My Identities article, ‘The capital, state and the production of differentiated social value in Nigeria’, problematises the Nigerian oil-dependent capitalist economy through the perspective of the Black radical tradition. Using Cedric Robinson’s concept of race, I analyse the racialism inherent in the Nigerian capitalist economic relations and the accompanying contradictions. Capitalism is a very powerful historical force that has influenced and still influences diverse social, political and economic landscapes. The state is an agency through which the association of individuals are entrusted with the administration of the affairs of a given society. Both the capital and state are essential agencies in the entrepreneurial model of the capitalist mode of production.
Marxist scholars present capitalism as an unfair system that engages in unequal distribution of the social wealth generated by the society. Marx argues that the capitalist society is divided along class line and the economic factor remains the most decisive determining factor in shaping capitalist dynamics and its contradictions, while culture and other human pre-occupations play a role but not the decisive one. The working class, Marx maintains, is the revolutionary class that will eventually transform the capitalist economy.
The Black radical scholars see capitalism as a racial enterprise and argue that Marx did not identify race as an analytical category. Scholars like W. E. B. Du Bois, C. L. R. James and Richard Wright hold to this contention. In 1983, Cedric Robinson agrees with these scholars but argues that the preceding Black radical scholars understood race from the Eurocentric conceptualisation. Arguably, European scholarly explanations about race resonate only with the 19th and 20th century racialism, where skin colour differences have come to replace the earlier racial ranking order in European societies. Even before the 15th century Europeans’ encounter with ‘people of colour’ (Africa, Asians, Native Americans and the Caribbean), race had been part of European civilisational experience. The ideas of ‘blood difference’, popular myths and legends were used to entrench crippling divisions in the European societies, especially the notion that Western European monarchs and their aristocratic lineages emerged from the ancient bloodline of the Trojan heroes. These, to Robinson represents the actual roots of racialism.
The third world were simply integrated into this racial ranking order in the 19th and 20th centuries. In the process of this integration, Africans were enslaved, and later framed collectively as a homogenous Black group. Racialism is not just that, but also, the waving of a delicate network of social and economic divisions along differences into the entire gamut of the capitalist system itself. On the other hand, Robinson argues that Marx failed to understand that culture and human habits are the real essence of humanity, and therefore, it plays the same role as the economic factor. The capitalist society evolved with substantial racial habits from the preceding feudal society. The proletariat power had been exposed to tremendous limitations with regard to its historical role as a revolutionary agent, because the capitalists have employed race as an instrument to divide the working class. This division as reflected in the historical character of the English working-class with their Irish working colleagues has implications for workers' solidarity.
This logic of division was transported through colonialism to societies outside European civilisation. The colonies were established using these differences as social, economic and political categories. These differences became a significant tool in preventing the colonised people from forging any form of consensus that may threaten either the colonial entity or the post-colonial structures.
In Nigeria, a former British colonial enclave, this division is visibly seen in the post-colonial, oil-driven economy. The host communities to the oil fields are exposed to this capitalist wrath: a complex web of crippling divisions, dispossession of their land and exposure to deleterious pollution. Capitalism by its nature generates contradictions. In the Niger Delta, it gave rise to community-based social movements.
The oil producing communities are subjected to these crippling divisions in two ways: (1) within the entire Nigerian political economy, they are homogenously constructed as minority nationalities; and (2) in the Nigeria Delta region, they are re-constructed into ethnic and dialectical differences. The net effect of this double racialisation is the increase in aggregate returns for capital, both local and global in Nigeria.
Blog post by Buhari Shehu Miapyen, Eastern Mediterranean University, Cyprus
Read the full article:
Shehu Miapyen, Buhari. The capital, state and the production of differentiated social value in Nigeria. Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power. DOI: 10.1080/1070289X.2020.1785182
In January 2020, an agreement was struck between Northern Ireland’s political parties that restored the power-sharing government in Belfast, ending a three-year suspension of the Assembly. This agreement requires the Assembly to ‘place a legal duty on the Department of Education to encourage and facilitate the use of Ulster Scots in the education system’. In light of the problematic potential of Ulster Scots education, serious consideration of Northern Ireland’s current trajectory into ethno-cultural education is as necessary as ever.
The recognition and incorporation of ethnicity into the education system has often been considered a productive, even necessary step in the production of a peaceful society. Teaching children about 'their own' culture is frequently conceptualised as an unquestionably positive, providing ‘ethnic groups’ with ‘the knowledge and means to defend their interests as well as revitalizing and strengthening their own cultures’[i]. In relation to Northern Ireland, some have argued that teaching children to ‘explore their own identities’ is an important prerequisite ‘to exploring that of the other community’[ii], and so a crucial step toward a more integrated society.
In my Identities article, 'Ethnicizing Ulster’s Protestants?: Ulster-Scots education in Northern Ireland', I call this logic into question. Defences of ethnic education in postconflict societies tend to rely on rather problematic notions of ethnicity, treating ethnic 'groups' as social facts rather than socially constructed concepts. On the contrary, such identities are the products of peoplehood-building processes. In the Northern Irish context, two 'cultural identities' have become the politically sanctioned ethnicities marked out for incorporation into the discourse of identity work: Irish, a national identity with its roots in nineteenth-century nationalist revival; and Ulster Scots, a ethno-linguistic movement that developed in the latter years of the Troubles. Since Ulster Scots was first recognised in the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement in 1998, it has made considerable inroads into Northern Ireland’s civil society, including the education system.
