Category Archives: Social science

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:

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.


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


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


With Arendt on 7/7: The left, social theory and terror

DissentI wrote this originally for the Centre for Urban and Community Research’s Street Signs magazine in September 2007. I re-wrote it for Dissent in September 2010. Dissent’s website migration means all the formatting has been lost, so I am re-posting it here, for the anniversary of 7/7.

When the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York happened, I was in my office in London, trying to finish a report that was overdue. A colleague came in to tell me what was happening. It seemed unreal; my first thought, of which I am now ashamed, was that this was a distraction I didn’t need. I went downstairs to the communal office where people were standing around the radio listening to events unfold on the BBC, then after a while returned to my office to try to finish off the report. It was only when I arrived home and started to watch the images on television that it began to feel more real. And then it began to feel painfully real when I spoke on the telephone to my mother—a New Yorker transplanted to Yorkshire.

Within hours of the attacks, I got an email from a friend describing them as “chickens coming home to roost” for American foreign policy, specifically U.S. sponsorship of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda, as part of the final stages of the war on communism. In this sense, the phrase has a certain chilling accuracy. But the more general claim behind the phrase was the idea that America’s foreign policy would inevitably lead to “blowback,” to use another phrase that soon afterward appeared in an email from another friend—in other words, that the responsibility for the attacks was somehow America’s; responsibility and culpability shifted away from the terrorists themselves and onto a larger system. In the days and weeks after September 11, the “chickens coming home to roost” emails came thick and fast.

In July 2005, when my adopted hometown, London, was attacked, exactly the same pattern of responses followed. I received my first email from a friend with the words “chickens coming home to roost” within hours of the 7/7 bombs—while I was still waiting to get through to close friend who lives very near Tavistock Square and who I feared had been caught up in the rush hour atrocity. Now it was not American international policy in general, but the Iraq War specifically, and Britain’s involvement in it, that was the chicken that had come home to roost.

At the other end of the spectrum, of course, were those describing the bombers in terms of evil. The focus on the terrorists as evil, common in politicians’ speeches and newspaper editorials, removed the attacks from any kind of social or geopolitical context. It focused responsibility for the act squarely on the moral agency of the terrorists themselves.

These two responses—chickens coming home to roost on one side and pure evil on the other—demonstrate two opposite failures of thought, or, more precisely, failures of understanding. The claim that the attacks were evil was often accompanied by an insistence that seeking any explanation beyond the purity of evil was illegitimate and would somehow violate the sanctity of those who had been killed in the attacks. The concept of evil comes from moral—and more specifically religious—language, connoting the ineffable, the incomprehensible. To insist on this ineffability is to deny the possibility of rational analysis. The insistence on ineffability is a refusal to think about the attacks and shows a rush to judgment. In these statements, the attacks are a moral outrage, and to think about them, to try to understand their causes, is tantamount to excusing them.

For those whose drive is to analyze, particularly for those of us with a commitment to secular values, there is a basic reaction against the use of the concept of evil itself. Intellectuals, trained to refuse such moral categories, naturally reject this sort of rush to judgment. But there is no doubt that, if the word evil has any meaning, the indiscriminate mass murder of civilians—regardless of age, gender, race, religion, politics, or any other category—qualifies precisely as evil. To deny the evil status of the terrorist attacks is to deny the possibility of moral judgment.

The refusal of moral judgment typical of secular intellectuals does not, however, shy away from apportioning blame. The formula of “chickens coming home to roost” however, apportions blame not to evil individuals but rather to the underlying structures of global society. This has the effect, I believe, of removing the events from the agency of their perpetrators. The bombers cease to be protagonists but become pawns in some much larger game: global capitalism or Western imperialism. Such a refusal may be an intellectual strength, allowing us to reach for a deeper analysis than the politicians and newspaper editors, but it can be a moral failure, too. Continue reading


On diversity

The Max Planck Institute have published an interview they did with me in 2014:

Interview with Ben Gidley (COMPAS, University of Oxford)

conducted by Paul Becker

Ben Gidley is an Associate Professor and Senior Researcher at COMPAS.

B: What does ‘diversity’ mean to you by way of your work and field of expertise?

G: I’m primarily an urban researcher. I research cities and city neighborhoods and social life in cities. So it’s both an inescapable fact of city life in Britain and everywhere and an interest of mine is the fact of diversity, the everyday lived reality of diversity – not diversity as policy or as philosophical orientation but just this sheer facticity of mixedness and living together, what we might call multiculture or multicultural drift. When I think of diversity my bias, the lens that I tend to bring to it, is probably more of an ethnic lens, although I understand intellectually that diversity is really about lots of different axes of difference, but the axis of difference which has to do with ethnicity and migration is the one that I tend to think of first.

