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White Spaces Network

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The White Spaces network taps into a high profile area of international political and media debate. This is one of the fastest growing areas of international research and discussion across public policy, governance, management and organisational studies: the challenges and prospects of increasingly ethnically diverse societies. It promotes international and interdisciplinary collaboration across arts, humanities and social sciences.

What is Whiteness and White Studies?

White studies turns the core logic of traditional race and ethnicity studies on its head by concerning itself with the accumulation of power in multicultural societies. It is interested in how this accumulation of power has come to be associated with certain social, cultural and material practices valued in Western Liberal Democracies. These new theoretical understandings of whiteness and white identities and ethnicities have been developed and debated in the US, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and more recently Europe, including the UK.

They have profoundly changed conceptualisations of racialisation and gendering, that is the processes by which we are produced as raced and gendered beings.

How can Barack Obama be elected to president of the USA at the same time as the leader of the UK British National Party appears on national television to make his case that the White anglo population ‘are aborigines here’ in the UK?

The election of a man of mixed Kenyan and American heritage to president of the USA at the same time as there is increasing evidence of the growth of ethnic violence and hate crime across the world is one of the paradoxes and contradictions that work in contemporary multi-ethnic societies. These contradictions come in many shapes and sizes such as the increasing dependence on immigrant and migrant workers (often from minority ethnic groups) in western societies alongside growing agitation for restrictions on immigration and asylum; or the growth of equality and diversity policies to promote and celebrate ethnic and religious and cultural diversity alongside political statements on the desire to move into a post-race society.

The network uses this innovative white studies approach to work out answers to the pressing issues in multicultural societies. So the key term whiteness does not refer to skin colour, but to a way of understanding cultural and political power in contemporary multicultural societies. These were some of the questions considered in the Network’s inaugural conference  in July 2009.

What we do?