Ulster Scots is often perceived as ‘the cultural wing of loyalism or the ethnic branch of unionism’[iii]. However, drawing on in-depth textual analysis of Ulster Scots teaching materials and interviews with teachers, educationalists and political elites, I contended that Ulster Scots ethnic education in reality took two distinct forms. The first, which I termed the Protestant-community approach, conceptualised Ulster Scots as corresponding to a potentially more socially acceptable term for older identity categories such as Loyalist, Unionist, Protestant or British. The second, the ethno-cultural approach, conceptualised Ulster Scots as an entity discrete from these 'Protestant community' identifiers, an ethnicity separable from Unionist-Loyalist ideologies. In this way, Ulster Scots actually represents a break of sorts with traditional unionist-loyalist ideas rather than an unproblematic reinforcement of them.
Hence, ‘Ulster Scots’ ranges from augmentation to replacement of Unionist-Loyalist conceptions of identity, positing a deeper, more constitutive narrative of ethnic peoplehood. Both Protestant-community and ethno-cultural approaches hold considerable potential to expand the already worryingly adhesive senses of community difference in Northern Ireland. Where unionism is contingent upon the continuation of the union, Britishness upon the perpetuation of senses of national identity, and Protestantism upon the maintenance of religiosity, Ulster Scots is conceptualised as innate and genealogical, and so more profound and permanent. In doing so, Ulster Scots transforms the notional difference between Protestant and Catholic 'communities' in Northern Ireland from a matter of beliefs and cultural practice to the more profound dimension of ancestry and descent.[iv]
[i] Bush, K. D. & Saltarelli, D. 2000. The two faces of education in ethnic conflict: towards a peacebuilding education for children. Research report. Unicef Innocenti Research Centre, pp. 18.
[ii] Kilpatrick, R. & Leitch, R. 2004. Teachers' and Pupils' Educational Experiences and School‐Based Responses to the Conflict in Northern Ireland. Journal of Social Issues, 60(3): 563-586, pp. 582.
[iii] Craith, M. N. 2003. Culture and identity politics in Northern Ireland. Springer, pp. 83.
[iv] For more on this argument, see my book: Gardner, P. 2020. Ethnic Dignity and the Ulster-Scots Movement in Northern Ireland. Palgrave Macmillan.
Blog post by Peter Robert Gardner, University of York, UK
Read the full article: Gardner, Peter Robert. Ethnicizing Ulster’s Protestants?: Ulster-Scots education in Northern Ireland. Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power. DOI: 10.1080/1070289X.2016.1244512
Difference is something that exists in the bodies and culture of ‘others’
Sara Ahmed, 2007
In the wake of the recent intensification of activism and debate on why and how Black Lives Matter it is important to keep interrogating the multifaceted ways in which racism is pervasive within institutional practices – often in not immediately visible ways. In the UK, the current hostile environment (Grierson 2018) is designed to create forms of social disadvantage for migrants, especially those in situations of vulnerability, feeding into an ever expanding and invisibly coercive system of oppression.
Our London-based research explored the kind of support that asylum seeking and migrant women receive by charities, especially around mental health. Compared to statutory services, charities are able to better understand and address the complex intersection of social, political, economic and emotional factors at stake in mental health, as opposed to psychiatric diagnoses which often tend to decontextualise people’s experiences of distress. Third Sector Organisations (TSOs) are well suited to respond to complex needs of asylum seeking and refugee women because the support they provide relies on empathetic understanding for different aspects of these women’s lives – ranging from acknowledging culturally embedded notions and experiences of mental health to being responsive to the structural position they are placed in by the state and society. Both material and emotional support are particularly important for newly arrived migrants, who have weaker social ties in the host country, are often less able to navigate support systems due to language barriers and because they are unfamiliar with or denied access to statutory services.
In this context, our Identities article, 'Diversity as discourse and diversity as practice: critical reflections on migrant women’s experiences of accessing mental health support in London' questions the concept of diversity, and in particular how discourses of diversity that have become prominent in policy and academia compare with the way diversity is practiced in grassroots organisations. Is the term ‘diversity’ useful and who benefits from it? Is there an alignment between the way diversity is talked about and the way it is practiced in the everyday life of people who work in the charity sector? Diversity has become a buzzword and a mantra in recent years, gradually replacing multiculturalism. Several scholars contend that diversity has acquired such currency exactly because of its lack of a political edge. Yet intersectionality, which is a deeply political paradigm born within Black Feminism (Lutz et al. 2011), is informing future developments of the diversity paradigm and is contributing to move it beyond its sole focus on race and ethnicity.
