Facing racism: discomfort, innocence and the liberal peripheralisation of race in the Netherlands

Sinan Çankaya, Paul Mepschen

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

In this paper, we argue in favour of an anthropological focus on the ‘doing’ of whiteness, which is necessary to understand how various, contrasting but interconnected articulations of whiteness come into being. We focus on two ethnographic vignettes that reveal the different structural positions, within a culturalised and racialised order, of the anthropologists developing them. The vignettes focus on liberal and progressive ‘middle-class’ articulations of whiteness that often remain unrecognised and – especially – bathed in innocence, but that go to the heart of the contemporary European question. We take issue with the liberal peripheralisation of racism, a discursive practice that locates racism in the ‘white working class’ and symbolically exorcises it from the ‘moderate’, centrist core of Europe. Rather than truly facing racism, what seems at stake for many liberals and progressives is the self-image of being well-meaning ‘respectable’ and ‘good’ middle-class people.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)626-640
Number of pages15
JournalSocial Anthropology
Volume27
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2019

Keywords

  • affect
  • class
  • multiculturalism
  • Netherlands
  • race

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