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Europe and the Silence about Race Alana Lentin European Journal of Social Theory 2008; 11; 487 DOI: 10.1177/1368431008097008 The online version of this article can be found at: http://est.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/11/4/487

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European Journal of Social Theory 11(4): 487–503 Copyright © 2008 Sage Publications: Los Angeles, London, New Delhi and Singapore

Europe and the Silence about Race Alana Lentin UNIVERSITY OF SUSSEX, UK

Abstract This article argues that, despite the efforts to expunge race from the European political sphere, racism continues to define the sociality of Europe. The post-war drive to replace race with other signifiers, such as culture or ethnicity, has done little to overcome the effects of the race idea, one less based on naturalist conceptions of hierarchical humanity, and more on fundamental conceptions of Europeanness and non-Europeanness. The silence about race in Europe allows European states to declare themselves non-racist, or even anti-racist, while at the same time continuing to imply an inherent European superiority, which determines both international relationships and relationships with those seen as ‘in but not of Europe’ within its domestic spheres. The article concludes by asking what the repercussions of this are in the context of the contemporary discourse on cohesion and integration that replaces multiculturalism as a possible way of living together in a Europe always less homogeneous in reality than it is commonly imagined to be. Key words ■ colonialism ■ Europeanness ■ integration ■ race ■ racism ■ Shoah

Race disappears into the seams of sociality, invisibly holding the social fabric together even as it tears apart. (David Theo Goldberg, 2006: 339).

Introduction: Tolerating Diversity On British television in January 2007, in the Celebrity Big Brother house, Indian Hindi movie star, Shilpa Shetty was being subjected to racist abuse by her fellow housemates. Among other things, Shilpa was accused of being unhygienic because she ate with her fingers, and Indian people were said to be thin because they were constantly ill due to eating rotten food. An outcry followed. Over 40,000 people filed complaints with the broadcasting regulator. Shilpa’s praises were sung while her housemates were described as uncouth racists by people from all ethnic backgrounds.1 This banal example of racism is of little interest in itself. It probably does not differ much from the spats that break out in playgrounds all over the world on

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DOI: 10.1177/1368431008097008

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European Journal of Social Theory 11(4) a daily basis. What is interesting is the reaction it elicited. The row went as far as the British and the Indian parliaments and was commented on by both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, who – ironically – was visiting India at the time. Brown commented that ‘I want Britain to be seen as a country of fairness and tolerance. Anything detracting from this I condemn’. Echoing this, Blair said: What clearly is to be regretted and countered is if there is any perception abroad that in any way we tolerate racism in this country. What the response to the programme has shown is precisely the opposite – that there is no level of toleration in this country for anything which, rightly or wrongly, is perceived to be racist.2

I want to use this example, and the official response to it, to illustrate the point I am making in this article, namely that contemporary, western, postcolonial societies are imbricated in an idea of their constitutive nature as tolerant and democratic and, by association, non-racist or indeed anti-racist. However, this general consensus on racism as an evil that has no place in today’s democracies is belied by the facts: racism, the ‘floating signifier’ that constantly takes on new forms is, as Stuart Hall (1997) reminds us, far from being a memory from the dark past. If anything, since 11 September 2001 and the launch of the US-led military response, racism – as active policy – is on the rise. The backdrop of the continuing ‘war on terror’ has given racism new legitimacy. This goes hand-in-hand with a criminalization of asylum seekers and other uninvited migrants, which links them to the generalized threat predicated on the existence of unwanted ‘others’ – Arabs and/or Muslims in particular – in our midst. Today, not only do we ignore, or even excuse and legitimate the indefinite imprisonment and torture of terrorist suspects in Guantánamo Bay, Belmarsh prison and other unidentified locations in eastern Europe, we unquestioningly accept the growth in detention and deportation as methods to curb the settlement of would-be refugees. The force with which the tenets of the Geneva Convention are being overruled has made conditions of poverty and destitution the norm for many asylum seekers and migrants in contemporary Europe. Contemporaneously within this context, it is possible to present a sanitised version of the history of European colonialism. While previously what Barnor Hesse (2007) calls the ‘European colonial relation’ was, in the world outside the Academy, mainly treated as a blind spot of history, a growing number of historians (cf. Ferguson, 2003) and policy makers have promoted a cleansed history of colonial rule as largely beneficial to ‘natives’ and ‘metropolitans’ alike. In France, for example, the law of 23 February 2005 states that, ‘School courses should recognise in particular the positive role of the French presence overseas, notably in North Africa’. Particularly against a backdrop of human rights outrages in Zimbabwe and elsewhere, and supported by the declared humanitarianism of military interventions from Kosovo to Iraq, it is no longer politically incorrect to lament the sun’s setting over the Empires of Europe. Despite the blatant hegemonic ‘them and us’ mentality that marks the first decade of the twenty-first century, the collective political imagination of the

