an age defined by mass rural-urban migration, without some mechanism for integration, society ‘is no more than a pile of sand that the least jolt or the slightest puff will suffice to scatter.’ Forms of organic solidarity were required, and the civil religion of the nation was the answer, binding strangers to the abstraction of the state.

The concept of integration was introduced to the UK’s political agenda in the 1960s by Home Secretary Roy Jenkins, who defined it in a far less functionalist way: ‘not as a flattening process of assimilation but as equal opportunity, accompanied by cultural diversity, in an atmosphere of mutual tolerance’ (1967). This definition emerged at a particular historical moment, that of the Windrush generation of (post-)colonial citizen migrants. This generation’s first struggle was with its designation as a generation of immigrants. Hence the emergent anti-racist movement (and later the academic consensus informed by that movement) rejected the notion of integration as insufficiently distinct from assimilation. Thus the concept was for a long time largely absent from political and scholarly debates in Britain.

This changed in the wake of the mill town riots and terrorist attacks of 2001, and also as a result of European Union debates. This has happened, however, at a time when integration is in danger of becoming a zombie concept, stumbling after its lifespan has passed.

The British integration debate has been characterised by a profound lack of clarity. Too often, politicians and pundits unconsciously freight the term with the baggage of Durkheimian functionalism. ‘British values’ and commitment to the ‘British way of life’ have taken the role of Durkheim’s civil religion of the state, betraying a melancholic nostalgia for a monochrome Britishness that probably never existed. As across Europe, integration debates have had a punitive streak: imagining migrants ‘not really wanting or even willing to integrate’ (as Prime Minister David Cameron put it), politicians have made full participation in citizenship contingent on the migrant duty to fit in.

Sarah Spencer, in her book The Migration Debate (2011), proposes a useful alternative definition: integration refers to the processes of interaction between migrants and the individuals and institutions of the receiving society that facilitate the socio-economic, cultural, social and civic participation of migrants and an inclusive sense of identity and belonging. This definition emphasises the multi-directional nature of integration: it is not something which migrants do, but rather about interaction. It acknowledges integration as a series of processes across a number of related, but ultimately autonomous, domains, at a range of different scales.

This definition challenges the authoritarian drift of an integration debate focused solely on the migrant responsibility to fit in. It presents us with a policy agenda on integration which I will summarise here as seven key questions. Continue reading


The future of superdiversity research

My former colleague Nando Sigona posted this on his blog:

Notes on the roundtable held at the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Research intro Superdiversity on 4th December 2013

by Nando Sigona, Institute for Research into Superdiversity (IRiS)

IRiS roundtable, 4 Dec 2013

IRiS roundtable, 4 Dec 2013

IRiS invited three internationally renowned scholars in the field of diversity and migration studies, Dr Mette Louise Berg (Anthropology, University of Oxford), Dr Ben Gidley (COMPAS, University of Oxford) and Dr Susanne Wessendorf (Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity) to join IRiS director Professor Jenny Phillimore in an informal conversation on the future of diversity research and the challenges that superdiversity poses to social researchers. The event was also an opportunity for launching the special issue of the journal Identities (volume 20, n. 4) on ‘Ethnography, diversity and urban space’ that I co-edited by Mette Berg and Ben Gidley. Here are a few notes I took while chairing the roundtable.

Cover, Identities: Global studies in culture and power

Speakers were invited to address four key questions: What paths might diversity research take in the next decade? How might these impact on different disciplines? What challenges and opportunities might lie ahead for diversity researchers? How can diversity research engage with different academic and policy agendas?

Susanne Wessendorf opened the conversation with a brief overview on the concept of ‘superdiversity’, stressing its multidimensionality, that is the coming together of different social categories: not just ethnicity and migration backgrounds, but also different variables such as educational and socio-economic backgrounds, legal statuses, disabilities, sexualities, etc. which come together and interact in one place. However, noting that the saliency of various categories is socially constructed and varies in time and space, she invited researchers to avoid essenzialising them and be aware of intersectionality.

For Wessendorf research is needed to explore how different stakeholders cope with super-diversity, including public service providers, local authorities, and long-established communities; and how superdiversity impacts differently in urban and rural areas, large cities and provincial towns. She also identified the need for more comparative analysis that investigates diversity and superdiversity also in the Global South and for research that looks beyond the present to understand from a historical comparative perspective in which contexts and historical moments diversity was or was not seen as a problem for the society concerned.

