Letter to Prof Carmi, Ben Gurion University, Israel

Prof. Rivka Carmi
President of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
Office of the President
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
23 January 2010

Dear Prof Carmi,

We, Israeli, Palestinian and British academics, are writing to express our deep concern at the treatment of Dr Ahmad Sa’di, a Senior Lecturer at Ben-Gurion University’s Department of Politics and Government, who was subjected to racist treatment on 3 January 2010 when he arrived at Ben-Gurion University train station, as he does every teaching week.  He was humiliatingly searched, yelled at and embarrassed by the security staff at Mexico Gate, which we find offensive and unacceptable.We believe that Dr Sa’di’s reaction on the date was exemplary; he did not block the entrance nor did he insult the security staff. Continue reading “Letter to Prof Carmi, Ben Gurion University, Israel”

Race and State in contemporary Ireland

Paper presented at the ‘Better Questions’ seminar series in Seomra Spraoi, Dublin, Tuesday 19 January 2010


‘Only one world… Let foreigners teach us at least to become foreign to ourselves, to project ourselves sufficiently out of ourselves to no longer be captive to this long Western and white history that has come to an end, and from which nothing more can be expected than sterility and war. Against this catastrophic and nihilistic expectation of a security state, let us greet the foreignness of tomorrow’ (Alain Badiou, 2008: 70)

‘If the world cannot be changed, the (neo liberal) argument went, the left should concentrate on small-scale projects, moral concerns and the protection of vulnerable identities. Multiculturalism could replace radical change, membership of Amnesty that of political organisation’ (Costas Douzinas, The Guardian, 1 January 2010)

On 11 June 2004 the government of the Republic of Ireland put forward a referendum to amend article 9 of the Constitution to remove birth-right citizenship from children born in Ireland to an Irish citizen (or entitled to Irish citizenship). Birth right citizenship prevailed since the establishment of the Republic in 1922. The amendment did not include the children of the 1.8 million holders of Irish passports not born in Ireland who have one Irish grandparent and therefore entitled to Irish citizenship without having to set foot in Ireland. 79.8 per cent of the electorate voted in favour.
My argument is that the nation-state, theorised by David Theo Goldberg (2002) as a ‘racial state’, remains the focus of any analysis of racism, viewed by Foucault as ‘inscribed as the basic mechanism of power, as it is exercised in modern States’. Foucault argues that ‘the modern State can scarcely function without becoming involved with racism at some point’ (Foucault 2003: 254). Continue reading “Race and State in contemporary Ireland”

Migrant statistics and ‘integration’

Since the onset of the recession, it became clear that the state’s integration policies and all the talk about ‘cultural diversity’, ‘interculturalism’ and so on were becoming redundant. What started with draconian cuts in the integration and antiracism sector and the demise of bodies such as the NCCRI very quickly turned into complete silence on the subjects of immigration, integration, and interculturalism, and culminated with the axing of many community development projects. The new Minister for Integration was nowhere to be seen, and even though the government was boasting that Ireland was ‘getting it right’ by avoiding the pitfalls of both (French) assimilationism and (British) multiculturalism, it became clear that in the recession the state was not interested in migrants, no longer seen as the engine of Ireland’s economic boom.

In recent days the media reported somewhat triumphantly that ‘foreign nationals’ were going home. Using PPS statistics, a downward trend was reported across the workforce. According to December 2009 CSO figures, ‘57,112 of the 117,983 foreign nationals who received PPSNs in 2004 were still either working or claiming welfare in 2008’. In the absence of statistics for those who actually left Ireland, it was less clear ‘what happened to the rest, but it is very likely that they left the Republic’. Continue reading “Migrant statistics and ‘integration’”