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West today is based upon an idea of itself as inherently non-racist. This is because the relationship between the ‘clash of civilizations’ mindset and racism is, for the majority, anything but clear. Generally, racism is seen either in relation to the (pseudo) racial science of old, or to specific discrimination against individuals on the basis of skin colour. The development of a more ‘historicist’ racism (Goldberg, 2002) that, within systems of colonialism and slavery, but also later, post-war immigration, infantilized non-Europeans on the basis of their lack of ‘progress’ is not seen as being as pernicious as the ‘naturalist racism’ (Goldberg, 2002) that propounded the native’s inherent and immutable inferiority. The tendency to regard racial historicism as more benign than naturalizing notions about the fixity of racial difference has led to racist injustice, particularly in postimmigration societies, being overshadowed by the ‘new racism’: a culturallybased discrimination often seen as less threatening than that based on biology (cf. Stolcke, 1995). This – predominant – approach belies the fact that racisms have historically always relied on a series of sources (cultural, biological, as well as religious) to make their case. The assimilationism of the ‘civilizing mission’, more culturalist than outwardly racist in tone, was not nonetheless less pernicious for being so. However, the promotion of colonialism as, for the most part, beneficial suggests that racism is a minoritarian ‘attitude’ rather than an outcome of ‘racial rule’ (Goldberg, 2002). Furthermore, racism in Europe following the Nazi Shoah has predominantly been interpreted as a particularity of the Hitlerian regime, an aberration from European politics rather than, as several scholars such as Hannah Arendt (1966) and Zygmunt Bauman (1989) have argued, a possibility contained within the idea of modernity itself. As a consequence, the roots of racism have always been located somewhere else. They are conceived of as alien to the humanism that post-war Europe has rewritten its history around. Europe, under this vision, is proposed to be unique. That it is unique also implies that it is superior to other regions of the world. Today that superiority is seen as definitive of a uniquely European political culture that expresses itself in Europe’s tradition of democracy. A close relationship is drawn between this political inheritance, expressed most recently in the drafting of the European Constitution, and a commitment to tolerance, equality and, by implication, nonracism. This has two consequences that cannot be dissociated from the failure to fully address colonial Europe’s predication on racial rule and the effects of that legacy both at home and on the global political arena. The first implication is that it is in fact other societies, not the ‘natural homes’ of democracy, that are the true fomenters of prejudice and inter-cultural hatred. Second, Europe, and by extension the West, has the right, and indeed the duty, to lead by example, to be ‘a light unto nations’. And education is not achieved without discipline and, if needs be, punishment. As such, these consequences are not novel. The idea that Europe (and now the ‘developed world’ in general, most prominently the USA) commands over an unruly mass of ‘others’ is at the heart of the colonial enterprise and is the hierarchical principle that constitutes what Hesse (2007) calls ‘racialized modernity’. Yet, when a version of this ‘civilizing mission’ is applied within single societies,

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European Journal of Social Theory 11(4) in reaction, for example, to the riots that stormed Northern Britain in 2001 or France in 2005, but also as part of the general ‘policing of the (perennial) crisis’ (Hall, 1978), it creates a rupture. The current anxiety about the perceived failure of multiculturalism as a response to living together in the ethnically diverse post-immigration societies of Europe has brought about a call from public figures (cf. Goodhart, 2004) and policy makers for adherence to prescribed ‘national values’ as a solution to the dissolution of what were once known as race relations. However, this insistence on the need for cohesion and integration into a unilaterally defined national story often leads to the even greater alienation of the ‘immigrants’ and ‘minorities’ that this new policy targets. Rather than being inclusive, integration is seen as assimilation with a different label because it is unidirectional: integration de facto signifies an inward process, rather than an outward one that is transformative of the so-called ‘host society’. Immigrants and their descendants are promised that by integrating they will no longer be treated as outsiders in the countries in which they live. However, this promise is increasingly tempered by conditions for citizenship that place the assimilation of what in the global age are increasingly indefinable national ‘values’ at the centre of the ‘integration process’. As such, although the ideal outcome of integration is an undeniably attractive one, it remains for many unachievable. Quite simply, the goalposts that define the criteria for adequate integration are liable to be shifted in response to the political demands of the time, leaving those seeking to be integrated in the perennial status of either the pariah or the parvenu.3 My purpose in this article is to look at how the story of European democracy and tolerance has become so central to western political discourse and why its attached condition for success – integration – is failing to create the cohesive societies projected by today’s leaders. I will do this by arguing that cohesion is unachievable under the present conditions because the West has done nothing to transform the bases upon which we conceive of what it means to belong; to be, to paraphrase Stuart Hall (2002), not only ‘in’ but ‘of Europe’. My argument is based on the proposition that the inherently divisive idea of race is still vital for understanding why this is so. Rather than the standard conception of race as an outdated and discredited mode for hierarchically classifying human beings along biological lines, I am thinking about race as a more abstract signifier for separating human groups socially, politically and economically. As such, culture, ethnicity, religion, nationality and (but not always) skin colour can all stand for race at different times. Despite the official banishment of race from the political lexicon, I want to argue that its classificatory power continues to hold us in its grip. Race, so easy to shrug off and overwrite, yet so perfectly open to malleable interpretation, remains the signifier par excellence out of which the West is imagined, always in relation to its racialized opposite. What follows is divided into three sections. The first considers the link between race and modern political culture; the second examines the shifting of race from the political centre to the unacceptable margins. Lastly, I show how race, nonetheless, continues to determine the way society is conceptualized and envisioned. Modern western social and political self-vision is ordered by, yet discursively conceals, a system of classification that is racially underscored. Downloaded from http://est.sagepub.com at University of Sussex Library on April 17, 2009


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Racializing Politics Why frame a discussion on what could be termed ‘the problem of difference’ or of living together in culturally diverse societies around race and racism? My answer, echoing David Goldberg (2006), is because ‘race refuses to remain silent’ despite, as we shall see in what follows, the effort made to expunge it. Goldberg (2006: 337) goes on to say that race is still with us because: it isn’t just a word. It is a set of conditions, shifting over time. Never just one thing, it is a way (or really ways) of thinking, a way(s) of living, a disposition.

