Milena Doytcheva Presents: "From 'Raceless' to White Diversities: Competing Inequalities in a Globally Comparative Perspective (France-US-EU-GB)”
Tracing the recent Europeanization of antiracism and non-discrimination, Milena Doytcheva interrogates its “reversed sequence”, underscoring two major trends that have shaped the European re-invention of the diversity framework – some five decades after the passage of civil rights and race relations legislations, in the US and the UK respectively, but also the prohibition of sex discrimination in the 1957 Treaty of Rome. These are first, the (almost unlimited) universalization of equal opportunity and second, its just as convenient “neoliberalization”, based on market-oriented governance forms and regimes.
In a second part, drawing on longitudinal qualitative data on French diversity policies, and borrowing inspiration from Foucault’s understanding of neoliberalism, I argue how these major trends have merged to produce, in the French case but not solely, a “normalized diversity”, one of whose most striking characteristics is that of being primarily white. Converging with a growing body of international research in critical diversity studies, “white diversity” offers to unpack how, under the guise of generality and universality, thoroughly universalized diversity concepts may contribute to hegemonic rearticulations that reinstate racist structures and power relations and uphold organizational whiteness.
Finally, I outline some avenues to address processes of competing inequalities through a globally comparative lens, both contextually and relationally, trying for instance to test some key hypotheses in the US (and to a lesser extent UK) context. This comparative research project, currently underway, receives support from the Fulbright Franco-American Commission and the ARC Institute.
Milena Doytcheva holds a PhD from Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS, Paris). She is currently Professor of Sociology and Philosophy at the University of Lille- Northern France, and fellow at Institut Convergences Migrations (Collège de France-CNRS) Her instruction in undergraduate and graduate philosophy and sociology addresses topics of international migration, multiculturalism, citizenship, and minority rights. Her research focusses on mechanisms of governing race and ethnicity in allegedly color-blind institutional settings, and across multiple fields (urban policy and development, education, the corporate word). Her current project, for which she received support from the Franco-American Fulbright Commission (2021) aims at developing a threefold comparison of American, British, French and European policies on diversity and non-discrimination, particularly in the workplace. Titled “Global Diversity Doctrines, Competing Claims, and ‘White Diversity’”, the project offers to critically examine the dynamics of downplaying race and ethnicity within organizational diversity procedures -- as has been notably, yet not solely, the case in France -- and how this contributes to reinforcing institutional racism through the rise of “raceless” diversity concepts. She recently published Governing racial justice through standards and the birth of ‘White diversity’: a Foucauldian perspective. She also authored (in French): Le Multiculturalisme (Paris, La Découverte, 2018); Politiques de la diversité. Sociologie des discriminations et des politiques antidiscriminatoires au travail (Bruxelles, Peter Lang, 2015) ; Une discrimination positive à la française ? Ethnicité et territoire dans les politiques de la ville (La Découverte, 2007).