Tag Archives: Nira Yuval-Davis

Symposium: Bordering, everyday racism and the ‘hostile environment’ – 21 February: The Academy of Social Sciences Study Group on Refugees, Migration and Settlement

An Academy of Social Sciences event I am involved in organising:

February 21 @ 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm

Birkbeck College, Malet St, Bloomsbury, London WC1E 7HX, (Room TBA)

Les Back and Shamser Sinha, Goldsmiths University of London:  The politics of waiting: Migration, dead time and freer life

Ben Gidley, Birkbeck University of London: Everyday racism and migration: Researching the material and affective impacts of xeno-racism

Ann Phoenix, Thomas Coram Research Unit UCL: Children, epistemic violence and migration

Chair: Floya Anthias, University of East London


To book seats: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/bordering-everyday-racism-and-the-hostile-environment-tickets-42528711521

Abstracts and biographical notes 

Les Back and Shamser Sinha: The politics of waiting: Migration, dead time and freer life
 This paper examines how understanding migration involves an appreciation of the experience of time in an unfolding life. The debate about belonging is so often coded around those who are seen to ‘really belong’ because they and their kin have put ‘time into’ society.  Migrants by contrast are viewed as itinerant and passing through.  Drawing on research conducted with thirty adult migrants in London over the past ten years we explore the politics of time in the context of the contemporary debate about migration.  We argue that hierarchies of belonging are also accompanied by an ordering of the migrants’ relationship to time. We focus in particular on the experience of waiting as an existential straightjacket that restrains and comes to define life in the migrant city. Through the experiences of our participants we develop an analysis of the temporal-straight jackets or time traps that are produced within the immigration system.  We show how participants in this study struggle to break free from these limitations through developing ‘vitalising strategies’ that help them move out of dead time and a future that is confined by a sense of their lives being ‘on hold’.
Les Back teaches sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London. His work attempts to create a sensuous or live sociology committed to searching for new modes of sociological writing and representation. This approach is outlined in his book The Art of Listening (Berg 2007). He also writes journalism and has made documentary films. He has juts completed a book about the experience of young adult migrants in London with Shamser Sinha called Migrant City (published by Routledge later this year).  This book is attempts a sociable sociology that re-design social observation so that participants not only observe their own lives but also become credited authors too.

Ben Gidley: Everyday racism and migration: Researching the material and affective impacts of xeno-racism
This paper explores how social scientists can understand the relationship between public policies and discourses on migration, public attitudes towards migrants and minorities, and everyday experiences of exclusion and conviviality, using the concept of “xeno-racism”, as developed by the late Ambalavaner Sivanandan. The paper will draw on fieldwork in inner South London, and focus in particular on what we can learn from psychosocial and ethnographic approaches.
Ben Gidley is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology in the Department of Psychosocial Studies at Birkbeck, University of London. Previously, he worked at the ESRC Centre for Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS) at the University of Oxford. His most recent book is Antisemitism and Islamophobia in Europe: A Shared History? with James Renton. Continue reading

On Nira Yuval-Davis’ The Politics of Belonging

Reviewed Work: The Politics of Belonging: Intersectional Contestations by Nira Yuval-Davis
Review by: Ben Gidley
Vol. 48, No. 3 (JUNE 2014), pp. 627-629

Part of a dual book review symposium on Nira’s book and on Belonging: Solidarity and Division in Modern Societies by Montserrat Guibernau – details at the bottom of this post.


This book exemplifies a particular mode of doing sociology that Yuval-Davis has developed. This is firstly collaborative. The discussion here draws on and generously acknowledges a series of collective scholarly efforts, most notably with Floya Anthias but also with Erene Kaptani, Marcel Stoetzler and others. This collaborative approach to research is threatened by a political economy in the academy which promotes the deepening individualism of our research culture. Second, it is engaged. Yuval-Davis’ scholarship is always concerned with understanding the social world in order to change it – in a more meaningful way than that captured by the now ubiquitous term ‘impact’. Third, it is genuinely interdisciplinary, drawing on and contributing to ethnic and racial studies, feminism and gender studies, political theories of nationalism and fundamentalism, and the core of sociology itself, to name just some.

And, fourth, it is a global sociology. For example, in the chapter on the national question, the analysis moves from the English Defence League, Kurdish youth in East London and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in India to First Nation movements in Canada to make a case about the relationship between a politics of ‘indigeneity’ and the neo-liberal order. This mobile perspective powerfully reveals the parochialism, exceptionalism and ethnocentrism which dominate both social theory and much activism.

Yuval-Davis’ insistence that politics is always intersectional and always locational is an important corrective to the modes of reasoning which have come to dominate our geopolitical imaginary, both the hegemonic vision of a clash of civilizations and the ‘anti-imperialist’ mirroring of that vision in ahistorical, simplistic accounts of the ‘war on terror’ and ‘clash of fundamentalisms’. The intersectional and locational imaginary instead opens up the possibility both of more nuanced understanding and of more meaningful solidarities. On the other hand, many more fashionable contemporary articulations of intersectionality rely too heavily on identitarian forms of standpoint epistemology, retreating into a sternly moralistic and close-minded political practice; Yuval-Davis’ expansive and restlessly questioning approach – always pushing towards more complex forms of analysis and more concrete forms of praxis – offers an important corrective to this too.

Continue reading

Secularism, Racism and the Politics of Belonging

My paper “Faith Communities and Racism: Some Reflections from the Anglo-Jewish Experience” has been included in the newly publication by the Runnymede Trust“Runnymede Perspectives: Secularism, Racism and the Politics of Belonging”.

This publication is a collection of papers that were presented at conferences in 2010 and 2011 co-organized by the Runnymede Trust and CMRB – the Centre for Research on Migration, Refugees and Belonging at the University of East London. The contributors address issues of migration, racism and religion. The publication is edited by Professor Nira Yuval-Davis and Professor Philip Marfleet, University of East London.

Read the Conference Report by Mary Sutton. Listen to an embarrassing mp3 of my oral presentation. And even more embarrassing  youtube of my paper, part 1 and 2.