B: Is ‘diversity’ just a Zeitgeist term – a post-multiculturalism policy catch phrase (as in ‘integration and diversity’ policy), a corporate tool (as in ‘diversity management’), or can it be a concept that can help structure and advance social scientific analysis?

G: I think that the way it has become a Zeitgeist term is a danger and a concern. I recently heard a quite senior German official talking about a school. She said there was one person from a classroom ‘from a diverse background’ and I thought that was quite shocking that she was able to use the word ‘diverse’, which is about difference, to refer to the one person that she saw as different . It seemed extraordinary to me. So there is a huge danger. I think the fashionable currency of the term has some advantages as well though. For example, the Council of Europe talk about ‘the diversity advantage’: intercultural cities or diverse firms having a competitive advantage due to demographic diversity, and some businesses have taken up this language.  However, I think that if used well,  diversity is a concept that certainly can structure and advance social scientific analysis. The danger in social science is the way that diversity can obscure inequality. Class for example is a cleavage that is harder to fit into a diversity lens than other cleavages such as ethnicity.

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.

article-2417820-1BC29DA8000005DC-217_634x428

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


ESA 2015 – Call for Papers – Prague 25. – 28.8.2015

Here is the call for papers for #ESA2015 #RN31, the European research network on racism and antisemitism, for its conference in Prague in August 2015. As well as a general session, on inequalities, difference and identity in relation to racism and antisemitism, there are specific sessions on the dynamics of difference, on Black Europe and the sociological imagination, on sport and race/ethnicity, and on anti-Americanism.

Contemporary Antisemitism and Racism in the Shadow of the Holocaust

ESA 2015 – Call for Papers

Differences, Inequalities and the Sociological Imagination

12th Conference of the European Sociological Association

Prague, Czech Republic, 25 – 28 August 2015

RN31 Racism, Antisemitism and Ethnic Relations
RN coordinator Ben_Gidley, University_of_Oxford, Oxford, UK Ben.gidley@compas.ox.ac.uk
The 12th Conference of the European Sociological Association will be held in Prague 24-26 August 2015. The ESA Research Network 31 on Ethnic Relations, Racism and Antisemitism invites submissions of papers. We will hold sessions that focus on theoretical, methodological and empirical aspects of research on racism and antisemitism, especially in a comparative framework. The network’s perspective is to bridge the divide between the understanding of antisemitism and of racism, and to explore the correspondences, contiguities and contrasts across this divide. Our over-arching question is to understand what are the social, political and intellectual conditions that shape variations in antisemitism, racism and other forms of intolerance across time and across…

View original post 1,766 more words


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]


Contemporary Antisemitism and Racism in the shadow of the Holocaust

CALL FOR PAPERS

European Sociological Association

Contemporary antisemitism and racism in the shadow of the Holocaust

RN31 Ethnic Relations, Racism and Antisemitism Mid-term conference

Deadline for submitting abstracts: 22 May 2014

4–5 September 2014
University of Vienna

The ESA Research Network 31: Ethnic Relations, Racism and Antisemitism invites submissions of papers for its biannual mid-term conference. The conference will be held from 4 to 5 September 2014 at the University of Vienna.

We will hold sessions that focus on theoretical, methodological and empirical aspects of research on antisemitism and racism, also in a comparative framework. 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 what are the material conditions and the social, political and historical contexts shaping variations in antisemitism and racism, across time and across different European and global contexts.

Besides papers on general theoretical approaches to antisemitism, racism and ethnic relations, we are particularly interested in questions of contemporary antisemitism and how it relates to Holocaust remembrance and denial. Thus, papers on ‘secondary’ and ‘new antisemitism’ are expressly welcome. Our special concern lies in (but is not limited to) the following issues: 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


The Diversity Turn

This post is from the COMPAS blog. Read the original here.

By: Mette Louise Berg, Departmental Lecturer, Anthropology of Migration, and Nando Sigona, Birmingham Fellow and Lecturer at the University of Birmingham and Research Associate at COMPAS

The demise of multiculturalism as a public policy, and as a political discourse in several European countries, including Germany, the Netherlands and the UK, began over a decade ago in the wake of the 9/11 attacks in New York and the subsequent so-called war on terror. The multiculturalism backlash that ensued effectively left European immigration countries that are de facto multicultural – in terms of languages spoken, religions practiced, ethnicity, etc. – without an explicit policy for dealing with this fact. Meanwhile, in scholarly discourse, ‘multiculturalism’ as an analytical concept has gradually faded away.

