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Racism in Metropolitan Areas

Racism in Metropolitan Areas

Rik Pinxten
Ellen Preckler
Copyright Date: 2005
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 200
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  • Book Info
    Racism in Metropolitan Areas
    Book Description:

    For several decades, a political discourse, which incites exclusion and hatred againt those who are perceived as different, has been gaining ground, most notably in affluent and developed countries. Focusing on the growth of racism in large cities and urban areas, this volume presents the views of international scholars who work in the social sciences and statements by non-practicing academics such as journalists and policy makers. The contributions of the scientists and the non-academic specialists are grouped around common themes, highlighting existing debates and bringing together widely scattered information. The book explores the ways in which old forms of racism persist in the urban context, and how traditional exclusion systems like casteism can be likened to contemporary forms like racism directed at refugees.

    eISBN: 978-1-78238-790-9
    Subjects: Sociology, Anthropology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Introduction: Racism in Metropolitan Areas
    (pp. vii-1)
    Rik Pinxten and Ellen Preckler

    After the terrible annihilation of peoples because of their so-called racial features in the Second World War, the United Nations Organization was founded to work on the basis of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The basic creed of this attempt at worldwide negotiation and interaction in a common forum was not so much ‘no more war’, but rather ‘human rights and human dignity for all’. One could indeed say that the UN’s purpose is to prevent and eventually to remedy violations of basic rights of anyone by combating structural humiliation, exclusion and enslavement. The establishment of such an organisation...

  4. Part One: Disempowering through Racism

    • How a Dream was Shattered
      (pp. 3-6)
      Patrick Janssens

      At a symposium on racism in metropolitan areas at one of our distinguished universities, a group of eminent international speakers were giving lectures. I wanted to address them as common inhabitants of the city. Politicologists, anthropologists and sociologists have undoubtedly offered important contributions to the analysis of a phenomenon that is spreading like a cancer throughout our cities. Strangely enough, their analyses often do not coincide with the daily practice of the urban citizens who experience racism, or – and this is probably more important – who generate racism. I’ve always stated that it is easy to be an antiracist...

    • Explaining Increased Racial Conflict in Post-industrial Societies: the Creation of Systemic ‘Competitive’ Youth Unemployment
      (pp. 7-22)
      Troy Duster

      When in a Eurobarometer survey of attitudes in 1988, respondents were asked, ‘When you think about people of another race, whom do you think of?’, respondents in all the fifteen except France and Britain cited black people in first place, indicating a perception of the greatest difference. The French cited ‘Arabs’ first and the British ‘Indians’. When asked a similar question about people of another nationality, the French indicated a preoccupation with North Africans, the Germans with the Turks, and the British with Asians. A survey nine years later (Eurobarometer 1997) noted a lack of embarrassment on the part of...

    • Racial Conflicts in British Cities
      (pp. 23-34)
      Eric Seward

      The summer of 2001 saw some of the most serious disturbances in England’s northern towns and cities for twenty years. It also, in two towns, involved Asian youths for the first time. It was certainly not a summer of love.

      The events have caused people to question what is happening. How is it that after thirty-three years of comprehensive race equality legislation and a new, strengthened Race Relations Act, which was passed by the British Parliament in 2000, have we arrived at this situation? In 2000, a number of reports were produced on what has happened. They included specific reports...

    • Limits of Tolerance and Limited Tolerance: How Tolerant are the Danes?
      (pp. 35-54)
      Peter Hervik

      A recent survey by the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) has shown that Denmark is one of the most polarised countries in the European Union. Denmark had some of the highest tolerantandracist answers (EUMC 2001). These data suggest that the notion of tolerance relates to racism either in opposition or in a more delicate relationship. The EUMC opted for the first and concluded, ‘Denmark is a quite polarized country’ (EUMC 2001: 12).¹

      During classes in Copenhagen and Oslo, I played a little game that may further illustrate the complexity of this relationship. To introduce discussions...

    • The Politics of ‘Caste is Race’: the Impact of Urbanisation
      (pp. 55-68)
      Dipankar Gupta

      The arguments in this paper are presented in three stages. First, I will point out why caste should not be seen as another variant of ‘race’. If this position is sustained then it follows that ‘casteism’ is not racism under a different name. In the second section, I hope to demonstrate the political consequences, some quite damaging, if caste were to be equated with ‘race’. Finally, I will discuss why the politics of the ‘caste is race’ thesis is particularly attractive to urban Scheduled Caste activists.

