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MPhil in Race, Ethnicity, Conflict

Race critical public scholarship: Challenges and possibilities
In Memory of Stuart Hall,
Public Intellectual, Race Critical Cultural Theorist, Activist

Wednesday 26 March, 2014
7 – 9.30 pm
Synge Lecture Hall, Arts Building, TCD

Prof Gurminder Bhambhra, Professor of Sociology and Director of the Social Theory Centre, University of Warwick
Dr Sanjay Sharma, Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Communication, Brunel University
Dr Gavan Titley, Lecturer in Media Studies, NUI Maynooth

You can view lecture here.

This special event aimed to re-locate race critical public scholarship in Ireland in the relationship between the university and social movements, precisely when academics are increasingly urged to professionalise, produce measurable ‘high impact’ publications and produce ‘useful’ subjects for economic recovery.
The three speakers addressed these issues from different points of view. Professor Gurminder Bhambhra focused on the neoliberal assault on public universities in England, and the need to address the broader implications of the dismantling of the public university for democracy and a racialised politics of knowledge production. Addressing the specific challenges for sociology, she argued that although sociology does address issues of gender, queer studies and race, it does not allow gender, queer scholarship and race critical scholarship to become part of its building blocks. Furthermore, Prof Bhambhra questioned sociology’s understanding of the modern social, which does admit women and gays but leaves race as a non-modern part of anthropology. Calling to recognise, as suggested by the late Stuart Hall, not only ‘roots’ but also ‘routes’, she reminded us that if we do not address the makings of power, power will become knowledge.
Focusing on the rights of representation, Dr Sanjay Sharma reminded us of Stuart Hall’s seminar article ‘New ethnicities’ and queried the post-racial turn in society and scholarship, and the university emphasis on an audit culture, where academics are expected to become entrepreneurs. The production of post racial knowledge means that the neoliberal academy nurtures invisible whiteness. Dr Sharma focused his talk on Dark Matter, an open access online journal operating at the borders of academia and aiming to publish scholarship on race and racism. Contrary to most academic journals, most of them published and controlled by a small group of big publishers, Dark Matter aims to publishrace scholarship, which is not usually funded and Dr Sharma invited the audience to the journal’s website
Asking who gets to define racism, Dr Gavan Titley presented a media analysis of what he called ‘black men, white media’, suggesting that the mass media tend to gravitate towards the middle ground. Through some recent illustrations, and a personal reflection in writing about racism in newspapers, Dr Titley asked some useful questions about race critical public scholarship’s ongoing engagement in public discourse. Dr Titley ended his talk with a call to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the 2004 Citizenship Referendum.
The lively discussion focused on two main issues. Firstly contributors questioned the link between the academy and social movements, suggesting some ways the academy can reach the community – for instance through opening the university to groups of activists and social movements – and the difficulties of doing so in an inhospitable climate. The second strand of discussion was initiated by doctoral students who asked for the panel’s advice in negotiating their way through race critical scholarship in an unwelcoming university, suggesting that support and solidarity by more established academics was crucial, to which the panel agreed.

Gurminder Bhambra, University of Warwick

The Neoliberal Assault on the Public University: Race and the Politics of Knowledge Production

Gurminder K Bhambra is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Social Theory Centre at the University of Warwick. She is author of Rethinking Modernity: Postcolonialism and the Sociological Imagination (Palgrave, 2007) which won the Philip Abrams Memorial Prize for best first book in sociology in 2008. Her book, Connected Sociologies: Theory for a Global Age, is forthcoming this summer with Bloomsbury Academic. She is co-founder of the Campaign for the Public University and involved with the new online social research magazine, Discover Society.

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Sanjay Sharma, Brunel University

Racial reconfigurations and critical knowledge production – thinking with darkmatter journal

Dr Sanjay Sharma is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology & Communications at Brunel University, UK. His work explores critical multiculturalism and the limits of anti-racist pedagogy. More recently, he has been interrogating the technologies of digital race and networked racisms. He is the author of Multicultural Encounters (2006, Palgrave), and co-edited Disorienting Rhythms: The Politics of the New Asian Dance Music (1996, Zed Books). Sanjay is a founding editor of the online darkmatter Journal (

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Gavan Titley, NUI Maynooth

Racism, between everywhere and nowhere: the politics of speaking about racism in ‘post-racial’ public cultures.

Dr Gavan Titley is lecturer in Media Studies in the Media Department of the National University of Ireland Maynooth. He is the author, with Alana Lentin, of The Crises of Multiculturalism: Racism in a Neoliberal Age (Zed 2011). His forthcoming books are the edited volume National Conversations? Public Service Media and Cultural Diversity in Europe (Intellect 2014), Hate Speech Online: Principles and Politics, Platforms and Practices (CoE 2014) and Racism and Media (Sage 2015).

FURTHER DETAILS: Ronit  Lentin, Department of Sociology, TCD,

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