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The politics of anti-racism in Belgium

[journal article]

Detant, Anja

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Abstract In the present environment of advanced industrial society and post-war migration to Europe it is impossible to ignore the role of ideas about immigration, national identity and ‘race’ in shaping social and political relations. Although there is a public commitment in terms of official policies to the promotion of anti-racism and a multicultural society, racist movements and ideas are increasingly part of the public political debate. The question of what can be done to counter the influence of racist ideologies and extreme right-wing political parties is at the heart of contemporary concerns. Yet, there is considerable confusion of what is meant by anti-racism and the policies and practices associated with it in different national contexts. Moreover, there are a variety of theoretical approaches and political perspectives about what kind of arguments and mobilizations are necessary to curb the growth of racism. In Belgium, the anti-racist movement, Hand in Hand, has developed a diverse range of strategies to answer the issue of everyday racism and intolerance, to counter right-extremist ideas and to limit its political influence. In this article, the focus will be on the political rhetoric developed by the anti-racist movement in the 1990s, at the times of the national demonstrations against racism, triggered by the electoral score of the extreme right-wing party, Vlaams Blok, in 1991. The results of a qualitative analysis of the information campaigns and media coverage of the anti-racist demonstrations of 1992, 1994, 1998 and 2002 when 100,000 people marched in the streets of Brussels claiming equal rights and opposing racism and discrimination, should offer insights into how the racialization of social and political relations is shaped by both discourses on racism and anti-racism.
Free Keywords antiracism; multiculturalism; racism; right-extremism; social protest;
Document language English
Publication Year 2005
Page/Pages p. 183-215
Journal Ethnicities, 5 (2005) 2
Status Postprint; peer reviewed
Licence PEER Licence Agreement (applicable only to documents from PEER project)