Our study argues that the legacy of previous multiculturalist discourses and systems of classification persists in the way diversity is applied on the ground. Despite the incessant effort by London TSOs to provide integrated services able to address a wide range of service users’ multiple and complex needs, the ongoing institutional emphasis on the maintenance of culture over socio-economic imperatives in addition to cultural and linguistic profiling still leads to the emergence of social hierarchies justified on grounds of cultural difference. Essentialist understandings of culture often held by health professionals can lead them to look for cultural explanations for socio-economic problems and structural barriers. Our work demonstrates that while TSOs are less susceptible to using culture as their primary explanatory lens when working with migrant, refugee and asylum-seeking women, they nevertheless draw on the vocabulary of ‘culture’ (and ‘vulnerability’, see Mesarič and Vacchelli 2019) to validate their expertise as uniquely suited to their particular client group, and thus legitimate the need for their services. Alana Lentin (2014) suggests that 'the reference to cultural difference implies a hierarchy in societies that are stratified along ethno-national and often colour-coded lines’ (page 1273).
Sara Ahmed (2007) maintains that diversity affects public feelings, making organisations and institutions feel better for using the signifier of ‘difference’ in certain ways. The use of difference also implies the emotional work of making difference count, as is exemplified by the efforts of TSOs to address mental health needs of migrant populations in an integrated manner, taking on board the complex combination of barriers they experience. In conclusion, (i) tackling structural barriers, (ii) considering power relations inscribed in migrants’ circumstances rather than ascribing specific problems to certain cultural groups, and (iii) assessing the extent to what health practitioners are also embedded in their own cultural horizons and practices could help to break the cycle of colour-blind discrimination in welfare provision and mental health support.
Ahmed, S. 2007. The language of diversity. Ethnic and Racial Studies 30 (2): 235-256.
Grierson, J. 2018. Hostile environment: anatomy of a policy disaster. The Guardian, 27 August.
Lentin, A. 2014. Post-race, post politics: the paradoxical rise of culture after multiculturalism. Ethnic and Racial Studies 37 (8): 1268-1285.
Lutz, H., Herrera Vival, M. T. & Supik, L. eds. 2011. Framing intersectionality. Debates on a multi-faceted concept in gender studies. Farnham (UK) and Burlington (USA): Ashgate.
Mesarič, A. and Vacchelli, E. 2019. Invoking vulnerability: practitioner attitudes to supporting refugee and migrant women in London-based third sector organisations. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies.
Blog post by Elena Vacchelli, University of Greenwich, UK and Andreja Mesarič, McPin Foundation, UK
Read the full article: Vacchelli, Elena & Mesarič, Andreja. Diversity as discourse and diversity as practice: critical reflections on migrant women’s experiences of accessing mental health support in London. Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power. DOI: 10.1080/1070289X.2020.1785181
As the COVID-19 pandemic rendered people around the world homebound, home for some US citizens turned out to be the colonial town of Granada, along the shores of Central America’s largest lake, Lake Nicaragua, in a country many of these settlers had known only as the bloody battleground of the revolutionary Sandinistas and the counter-revolutionary (US-Backed) Contras.
These ‘expats’ began migrating to Nicaragua, in earnest, in the early 2000s (though an American presence in the country extends much further back in history). They are drawn by a quest for adventure, but also by affordable, spacious Colonial-era homes, maids and gardeners, and upscale restaurants in a country ranked second poorest in Latin America. In stark contrast to the attention focused on ‘caravans’ of migrants fleeing Central America en route to the US, these US citizens and other north-south migrants go generally unnoticed in the public discourse on global migration.
My Identities article, ‘Rooted in relative privilege: US ‘expats’ in Granada, Nicaragua’, examines this group of international migrants, incorporating some of the same concepts used to study their counterparts moving from the Global South to the Global North. Based on fieldwork in Granada, Nicaragua and in-depth interviews with 30 US citizens who have made their homes there, I focus on how these individuals negotiate a sense of identity and belonging as US citizens residing full-time in Nicaragua.
When asked about their primary identification, the majority of respondents (22 of 30) replied with: ‘American’. They described maintaining close social, emotional and cultural ties to the US – more so than political ties. At the same time, they also shared feelings of attachment and identification with their adopted land. This attachment was primarily to the town where they were making their homes, Granada, and to fellow ‘expats’ with whom they were forming community. But it extended as well to local ‘Nicas’ who they were being served by in restaurants, bars, markets and in their homes as hired maids, cooks and gardeners, or who they were serving through charitable organisations dedicated to providing assistance to the host community in areas of education, medical care and other social services. It was not unusual for US migrants to use the pronoun ‘we’ simultaneously in reference to Granada, or Nicaragua, and in reference to Americans, or the US.
In many ways, these US citizens living in Nicaragua fit the model of ‘transmigrants’ introduced by sociologists in the early 1990s, to describe those who ‘take actions, make decisions, and develop subjectivities and identities embedded in networks of relationships that connect them simultaneously to two or more nation-states’ (Basch, Glick-Schiller & Blanc 1994, 3). An even closer fit comes from a revised analysis of transnationalism in 2004, which emphasises the predominance of ‘bi-localism’, or trans-state connections between particular places, here and there (Waldinger & Fitzgerald 2004, 1182).
While familiar concepts in the study of international migration shed light on the transnational mobility of privileged migrants too, the practices of this less familiar group also help us to refine existing concepts. Given that transnationalism has been largely theorised on the basis of, and applied to, migrants leaving less affluent countries for more affluent ones, case studies of the reverse migratory trend are instructive. Border crossing as a mechanism for navigating the vagaries of 21-century globalisation is becoming more widespread, but the degree of economic, political and cultural privilege of the trans-migrants fundamentally shapes the nature of the transnational ties they form and maintain.