The focus of Mette Louise Berg’s contribution was two-fold: the methodological challenges for ethnographers and qualitative researchers that work a) in the field of superdiversity and b) in superdiverse field sites. For Berg it is not easy to measure diversity quantitatively and she highlighted the difficult trade-off between how fine grained categories should be and questions of operationality and scale of analysis.

Tracing back its emergence to the 1990s, she describes what one might call the ‘neighbourhood turn’ and places the current ‘diversity turn’ within it. Ethnographic work, she argued, holds the potential to uncover instances of everyday affinities, conviviality and cosmopolitanism from below, as well as experiences and practices of exclusion, discrimination and racism. The challenge lies in how to honour the ideal of immersion, rapport and long-term engagement with the diversity and transnational connections of residents of diverse neighbourhoods. Collaborative research seems a promising approach – there is the potential to capture different processes and angles, the multiplicity of residents’ perspectives reflected in the multiplicity of researchers’ perspectives.

For Ben Gidley mapping and tracking the changing landscapes of diversity in the UK are key tasks for researchers. However, existing system of categorisation seems unable to cope with increasing fluidity of identification and emergence of new ethnicities. There is a need for a new policy vocabulary and new ideas that enable us to rethink ‘integration’, ‘cohesion’, ‘resilience’, ‘conviviality’. Central to the researcher’s task is the critique of methodological ethnicism which has contributed to pigeonholing the population into rigid ethnic-based clusters, with repercussion well beyond academia. An ethnographic approach alert to the sites of interactions and to the spatiality of relations is, Gidley argues, a suitable method for investigating everyday integration and ‘commonplace diversity’ (see Wessendorf’s article in the special issue of Identities) in the era of superdiversity. This should be pursued together with rigorous comparative research that addresses upfront the challenges of translation and develops analytical models attentive to the scales of diversity. Continue reading


Towards a transnational perspective on residential integration

As part of the European Interact project (“Researching Third Country Nationals’ Integration as a Three-way Process – Immigrants, Countries of Emigration and Countries of Immigration as Actors of Integration”), which explores migrant integration from a sending country perspective, I wrote, with Maria Luisa Caputo, a discussion paper entitled Residential Integration: Towards a Sending Country Perspective. Here is the report in the MPC repository; here is a direct link to the pdf; here is the paper on academia.edu.

Abstract
This position paper explores the key issues relating to how residential integration – a foundation dimension of migrant and minority integration – might be understood and further researched from a  “country of origin” perspective. A series of questions are addressed: Are there transnational residential strategies of migrants? Is residential integration an indicator of integration, e.g. can owning a house be an indicator of integration? Are residential patterns in the receiving country negotiated in any way by  the state of origin? And what is the role of home country institutions in assuring residential integration or separation? Looking at the nature and quality of the housing that minorities occupy, assessed in terms of factors such as tenure, overcrowding and disrepair, and at the patterns of migrant residence in receiving societies, including clustering or its absence, the paper covers the existing state of the art and methodology used in the field, before arguing for a shift to a country of origin perspective, beyond simply using country of origin as a variable in determining residential integration outcomes, but instead re-framing the issue in a transnational perspective. It introduces a new theoretical and methodological framing, shifting the emphasis from a static “social physics” to a processual, pathwayfocused approach. Continue reading


Diasporic Memory and the Call to Identity: Yiddish Migrants in Early Twentieth Century East London

I have a new article published, with the above title, in the Journal of Intercultural Studies, Volume 34, Issue 6.

Here’s the abstract:

This article explores the associational politics and diasporic memory of Jewish migrant workers in early twentieth century East London. It examines the ways in which associational activity, and specifically landsmanshaftn (hometown associations), tied migrants to sending contexts in both material and affective ways. This meant that diasporic memories were woven into the day-to-day political practices of these migrants, and were mobilised politically in response to the call to identification represented by traumatic events ‘back home’, as is illustrated in two examples, the protests at the 1903 Kishinev pogrom and solidarity with the civilian victims of the First World War. The article also shows that these mobilisations exemplify the ways in which such processes made a difference to the forms of identity and identification available to Jewish migrant workers in this period.

View full text; Download full text.

This appeared in a special issue, Refugee and Diaspora Memories, edited by Thomas Lacroix and Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh. Read the introduction here.


Integration, Disadvantage and Extremism: parliamentary symposium

On 8 May, with David Feldman of the Pears Institute, I co-organised a parliamentary symposium on disadvantage, extremism and integration, for the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism.  You can follow some of the debate on Twitter with the hashtag #IntSym.