In other words, it is, as Stuart Hall (1997) argues powerfully, a floating signifier. Race is in fact a very useful concept, constantly adapting and readapting itself, chameleon-like to the changing political and social landscape. It is for this reason that race is central to political culture in a constitutive sense: it plays a formative role in constructing images of societies that are easily transmittable. It is a shorthand for ordering and making sense of the problem caused by the observation of difference that has not diminished despite official denunciation. This is not to say, however, that race is either inherent or perennial. On the contrary, the race concept is born of the possibilities opened up by Enlightenment methodologies; most importantly the capacity to order and classify, to rationalize everything from immaterial objects to plants, animals and human beings themselves (Hannaford, 1996). As Balibar (1994) argues, race is the necessary counter-image that helps demarcate the boundaries of what constitutes ‘Man’. Racism and universalism, argues Balibar (1994: 198), each ‘has the other inside itself ’ because establishing the contours of a generalized humanity after Enlightenment is dependent on the parallel definition of non-man. Race develops into a fully evolved system for the hierarchical ranking of humanity, from superior white to inferior black, over a long period of 200 years. This process, that leads finally to the ‘Golden Age of Racism’ of the late nineteenth century, is an emphatically political one. Despite the roots of race in science and the continued significance it has in the realms of genetic determinism (Carter, 2007; Gannett, 2001), race must be seen as a cultural and political product of its place and time; namely European modernity. The modernity of race, and therefore its comparative recentness and its contextually-dependent evolution is paramount to an analysis of race that is the central focus of ‘race critical theory’. Theorists such as Eric Voegelin, Hannah Arendt, Etienne Balibar, Michel Foucault, David Theo Goldberg, Paul Gilroy, Howard Winant, Ivan Hannaford and Barnor Hesse, among others and in different ways, have been committed to establishing the centrality of race to European modernity. Their work cannot be read without equal attention being paid to the historians and theorists of colonialism and the colonial experience, most significantly Frantz Fanon. The race critical perspective that emerges from the work of these authors counters the predominantly held idea that any talk of race should be silenced because it has been proven to be a scientifically unviable concept that in the wrong hands leads to evil. Accepting that race is socially constructed rather than scientifically meaningful, it is nevertheless understood that race has become Downloaded from http://est.sagepub.com at University of Sussex Library on April 17, 2009

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European Journal of Social Theory 11(4) a central ordering principle of modern western societies. This is because race has produced racism, which today functions independently of the race idea proper. Racism manifests itself in a variety of institutional and societal discriminations, stereotypings, and injustices that in many instances (although by no means always) are dissociated from their origins in the race projects of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries (slavery, colonialism, eugenics, genocide . . . ). Race is significant, not in itself, but because of its inability to exist solely conceptually and in the absence of racism. Indeed, the applicability of the idea of race beyond its origins in ‘science’ means that it has become most relevant in the political sense. In particular, Goldberg (2006) and Hesse (2007) have demonstrated how race has established what it means to be both European and non-European. In other words, race, though always imposed upon and experienced most forcefully as racism by non-whites and non-Europeans, is always constitutive of both Self and other; of Europeans in their hegemony and of non-Europeans in their subjugation. In this sense, it is deeply embedded in the conception of the idea of Europe itself. Such a modernist perspective on race and racism is central to my general concern with drawing attention to their conceptual utility for politics. Both Eric Voegelin (1933, 1940) and Michel Foucault (1997), two theorists who are not remarkable for their particular concern with the specificities of racism in conditions of colonialism or slavery for example, have nonetheless placed race centrally in their analyses of the state and governmentality. It is probably impossible to link these two authors theoretically in any other way, yet both Voegelin and Foucault agree that race, though uninteresting for them as a ‘scientific’ concept, is the prime lens through which the construction of the nation-state in modernity – as a regime for exclusion as much as inclusion – may be viewed. In particular, Voegelin’s scheme of ‘body ideas’ – ‘any symbol which integrates a group into a substantial whole through the assertion that its members are of common origin’ (Voegelin 1940: 286) at the core of his theory of state – gives prominence to the political idea of race. Race is so significant because the state takes action, according to Voegelin, on the basis of a vision of the type of people belonging to its political community and an assumption about the type of collective moral experiences they have had. At the time of Voegelin’s writing, Rasse und Staat, in 1933, the belief that racial categorization was the sole means of making sense of human difference and the consequent organization of society had reached its peak. The amalgam of science and politics used to bring the ‘race idea’ to full fruition meant that it was particularly prone to the type of myth-making that perpetuated its appeal. Read alongside other theorizations of the importance of race in the ideological formation of nationalism and the nation-state (cf. Balibar, 1991), Voegelin’s emphasis on the centrality of race insists on its political significance. While certainly not reducible to one another, racism and nationalism, as Balibar (1991) has argued, entered into a relationship of ‘reciprocal determination’ over the course of the nineteenth century. The power of race was in its applicability as an immediately recognizable reason – buoyed up by the weight of scientific ‘proof ’

