Conference Report – Historicizing “Whiteness” in Eastern Europe and Russia

The Confernce on „Historicizing “Whiteness” in Eastern Europe and Russia“ took place at the Institute for Political Research on 25/26 June 2019 in Bucharest.

The Event was organized amongst others by our EEGA Scientific Advisory Board Member James Mark.

Over the last decade, issues of migration both out of and into Eastern Europe have brought questions of “whiteness” and its “defence” into the public language of the region. Populists of different political stripes have presented their countries as protectors of traditional European whiteness against a multicultural West. This is in fact quite an unusual phenomenon: race in general and whiteness in particular have for the most part been hidden discourses, absent from mainstream political or cultural thinking about the area itself. At those moments when race did come to the fore, it was often externalised as a phenomenon which adhered only to the western and/or the capitalist imperialist other.

Taking up the revolutions of 1989, James Mark (Exeter) showed how East Central Europe’s “return” to Europe had important repercussions for the more explicit racialization of white European identity. Of particular importance was the discrediting of “multicolored” socialism, the abandonment of support for anti-racism in the international sphere, and growing right-wing white resentment towards a western club that had, through multiculturalism, seemed to have abandoned a commitment to a white world. He concluded by questioning the sincerity of socialist commitment to internationalism and anti-racism—in part due to the reluctance to link local and international issues of discrimination—and showed how quickly those dimensions of socialist culture were abandoned.

Please click here for reading the whole conference report.

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