Body and Race

Conjunctures of Racism in Europe

Annual Conference 2021

The histories of racism and antisemitism are a common link connecting European societies, and racist regimes of belonging have had a constitutive function in shaping Europe’s history. These regimes were evident not only in the colonial subjugation and exploitation of populations in countries that were qualified as non-European. Racist imaginaries of belonging also helped create internal hierarchies within Europe that continue to serve as the foundation for a stratified spatial order coupled with an imaginary map of zones of backwardness.

Conjunctures of racist articulations and expressions in different European countries may vary, but they all have one thing in common: for years, movements and political parties that strategically mobilize racist sentiment have gained influence and entered not only parliaments, but also governments across Europe. Also racist acts of violence such as those which took place in Halle, Hanau, Calais or at European external borders are becoming systemic in character. The recent rise of racism is not limited to overt violence, but rather constitutes a socially normalized network of practices which construct difference, as can be observed in culture, knowledge, language, in perceptions and ideals of the body and in regimes of education, welfare, housing and work.

These issues are the focus of this year's international Annual Conference of The Council for Migration. The panels will take place in English and German, with simultaneous translations from German into English and German Sign Language (DGS).

Over the last years there has been a considerable shift in how people can name, discuss and criticize racism. This can be observed in the development of new discourses – from "post-race" to those on anti-Muslim racism, femiracisms and sexualisations of racism, as they were articulated in debates following the numerous sexual assaults on New Year’s Eve 2015/16 in Cologne. While it did not occur to German police authorities to investigate whether the murder series committed by the right-extremist NSU was racially motivated until it was exposed as such by the murderers themselves in 2011, the BlackLivesMatter movement since 2013 has contributed internationally to a new critical perception, recognition and discursivation of racism as a current and pervasive phenomenon. Until recently, Germany's public sphere, politics and science have tended to define racism according to the atrocities of National Socialism, making it difficult to address it as a current problem in public discourse. However, the intensive and broad public response to the police murder of George Floyd in 2020 has led to increased attention throughout media and public debates, also making it possible to discuss colonial racism and its remaining manifestations in street names, monuments, or songs, and even its renewed formations. Even the German federal government, which had largely avoided the discussion of the normality and ubiquity of racist practices for many years, has recently set up cabinet committees against racism and right-wing extremism and recognized the need to assess it more thoroughly and make it part of public discourse.

The Annual Conference of the Council for Migration "Body and Race. Conjunctures of Racism in Europe" on November 24-26, 2021 at the Deutsches Hygiene-Museum Dresden focuses on these ambivalent developments and examines racist genealogies, formations and controversies in Europe and beyond. Across Europe, an openly racist movement has formed which is trying to make "Europe" or "the Occident" into a White project by using increasing external and internal violence, questioning fundamental rights and discrediting critical publics and research. At the same time, a broad and rigorous critique of these racist articulations and practices has been developed. This conference wants to make a contribution to the analysis of these conditions in order to strengthen perspectives critical of racism.

This conference will deal with contemporary as well as historical conjunctures of racism in Europe. The fact that racist practices not only violate bodies but also constitute them will be discussed with reference to the topics "borders", "experiences" and "technologies". In addition, this conference, held in part in cooperation with the Federal Agency for Civic Education, will highlight the importance of using racism theory to explore Europe's present and history as part of political education.

Register for the Livestream


November 24, 2021

Foyer Hygiene-Museum Dresden

Welcome and Opening Adress

Dr. Thomas Krüger
President of the Federal Agency for Civic Education, bpb

Prof.‘in Dr. Yasemin Karakaşoğlu
University of Bremen, Chairwoman of the Council for Migration

Prof. Dr. Vassilis Tsianos
FH Kiel, Planning Group of the Conference
In the postcolonial present, questions of belonging are linked to imaginaries of bodies mediated by constructions of race. This also shapes contemporary European understandings of migration, nationalism, and colonialism. This panel aims to trace the framework of these interdependent ideas in their different geographical contexts within Europe, from Western imperialism to the ethnicized conflicts following the disintegration of Yugoslavia. To reflect the different understandings of the many Europes, the connections between bodies, racial constructions and Europe will be discussed based on the different academic focuses of the speakers on the panel.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Alana Lentin
Western Sydney University, AUS

Dr. Eddie Bruce-Jones
Birkbeck, University of London, UK


Prof. Dr. Nacira Guénif
University Paris 8 Vincennes - Saint-Denis, FR

Assist. Prof. Dr. Piro Rexhepi
Northampton Community College, USA


Prof. Dr. Riem Spielhaus
University Göttingen, GER

Prof. Dr. Vassilis Tsianos
FH Kiel, GER
November 25, 2021

Prof. Dr. Paul Mecheril
University Bielefeld, Vice Chairman of the Council for Migration, GER
Race is conceptualized in this panel as a technology for the management of human difference, its main aim being to produce and maintain white dominance on both local and planetary scales. Race technologies thus function as a kind of control center of Europe's digital (external) borders, which operate in turn as population policy instruments for the production of what Nacira Guénif calls "corps-frontières" (border bodies). Subjected to intensive strategic calculations in which internationalization and externalization converge, border-bodies prove to be divisible, "racialized" bodies; they can be disassembled and reassembled, their assemblage subject to the laws of code and space.

