IRiS Podcast: Conviviality, Encounter, Diversity, Migration: But Where Did Race Go?

Migration, Citizenship and Diversity: Questioning the Boundaries Seminar Series

Conviviality, encounter, diversity, migration: but where did race go? Thinking about multiculture by bringing sociologies of race and super-diversity together.

Speaker: Sarah Neal, University of Surrey

This paper examines the seeming contradiction between the extensive research and thriving debates about cultural difference on the one hand and the seeming marginalization of race from these debates on the other (Nayak and Meer 2013). In thinking about the way in which race - as an ontological concept, category of explanation, of division - has disappeared from view in a field of research that would once have been straightforwardly badged ‘race and ethnicity studies’ the paper examines how this trend and asks why and whether the marginalization of a concept that some have demanded the end of anyway (Gilroy 1998) matters.

Over the last ten years or so there has been a convergence of academic, social, spatial, policy and political shifts and developments; the post race debates, the emergence of a new (and not so new) concepts (conviviality, super-diversity, encounter); new migrations, new geographies of ethnicity, complex socio-economic fragmentations of ethnic categories, transnationalism; culture as the focus for policy intervention expressed as either cohesion or integration.  Given this convergent, complex landscape the slide of the category of race to the edges of the agenda is perhaps not surprising. Moving beyond race and ethnicity as the ‘sole object of study’ to a focus on the interplay of variables and diversification of diversity illuminates the extent of new cultural complexities.

However, using data from the Living Multiculture project the paper explores the ways in which these new complexities and race are simultaneously embedded, sublimated and collide in participants’ narratives, experiences, perspectives and interactions. Reflecting on fieldwork texts and extracts the paper suggests a need to refocus on the ways in which the doing of race mobilises notions of hierarchical orderings, entitlements, belongings, divisions and makes it impossible to not continue to acknowledge race as a constitutive force in contemporary multiculture.

Convened by Dr Nando Sigona and Dr Katherine Tonkiss.

Seminar series in collaboration with the Institute for Research into Superdiversity (IRiS) and School of Government and Society.