March 13, 2014

Reconfiguring Racism: Conference Review #3

This is part three of a three part series by Elena Meredith about Reconfiguring Anti-racism; Tolerance, Harmony, Inclusion or Justice– an international conference hosted by the Centre for citizenship and globalisation  at Deakin University, Melbourne December 2013. Post one summarised her views on the conversation around conference themes ‘Tolerance’ and ‘Harmony’. Part two discussed her experience of the conference discourse around ‘Inclusion’ and ‘Justice’. We close with part three, a conclusion of her thoughts and experiences and her take home learnings.

Professor Ratnesh Nagda suggested in his plenary paper on “Intergroup dialogue” that anti-racism uses all of the lenses suggested in the conference themes:

Tolerance to enable mutually engaging relationships
Harmony which results only from constructive conflict engagement
Inclusion with its critical analysis of power and a focus on resources as much as identity
Justice which equalizes power to enable the fundamental changes to be determined and resourced across identities.

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Reconfiguring Racism: Conference Review #2

This is part two of a three part series by Elena Meredith about Reconfiguring Anti-racism; Tolerance, Harmony, Inclusion or Justice – an international conference hosted by the Centre for citizenship and globalisation at Deakin University, Melbourne December 2013. Post one summarised her views on the conversation around conference themes ‘Tolerance’ and ‘Harmony’. Part two discusses her experience of the conference discourse around ‘Inclusion’ and ‘Justice’.

Inclusion

Being based in Australia, much of the focus on this aspect was couched in conversations about and experiments on promoting  multiculturalism (the “M” word) which was described in populist and political contexts  as “being in crisis”.  Allan Lentin suggested that this “Australian” view is “the contemporary articulation of racism”. She explored the concepts of:

  • “good diversity” which is seen to add colour, richness and individuality and can become a USP (Unique Selling Point)  and
  • “bad diversity” which is seen to  impede progress, based on the belief that society has been “too tolerant of difference”.

Lentin’s fear is that with an orthodoxy uniting left and right, society may be “sleepwalking to segregation” with a focus on a return to “national values” and a positive teaching of the colonial past. This resonated for me as a familiar scenario and likely outcome in Aotearoa also.

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Reconfiguring Racism: Conference Review #1

This is part one of a series of three posts reviewing Reconfiguring Anti-racism; Tolerance, Harmany, Inclusion or Justice an international conference hosted by the Centre for citizenship and globalisation at Deakin University, Melbourne December 2013  attended by Elena Meredith.

Associate Professor Yin Paradies, Chair of the organising committee, noted that “this multidisciplinary conference brings together scholars from disciplines as diverse as anthropology; applied theatre….social work; and sociology……[to] debate epistemologies, theories, policies, practices and aporias pertaining to anti-racism as a global phenomenon”  (Conference Programme,  p3).

The possibility of exploring this continuum in an Australian context, where I myself had never had or heard such a discussion in either personal or professional contexts, both intrigued and attracted me. As a member of Treaty People Network and as an educator for early childhood teachers, I was keen to extend and broaden my understanding of both current research and thinking on anti-racism, as well as meeting and “debating with” a broader range of peoples actively engaged in anti-racism work. So did we one-hundred or so ‘delegates’ find this event “insightful, thought-provoking and even inspiring” (Ibid)?

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