Pictures from the APPG:

Here’s the full details on the Pears Institute website:

Details: The Symposium will reflect on the government’s integration strategy and to do so in the light of both contemporary developments and recent scholarship. It will bring the most current evidence-based research to bear on urgent issues of policy for an invited audience of academic experts, policy makers and parliamentarians.Welcome and Introduction

David Feldman, Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism, Birkbeck, University of London John Mann MP, Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism

Session 1: Integration and Disadvantage Today

Introduction: Andrew Stunell OBE MP

Chair: John Mann MP

  • Ben Rogaly, University of Sussex and Becky Taylor, Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism, Birkbeck, University of London
  • Rob Berkeley, Runnymede Trust
  • Anthony Heath, University of Oxford

Session 2: Integration and Extremism

Introduction and Chair: Baroness Sayeda Warsi

  • Vidhya Ramalingam, Institute for Strategic Dialogue
  • Nasar Meer, Northumbria University
  • Dave Rich, Community Security Trust

Session 3:  Is Localism Sufficient?

Introduction and Chair: Gavin Barwell MP

  • Maleiha Malik, Kings College London
  • Ben Gidley, COMPAS, University of Oxford
  • Dean Godson, Policy Exchange

Concluding Remarks

David Feldman, Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism, Birkbeck, University of London

UPDATE: READ THE REPORT HERE

 

Podcasts:Click on a podcast to listen,
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Session 3:  Is Localism Sufficient? [via Backdoor Broadcasting]


From Ben’s archive: The First War on Terror

I just saw this at Hari Kunzru’s website:

Bande a Bonnot

Anyone interested in political history or theory should visit Christie Books, the publishing house and anarchist archive run by Stuart Christie, would-be assassin of General Franco and author of the entertaining memoir My Granny Made Me an Anarchist. The site contains a great deal of audio and video, including a documentary I made for BBC Radio 3 in 2008 called The First War on Terror. It’s about the anti-anarchist panic that gripped Europe in the late Victorian period, and the responses by writers (from pulp novelists to greats like Conrad and Chesterton) to the fears of a social order without gods or masters. Listen to the program here.

I feature (fairly briefly) in the programme, taking Hari on a walking tour of East London, including Freedom Books, which was firebombed this week, probably by fascists (and not for the first term), along with Clive Bettington of the Jewish East End Commemoration Society (far more radiogenic than me), talking about Joseph Conrad, Rudolf Rocker and more.

Here’s the BBC’s page on it:

b00dp1phNovelist Hari Kunzru explores how pulp fiction writers and great novelists got to grips with the UK’s first major ‘war on terror’ – against the Anarchists of Victorian and Edwardian times. These ‘scare novels’ responded to the Anarchists’ wish to abolish the State by depicting outlandish scenarios such as political assassinations and large-scale bombings.

He also explores the world of the real anarchists in London’s immigrant communities – most of whom were peaceful and cultured East End Jewish activists, trying to improve conditions in the garment trade – in contrast to these terrorists the novelists imagined and the popular press feared.

Bringing the programme up to date, Hari and literary scholars Laurence Davies and Deaglan O’Donghaile also briefly consider the modern response to 9/11, asking whether novels on terrorism ever get it right.


AMICALL report launched in Brussels

On Tuesday 25 September the AMICALL report was launched in Brussels.

The report is the culmination of the project Attitudes to Migrants, Communication and Local Leadership, an eighteen-month transnational project seeking to provide a platform for the sharing of good practice and the development of new strategies for the promotion of positive attitudes towards migrants and towards migrant integration at the local and regional level.

At the launch event in Brussels representatives from four of the six research partners shared research findings and experiences. The partners are the Central European University (Hungary), European Forum for Migration Studies, University of Bamberg (Germany), University Complutense (Spain), COMPAS, University of Oxford (UK), Erasmus University of Rotterdam (Netherlands) and the International and European Forum on Migration Research (Italy).

The event was attended by an international audience with migration, integration and local authority interests. In addition to the presentations by project partners the audience also had the opportunity to listen to talks from speakers from the Migration Policy Institute, the Council of Europe, The Gallup Organisation Europe, and the City of Ghent about research results and local experiences in relation to xenophobia and shaping positive attitudes at the local level.

The full final transnational report, executive summaries, and country reports are all available online.

Event Agenda


A review of Another London

Here’s a review of the Another London show, quoting from our catalogue essay.


Girl with Cassette Recorder (1975)

At History is Made at Night:

This great photograph of a young woman with her cassette recorder was taken in London in 1975 by US photographer Al Vandenberg. It features in the exhibition Another London: International Photographers Capture City Life 1930-1980 , currently on at Tate Britain in London.