      For a long time anthropologists and sociologists felt that the ‘caste is race’ thesis...

    • Playing the Media: the Durban Case
      (pp. 69-72)
      Guy Poppe

      Not being familiar with the caste system in India, my response to Professor Dipankar Gupta’s chapter, ‘The Politics of “Caste is Race”: the Impact of Urbanisation’, will be of an indirect nature. Not being a scholar either, my comments will thus not have a thoroughly scientifically underpinned argumentation. In my response, I will stick to the approach of a journalist with twenty-five years of experience in his field, having covered events on the African continent on many occasions during that period, and will specifically be referring to what I have experienced in Durban (South Africa), in September 2001, at the...

    • The Relevance of the Language of Race in South Asian Conflicts
      (pp. 73-84)
      Sumit Sarkar

      During the world conference against racism in Durban, Dalit activists and sympathisers (speaking on behalf of the lowest and most oppressed stratum of Brahmannical Hindu society, traditionally considered ‘untouchable’) argued that the question of caste discrimination had sufficient affinity with racism to be worthy of inclusion in the agenda. The Indian government, at present dominated by an extreme right-wing and chauvinist, predominantly high-caste Hindu, political formation, objected vehemently – and successfully – to any such inclusion, claiming that questions of race were irrelevant within India, and that their discussion at an international forum would be an insult to national ‘honour’....

    • The Fremmede and the Dalit are Silent: Danish and Indian Cultural Worlds
      (pp. 85-92)
      Donald Robotham

      The chapters on which I am going to comment – those by Peter Hervik and Dipankar Gupta – form an interesting pair in so far as they seem to share similar assumptions about the inevitable primacy of ‘difference’ – ‘socially constructed’ in one case, ‘primordial’ in the other – which in quite different contexts – Denmark and India – are drawn on by large sections of nations for the purpose of excluding other human beings within their borders. Interestingly enough, both papers discuss difference but the victims of difference make no direct appearance even in reply, let alone in their...

    • Approaching Racism: Attitudes, Actions and Social Structure
      (pp. 93-101)
      Robert A. Rubinstein

      In December 2002 the leader of the Republican Caucus in the United States Senate, Trent Lott, resigned his post in response to the uproar caused by remarks he made that signalled to many his private approval of segregation in the United States and of the racist legacy that such approval entails. According to Human Rights Watch, anti-Muslim crimes in the United States increased between 2000 and 2001 by about 1,658 percent (Singh 2002: 16). These crimes included murders, assaults, arson and attacks on places of worship. In 1995 in the United States, one in three African American men between the...

  5. Part Two: Empowering to Combat Racism

    • The Paradox of Secondary Ethnicity
      (pp. 103-106)
      Emanuel Marx

      We tend to believe that immigrants to cities gradually adapt to the new environment and in the process lose much of their ethnic heritage. This seems to be true in the early stages of adaptation, when the immigrants try to establish a foothold, to find work, lodgings, and schools for their children. They seek to develop a network of social relationships to answer their various needs. This network often includes many former countrymen, some of whom may be the kin and friends who facilitated their immigration in the first place. These persons sustained the immigrants during their first days in...

    • Is Harmony Possible in a Multiracial Society? The Case of Singapore
      (pp. 107-112)
      Mary Judd

      Modernisation and globalisation have brought many benefits to the world including a higher standard of living, a longer life expectancy, rising literacy and education, and an increasing economic interdependence and social complexity. Boundaries between countries have become more porous, allowing for easier access to information, communication and transportation. This accelerated change, however, has also brought with it increasing socioeconomic disparities and a widening of the gap between rich and poor, and heightened ethnic, religious and cultural differences. The increasing reality of these social problems has prompted development agencies to convene a policy discussion on the issues of social cohesion, conflict,...