Basch, L., Glick Schiller, N. & Szanton Blanc, C. 1994. Nations unbound:
transnational projects, postcolonial predicaments, and deterritorialized nation states. Langhorne, PA: Gordon and Breach.
Waldinger, R. & Fitzgerald, D. 2004. Transnationalism in question. American
Journal of Sociology 109 (5): 1177–1195.
Blog post by Sheila Croucher, Miami University, USA
Read the full article: Croucher, Sheila. Rooted in relative privilege: US ‘expats’ in Granada, Nicaragua. Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power. DOI: 10.1080/1070289X.2016.1260022
An outward sign of an inward grace: how African diaspora religious identities shape their understandings of and engagement in international development
Scholarship on the different ways that international development is understood, accessed and engaged by various communities, is often contextualised by analyses of how these complex practices are communicated to (and received by) audiences. This includes established motifs of poverty and social deprivation in visual discourses of ‘charity’ and ‘need’ that abound literature, film, television and the social media of western democracies. Indeed, insights have also been drawn from quantitative and experimental measurements of people’s philanthropic propensities and attitudes towards ‘distant others’. While these are well established, less considered are the broader understandings of development that are informed by religion and faith subjectivities, especially for African diaspora communities engaged in international and local forms of development. Addressing this gulf in knowledge has important implications for the scholarly and programmatic application of development and attendant policy recommendations. This is especially true when recognising African diaspora identities as critical for engendering particular forms of cooperation and alliance with religious members of these communities. So too, how and to what extent their religious orientations shape and determine their different priorities, strategies and traditions of ‘help’ and ‘giving’ in and for their countries and communities of heritage.
As such, are we to assume that religion(s) and faith identifications are inconsequential or secondary to how diasporas participate in and negotiate understandings of international development? Or are they much more significant and constitutive than we think? Is there space for religiously informed interpretations of international development that move beyond its definitional and operational preoccupation with technocratic rationality to allow for new and extended conceptual possibilities? All these speculative questions and theoretical possibilities constitute the intellectual space within which my Identities article: '"An outward sign of an inward grace": how African diaspora religious identities shape their understandings of and engagement in international development’, is concerned.
Using first-and-second-generation London-based Christian and Muslim Nigerians, as a case study, the article reveals that religion, religious identities and ‘narratives of faith’ are all instrumental for understanding how these diaspora communities, as development actors, assign meaning to and participate in international development. This is best understood in their religiously moralised evaluations, rationalities and theological obligations for engaging in development-related activities largely in the form of private remittances and allied non-monetary contributions and services to Nigeria and continental Africa more generally, via their places of worship.
That is, for Nigerians, their Christian and Muslim identifications provide the theological and doctrinal foundation and vocabulary through which they articulate (and demonstrate) their interpretations of/for international development. These faith(ed)-vocabularies of development are undergirded by and organised around embodied discourses of humanitarianism, compassion, and justice. The significance of this religious moralising by Nigerians also extends to their conceptualisations of their development activities as 'consecrated acts' operating within systems of meaning and practices associated with and constituted by, moral expectations and cultural obligations that frame and which signify their religious and faith orientations.
Within this frame, development is dually understood by Nigerians as a ‘performance’, practicality or an ‘action-ing’ of their religious-faith identities and of their embodied ‘religious selves’. Certainly, these communities conceive religion and their religious selves as not just significant for development practice but as development itself. Consequently, my article calls for a (re)theorisation of international development that affords space to alternative articulations that necessarily include transnational Afro-religious diasporic performativity.
Blog post by Edward Ademolu, The London School of Economics and Political Science, UK
Read the full article: Ademolu, Edward. 'An outward sign of an inward grace': how African diaspora religious identities shape their understandings of and engagement in international development. Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power. DOI: 10.1080/1070289X.2020.1813462
On 26 May 2020, professional football in England resumed after a three-month shutdown in response to the COVID-19 outbreak in the UK. The disproportionately high COVID-19-related mortality rates among Britain’s black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities prompted some debate among football professionals, journalists and academics as to the potential higher risk ‘project restart’ posed for black professional footballers compared to their white peers (Minhas et al, 2020). Nonetheless, the launch commenced, and fears were alleviated (initially at least) by the implementation of a robust test, track and trace system and by clubs operating extraordinarily high levels of surveillance and control over their players’ daily activities.
On 12 September, the Football Association in England (FA) ‘restarted’ the non-professional format of the game. By comparison, there has been much less public scrutiny of this roll-out, and especially in relation to broader questions around public health. Or to the potential of local football to contribute to the disproportionately high COVID-19 mortality rates among Britain’s minority ethnic communities.
The absence of debate is quite remarkable given that, according to the FA, there are currently over 3,000 non-professional women’s, men’s, youth and mini-soccer football clubs that play on a ‘Saturday’ across England, compared to just 92 professional clubs. This is also surprising given the long history and relationship between local football and Britain’s BAME communities.
