Webinar organized by the Roma Program of the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University, the Romani Studies Program of the Central European University, and the Critical Romani Studies Department at Södertörn University.
The event marks the 51st anniversary of the First World Romani Congress when the Romani Day, flag, and anthem were adopted. Thus, while this day represents a significant moment in Roma history, we would like to take this opportunity to reflect on the recent global gains of anti-racist movements, counteract backlashes, and foster dialog and solidarity amongst historically oppressed peoples.
Please register by 5 April at https://hsph.me/antiracism+genderequality
Anti-racism and gender equality have recently acquired critical gains, from the extraordinary force of Black Lives Matter to mobilize communities against racism at a global level to national or regional initiatives, such as the 1619 Project, the European Roma Institute for Arts and Culture, EU Strategy for LGBTIQ equality, or the marriage equality laws in Chile, Switzerland, or Costa Rica. Yet, not surprisingly, such achievements have also been met by vehement and coordinated backlashes and opposition in Europe, the United States, and elsewhere. For instance, as Ibram Kendi argues in The Atlantic, in the U.S., “‘anti-racism is anti-white’ is the mantra dividing the Democratic Party, especially since the 2021 elections. It is the mantra unifying the Republican Party, especially since the 2020 election.” In Hungary, the Orban leadership defunded and banned gender studies in universities, started an anti-LGBT campaign as well as an anti-Roma campaign, and passed a law banning the use of materials seen as promoting LBGT and gender education in schools.
Attempts to add and center the history of the oppressed in the mainstream have also been met by resistance. For instance, in 2020-21, in the U.S., politicians and opinion-makers at the state and federal levels have started to fight against education about what they called “divisive ideologies,” but essentially meant Black history in American schools. In 2022, an Indiana state senator said that teachers “need to be impartial” when teaching about Nazism and fascism. Hidden under the label of a reaction against critical race theory, the opposition to truth-telling about the history of genocide, enslavement, Jim/Jane/Jose Crow, the Holocaust, and so on has identified innovative tactics to oppose adding the historically oppressed to the center.
At the same time, the proponents of racist and homophobic rhetoric have successfully managed to co-opt an anti-elitist agenda as theirs, attracting, among others, poor whites who critique the social and economic privilege of liberals. The growth of populism and extremism, including via social media, continues to elevate risks at a global level. And the pandemic has posed additional challenges for marginalized people and historically oppressed groups, including Roma.
This webinar aims to reflect on some recent gains in advancing anti-racism and gender equality across the world. The panelists will also examine patterns, fears, or coordinated actions against racial justice and gender equality and explore possible responses to such rampant backlashes. The webinar will take a global perspective and also place the recent backlashes against anti-racism and gender equality in the broader history of oppression.
9:30 am (EST) / 3:30pm (CET) - Welcome Remarks
- Natalia Linos, Acting Director, FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University
- Solvor Mjøberg Lauritzen, Associate Professor, Södertörn University
9:40 am (EST) / 3:40pm (CET)- Panel Discussion: Anti-Racism and Gender Equality: Global Gains. Targeted Backlashes
- Chair | Margareta Matache, Instructor and Director of the Roma Program, FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University
- Panelist | Angela Kocze, Assistant Professor of Romani Studies, Chair of Romani Studies Program, Central European University
- Panelist | Sunnie Rucker-Chang, Assistant Professor of Slavic and East European Studies and Director of European Studies the University of Cincinnati
- Panelist | Eddie Bruce-Jones, Deputy Dean of the School of Law, Reader in Law & Anthropology, Birkbeck College, University of London
- Panelist | Manuela Boatcă, Professor, Sociology, University of Freiburg, Germany
10:40 am (EST) / 4:40pm (CET)– Q&A
11:10 am (EST) / 5.10pm (CET)- Concluding Reflections
- Jacqueline Bhabha, Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Director of Research, FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University
- Jan Selling, Head of the Critical Romani Studies Department, Associate Professor, Södertörn University