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– for the need for separately constituted and increasingly hermetic nations. The significance of the relationship between racism and nationalism, particularly for the constitution of what today appears to be the indispensability of borders, passports and the other institutionalized demarcations of national inclusion, has been discussed at length elsewhere (Lentin, 2004, 2006). My purpose here in reminding that race is not neutral and not dissociable from nation building is to place emphasis on its political role. The embarrassment caused by race, following its official refutation after the Second World War, has led to it being stripped both of its politics and of its modernity. Race, and consequentially racism, have been assigned to the realm of the pre-modern and the primordial. Commonsense sees race in all ages of history (the Greeks being a favoured example [cf. Hannaford, 1996]) and as a characteristic of all human beings. Banished from modernity, it is now caricaturized as a disposition, an attitude, a pathology. Banished from reason, it has become un-modern, a hangover to be found only in those who have not, due to lack of education and maturity, been able to see the error of their ways. The post-war pathologization of racism and the marginalization and infantilization of those who continue to hold such ‘attitudes’ is of course painfully ironic. It is the irony of race that what emerged from and was made conceptually possible by the dawning of the Age of Reason was later to be discursively rejected on the grounds of unreason. However, it is this too which is at the heart of the conceptual power of race. Because of what Hesse (2007) refers to as race’s ‘undecidability’, it holds within it the possibility of remaining present while the conditions and discourses to which it adapts itself are transformed. Hesse argues that whereas ‘race critical theory’ insists on the centrality of the politics of race to modernity and emphasizes the salience of racism while rejecting the biological significance of race, it nevertheless continues to define race in terms of signifiers such as skin colour. In other words, race continues to be exclusively about the Other. For Hesse, race is much more definitive of Europeanness and nonEuropeanness, which constitute themselves in the relationships in and with the conditions of ‘coloniality’. Race is made to mean through the interaction of the oppositional, yet mutually dependent, relationship between Europeanness and non-Europeanness: On this account the biologisation of the colonially constituted ‘European’/‘nonEuropean’ distinction and its territorialization onto diverse human bodies is but one historical symptom and political formation of race through modernity. (Hesse, 2007: 6)

I read Hesse’s proposition as saying that viewing race as primarily corporeal may in fact be a distraction from its true purpose as a means to define Europeanness and modernity in relation to their opposite – non-Europeanness and primitiveness. Understanding this, I think, is central to understanding the persistent allure of race. Race is still relevant because of its undecidability, or the fact that there is a continuous search for the essence of identity and difference in the context of the modern European relationship to its constituted Other(s). Hesse argues that,

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European Journal of Social Theory 11(4) in this search, it is whiteness that is more important than blackness. What constitutes the other as black (or as corporeally oppositional) is the European Enlightenment obsession with the aesthetics of its own whiteness. As such, the sign of blackness is assigned to the geographical, historical, climatic, etc. differences that divide between Europe and non-Europe. It is symbolic of what is not European, and therefore constitutive of what Europe is. Falling short of being arbitrary, race as physiognomy is a shorthand that encapsulates all those differences that set Europe apart and above, and consequentially, legitimate its hegemony.4 Most importantly, because race in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries is defined scientifically and anthropologically as determinant of genetics and culture, there is little questioning of its political origins or its purpose, either in relation to the constitution of nation-states in Europe or in the institutionalization of racialized hegemony in the colonies. This continues to affect our thinking on race in two ways. First, because of the persistent primacy of science as a legitimatory discourse, race as science can be separated from race as politics, as if no connection ever existed. Second, because of its dissociation from any act of self-definition it has easily been retold as an aberration from the natural course of modernity’s trajectory, from Enlightenment to democracy. In the next section, I shall look at how race officially undergoes this process of expulsion from both science and politics. Banishing Race In his 2007 essay, Hesse deals mainly with Habermas’ reading of Hegel on modernity.5 He does this in order to establish the point that race is absent from the canonical analysis of the constitution of European modernity, despite the fact that the histories of colonialism, slavery, the Holocaust and postcolonial immigration all point to the entanglement of those staples of modernity – rationality, liberalism, capitalism, etc. – with race. In other words, race has always been associated, disciplinarily with biology and anthropology, and in common sense terms with the non-European. Race and racism have never been subjects for serious (read mainstream and western) social theoretical discussion because they are seen as of marginal concern. The discussion of race, according to this way of thinking, is the discussion of other people, not included in the story of western social and political thought. As a consequence, race in the sense that Hesse and other race critical authors talk about it, namely as constitutive of European modernity, rarely appears in works of social and political theory on the state, modernity and the like. It is this absence of race from the realms of social and political theory that has made it possible for it to continue to intervene in the world of the natural sciences, most commonly biology and genetics. The argument that there is a silence about race in Europe meets common refutation. There are a host of governmental, non-governmental and international initiatives to combat racism. There are programmes of study dedicated to the explanation of the sociological phenomenon of racism at countless universities.