Thus far, much of the guidance for clubs operating below the professional level, has focused on safety around the activity of playing. A recent study by the Koninklijke Nederlandse Voetbalbond, for example, found that because the majority of contact during a match fell below the 30-second threshold for transmission, outdoor-football is deemed to be remarkably safe for players (Consultancy.co.uk). Undoubtedly influenced by this kind of logic, on 19 August, the FA published its ‘COVID-19 Guidance on Re-Starting Outdoor Competitive Grassroots Football’.
Much of the focus has been on protective measures during and before matches. For example, while contact between competing players during games is permitted, contact for goal-celebrations are not. Likewise, social distancing measures of at least one-metre-plus should be observed by coaches, substitutes and spectators. Where possible, players should walk or cycle to matches. Epidemiologist, Patricia Bruijning asserts that ‘carpooling’ should be removed as an option for getting players to and from matches. Enforcing the majority of these provisions is the responsibility of club officials.
Most local football clubs and organisations operate on the labour of a limited number of dedicated volunteers who often double, triple and quadruple-up on club roles and matchday duties. This reality makes regulating and enforcing the safety measures proffered by the FA extremely difficult. For example, at a recent preseason match I attended, some nine levels below the professional leagues, the home team’s ageing club secretary and designated COVID-19 officer, was simultaneously administrating the match-officials and players, staffing entry into the ground as well as staffing the tea-bar.
All this undoubtedly limited his ability to notice – and stop - the substitutes and coaches of both teams huddling together in their respective dugouts, for the duration of the first-half of the match. So far, there is little evidence to indicate that such safety measures are being strictly and evenly adhered to across this format of the game.
Of course, the failure to follow guidelines fully by club officials, players, coaches, and spectators has to be seen within the context of football as a prized counter-hegemonic space within the local sporting imagination. Local football has a long history of being resistant to policy, which is often seen as the overreach of the State into the private affairs of clubs and how they operate. Resistance to top down policing, in this context, is also undoubtedly bound-up within the politics of youth and masculinity.
Overly simplistic and narrow guidelines on car-use provide us with a useful example of the ways in which these provisions often fail to fully account for the social and economic inequalities that exist between players from different raced and ethnic backgrounds, or for the host of clubs which are connected to specific BAME communities.
Unlike the professional game, non-professional football in England includes organisations and clubs that are symbolically, culturally, demographically, and often quite literally situated within specific minority-ethnic and faith communities across the country. These include clubs such as Highfield Rangers, Leicester Nirvana, Nottingham Cavaliers, IQRA and Guru Arjan Dev Khalsa Sports Club. While clubs seldom operate quota systems, they usually consist of young players from particular BAME communities. For example, London Tigers consists of predominantly local South Asian Bangladeshi volunteers and players.
Race and ethnicity in the UK is a proxy for various social and economic inequalities (that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic). A recent report by the Runnymeade Trust found that all BAME groups had significantly higher poverty rates than British white. Furthermore, Pakistani, black Caribbean and black African households respectively averaged around 55% (£127,000), 70% (£89,000) and 90% (£30,000) less savings than white-British households (£282,000).
In this context, car ownership for parents and young people from these communities is uncommon. For clubs that are predominantly populated with young people from these communities carpooling is not a choice but a necessity. The bi-weekly task of getting squads to away pitches across cities and counties without quite literally packing the few available cars full of players, would mean they would not be able to take part in sporting competitions.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, there also appears little consideration within ‘project restart’ to the potential of local football to double-up as a conduit for the transmission of COVID-19 directly into the BAME communities that they serve.
Preliminary evidence has indicated that ethnicity is also a proxy for certain structural and health-related conditions of social life, which leave black and south Asian communities in the UK prone to higher than average COVID-19-related mortality rates. For example, BAME communities have higher rates of hypertension and diabetes, which increase the risk of individuals developing complications if infected. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) data, black males are 4.2 times more likely to die from COVID-19 when compared to white men and women (Minhas et al, 2020).
The relatively low-level risk of transmission when playing outdoors, combined with the generally young age and healthy physical condition of most people that play regular football, suggests that BAME footballers may not be at an especially high risk of possessing the underlying conditions that lead to mortality from coronavirus.
This also means that they are more likely to develop only relatively mild symptoms if infected. The recent infections of high profile professional footballers such as Manchester City’s Riyad Mahrez and Aymeric Laporte, alongside the quarantine of 300 people that attended a recent charity football match at Burnside Working Men’s Football Club in County Durham, clearly demonstrates that neither BAME (or white) footballers, or those directly or indirectly connected to local clubs, are not immune to the virus. And herein lies the problem for the football authorities.
Local football as a cultural activity is not confined to the 22 players. Nor does it take place in social or spatial vacuums. BAME players and clubs are directly plugged into the very families, households and communities where the impact of COVID-19 is much more lethal, and whom require the most protection. For example, Punjab FC in Gravesend and the Community Relations Football Club in Rugby often operate out of their local Gurdwara and Caribbean Centre respectively, which bring them directly into contact with the communities they serve. And it is in these spaces where an outbreak effecting hundreds of people, like that experienced in the North East, could have the most devasting consequences.
