A slogan more frequently encountered on pro-police demos has been repeatedly daubed inside the Facebook headquarters, creating embarrassment for a corporation whose staff are overwhelmingly white and male:

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has reprimanded employees following several incidents in which the slogan “black lives matter” was crossed out and replaced with “all lives matter” on the walls of the company’s Menlo Park headquarters.

“‘Black lives matter’ doesn’t mean other lives don’t – it’s simply asking that the black community also achieves the justice they deserve,” Zuckerberg wrote in an internal Facebook post obtained by Gizmodo.

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/feb/25/mark-zuckerberg-facebook-defacing-black-lives-matter-signs

Will such attitudes inevitably thrive under the conditions of meritocratic elitism which characterise much of the technology world?

Thanks to Peter Holley for sharing this with me. The Finnish Foreign Ministry has launched a “don’t come” Facebook campaign in Iraq and Turkey:

The thrust of the Ministry’s Facebook campaign is to persuade young men coming from conflict-ridden areas that it’s not work the risk and expense to come to Finland, said Finns Party MP Sampo Terho.

“This realistic message about the possibility of receiving asylum status in Finland is in the best interests of Finland as well as those who are planning the journey. If it’s practically a sure bet that you will be repatriated, why then would you waste up to 10,000 euros on the trip?”  Terho queried.

According to the Finns Party parliamentary group the campaign has been rolled out in Arabic and is directed at young men planning to travel to Finland to seek refuge. The Foreign Ministry said Friday morning that the Facebook update had received close to 80,000 views.

Terho, who is the head of the Finns Party parliamentary group, said that the aim of the campaign is to try to curb the so-far “uncontrolled” influx of people.

http://yle.fi/uutiset/foreign_ministry_launches_dont_come_facebook_campaign_in_iraq_and_turkey/8404359

It makes the British Home Office’s ‘Go Home’ van seem remarkably low tech in comparison:

Given what seems likely to be a hardening climate of opinion across Europe, it strikes me that some disturbing examples of digital authoritarianism might be enacted, in a register of exceptionalism, normalising their potential wider application in the future. As Peter observed to me, it’s the use of the capacity for modelling built into the Facebook platform that’s really interesting here: the efficacy of the intervention rests upon a claimed capacity to identify and engage with “young men planning to travel to Finland to seek refuge”. How might this same ambition manifest itself domestically?

I’m currently listening to BBC Any Questions and, perhaps predictably, it’s filled with UKIP supporters following their success this week. Its astonishingly depressing stuff. But one recurrent feature has been the notion that politicians have continually suppressed free debate on immigration by “playing the race card” until Nigel came to their rescue and allowed the “silent majority” to freely voice their concerns. One caller I found particularly interesting said: “anyone who criticises an ethnic minority group in this country would be immediately labelled a racist. Then there would be those lazy analogies where anyone who criticises ethnic minorities is said to lead to the gas chambers”.

The point here seems to be an expectation of criticism free speech rather than free speech – why do so many seem to believe that their views being criticised amounts to views being suppressed? I think a lot of these people are effectively trying to say “you’re being racist about racists” i.e. those inclined to criticise ‘ethnic minority groups’ are being treated unfairly, reduced as complex persons to this one particular trait that is the target of their critics. It’s a reflection of the same tendency which leads some to argue, with seeming seriousness, that “posh people are the last persecuted minority”.

Those making this argument don’t see themselves as racist, with ‘racist’ being a term seen to imply imminently genocidal inclinations*, but rather as having ‘legitimate fears and anxieties’ targeted at ‘ethnic minority groups’ (understand as homogenous blocs). So to be called racist is experienced as an impediment to their articulation of these anxieties… until Mr. Farage comes along to stand up for this ‘silent majority’.

*I suspect answers to the question “what is a racist?” vary significantly along party lines.

The Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies (REPS) PhD Network, is a vibrant community of PhD student scholars, supported by faculty, who work on research and study in the area of race, ethnicity and post-colonials studies. This network has grown organically over the last five years or so to become a creative and supportive community to share our research and ideas with one another.

This network first began in London through collaborations between students at the LSE, City University, Goldsmiths College, and most recently, Metropolitan and Queen Mary, however, recognizing that many of the faculty and scholars who have been actively involved in this network have moved to different institutions, and that there is a lot of good work happening outside of London, we have decided to use this year to transition our London-based grouping into a larger national network of student scholars.

The major activity we do is an annual REPS PhD Symposium-a two-day PhD workshop held in the summer which serves as a forum for PhD researchers to exchange ideas, present new work, receive critical feedback and work towards collaborative ends in collaboration and participation with some of the leading scholars working on these issues. This year will be the fifth consecutive year of this intimate research workshop, which will be held at the London School of Economics on June 12-13, 2014. This years’ event is jointly sponsored by the School of Social Policy and the Department of Sociology, and it is organized by a REPS student working group committee based out of the LSE.

What has grown out of this workshop is a community. As we are growing, we are interested to connect with other PhD student groups at partner institutions outside of London working in this field who would be open to organizing and hosting a satellite REPS event this year (i.e. a seminar or workshop with faculty or a panel built around a particular topic or theme at a home institution outside of London), in order to start building relationships and community with each other around our work. The hope is that London-based REPS students would be able come to the satellite event and that this intentional work and sharing together will open up broader participation and collaboration in our annual symposium and more generally in our network, so that maybe in the next year or two, REPS PhD Symposium will be organized by a committee of REPS scholars at a university in the Midlands.

To find out more about this growing community and to discuss possible collaborations please get in touch with Antonia Dawes: a.l.dawes@lse.ac.uk.

The BSA Race and Ethnicity Study Group conference will be held on Friday 31st January, 2014 at Newman University, Birmingham, UK. The deadline for the call for papers is November 29th and registration is now open for the conference. All the details are below:

Mapping the Field: Contemporary Theories of Race, Racism and Ethnicity
Newman University, Birmingham, UK, 9.45am-5.30pm
Friday 31st January,

The idea for this conference arose from a discussion at the BSA Race and Ethnicity Study Group business meeting at the annual conference in 2013. Our aim is to bring to light the diverse range of theoretical work that is being developed and to consider how the theory is brought to bear on current issues of race, racism and ethnicity. Papers are invited that both explore contemporary theoretical debates and consider the ways in which diverse theoretical frameworks are deployed in specific areas of study. Paper topics include, but are not restricted to, the following themes:

Theories of race, racism and ethnicity                                     Black British feminism
The implications of ‘post-racialism’ on the study of racism         The impact of intersectionality on the field
Thinking globally/historically in connecting race,                       Understanding race and racism under austerity
colonialism and Empire                                                          Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and/as racism
Race, migration and diaspora                                                 Mixed heritages and the study of ethnicity

Speakers for the day:

Professor John Solomos

Professor Miri Song

Professor Nira Yuval-Davis

Professor Claire Alexander

Professor Gargi Bhattacharyya

Dr Brett St Louis

Professor Gurminder Bhambra

Dr Karim Murji (TBC)

Abstract Submission
Abstracts of 250 words can be submitted online at: http://portal.britsoc.co.uk/public/abstract/eventAbstract.aspx?id=EVT10312
The deadline for submissions is midnight on 29 November 2013.

Registration
Registration for this event is available online at: http://portal.britsoc.co.uk/public/event/eventBooking.aspx?id=EVT10312

BSA Member: £30

BSA Concessionary Member: £25

Non-Member: £35

Non-Member Concession: £30

Further information available online at:
http://www.britsoc.co.uk/study-groups/race-ethnicity.aspx