«Body Flow»

Roundtable: Body Flow - Everyday Racism and Politics of Mobility

Whose bodies travel seamlessly across borders, and whose bodies are systematically stopped, policed, and surveilled? Who tends to be granted subject status, and who is methodically likened to movable/tradable goods, thought of in terms of the social and economic value that can be derived from them? This roundtable discussion aims to dissect the politics of “body flow” in its relationship to colonial history, racial capitalism and commodity racism. In line with the international decade for people of African descent, we will focus on manifestations of institutional racism – from economic discrimination and educational disparities to practices of racial profiling – and various forms of othering and s/exotization that impact the everyday lives of Black women and men in particular. We will ask how experiences of everyday racism form part of the politics of “body flow” and the ways in which they are informed by gender, sexuality, class, nation and skin complexion both historically and in today’s increasingly visual culture. Finally, we will address the potential and limits of art as intervention into structural racism in Switzerland and beyond.

Roundtable with:

Philomena Essed is professor of Critical Race, Gender and Leadership Studies at Antioch University, Graduate School of Leadership and Change and Affiliated Researcher at the University of Utrecht. She holds a PhD from the University of Amsterdam and Honorary Doctorate degrees from the University of Pretoria (2011) and Umeå University (2015). In 2011 she was honored with a Knighthood in the name of the Queen of the Netherlands. Well known for introducing the concepts of everyday racism and gendered racism, Essed also pioneered in developing theory on social and cultural cloning. Her current focus is on humiliation, dehumanization, cultures of dignity and ethics of care as experience and practice in leading change.

Vaness a E. Thompson is a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Sociology at Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany. She investigates the policing of blackness in Europe and transnational abolitionist forms of resistance. Vanessa is also engaged in these areas as an activist. Her research interests include black studies, critical racism and migration studies, post- and decolonial feminist theories and methodologies, gender studies, and transformative justice theories.

Claudia Wilopo is a PhD candidate at the Department of Cultural Anthropology and European Ethnology and a member of the G3S. Her research project on “illegality in the city of Zurich” focuses on how rejected asylum seekers challenge our understandings of citizenship, borders and nation-states. Claudia is part of a collaborative research group on racial profiling in Switzerland.

Henri Michel Yéré is a historian and poet born in Abidjan. He published Mil neuf cent quatre vingt dix (Panafrika) and La nuit était notre seule arme (L’Harmattan) in 2015. For some years he worked in the private sector in the area of Diversity and Inclusion. Currently he holds a PostDoc position in Sociology and African Studies at the University of Basel.

Serena O. Dankwa, holds a PhD from the University of Berne and is doing research on Critical Diversity Literacy through arts and further education at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland, FHNW. Besides her academic work, she has worked as a journalist for BBC Radio 3 and Swiss Radio and Television. She is the co-editor of Racial Profiling: Struktureller Rassismus und antirassistischer Widerstand (transcript 2019).


29. April 2020, 18.15


Kunstmuseum Basel, St. Alban-Graben 8, 4010 Basel


«Circular Flow - Zur Ökonomie der Ungleichheit»
07. Dezember 2019 – 03. Mai 2020 Kunstmuseum Basel (Schweiz)

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