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However, this does not contradict the argument that the silence about race being grappled with here occurs at a deeper level than that of the utterance of the word itself. It is the boundedness of race and Europeanness that is silenced in the, semi-conscious, attempt to externalize it, as something that exists but does not originate in the political culture upon which Europe is founded. Focusing on the expunging of race from European public political discourse reveals how it continues to shape contemporary formulations of diversity and integration in postcolonial Europe. The idea that race is external to Europe is of course blown apart by the event of the Nazi Shoah and the lead-up to it. While, at the end of the nineteenth century, race had certainly become a guiding principle, a means of classifying humanity, it was rarely associated directly with barbarism.6 ‘Race was all’, as Disraeli famously stated: racial hierarchy was a fact that legitimated the excesses of colonial rule (which mainly happened out of sight of European eyes) and the keeping of the proletariat in ‘their place’ (MacMaster, 2001). It explained the growing need for national frontiers and for the social divisions that prevented much cultural intermixing. Moreover, in western Europe, the prevalence of the idea of race coexisted, paradoxically perhaps, with a growing democratization of the polity and which, following emancipation, saw the inclusion in society of the once ghettoized Jews. As Goldberg (2006) notes, the Shoah is definitive of race in Europe, with good reason. However, the persistent questioning of how it was possible for such a genocide to occur on European soil (raised again, albeit to a lesser degree, during the Balkan wars of the 1990s), led to a concomitant erasure of Europe’s colonial legacy: ‘Colonialism, on this view, has had little or no effect in the making of Europe itself, or of European nation-states’ (Goldberg, 2006: 336). The Holocaust was Europe’s tragedy, colonialism someone else’s. Following the discovery of the concentration camps, race, as the motivating factor for the Nazi policy of extermination, had to be publicly negated in order for Europe to be cleansed. This work of revising the history of race and its influence, beyond Nazism or the narrow confines of racial science, on both colonial systems and domestic social hierarchies, tackled both the problem of race and proposed a solution to it. In the years following the end of the Second World War, to those who set about proposing solutions to it, the problem of race was seen predominantly as originating in science (Lentin, 2004, 2005). While it was agreed that race had certainly held politics in its thrall, it was portrayed as a pseudo-scientific concept rather than a political idea. The close marriage of science and politics that was particularly evident in the development of a ‘racial science’ under a specific set of political circumstances (imperial expansion, industrialisation and the growth of the nation) was seen as secondary. For the social scientists gathered by UNESCO to write its 1950 ‘Statement against race and racial prejudice’, race had to be disproved on scientific grounds, a task which they saw as easily achievable. The Statement claimed that: The division of the human species into ‘races’ is partly conventional and partly arbitrary and does not imply any hierarchy whatsoever. Many anthropologists stress

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European Journal of Social Theory 11(4) the importance of human variation, but believe that ‘racial’ divisions have limited scientific interest and may even carry the risk of inviting abusive generalization. (UNESCO, 1968: 270)

Directly after the publication of the Statement, it was followed by an alternative Statement written mainly by geneticists also involved in the UNESCO project. Scientists such as Theodosius Dobzhansky (Gannett, 2001) argued that race continued to be of scientific usefulness for describing ‘groups of mankind possessing well-developed and primarily heritable physical differences from other groups’ (Comas, 1961: 304) and should not be confused with politics. However, the political climate of the day was unfavourable to this point of view. The official response to race was to shut the door on its period in history. Race, as Eléni Varikas (1998) has pointed out, was literally banished from publicly acceptable discourse, particularly in continental western Europe. For Goldberg (2006: 336), after the Shoah, ‘race is to have no social place, no explicit markings. It is to be excised from any characterising of human conditions, relations, formations.’ This does not mean, however, that it ceases to be implicit. Just as anthropologists and geneticists agreed to disagree, leaving the latter free to develop theories of racially underpinned intelligence and proneness to disease, race was not uttered but could not be unthought. This is evident in the solution proposed by the UNESCO project, which though denying the scientific validity of race, nonetheless recognized the importance of being able to explain human difference. Particularly in light of the rise in inbound European immigration after the Second World War, the first-hand experience of non-Europeanness, already afforded by the presence of black servicemen during the war in many European countries (Levy, 2004), became extremely significant. Race had come home, but it could not be known as such. Anthropologists, most famously Claude Lévi-Strauss (1975) in his Race and History, argued for terms such as ethnicity and culture to replace that of race, and for ethnocentrism to be used in the place of racism. It was recognized that the horrors of the Shoah, steeped in the taint of race, were not dissociable from the difference made evident by the appearance of non-whites in the European midst. Yet it was this very association with the Shoah that led to the products of colonial rule (the postcolonial immigrants) becoming ‘ethnic minorities’ and ‘cultural groups’, rather than races. The evident outcome of the replacement of race with ‘culture’, ‘ethnicity’ or, even more euphemistically, ‘background’ is the consequent banishing of racism. It is of course correct that race should not be reinstated to its pre-war status. Yet, as Goldberg and others argue forcefully, race is given meaning by the persistence of racism. This counters the argument, for example, of Paul Gilroy who has positioned himself contra Goldberg and the race critical theorists by arguing ‘against race’ (Gilroy, 2000). Gilroy’s argument is that the Fanonian inheritance of racism as ‘epidermilization’ – the wearing of race on the skin – has led to a ‘“race” entrenching pragmatism’ (Gilroy, 1998: 839), which does little to overcome racist injustice. He claims that the appropriation of race that underpinned the identity politics of the second generation of postcolonial migrants and the US civil rights

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generation has run its course. While he convincingly argues against the essentializing and potentially depoliticizing power of race as identity, Gilroy fails to demonstrate how race as a term could be overcome in the face of the persistence of racism. By introducing the concept of ‘raciology’ to explain how what he calls the ‘virtual realities of “race”’ were brought ‘to dismal and destructive life’ (Gilroy, 2000: 11), Gilroy is in fact engaging in the same historicization that the race critical theorists espouse. However, replacing race with raciologies and other such terms comes short of making the point that, despite so many efforts to the contrary, the effects of race thinking, while undoubtedly in constant flux, have not withered away. On the contrary, the continued practices of institutionalized injustice founded upon a ready-made hierarchical schema that divides between Europeans and others demonstrates that officially negating race does little to remove its consequences. In Goldberg’s terms, Auschwitz has left us unable to speak about race. It has therefore been ‘[b]uried. But buried alive’ (Goldberg, 2006: 338). As a result, the millions of non-Europeans, often the descendants of those emerging from the ‘racialized governmentalities’ of the colonies into the post-racial metropole, have no words to express their negation. If race was a bad word, it at the very least, was historically explanatory.