Data have shown us that the relationship between coronavirus and Britain’s BAME communities is complex. A combination of structural, cultural and social inequalities has contributed to the disparity in mortality rates experienced by people of colour in the UK. My own research has detailed the important resistance, integrative and transformative functions of local football for BAME individuals and communities since their arrival in significant numbers over half a century ago (Campbell 2019).
Undoubtedly, restarting local football will provide some social, psychological and health related benefits. However, unless careful consideration is given here, local football might also provide another channel through which coronavirus directly reaches our most vulnerable communities and further widen the health related disparities and inequalities that the current pandemic has exposed and exacerbated between Britain’s white and BAME communities.
Campbell, P. I. 2019. 'That black boy's a different class': a historical sociology of the black middle-classes, boundary-work and local football in the British East-Midlands c.1970−2010. Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power. DOI: 10.1080/1070289X.2019.1590028
Consultancy.co.uk. 17 June 2020. Research suggests football can be played safely during Covid-19.
Minhas, J. S., Martin, C. A., Campbell, P. I & Pareek, M. 16 August 2020. Project Restart and COVID-19 – how do we reduce risk for ethnic minority athletes? British Journal Of Sports Medicine Blog.
Blog post by Paul Ian Campbell, University of Leicester
‘That black boy’s different class!’: a historical sociology of the black middle-classes, boundary-work and local football in the British East-Midlands c.1970−2010
‘Is it because I’m black?’: personal reflections on Stuart Hall’s memoir Familiar Stranger: A Life Between Two Islands
Inhabiting the diasporic habitus: on Stuart Hall's Familiar Stranger: A Life Between Two Islands
The stigma of being Black in Britain
Korea has been said to be one of the most racially and culturally homogenous countries in the world. Although many critics claim that this is a 'myth', it is true that the country has not suffered from the racial and religious conflicts that have troubled so many countries. This alleged racial homogeneity may make a different race the primary indicator of 'the stranger' in Korea.
Thus, I was somewhat surprised by the descriptive statistics from a nationally representative survey of the permanent and naturalised immigrants in Korea conducted in 2013. According to the survey, the majority of immigrants who experienced perceived discrimination believed that they were discriminated against because of their national backgrounds, and not race, religion or economic status. From the respondents’ perspective, Koreans seem to be very proud of their nationality. If, as the immigrants claim, Koreans are so proud of being Korean, what is the source of that national pride? Further, could it be the way they justify discrimination against immigrants?
My Identities article, 'Constructing Chineseness as other in the evolution of national identity in South Korea', addresses these questions. Drawing on scholarly publications, newspapers, policy reports, surveys and films, I compared two different Chinese immigrant groups who came to Korea in different eras. I traced the narratives of Chineseness used to construct Chinese immigrants as strangers and examined how these narratives are related to Koreans’ evolving self-perceptions. The country’s national goals and sources of pride – in particular, historical eras – constitute the national subjectivity. As the most immediate strangers, Chinese immigrants have been easy targets for Koreans to demonstrate and confirm the new national identities they desire.
Chinese residents from Shandong province in eastern China, referred to as Hwagyo, were the first immigrant group in Korea’s modern history. Their Chineseness was constructed from the late 19th to mid-20th centuries when Korea was subjected to colonial rule, and struggled to survive economically as one of the poorest countries in the world. Highly motivated by their desire to survive and grow as a nation, Koreans targeted the most immediate others as threats to those goals. The Hwagyo’s dominance in trading and their expanding economic activities were perceived to be a national security risk that was used to justify the legal measures adopted to marginalise them socially and economically.
Later, ethnic Koreans from the People's of Republic of China, referred to as Joseonjok, immigrated to Korea to take low-income jobs, and became more visible strangers and the new representatives of Chineseness. The Chineseness of these immigrants was contrasted to Koreans’ redefined national character, in which Koreans envisioned themselves as the only legitimate citizens of an advanced, capitalist and liberal society. This new national subjectivity is culturally defined by particular behavioural patterns, ethical orientations and lifestyles. Joseonjok’s Korean ethnicity has not been embraced and celebrated sufficiently to compensate for their cultural otherness which is framed conveniently as Chineseness. Further, the media has often portrayed them as lawless, wild and dangerously naïve compared to the image of orderly, restrained and sophisticated Korean citizens.
These two kinds of Chineseness constructed in different historical eras served the same purpose of designating immigrants as others to enhance the vision of Korea’s national character that its citizens desired. Thus the Chineseness of immigrants to Korea has evolved over time from an economic to a cultural threat, through the process of delineating the legitimate boundaries of economic and cultural communities.
The quest for Koreanness has been troubled by the political polarisation between conservatives and progressives who disagreed over various critical issues from whether the birth of South Korea was legitimate or not, to who are the true evil others to Koreans. However, this long-time discursive divide itself is superficial enough not to enunciate the evolving national goals, visions and characters of Koreanness. As Hall suggested, we should think of identity as a production, which is always in process, and always constituted within representation, instead of thinking it as an already accomplished fact. This paper traces the construction of Chineseness of immigrants as the evolving reflections of self through which Koreanness, as the product of historical experiences, was constantly discovered and expressed.