    • Racism and Intercultural Issues in Urban Europe
      (pp. 113-126)
      Jagdish S. Gundara

      The fact that the conference, at which this chapter was originally delivered, was being held in Ghent and Belgium, where dramatic changes in the socioeconomic and political environments have taken place, is particularly appropriate for the theme of racism in European cities. However, the challenge for Belgian cities in dealing with racism is an issue of wider international concern where racism, xenophobia and chauvinism are multiplying. At the preparatory seminar for the United Nations Durban Conference on Racism (September 2001), a range of societal sector issues were discussed (see Appendix I). This chapter will discuss the issue of governance, diversity...

    • Antiracist Empowerment through Culture and Legislation
      (pp. 127-134)
      Johan Leman

      The examples underlying our way of thinking are taken from Brussels, but may retain their relevance for other metropolitan areas at a comparable moment in their emigrational histories. Undoubtedly, many comparable cases can be cited for every example described. In Brussels, migration started at the end of the 1950s, when heavy industry (coal, iron and steel) was lost in other areas of the country and the economic relaunch was centred in and around a number of large cities (ports or cities confronted with massive new infrastructural works).

      In the first instance, a number of ex-miners and their families, mainly Italians,...

    • Racism in Large Cities: the Means to Empower/Disempower Groups and Communities
      (pp. 135-142)
      Glyn Ford

      Since the Dreux by-election in December 1983, when the FrenchFront Nationalhad its first significant electoral breakthrough, we have witnessed the continued rise of fascist and extreme right parties in Europe. In the European elections of 2000, twenty-six MEPs from seven neo-Nazi, extreme right-wing parties, and their fellow travellers, were elected to the European Parliament.

      Today, the Community states of France, Italy, Belgium, Austria and Denmark all have racist far-right groups entrenched in their mainstream party systems, and other European Union (EU) states are seeing similar trends. In many cities within the EU, extreme right-wing parties such as the...

    • Riding the Tiger: the Difficult Relationship between NGOs and the Media
      (pp. 143-150)
      Marc Peirs

      This text is purposely and necessarily biased. It is biased in two ways: it presents the point of view of a journalist, and of a Belgian. Moreover, it wants – or at least tries – to be a text with a stance, an opinion, that can make the reader nod with amusement or with anger – whatever. This said, it will be clear that this text does not pretend to be scientifically correct. Rather it is rooted in the praxis of the author, who is a Belgian journalist.

      The ‘Bible’ for NGO workers,The Earthscan Reader on NGO Management(Edwards...

    • Urban Crowds Manipulated: Assessing the Austrian Case as an Example in Wider European Tendencies
      (pp. 151-162)
      André Gingrich

      Joerg Haider took over the leadership of the Austrian Freedom Party (FP) in 1986. At that time, the FP held just above 5 percent of the country’s electorate. Its leaders before Haider pursued a ‘liberal’ orientation, mostly in the interest of small business and the middle classes, while the FP was a minor partner, then, in a coalition government with the Social Democrats (SP) (1983–86).

      After Haider took over the FP in 1986, the Social Democrats refused to continue that coalition, because of Haider’s more radical and rightist orientation. From 1986 until 1999, the country then was ruled by...

    • Some Reflections on Culture and Violence
      (pp. 163-172)
      Erwin Jans

      ‘Whenever I hear the word culture, I reach for my gun.’ These infamous words were uttered not so long ago in the very heart of Europe by Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels. A few years ago the same words came back to me, but ordered in a different way, as an answer to Goebbels’ statement. They were spoken by a Moroccan stand-up comedian, Ahmed Snoussi, alias Bziz. He said: ‘Whenever I hear a gun, I reach out for the word culture.’ Tempting as it is to see in this reversal and reappropriation of Goebbels’ phrase the possibility of the mobilisation...

    • Naturalising Difference and Models of Coexistence: Concluding Comments
      (pp. 173-182)
      Laura Nader

      The subject matter in this collection may be read as reflecting a microcosm of contemporary global changes: the movement of cheap labour, the presence of both racism and tolerance, the power of the Islamic ‘scarf’, casteism versus racism, the colonialist language of race in modern garb, social repertoires and governance, the management of diversity and far right politics, institutionalised racism, and the inevitable primacy of difference, especially in places like Europe, India, Singapore and the United States. While the variety of topics is seemingly endless, there is a way of thinking here, one that contains anguished descriptions of racial problems...

  6. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 183-186)
  7. Index
    (pp. 187-190)