Integrating into a Race-free World The Europe of today, increasingly defined by its multiculturality, is mired in the problems arising from the hushing up of race. It is at the heart of the mismatch of discourse and practice that denies the possibility of collectively imagining an inclusive Europe. Having expunged race, Europe, like the USA after Jim Crow, has been declared post-racial. Yet, more than the USA that, after all it is argued, was built on/with slavery,7 Europe is seen as having returned to its original status as non-racial, a status displaced only by the short and regrettable years of Nazi domination. Because of the absence of race from the official writing of the history of European modernity and its relegation to the realms of science in which it has a confined legitimacy, race acquires the status of aberration. Like a weed that inexplicably grows in an otherwise lush garden, race came to disturb the peace of European democracy, civilization and universal values. But, as soon as it came, so it went. Europe is reinstated, old stories neatly archived. After having closed the door on this ‘regrettable’ period of history, Europe immediately began on its quest for explaining and assimilating the difference that nonetheless assaults the senses. This is a quest that is ongoing. Furthermore, by constantly searching for new ways to make sense of the differences between human beings and the problems they give rise to, yet shutting the door on race as past history, it may well be an eternal one. Race, it is worth repeating, stands here for the crimes that it is responsible for, rather than any invocation of differences in human biology: the indelible experiences that mark and shape whole groups of people, often for generations. It is imprisonment and enslavement,

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European Journal of Social Theory 11(4) forced labour and lynching. Death. But it is also assimilation through education and cooptation; the historicist racism that proffers progress as an always promised, but never quite achieved, prize. Unable/unwilling to speak about the effects of race, Europe, through the vehicle of its institutions, has transformed race into ‘identity’. In other words, race is no longer something that is imposed upon subjugated others. By anaesthetizing race and labelling it ‘ethnicity’ or ‘culture’, it becomes something that is possessed, rather than something that is unwillingly acquired. As Hesse (2007: 16) remarks, ‘“race” was understood proprietarily, as a form of possessive communitarianism, rather than relationally as a European articulation of colonial differentiation’. Race, now dissociated from its crimes, becomes a mere descriptor among others that, because of the discomfort it evokes for Europeans, has been replaced with other, less threatening, terms. This translation process denies what Fanon (1967) describes as the lived-experience of race: the process of dehumanization and infantilization that is fundamental to racialization. By taking race away from the racialized, the ‘badge’ of race is also denied them (Du Bois, 1940). Du Bois’ badge of race refers not to biology, but to the ‘physical bond’ that the ‘common history’ of those who ‘have suffered a long disaster and have one long memory’ are compelled to carry with them (Du Bois, 1940 cited in Appiah, 1985: 33). The badge of race is not worn, as Gilroy appears to claim, out of choice. Even where race is proudly reappropriated, it is as a result of racism that the need to organize around a far from authentic racial identity is felt. In the contemporary context, the racialization of religious affiliation, most notably that of Muslims, is a clear example of how an oppositional shared identity can congeal and harden in reaction to the presumed immutable otherness of a shared faith. As Du Bois put it in relation to his allegiance to Africa, ‘the physical bond is least and the badge of colour relatively unimportant save as a badge; the real essence of kinship is its social heritage of slavery; the discrimination and insult’ (Du Bois, 1940 cited in Appiah, 1985: 33, emphasis added). It is against this backdrop, of the unspoken yet ever-present spectre of race, that Europe struggles to imagine its sociality. Successive decades have given rise to assimilation, multiculturalism and now diversity as policy directives for coping with the consequences of the heterogeneous cultural, religious and national makeup of most contemporary European societies.8 Each model spawned a variety of reactions that led to crisis being invoked at every turn. In the late 1960s, the Conservative British MP, Enoch Powell, imagined the country flowing in ‘rivers of blood’ as legislation against racial discrimination led to the eradication of Britishness. Today, the multiculturalist proposals made by French President Sarkozy are painted as damaging to the values of the secular Republique. What unites these policies and the reactions to them is the need for coping with difference, for doing damage control, that results from the realization that Europe is no-longer (as though it ever were) culturally homogeneous. In other words, it is difference per se that is problematized by the various debates and policies that frame what is no longer known as race in Europe. The spectre of race lingers in the sense of discomfort that impels us to find solutions

