Translating Complexity, Intersectionality and Doing Research in a Context of Migration and ‘Race’: Don’t Mind the Gap

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 12:30
Oral Presentation
Ulrike M VIETEN, PhD, Queen's University, United Kingdom
This presentation reflects on some of the conceptual and discursive dilemmas when working on race, migration and ethnic relations issues in different languages (English and German). I focus on two levels regarding these research objects.

First, I reflect on my native German upbringing to explain how the turn to English (since 2002, and with my immigration to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) eased communicating group differences that include race relations (e.g. outcome of racisms), ethnic relations and talking about nationalism, on the one hand, and complicated layers of how to name ethnicity and race, on the other.

Second, I take into account the fact that the gap between what can be said, what can be asked, what can be understood is embedded in the different Continental European history of the Holocaust and the un-possibility to speak ‘race’ across Europe. This dilemma continues, as it is also linked to varied histories of totalitarianism and colonialism that shape the contemporary use of ‘ethnicity’ categories in Great Britain, Northern Ireland, and other European countries, distinctively. On the basis of different research projects (qualitative research) I conducted in Europe (Germany and the Netherlands) and the United Kingdom (England and Northern Ireland) with different groups of visible minorities and refugees, I conclude that any attempt to translate social complexity and intersectionality in the context of migration and race, necessarily has to accept our limits in comprehension, and thus to cope with the gap.