The critique of multiculturalism has given way to a broader expression and recognition of different kinds of differences, resulting largely from the waves of new migration that have transformed the demographic profile of urban areas, and increasingly also rural ones: what Steve Vertovec has termed ‘super-diversity’. ‘Super-diversity’ is increasingly used where multiculturalism would have been used previously, but, as we argue in the Introduction to a new special issue of the journal Identities, in sometimes contradictory ways.

identitiesThe special issue on ‘Ethnography, diversity, and urban change’ is co-edited by Mette Louise Berg, Ben Gidley, and Nando Sigona and brings together an introductory essay on uses and abuses of ‘diversity’, seven ethnographic articles, and an epilogue that use ‘diversity’ to gauge and examine processes of everyday intercultural encounters and practices across European countries, from capital cities to small provincial towns and suburbs. Continue reading


Nostalgia and diversity: Understanding integration at the local level

This was published in the COMPAS Blog in May 2013.

Bermondsey, Ben Gidley 2013

They never call it Bermondsey any more
A couple of weeks ago, in Bermondsey, South London with my colleagues Ole Jensen, Simon Rowe and Ida Persson, we met a man called Albert, at the entrance to his council flat. Born on Christmas Day 1926, Albert had lived his whole life in Bermondsey (apart from his national service at the end of the war, spent in Scandinavia). He had lived over half a century in his current flat, since it had been built as part of the massive post-war social democratic housing expansion whose legacy completely dominates the landscape of South London. He worked as a drayman at the Courage brewery, brought up three daughters and a son – and slowly watched his neighbourhood change almost beyond recognition.

The Metropolitan Borough of Bermondsey was merged into the London Borough of Southwark in 1965. Its town hall had been bombed in the war, and Bermondsey no longer exists as an administrative unit. “They never call it Bermondsey any more”, Albert insisted. At its height, the docks employed huge numbers of men; the Peek Frean biscuit factory employed thousands of women. The docks closed one by one from the 1960s, the brewery closed in 1981, and the biscuit factory houses work units for creative businesses. The council estates are no longer sites of utopian hope but now carry the stigma of residualised poverty. A tidal wave of gentrification ripples down from the riverside, and the UK’s decade of mass migration has transformed the demographics. Continue reading


Integration and neighbourhood relations in South London

From the COMPAS Blog, by Ole Jensen

London is seen as being a vibrant multicultural city that attracts and houses people from all over the world.  How is this diversity experienced in everyday life though? And how is it that different areas of the same city can have vastly different experiences of diversity despite both having similar levels of immigration?

The Concordia Discors project aimed to investigate questions like these. Starting in early 2011, in cooperation with universities and research institutes in four other European cities – Barcelona, Turin, Nuremberg and Budapest the research focused on the everyday experiences of getting along at the local level.

Fieldwork (as described in a previous blog) was conducted in five cities and for each, two inner-city neighbourhoods were selected that are characterised by relatively high levels of ethnic minority and immigrant populations. Please visit the project webpages for further details – http://www.concordiadiscors.eu/

[READ THE REST]


Apples and Oranges

Joe Deville’s blog on the recent Apples and Oranges conference on practising comparison. Extract: Continue reading


On Everyday Multiculturalism

Ole Jensen’s post at the COMPAS blog, on the seminar series he organised at COMPAS this term.


Everyday Multiculturalism

 COMPAS seminar series: Thursdays 14.00 – 15.30 Seminar Room, Pauling Centre, 58a Banbury Road, Oxford

Convened by the COMPAS Urban Change and Settlement cluster [update: podcast links added below]

Whereas multiculturalism has been steadily ‘downgraded’ on the policy agenda both in the UK and other parts of Europe during the 2000s, social life at neighbourhood level is increasingly characterised by an everyday negotiation of categorical boundaries such as migration histories, religions, migrant statuses, and socio-economic disparities. This series will focus on emerging empirical research and methodologies that engage with such localised, intercultural processes. The presentations are based on findings from a range of different settings, including London, northern England, the Netherlands and Germany, and also focusing on new ‘zones of encounter’ that go beyond the traditional inner-city perspective.