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to the ‘living together’ (Touraine, 2000) of culturally (racially) different, and it is implied, incompatible groups. Moreover, this is portrayed by the liberal establishment as something that is called for and expected by monolithically named ‘minority’ groups. The framing of the grievances of the racialized as identity politics (Lentin, 2004, 2005), means that what have mainly been unsuccessful policies are put down to the recognition claims (Taylor, 1994) of these marginalized ‘minorities’. The call of the racialized to stand against racism is translated into a call to recognize (my) identity. Of course, this entirely overlooks why identity or race as a Du Boisian badge takes on the importance it does in the first place. Whereas, it could be argued that the multiculturalist model, by allowing at least for cultural self-governance, went some way to recognizing the autonomy of non-white groups, the current backlash against it can only be described as regression. While I have warned against the facile nostalgia for the good old days of multiculturalism following its rejection in Britain in 2004 by several public figures (Lentin, 2005), the current focus on diversity and social cohesion marks the wholesale rejection of the significance of Du Bois’ badge of race. Although translating race into culture and hoping that racism would disappear did little to dull the ‘discrimination and insult’, there was an, albeit misguided, hope that it could be better coped with through culture, a hope that has been shared, for example, by the proponents of negritude.9 In the post-9/11 world, it is precisely the freedom granted to those who are in but not of Europe (Hall, 2002) to practise their ‘culture’ that is perceived to be at the root of the global clash of civilizations as it plays itself out in the metros of London or Madrid. Today, the professed need for integration and social cohesion has superseded the ‘leave them to it’ attitude of multiculturalism. However, while anti-terrorist policing and the racial profiling it relies on has certainly increased the pressure on non-whites, particularly the brown-skinned, it is not this aspect that represents a radical break with multiculturalism. Whatever policy has been publicly endorsed, black people have always suffered criminalization whether or not their ‘culture’ was being celebrated for its ‘vibrancy’ at the same time. What the insistence on social cohesion and integration and the concomitant espousal of national values through the establishment of citizenship tests, for example, has done is to shift responsibility for societal success onto its outsiders. The avowed Britishness of the 7/7 bombers notwithstanding, the message is integrate into ‘our way of life’ or be cast out. The implication of integration is that outsiders, condemned to be so regardless of citizenship, must integrate into and be integrated by Europe in order for its societies to become socially cohesive. There is no need for Europe to integrate into its outsiders. This is unnecessary because Europe stands for what are upheld as universal values, the values that set Europe apart and above: democracy, human rights and the rule of law. Under this trinity, there is no room for race. Indeed, race, as we have been told, came to blight Europe for a brief period but was banished as quickly as it settled. Europe (and by extension the West) is therefore the standard against which all else can be judged.

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European Journal of Social Theory 11(4) It is perhaps unnecessary to recall that this very assumption is racist in itself because, mirroring whiteness, it holds Europeanness up as the norm and condemns all else to its moral hegemony (Goldberg, 2002). What is less evident perhaps is that requiring all to integrate into a Europe that denies its raciality – past and present – is an impossibility. It is impossible because it is incoherent, and it is this incoherency that is at the root of the problem of commonly imagining a unified future. The imagination, or more precisely the very cognitive function, breaks down at the point when the image presented of Europe so obviously belies that which is experienced as true. An echo of the official response to the Big Brother fiasco presented in the introduction to this article can now be heard. The political leaders in Britain claimed that, contrary to common perception in India, for example, Britain was a tolerant and democratic country, one in which racism has no place. Racism becomes the problem of the ignorant working class, represented by the ubiquitous Jade Goody, the class that itself was racialized by the Social Darwinist drive for fitter societies (MacMaster, 2001). It is not what Britain is about. The same response can be heard in reaction, for example, to the extremism of right-wing parties across Europe. Simply, by refusing to see race, by covering it over with alternative signifiers and therefore, most crucially, blinding itself to its consequences, Europe sends a message: race is not our problem, it is not ours. It is yours. By giving race back to its bearers – the racialized, the wearers of the badge of race – Europe is demanding for it to be taken away. In other words, integration implies not only the assimilation of European ways of doing things and the acceptance of its ‘values’. This in itself is possible and would even be desirable. It would be desirable if race was not in fact so deeply embedded in what Europe is to make it impossible to extricate Europeanness from its opposite – nonEuropeanness – from the constant reminder of the crimes committed in the name of ‘European universals’ (Hesse, 1999). For those still thought of as nonEuropeans, integration means denying the significance of the experience of race. Yet its constant reminders come back to haunt us: the detention centres and deportation flights, the racist policing and profiling, the orange jumpsuits and demonised imams. If the aim of policies from assimilation, to multiculturalism, to community cohesion, is to unify and find commonalties, a shared vision of future sociality must be found. Yet the struggle to define a common European future is not yet a common one. Rather it is an oppositional one that divides between the Europe of white privilege and its internal others; between those with the capacity to racialize and those who must bear (eternally?) that infernal badge of race. It is between the tale of Europe’s tolerance and a reality of profound deception. Race structures our imaginative capacity while hiding itself from view. The bodyguards at race’s door are indefatigable.

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Notes 1 For a fuller analysis of this incident, see Alana Lentin. ‘Shilpa Shetty and Celebrity Big Brother’, OpenDemocracy.Net, 18 January 2007, http://www.opendemocracy.net/ xml/xhtml/articles/4260.html 2 ‘Politicians enter big brother row’, BBC News Online, accessed 17 January 2007, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/6269953.stm 3 In The Origins of Totaliatarianism, Hannah Arendt (1966) referred to the perception of the emancipated Jews of western Europe in the early twentieth century as either pariahs or parvenus: those who retained their religious customs set themselves apart from the majority society; those who rejected their traditions in favour of assimilation were mistrusted as parvenus, and ultimately cast out. 4 Space forbids me from engaging in a fuller discussion of Hesse’s ideas. However, on this point, he usefully introduces the concept of ‘governmental racialization’ (Hesse, 2007: 19) to describe the way in which ‘although both the native Americans and Africans lie outside of its [world history’s] remit of evolutionary rationality, they are required to succumb to its regulatory force’. Governmental racialization works through the institutionalization in administrative practice of laws and disciplinary measures exercised by white Europeans over non-white, non-Europeans. I would add that the transposition of colonial arrangements into post-colonial immigration regimes in Europe (Kundnani, 2001) and the relative impossibility to transform existing political systems in Europe to include non-Europeans in their governance leads to a perpetuation of this governmental racialization in the contemporary European context. A clear contemporary example of this is the prevalence of racial profiling in ‘anti-terrorist’ policing. 5 In the Philosophical Discourse of Modernity (Habermas, 1989). 6 Exceptional voices could be heard such as those in the inter-war period of the anthropologist Frantz Boas and his students and the African-American scholar and activist, W.E.B. Du Bois who used racial science against itself, to disprove the theory of white supremacy. 7 This European-US distinction of course ignores the significance of slavery for the domestic European economy. 8 It is worth noting, though not central to my argument, that there are significant differences between models of ‘integration’ proposed in various European countries. 9 Let me add, however, that those who invoked Black Power in the USA, the UK and the former colonies most notably did not do so without, at the same time, taking a stance against the racism of the state. Cultural authenticity was never a solution to racism (cf. Fanon, 1967).