Blog post by Oh-Jung Kwon, Korea Institute of Science and Technology, Republic of Korea
Read the full article: Kwon, Oh-Jung. Constructing Chineseness as other in the evolution of national identity in South Korea. Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power. DOI: 10.1080/1070289X.2020.1757253
Death is often thought to hold a special place in Irish culture, or even, for some anthropologists, to be indicative of a morbid fixation on the part of Irish people more generally. One academic has even stated that ‘the Irish death fixation… is a cultural fact that cannot be ignored’. Of course, we can easily dismiss such attempts to cast an entire people as possessing some essential, psychic quality as a heavy-handed failure to appreciate the diversity of attitudes and experience within a nation.
Nevertheless, death remains a feature of Irish political, social and cultural life even if it is not the primitive atavism that some might claim. The mobilisation of death in political ways is explored in my Identities article, ‘Racial capitalism, hauntology and the politics of death in Ireland’.
One example of the politicisation of death can be seen in the document that proclaimed the birth of an independent republic in 1916. It stated that it was from ‘the dead generations’ that Ireland ‘receives her old tradition of nationhood’. The dead are mobilised in pursuit of an archetypically modern political project – the establishment of a democratic nation-state.
These ‘dead generations’ can be identified in the failed rebellions that are alluded to in the same document: failed and bloody, each iteration of the assertion of national independence looks forward to a promise of future fulfilment. The dates ring out on the lips of the revolutionary devout (1798, 1848, 1867, 1916…). But, it is not only the hapless insurrectionists who are alluded to - the million who perished in the Great Famine (1845-52) are also enlisted into the ranks of the national martyrology.
With the Famine comes the one of the dominant features of Irish social life over the past century and a half - mass emigration. The social death that this entailed was marked by the so-called ‘American wake’ that mourned the passing of soon to be emigré. The population was decimated to such an extent that today that it has not recovered to the levels seen in 1840.
To understand this, it is necessary to look to how processes of racialisation intersect with the biopolitical technologies that emerged in the nineteenth century. The ways in which the Irish were produced as racialised subjects has been traced by Cedric Robinson in his classic work Black Marxism and how they overcame the restrictions that this entailed in the United States by the work of historians Noel Ignatiev and Theodore Allen.
The effect of the Famine was to centre death at the heart of Irish political life. Death itself became to be seen as a final marker of resistance to the processes of oppression that many felt had led directly to the Famine. The echo of this experience extended beyond surviving generations and its iterations at different times are explored further in my article.
Blog post by Edward Molloy, University of Liverpool, UK
Read the full article: Molloy, Edward. Racial capitalism, hauntology and the politics of death in Ireland. Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power. DOI: 10.1080/1070289X.2019.1658395
'Kashmir is a Palestine no one talks about'.
I recorded this remark by a friend sympathetic to both struggles almost a decade ago. She knew enough to realise early on as to what was prevalent and what would be unfolding for the Indian occupied Kashmir in the future. As I discuss in my Identities article, ‘"Their wounds are our wounds": a case for affective solidarity between Palestine and Kashmir’, while the political histories of both regions are different, broadly speaking, they ‘seem’ very similar and separated only by continents. Strong overlaps exist in having been midwifed by the waning British Empire in 1947, UN intervention and internationalisation, and in their resistance movements, that are undermined by what the current global politics lumps erroneously as 'Islamic terrorism'. The 'suffering' of people due to the heavy military presence is one of the most visually gripping hallmarks of both struggles. While these overlaps exist, settler colonialism as a fatal project of the Indian occupation of Kashmir has not been very easy to picture, especially for the international community.
It has taken scholars of Critical Kashmir Studies, an emerging subdiscipline in South Asian Studies, several decades of scholarship to manifest how India, first and foremost, is an occupying power in Jammu and Kashmir, and how since 1947 it enforced policies that eroded the region’s territorial autonomy and in time paved the way for settler colonialism. The policies put into place by India, which the UN admonished in the early 1950s, have enabled all the subsequent Indian governments to curb Kashmiri dissent and create a scaffolding for 'electoral politics'. Thus, India got away with playing the politics of democracy (Zia 2019) in a region that is both an internationally recognised dispute and an occupation. Subsequently, a stream of client governments and rigged elections paved the way for legal rulings directly handed down by India, which pared down Kashmir’s autonomy. This process of legal incorporation of Kashmir that was made operational through courts constitutes what Duschinski and Ghosh (2017: 34) call occupational constitutionalism.
On 5 August 2019, the entire world witnessed the culmination of this process by the current Indian government, run by the right-wing Hindu nationalist outfit the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). In a broader neocolonial context, the erasure of Kashmir’s autonomy is also the fruition of the Hindu indigeneity ideology based on which Muslims in the Indian subcontinent are cast as invaders and foreigners, and Kashmiri Muslims are doubly marked as the Other: first as Muslims and second, as Kashmiris who are committed to an irrepressible struggle for a UN-mandated plebiscite and democratic sovereignty. The BJP unilaterally and militarily de-operationalised Kashmir’s autonomous status and territorial sovereignty. For the people in Kashmir, a Muslim majority state, their longstanding fear of settler colonialism and its attendant evils of dispossession and cultural imperialism were openly put into motion. Nearly all the 8 million Kashmiris were imprisoned in their homes under a curfew and communication lockdown. There was complete communication blackout, which meant no phones, no Internet and not even basic cable TV. While curfews, communication bans and lockdowns are not new to Kashmiris, the intensity and the duration of the siege became a shock. India broke its own record in the longest internet shutdown – over 8 months. Even today as the world faces a pandemic, Kashmiris only have partial access to mobile phones and the internet, which is slow and text based.
