How Diversity Became White: Paradoxes of Europeanizing Antiracism and Non-discrimination (CRRE Seminar)

Wednesday 20 March 2024 (14:30-16:30)

With speaker Professor Milena Doytcheva, Professor of Sociology, University of Caen-Normandie & Institut Convergences Migrations (Collège de France-CNRS) France

This presentation explores the process of Europeanizing anti-racism and non-discrimination, a term used to highlight the emergence of new fields of supranational power and rule. Tracing its origins back to the late 1990s, Milena interrogates the “reverse sequence” that underpins the EU’s reinvention of equal opportunity around two major trends:

1) the universalization of anti-discrimination (with up to 25 protected categories in current French law);
2) its rapid reframing through the concept of diversity management, giving precedence to market-driven mechanisms and governance forms.

Using longitudinal qualitative data on French diversity initiatives - the Diversity Charter and the Diversity Label - and drawing on Foucault’s understanding of neoliberal governmentality, Milena shows how these major trends have merged to produce, in the French case, normalized understandings of diversity. One of their most striking features is that they are overwhelmingly white.

Drawing on Critical Race Theory and Critical Whiteness Studies, Milena gives white diversity a dual meaning that encompasses, first, the erasure of race and ethnicity from the space of organizational diversity; and second, the mainstreaming of these ideals into a majority-centered discourse that reinforces white normativity. While white diversity has been a major product of the “business case”, Milena highlights its unfolding in higher education institutions as well. Finally, although colorblind France can be seen here as a paradigmatic case, the presentation also suggests that such developments encapsulate a more global trend.   


Milena Doytcheva is Professor of Sociology of race and ethnicity at the University of Caen-Normandie and fellow at Institut Convergences Migrations (Collège de France-CNRS). She has published on the subject: White Diversity: Paradoxes of Deracializing Antidiscrimination (Social Sciences, 2020); Governing racial justice through standards and the birth of ‘White diversity’: a Foucauldian perspective (JMM, 2020). She is also the author (in French) : Le Multiculturalisme (Paris, La Découverte, 2018); Politiques de la diversité. Sociologie des discriminations et des politiques antidiscriminatoires au travail (Bruxelles, Peter Lang, 2015); Une discrimination positive à la française? Ethnicité et territoire dans les politiques de la ville (La Découverte, 2007). 

All welcome. Registration is essential to receive the link to ZOOM.

Information for attendance will be sent to your email once you have registered.