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Lecture | Contemporary History and International Relations Research Seminar (CHIRRS)

Understanding Brexit and Trump: On the Misrecognition of Race and Class

  • Gurminder Brambha (Sussex)
Monday 16 October 2017
Contemporary History and International Relations Research Seminar (CHIRRS) year 2017 - 2018
Johan Huizinga
Doelensteeg 16
2311 VL Leiden

The rhetoric of both the Brexit and Trump campaigns was grounded in particular 'white-washed' conceptions of the past as the basis for political claims in the present. Both imagined the past as constituted by 'white' nations into which racialised others had come latterly and gained disproportionate advantage. Hence, the resonant claim that was broadcast primarily to white majorities in each place ‘to take our country back’. The politics of both campaigns was also echoed in those social scientific analyses that sought to focus on the ‘legitimate’ claims of the ‘left behind’ or those who had come to see themselves as ‘strangers in their own land’. The skewing of white majority political action as the action of a more narrowly defined white working class served to legitimise analyses that might otherwise have been regarded as racist. In effect, I argue that a pervasive ‘methodological whiteness’ has distorted social scientific accounts of both Brexit and Trump and that this needs to be taken account of in our discussion of these phenomena. 

 Gurminder K Bhambra is Professor of Postcolonial and Decolonial Studies in the Departments of Geography and International Relations in the School of Global Studies at the University of Sussex. Previously, she was Professor of Sociology at the University of Warwick and has been Guest Professor of Sociology and History at the Centre for Concurrences in Colonial and Postcolonial Studies at Linnaeus University, Sweden. She is author of Connected Sociologies (Bloomsbury, 2014) and Rethinking Modernity: Postcolonialism and the Sociological Imagination (Palgrave, 2007), which won the 2008 Philip Abrams Memorial Prize for best first book in sociology. 

CHIRRS brings together historians, area specialists and international relations specialists to address 20th century topics from Brexit to the Muslim world and from French decolonization to the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

If you would like to attend the seminars or to be added to our mailinglist please send an email to chirrs@hum.leidenuniv.nl.

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