Satnam Virdee, who is contributing a chapter to our far left book, has asked that I mention this two-day conference that he is organising at the University of Glasgow.
RACISM AND ANTI-RACISM: FROM THE LABOUR MOVEMENT TO THE FAR RIGHT
(University of Glasgow, 5-6 September 2014)
The first decades of the 21st century have seen two worrying developments for anyone concerned with opposing oppression:
- the continuing mutation and expansion of racism into new ‘cultural’ forms, above all in the form of a virulent Islamophobia; and
- the electoral consolidation of parties of the far-right, who are not always fascist, but committed to deeply reactionary positions on most social issues, above all in relation to migration.
These two developments are distinct, but overlapping. On the one hand, racism is more widespread than on the far right, institutionally embedded over centuries in even the most notionally liberal states and exerting an influence even in the labour and trade union movement which might be thought to have most to lose from the divisions which it engenders. On the other hand, the far-right almost always includes racism among its repertoire of mobilising issues, but has politics which extend beyond it.
The plenaries and workshop sessions will interrogate:
- racism in all its multifarious forms;
- the new far-right of the neoliberal era (i.e. mid-1970s onwards), in both its fascist and non-fascist aspects, particularly its growing electoral impact; and
- how the different varieties of racism and the far right can be challenged on the ground, and by whom.
Although our focus is international, no conference held in Scotland during September 2014 can avoid the fact of the independence referendum. While the national question is not our subject, any discussion of racism inevitably has to deal with its role in national formation, particularly in the case of the imperial powers of which Britain was once so preeminent. Themes which we hope to address in relation to Scotland are the reality (or otherwise) of claims that it suffers less from racism than England or other areas in Western Europe, and the reasons why, to date, it has remained relatively immune to the electoral appeal of the far-right.
Themes which the conference might address can include, but need not be restricted to the following:
- Racism, class and globalised capitalism
- Racism and neoliberalism
- State racisms, in particular the racialization of migration and asylum
- Anti-Muslim racism and the appropriation and mobilization of feminist discourses
- Racism and the ‘white’ working class
- Forms of anti-racist activism: from social movements to the everyday
- Theorizing contemporary racisms – Feminist, Critical Race Theory, Postcolonial and Neo-Marxist perspectives are particularly welcomed.
- The legacy of anti-Irish racism in Scotland
- Scots, the Empire and the externalisation of racism
- Different attitudes to immigration in Scotland and England
The Far Right
- The changing class basis of far right party membership
- Distinguishing the ‘non-fascist’ far-right from fascism
- Tensions between neoliberalism and far-right policy (the Tea Party, UKIP, etc.)
- The far-right and the different phases of capitalist development
- Working class electoral support for far-right parties
- Campaigning against the far-right
- Scottish Loyalism and far-right politics in Scotland
- Why is the far-right weaker in Scotland than England?
We invite proposals for individual papers or panels from both established academics and postgraduate students, but also from those involved in addressing racism on a practical basis in advocacy groups, community campaigns, anti-racist mobilisations and trade unions.