Scotland - No Place for Racism?

March 19, 2013

The Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights will mark the UN International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination with an inaugural symposium which seeks to challenge the cosy consensus that Scotland has tackled racism more effectively than other parts of the UK. ‘Race Equality in Scotland – the next 10 years’ will provide a platform for experts in the field of anti-racist work. The three speakers at this initial event are: 

  • Professor Kay Hampton, Professor in Communities and Race Relations and former Chair of the Commission for Racial Equality. 

  • Dr. Colin Clark, Head of the Graduate School for the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Strathclyde. 

  • Dr. Philomena de Lima, Director of the Centre for Remote and Rural Studies, University of the Highland and Islands. 

 

Professor Hampton will challenge the claim that race inequality is no longer a problem in Scotland stating that “although successive Scottish Governments might appear to engage positively with matters relating to inequality, evidence on the ground suggest that they have not succeeded in demonstrating a sustained, progressive realization of race equality.” 

 

With the Independence referendum next year, Dr. Clark will look ahead to where Scotland might be in 2023, arguing that “One thing is clear – we are long overdue a return to what has been termed the ‘liberal hour’, especially regarding issues of ethnicity, identity and migration.” 

 

Dr. de Lima’s presentation ‘Post Race or Coming back full circle?’ will address the feeling amongst anti-racist campaigners that the early hopes that Devolution would mean that ‘racism’ was taken seriously at the strategic level have been short lived. “..having ‘done race’ the policy emphasis shifted to ‘diversity’, difference, identities and so on. There appears to have been a deafening silence on race.” 

 

 

Thursday March 21st 2013

4:30pm –6.30pm

(Tea and coffee 4:00pm, 4:30pm start, reception and light buffet 6.30pm)

Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, 232 - 242 St Vincent Street, Glasgow G2 5RJ

For further information contact CRER on 0141 418 6530 or email: nadia@crer.org.uk

 

Abstracts of our speaker’s presentations are provided below. 

 

 

Professor Kay Hampton 

Putting ‘Race’ Rights Back onto the Agenda 

 

Since the UN Declaration on the elimination of racial inequality, approaches to achieve this goal in Britain and Scotland have developed and changed in line with broader political processes and social changes. There is evidence of extensive philosophical, theoretical, legislative, policy and pragmatic developments on matters of race across the country. Alongside this, there is a remarkable growth in so-called ‘race equality work’, supported by government funding to empower, educate, support and promote “good race relations”, racial equality and eliminate racial discrimination. Such overt activities have led many commentators to assume that race inequality is no longer a problem in Scotland. Indeed, it is frequently claimed that issues of race are handled more effectively by the Scottish Administrations when compared with elsewhere in the UK. This paper argues that although successive Scottish Governments might appear to engage positively with matters relating to inequality, evidence on the ground suggests that they have not succeeded in demonstrating a sustained, progressive realization of race equality. The latter is partly due to a lack of accountability. At present, there is a deafening silence on matters relating to race inequality in mainstream discourses, debates and policies. This paper argues that the current economic and political changes provide an ideal opportunity to reclaim, revitalize and reposition the issue of race inequality within emerging discussions around the future of Scotland. This will require astute interventions underpinned by principles of collective participation and accountability. 

 

Dr. Colin Clark 

'A dazzling mixture': the return of the liberal hour in an independent and intersectional Scotland.

The focus of my presentation will be to examine where Scotland might be by 2023, in terms of social justice, equality and inclusion. Some of this commentary is informed projection, other elements are necessarily staring into a social science crystal ball. In particular, much rests on decisions taken in 2014. Where Scotland's future lies, to a large extent, rests on the forthcoming referendum and which way the pendulum will swing. In addition, our complex relationships with issues of capital, labour, economy and the environment will determine what kind of future we may be entitled to. One thing is clear - we are long overdue a return to what has been termed the 'liberal hour', especially regarding issues of ethnicity, identity and migration. The majority is aware and agree on the multiple social problems we are facing in Scotland - it is time for less reflection and more action.

 

Dr. Philomena de Lima 

'Post Race' or Coming Back Full Circle? 

For a short period following Scottish devolution there seemed to be a glimmer of hope as those involved in anti-racist work felt that 'racism' was perhaps finally being taken seriously at the strategic level and minority ethnic groups were perhaps all 'Jock Tamson's Bairns' after all.    A flurry of activities followed, and there have been many positive changes.   However, this initial optimism appears to have been short lived: having 'done race' the policy emphasis shifted to 'diversity', difference, identities and so on. There appears to have been a deafening silence on 'race'.  The presentation will seek to raise questions rather than provide answers. The institutionalization of 'race work' one might argue has served to depoliticise 'race' as well as disentangle it from wider debates on   structures of discrimination related to social class, gender and so on. Creation of deliberative spaces for critical and open debates on what the concept of 'race' and adopting antiracist perspectives might mean in contemporary Scotland is important to move the debate forward and ensure that  'racism' is addressed more effectively than at present. The referendum on Scottish independence in 2014 provides an important opportunity to start addressing these issues with a view to defining the kind of Scotland we would like to see irrespective of the outcome of the referendum.

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