On top of the COVID-19 quarantine, relentless war, counterinsurgency tactics, and facing the dearth of healthcare and information, Kashmiris had to face yet another assault from the Indian rule through the unilateral amendment to the domicile act. After the forceful abolition of Kashmir’s territorial sovereignty, the amendment in the domicile act manifests the active beginning of Indian settler colonialism, which according to some Kashmiri scholars, constitutes a form of demographic terrorism. Furthermore, Indian authorities have designated categories of people from India who can claim domicile in Kashmir and acquire the right to franchise, property and employment. If the issuing authority does not issue the domicile paperwork within 15 days, they would be fined to the tune of 50,000 India Rupees. This is the first time that a bureaucrat will be individually penalised for not providing paperwork within a time stipulated by the government, which is relatively fast. If anything, it shows the urgency which the government of India is imposing to ensure faster processing of settlers. This is a settler colonial plan on steroids being imposed when Kashmiris are doubly quarantined and unable to lodge protest of any kind. These policies only underline the sheer intensity with which the policy of settler colonialism, dispossession of indigenous people and rampant exploitation of resources that India is putting in place in Kashmir. The echo of 'going the Palestine way' is no more a fear but a fearful reality.
Duschinski, H. & Ghosh, S. 2017. Constituting the occupation: preventive detention and permanent emergency in Kashmir. Journal of Legal Pluralism and Unofficial Law 49 (3): 314–337.
Zia, A. 2019. Resisting disappearance: women’s activism and military occupation in Kashmir. Seattle. Washington University Press.
Blog post by Ather Zia, University of Northern Colorado, USA
Read the full article: Zia, Ather. “Their wounds are our wounds”: a case for affective solidarity between Palestine and Kashmir. Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power. DOI: 10.1080/1070289X.2020.1750199
In the 1950s, the world famous American-born entertainer Josephine Baker, who lived in France, toured the US. She was refused in 36 hotels in New York because she was black.
Back in France, Baker adopted twelve children from 10 different countries in order to prove to the world that people of all ‘races’ and religions could live together. She organised tours through the castle where she lived with her ‘rainbow tribe’ and made the children sing and dance. In the 1920s and 1930s the popular novelist Pearl S. Buck adopted seven children, four of whom were labelled ‘mixed-race’. By doing so she flaunted American restrictions on mixed-race adoptions. In the 1950s, Buck said she did so because she wanted to show that families formed by love – devoid of prejudices based on race, religion, nation, and blood – were expressions of democracy that could counteract communist charges that America’s global defence of freedom was deeply hypocritical.
The adoptions by Baker and Buck were political statements that illustrate that intercountry adoptions were frequently about much more than saving a child, as many people who defended adoptions claim. My Identities article, ‘Parenting, citizenship and belonging in Dutch adoption debates 1900-1995’, explains why debates on this issue continued, without ever reaching a conclusion. Celebrities (including Madonna, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt) followed in the footsteps of Baker and Buck. Non-celebrities copied behaviour and arguments. Adopters tried to show that children and adults not connected by blood ties could form a family, and that single parent adoptions or adoption by same sex couples could work. Critics pointed to child kidnappings, trafficking, ‘baby farms’ and a profit-driven industry based on global inequality. Adoption was not a solution to poverty, nor in the best interest of the child, in their view.
Adoption was and is a popular subject in women’s magazines and (children’s) literature, starting with the biblical story of Moses in his basket. It features in large number of TV sitcoms (e.g. Modern Family, Sex and the City), movies and books (Roald Dahl’s Matilda, Superman). Ancestry.com offers DNA tests to find ‘your liberator granddad’, there are numerous TV shows about searching birth parents, and heritage tours to birth countries are popular.
Overall, the public and media are fascinated by adoption stories, while the issue torments authorities. This has been the case for over a century. My Identities article tackles this question of continuity by placing intercountry adoption within the context of migration, to which it legally and administratively belongs. This is an uncommon approach. By placing it in the migration context, and addressing it from a historical and comparative perspective, the interaction between discourses, policies and practices are analysed, and the continuity explained.
Making children adoptable is a discursive as well as a legal process. My article bridges the divide between the private sphere (the intimacy of the family) and public sphere (of policies and treaties), and pays systematic attention to how colonialism, persistent global inequality, class, gender, sexuality, ethnicity and religion were important to the debates about belonging, failure, saviour and good/bad parenting. Children are made adoptable by emphasising that their parents, family, community and country of birth have failed them. A Janus-faced construction – saving the child, condemning its origin – explains the continued challenges for policy making.
Blog post by Marlou Schrover, Leiden University, The Netherlands
Read the full article:
Schrover, Marlou. Parenting, citizenship and belonging in Dutch adoption debates 1900-1995. Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power. DOI: 10.1080/1070289X.2020.1757252