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Beverly Weber

The perceived crisis triggered by the current refugee influx highlights the contradiction at the heart of human rights discourse. Modern humanity has been constructed as both European and as universal; the racialized “Other” against whom the “modern human” disturbs this construction by laying claim to human rights from the very heart of Europe. The sexualized violence reported in Cologne on New Year’s Eve fed into racialized fears of refugees and immigrants promoted by groups on the radical right, even as racialized fears returned to mainstream discourses. Critical responses to the racism of the radical right unfortunately also participate in racialized discourses by resorting to “Europe” or “European values.” This analysis suggests the need to consider Europe as a field of power, one in which the contestation over what Europe is or should be results in concrete, racialized disparities in access to social mobility, education, or public agency. A project for racial, gender and economic justice requires the thinking of Europe as an ongoing project of world-making. The call to revisit or reclaim “European” values cannot succeed here. Nor can a response to the new right (or the newly normalized racism of the center) allow the new right to determine the parameters of debates about possibilities for the future.

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Juris-Generative Narratives

Talking to Patricia J. Williams Following the Reith Lectures.

Richard H. King, Sharon Monteith and Patricia J. Williams

This year’s Reith Lecturer was Patricia J. Williams, a lawyer and Professor of Law at Columbia and author of the award-winning The Alchemy of Race and Rights (1993) and The Rooster’s Egg: The Persistence of Prejudice (1995) as well as numerous essays and articles in law journals and in The Village Voice, The Nation and Ms. Magazine. Professor Williams was invited to speak in this the European Year Against Racism but she found herself and the topic of her lectures the subject of heated media debate in Britain. Tabloids and broadsheets alike reviled her as ‘a militant black feminist who thinks all whites are racist and the family is wrong’ (Daily Mail) and her lectures were even described as ‘mumbo-jumbo’ in the Daily Telegraph. Britain’s newspapers and Melvyn Bragg on Radio 4’s ‘Start the Week’ combined to demonise the first black woman speaker in the 49-year history of the Reith Lectures.

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Carrying Religion into a Secularising Europe

Montserratian Migrants' Experiences of Global Processes in British Methodism

Matthew Wood

Migrants to Europe often perceive themselves as entering a secular society that threatens their religious identities and practices. Whilst some sociological models present their responses in terms of cultural defence, ethnographic analysis reveals a more complex picture of interaction with local contexts. This essay draws upon ethnographic research to explore a relatively neglected situation in migration studies, namely the interactions between distinct migration cohorts - in this case, from the Caribbean island of Montserrat, as examined through their experiences in London Methodist churches. It employs the ideas of Weber and Bourdieu to view these migrants as 'religious carriers', as collective and individual embodiments of religious dispositions and of those socio-cultural processes through which their religion is reproduced. Whilst the strategies of the cohort migrating after the Second World War were restricted through their marginalised social status and experience of racism, the recent cohort of evacuees fleeing volcanic eruptions has had greater scope for strategies which combat secularisation and fading Methodist identity.

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Patricia Anne Simpson

Europe has witnessed the rise of a multigenerational, populist shift to the right, characterized by the unapologetic deployment of extremist symbols, ideologies, and politics, but also by repudiations of right-wing labels associated with racism, xenophobia, and nativist entitlements. The political lexicon of far-right rhetoric derives its considerable persuasive force from mobilizing and normalizing extremist views. This article examines the intricately and translocally woven connections among representative movements, organizations, and media personalities who popularize and disseminate far-right views through social media and their own internet websites. With diatribes about the threat against Russia, the uncontainable and intolerable influx of refugees and asylum seekers, whom they blame for terrorist attacks, deteriorating family values, the loss of national German identity, and the antidemocratic politics of Chancellor Angela Merkel, the cadre of self-credentializing experts and politicians, some in alignment with Pegida, mobilize historical moments and meanings to make connections with a broad spectrum of supporters.