References Appiah, Anthony (1985) ‘The Uncompleted Argument: Du Bois and the Illusion of Race,’ Critical Inquiry 12(1): 21–37. Balibar, Etienne (1991) ‘Racism and Nationalism’, in Etienne Balibar and Immanuel Wallerstein, Race, Nation, Class: Ambiguous Identities, pp. 37–67. London: Verso. —— (1994) Masses, Classes, Ideas: Studies on Politics and Philosophy Before and After Marx. New York: Routledge.

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European Journal of Social Theory 11(4) Carter, Robert (2007) ‘Genes, Genomes and Genealogies: The Return of Scientific Racism’, Ethnic and Racial Studies 30(4): 546–56. Comas, Juan (1961) ‘“Scientific” Racism Again?’, Current Anthropology 2(4): 301–40. Du Bois, W.E.B. (1903) The Souls of Black Folk. Chicago, IL: A.C. McClurg & Co. —— (1940) Dusk of Dawn. New York: Harcourt Brace & Co. Fanon, Frantz (1967) Black Skins, White Masks. London: Pluto Press. Ferguson, Niall (2003) Empire: The Rise and Fall of the British World Order and the Lessons for Global Power. New York: Basic Books. Foucault, Michel (1997) Il faut Défendre la Société: Cours au Collège de France, 1976. Paris: Gallimard Seuil. Gannett, Lisa (2001) ‘Racism and Human Genome Diversity Research: The Ethical Limits of “Population Thinking”’, Philosophy of Science 68(3): S479–92. Gilroy, Paul (1998) ‘Race Ends Here’, Ethnic and Racial Studies 21(5): 838–47. —— (2000) Between Camps: Nations, Cultures and the Allure of Race. London: Allen Lane. Goldberg, David Theo (2002) The Racial State. Malden, MA and Oxford: Blackwell. —— (2006) ‘Racial Europeanization’, Ethnic and Racial Studies 29(2): 331–64. Hall, Stuart (1978) Policing the Crisis: Mugging, the State and Law and Order. London: Palgrave Macmillan. —— (1997) Race, the Floating Signifier. Media Education Foundation Film. —— (2002) ‘“In but not of Europe”: Scattered Speculations about “The Myths of Europe”’, paper presented at the conference Figures d’Europe – Figure d’Europa, Images and Myths of Europe, EUI, HEC Department and the City of Florence, European University Institute, Florence, 11–13 April. Hannaford, Ivan (1996) Race: The History of an Idea in the West. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press. Hesse, Barnor (1999) ‘“It’s Your World”: Discrepant M/multiculturalisms’, in Phil Cohen (ed.) New Ethnicities, Old Racisms. London: Zed Books. —— (2007) ‘Racialized Modernity: An Analytics of White Mythologies’, Ethnic and Racial Studies 30(4): 643–63. Kundnani, Arun (2001) ‘From Oldham to Bradford: The Violence of the Violated’, Race & Class 43(2): 105–31. Lentin, Alana (2004) Racism and Anti-Racism in Europe. London: Pluto Press. —— (2005) ‘Replacing “Race”, Historicizing “Culture” in Multiculturalism’, Patterns of Prejudice 39(4): 379–96. Lévi-Strauss, Claude (1975) ‘Race and History’, in Race, Science and Society. New York: Whiteside and Morrow, for UNESCO. —— (1983) ‘Race et culture’, in Le Regard Eloigné. Paris: PLON. Levy, Andrea (2004) Small Island. London: Headline. MacMaster, Neil (2001) Racism in Europe 1870–2000. Basingstoke: Palgrave. Taylor, Charles (1994) Multiculturalism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Touraine, Alain (2000) Can we Live Together?: Equality and Difference. Cambridge: Polity Press. UNESCO (1968) ‘UNESCO Statement on Race and Racial Prejudice’, Current Anthropology 9(4): 270–2. Varikas, Eléni (1998) ‘Sentiment National, Genre et Ethnicité’, TUMULTES 11: 87–97. Voegelin, Eric (1933 [2000]) Race and State, trans. Ruth Heim. Baton Rouge and London: Louisiana State University Press. —— (1940) ‘The Growth of the Race Idea’, The Review of Politics (July): 283–317.

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Europe and the Silence about Race

■ Alana Lentin

is a senior lecturer in social theory and political sociology in the Department of Sociology, University of Sussex. She writes on race, racism and antiracism from a critical perspective, as well as social movements and migrant collective action. Her books include Racism and Anti-racism in Europe (2004) and Racism: A Beginner’s Guide (2008). She is also the co-editor of Race and State (2006) and The Politics of Diversity in Europe (2008). Her writings can be accessed through her website: http://www.alanalentin.net. Address: Department of Sociology, University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton BN1 9SN, UK. [a.lentin@sussex.ac.uk] ■

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Europe and the Silence About Race  

This paper argues that, despite the efforts to expunge race from the European political sphere, racism continues to define the sociality of...

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