Prof. Dr. Claudia Bruns
Humboldt-University Berlin, GER

Prof. Dr. Katharina Schramm
University Bayreuth, GER

Dr. Sevasti Trubeta
Hochschule Magdeburg-Stendal, GER

Discussion with the audience


Prof. Dr. Vassilis Tsianos
FH Kiel, GER
In the 1990s Philomena Essed had already described the importance of including the individual subjective experience of racism in the development of race theory. This panel asks how different forms of racism are experienced, how resistance to racially structured reality is expressed and in which ways these experiences are connected to embodiment and the body. Focusing on these questions, the contributions will discuss empirical examples in specific regions from a historical and global perspective. They will concentrate in particular on spaces and notions of space in Eastern, Western, Southern, and Northern Europe that are mediated but also challenged by racial constructions and coloniality.

Dr. Anna Safuta
Universität Bremen, GER

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Tobias Hübinette
Karlstad University, SWE

Dr. Bolaji Balogun
University of Sheffield, UK

Discussion with the audience


Dr. Linda Supik
University Frankfurt am Main, GER

Already at first glance, it is clear that state (territorial) border regimes are spaces and apparatuses that produce racist exclusions, produce racialized bodies and help secure (neo)colonial orders on a global scale. But a second look also reveals that the border itself does not really exist in the sense of being a phenomenon with a historically consistent functionality, nor does it always perform the same racist functions. Thus, racial profiling practices may well be at odds with neoliberal border policies aimed at migration management. On the other hand, the current broad and extreme border-violence at the EU-European external borders seems to be fueled by a renewed conjuncture in racialized and dehumanizing discourses which reproduce the hegemonic project of a European white supremacy. Drawing on border studies and current empirical research on contemporary border regimes in the EU and the US, this panel's workshop discussion will explore how the racist functionality/ies of borders can be theoretically articulated and conceptually and analytically researched.
Workshop Talk "Borders and Racial Order"

Prof. Dr. Nicholas De Genova
University of Houston, USA

Dr. Leslie Gross-Wyrtzen
Yale University, USA

Dr. Arshad Isakjee
University of Liverpool, UK

Dr. Karolına Augustova
Aston University, UK

Discussion with the audience


Prof. Dr. Sabine Hess
University Göttingen, GER

Prof. Dr. Vassilis Tsianos
FH Kiel, GER

November 26, 2021

Prof.‘in Dr. Yasemin Karakaşoğlu
University Bremen, Chairwoman of the Council for Migration, GER
This panel addresses the interplay of space, 'race' and bodies: How are bodies racialized through the production of space? How is space racialized through body politics? How are racialized bodies spatialized? How are these issues to be understood as outcomes of (post)colonial conditions? How do gender, 'race' and space intersect?

Against the backdrop of these questions presented contributions will look in a historical and global perspective into their empirical cases to provide some answers to discuss at the conference. A particular focus is set on urban spaces in Europe contesting the notion of Eastern, Western, Southern and Northern Europe along the concept of race and coloniality. This conversation aims to shed light on our understanding of the European urban geography and how this geography get into life through education, media and politics.

Dr. Giovanni Picker
University of Glasgow, UK

Prof. Dr. AbdouMaliq Simone
University of Sheffield, UK

Dr. Mahdis Azarmandi
University of Canterbury, NZ

Prof.* Dr. Jin Haritaworn
York University, CAN

Discussion with the audience


Dr. Noa K. Ha
DeZIM Institute, GER
A conjunctural view of racism reveals that under specific social conditions certain racisms may be updated and mobilized with a particularly strong intensity. In this discussion, Manuela Bojadzijev and Serhat Karakayali explore the recent rise of racism and racisms in different European contexts.
Talk and discussion with the audience

Prof. Dr. Manuela Bojadzijev
Humboldt University Berlin, GER

Dr. Serhat Karakayali
Humboldt University Berlin, GER


Prof. Dr. Maisha-Maureen Auma
Hochschule Magdeburg-Stendal, GER

What does this mean for political education?

Prof. Dr. Anja Besand
TU Dresden, GER

Karima Benbrahim


Prof.‘in Dr. Yasemin Karakaşoğlu
University Bremen, GER

Prof. Dr. Paul Mecheril
Universität Bielefeld, GER

Closing remarks

Prof.‘in Dr. Yasemin Karakaşoğlu
University Bremen, Chairwoman of the Council for Migration, GER

Prof. Dr. Paul Mecheril
University Bielefeld, Vice Chairman of the Council for Migration, GER
All times refer to UTC+1 Coordinated Universal Time. The conference languages are German and English. The speeches will be simultaneously translated into German sign language (DGS) and English.

The conference will take place using precautionary measures to protect all participants from new infections with the virus SARS-CoV-2. For this reason, onsite-participation in this event is limited to 100 people. Participants must each be verifiably vaccinated against Corona or recovered from a Corona illness. To register for the Event onsite please contact us via mail at The extremely limited number of seats will be supplemented with live-stream presentations, which will give you the opportunity to tune in live to the event regardless of your location. Further information will be sent to you in advance per email after registration.

The RfM Annual Conference 2021 "Body and Race: Conjunctures of Racism in Europe" is open to the public. Registration is required through this page by October 31, 2021. If the permitted number of participants is exceeded, RfM members will be given preference.

The Annual Conference of the Council for Migration takes place in cooperation with the German Hygiene Museum in Dresden and is funded by the Federal Agency for Civic Education and the Freudenberg Stiftung.

Registration for the livestream

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Deutsches Hygiene-Museum Dresden
Great hall
Lingnerplatz 1
01069 Dresden

Rat für Migration e.V.
Tel.: +49-30-2088 8480

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