26 April 2012 Land of Strangers: From a Politics of Social Ties to a Politics of the Commons        Ash Amin, University of Cambridge Oxford University podcast iTunesU

03 May 2012 Homophily is not an explanation           Talja Blokland, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin Oxford University podcast iTunesU

10 May 2012 Nostalgia and everyday multiculturalism: Anglo-Indian and Chinese Calcuttans in London and Toronto        Jayani Bonnerjee, Queen Mary, University of London Oxford University podcast iTunesU

17 May 2012 Faith and suburbia: secularisation, modernity and the changing geographies of religion in London’s suburbs       David Gilbert, Royal Holloway, University of London Oxford University podcast iTunesU

24 May 2012 New Geographies of Migration and Multiculture: Degrees of Intimacy between English Villagers and Eastern European Migrants in Rural Worcestershire Helen Moore, University of Surrey Oxford University podcast iTunesU

31 May 2012 Negotiating urban citizenship: British Muslim encounters with new migrants Deborah Phillips, University of Oxford Oxford University podcast iTunesU

07 June 2012 Crossing the Threshold: Identity, Integration and Multiculturalism in British and German Muslim Ethnic Minority Neighbourhoods Sarah Hackett, University of Sunderland Oxford University podcast iTunesU

14 June 2012 Whiteness, Class and the Legacies of Empire: On Home Ground Katharine Tyler, University of Surrey Oxford University podcast iTunesU


Contemporary Anglo-Jewish community leadership: coping with multiculturalism

The British Journal of SociologyNew article published in British Journal of Sociology:

Contemporary Anglo-Jewish community leadership: coping with multiculturalism, Ben Gidley, Keith Kahn-Harris.

Article first published online: 8 MAR 2012. DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-4446.2011.01398.x. Volume 63,  Issue 1, pages 168–187, March 2012

Abstract: In this article, drawing on qualitative interviews and documentary analysis, we argue that the Jewish community in Britain has undergone a fundamental shift since 1990 from a ‘strategy of security’, a strategy of communal leadership based on emphasizing the secure British citizenship and belonging of the UK’s Jews, to a ‘strategy of insecurity’, where the communal leadership instead stresses an excess of security among Anglo-Jewry. We demonstrate this based on two case studies: of the Jewish renewal movement in the 1990s and the ‘new antisemitism’ phenomenon of the 2000s. We conclude that this shift is tied to the shift from a monocultural Britain to an officially multicultural one, and that therefore there are lessons that can be taken from it for the study of British and other multiculturalisms. Continue reading

Pepys Portrait Project

From Cacao’s tumblr:

Pepys Portrait Project London, 2004 - Present

Pepys Portrait Project

London, 2004 – Present

HIGH-RES 1/12/12 — 7:22pm SHORT URL: http://tmblr.co/ZihICxEfi7ug FILED UNDER: #Pepys Portrait Project

Pepys Portrait Project

Pepys Estate was built in 1965, a modernist high rise GLC estate, seen as one of the best housing estates in London. The estate symbolised the utopian dream of a better future for working people. Since then, the reputation of council housing has changed, and tower blocks are associated with social problems.

The population has become more diverse. As part of the regeneration of the estate, some blocks have been demolished and their residents rehoused; others have been sold to private developers for luxury homes.

Since 2004, Cacao has been documenting the lives of the people in the estate, revealing the different worlds behind their doors and windows. From photographs of residents and their homes, we have built a portrait of a changing estate. The project interweaves the images with their stories, a diary documenting an account of the social life of the estate over the four decades of its life. Through these images and voices, the residents express universal truths, hopes, dreams and fears.

In 2007 Simon Rowe continued the photographic exploration of the Estate as part of a personal project Local Authority. (www.simonrowe.co)

See also:

 ‘What’s so great about SE8’? Continue reading


Blogging Concordia Discors

Two posts by Ole Jensen on the COMPAS blog:

A snapshot of urban dynamics

Early January, and I am in the process of finalising the fieldwork that I have been carrying out in two neighbourhoods in Southwark during much of 2011. The final interviews have been set up, and we are in the process of organising neighbourhood forums in Bermondsey and Camberwell in order to discuss our findings with research participants and local stakeholders.

Continue reading →

Towards an understanding of integration at neighbourhood level

 Headlined by emotive notions of a society ‘sleepwalking to segregation’, the retreat from multiculturalism has in Britain triggered policy development and debates that emphasized ethnic, religious and cultural difference at the expense of an examination of social cohesion in material terms – for example local access to employment, housing and welfare services. In addition, with the notion of ‘parallel societies’ seemingly emerging as the lasting emblem of reviews of the 2001 riots in the northern English mill towns, there has been a lack of analysis of how the marking of communities on ethnic and religious grounds gels with the lived, local experiences of community and belonging. Continue reading →