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03/06/2020

Welcome to RACE.ED

Justice Now march

It is with a great sense of purpose that we announce the inauguration of RACE.ED – a cross university hub for research and teaching on race, ethnicity and decolonial thought.

RACE.ED brings together scholars engaged in this work across various disciplines and interdisciplinary fields including but not restricted to: Education, French, Geography, History, Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies Philosophy, Politics and International Relations, Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work and Work and Organization Studies amongst others.

The RACE.ED website is a virtual platform that will showcase the vibrant research, teaching, and knowledge exchange around race, ethnicity and decolonial thought that is happening at The University of Edinburgh.

Why RACE.ED?

The idea of race has long made for dynamic categories that continue to be central features of our social and political lives. As Ruha Benjamin has recently argued:

Race, to be sure, is one of our most powerful tools – developed over hundreds of years, varying across time and place, codified in law and refined through custom, and, tragically, still considered by many people to reflect immutable differences between groups.

In this respect the idea of race is just that – an idea but one that functions as a tool analogous to the stone instruments of our early ancestors or our modern tech industries, and indeed helps lay down the very structures of our societies. This includes the social, political and economic concerns that can govern our lives.

RACE.ED brings visibility to these processes in two ways. First, it centers the construction of race as a means through which to see how knowledge of the world is produced, structured and operationalized. Second, scholars of this network bring visibility to race as a methodological intervention: to ‘see through race’ is to reveal the conditions upon which ideas about ‘difference’ come to be determined and adjudicated.

What we describe traverse ‘everyday racism’, i.e. the insidious and visceral encounters of race in our everyday life as much as in the conventions and practices that institutionalize ideas about racial difference. David Theo Goldberg has described this as race disappearing ‘into the seams of sociality, invisibly holding the social fabric together even as it tears apart’. To ‘see through race’ therefore is to reckon with it as a structural, institutional and banal presence, even when – or perhaps especially when – it appears absent.

Scholars of this network take up these epistemic and methodological challenges by engaging in a wide variety of local and globally situated debates in areas such as public policy, law and social regulation, especially as they relate to anti-black racism, anti-colonial movements, antisemtism, apartheid, citizenship, education, ethics and labor practices, gender and sexual based violence, genocide, Islamophobia, liberation praxis, migration, nationalism, policing and carcerality, reparations and decoloniality, refugees and displacement, securitization, settler colonialism, sovereignty war and post-war development, amongst others many other concerns.

Thinking across these areas of research, RACE.ED is advancing a conversation about race and its global persistence in the 21st century.

Set against this wider ambition and following a series of consultations across our University at large, this network deepens conversations for thinking about:

  • The ways that race is a socially constructed idea that travels across different social, economic, temporal and geographical contexts.
  • The persistence of race and racialization as both historical projects and dynamic phenomenon that shape the present.
  • Promoting antiracist sensibilities at the level of interpersonal and systemic practice.

In the months to come we will be sharing a program of activities that include events and interventions, as well as a new cross university course on Race and Decolonial Studies to commence in 2021. This will be an interdisciplinary course that provides an overview of the major issues at stake in the study of race, racialization and decoloniality from a broadly conceived social science and humanities tradition.