Seminar series

Please note that not all seminars were able to be recorded. Where possible, they have been made available here.

July 2020

Race Beyond Social Construction: Building racial literacy

Dr Alana Lentin

DATE: Tuesday 28 July 2020
TIME: 12:00 – 1:00pm
VENUE: Zoom (link provided on registration)

As the world wakes up to the reality that race still matters, there has been a scramble to understand racism, promoted through the sharing of reading lists and the organisation of online events. The maxim that race is a social construct with no basis in biological fact drives many of these attempts at public education. However, as Ian Hacking and Barnor Hesse have suggested, we need a better understanding of what we think race is the social construction of, or, in other words, as Patrick Wolfe wrote, we need to fill in the details as to when, where and how race was socially constructed. In Australia, in particular, there is a deeply insufficient racial literacy among the public, born of a wilful collective amnesia about the place of race in both its history and its present. Without a better understanding of the ‘colonially constituted’ nature of race (Hesse 2013), the possibilities for building racial literacy with transformative effects are thwarted. In these times in particular, rather than give way to the surge in acceptability of the biological determinism of ‘race realism’, we need an account of race that emphasizes its role as a key technology of power and eschews individualized, and psychologistic explanations of racism that are universalistic and ahistorical.

Dr Alana Lentin is Associate Professor in Cultural and Social Analysis at Western Sydney University. She is a European and West Asian Jewish woman who is a settler on Gadigal land. She works on the critical theorization of race, racism and antiracism. Her latest book is Why Race Still Matters (Polity 2020).

June 2020

Segmenting Islamophobia: Understanding Victorians Varied attitudes towards Muslims

Prof Kevin Dunn

DATE: Tuesday 7 July 2020
TIME: 11:30am - 12:30pm
VENUE: Zoom (link provided on registration)

This presentation is based on the research project, Segmenting Islamophobia: Understanding Victorians varied attitudes toward Muslims. The study aimed to address the following questions: To what extent is Islamophobia manifest across the Victorian population? What are the different manifestations and categories that can adequately represent the range of Islamophobia? Are some of the observed covariates predictive of individuals’ membership in each class? What are the types and form of anti-racist response to these categories of Islamophobia? Using data collected from a sample of 4019 Victorians, the study placed Victorians into 5 groups based on their perceptions of Islam in Victoria: Islamophobes (9%), Islamophobes with assimilationist tendencies (23%), Undecideds (17%), Progressives with concerns about Islam (32%), and Progressives (19%). Through a series of community consultations these groups were tested for validity and relevance and interventions that could target each group were developed. Key findings included: The Progressives was the only group untouched by Islamophobic sentiments, Islamophobia reaches through all of the other four groups, to some degree; and Islamophobia varied in each group across the degrees of social distance, support for (un)even treatment, recognition of intrinsic rights and citizenship, and intolerance of specific Muslim performances and traits.

This research project was a collaboration between the Challenging Racism Project, Western Sydney University and the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation, Deakin University. Co-authors include Craig McGarty, Thierno Diallo, Rachel Sharples, Fethi Mansouri, Yin Paradies, Matteo Vergani and Amanuel Elias.

Professor Kevin Dunn is Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research). He was Dean of the School of Social Sciences and Psychology between 2012 and 2019. His areas of research include the racism and anti-racism, immigration and settlement, Islam in Australia, and local government and multiculturalism. Recent books include Cyber Racism and Community Resilience and Landscapes: Ways of Imagining the World, and his recent articles are published in New Media and Society, Geoforum, Geographical Research, Australian Journal of Islamic Studies and the Urban Policy and Research. He is a Fellow of the New South Wales Geographical Society and past President. For fifteen years he has lead the national and multi-agency Challenging Racism Project.

May 2020

What Next for Diversity?

Dr Alanna Kamp

DATE: Tuesday 26 May 2020
TIME: 12:00pm - 1:00pm
VENUE: Zoom (link provided on registration)

This presentation is based on the research project, What Next For Diversity?, commissioned by SBS and completed by the Challenging Racism Project team. Based on an online survey of 2015 Australians conducted in 2019, the project engaged with issues regarding Australian identity and culture, community and belonging, trust and anxiety, and contemporary social, economic and political changes. This presentation details the findings of Latent Class Analyses that were conducted on the thematic areas of: 1) views towards Australian values, identity and future; 2) attitudes to cultural diversity and difference; and 3) trust towards community, government and institutions, and corporations. Findings revealed that Australians generally hold positive and optimistic views, the vast majority value cultural diversity, and most acknowledge racism and inequality. However, negative attitudes on diversity drive deeper strains of pessimism. Pessimists are supportive of non-democratic governance, discriminatory immigration, and the rejection of climate change science. It was also found that Australians highly value trustworthiness in brands and corporations, yet their trust in the media, government and institutions is low.

Dr Alanna Kamp is Lecturer in Geography and Urban Studies (School of Social Sciences), Research Fellow in the Young and Resilient Research Centre (WSU), and academic member of the Challenging Racism Project (WSU). Her research contributions lie in the areas of Australian multiculturalism and cultural diversity, experiences of migration and migrant settlement, racism and anti-racism, national identity, citizenship and intersectional experiences of belonging/exclusion. Her work utilises national-level quantitative methods as well as smaller-scale qualitative techniques that are influenced by multi-disciplinary research (post-colonialism, feminism, history, diaspora etc).