Registration is mandatory: juliette.galonnier@ined.fr

Detailed notes from each session are available upon request. Please contact: juliette.galonnier@ined.fr




December 3, 2018 - Sarah ABEL

"Visualizing race to fight against racism". Scientists, ancestry and color techniques, and antiracist discourses in Brazil

Sarah Abel (University of Iceland)

2-4pm, salle du Conseil, Sciences Po-CERI: 56 rue Jacob, 75006 Paris

By the end of the Second World War, Brazil had become world famous for its unique history of racial mixture which, in the words of the celebrated sociologist Gilberto Freyre, had created a society devoid of “violent rancours due to race”. Over the following decades, the country became a living laboratory for researchers in human population genetics, who affirmed the biological reality of this mixed racial heritage, based on their observations of the genic composition of the Brazilian population. Simultaneously, the political ideology that posited racial mixture as the foundation of Brazil’s “racial democracy” was being used to repress political movements that highlighted a different social reality: the impact of deep-rooted attitudes of colour prejudice. At the start of the 2000s, the national ideology of racial mixture was faced with its greatest challenge yet: the introduction of affirmative action policies aimed at improving the access of racial minorities to public universities – a project that caused virulent public debates, including impassioned interventions by Brazilian scientists of various disciplines. This presentation offers an analysis of the arguments mobilised by both sides of the polemic, focusing in particular on their uses of genetic and photographic technologies to “objectively” visualise certain elements linked to conceptions of race: notably, ancestry and skin colour.

Discussant: Claude-Olivier Doron (Université Paris Diderot)

This session will be in English.








November 19, 2018 - Mathias MOSCHEL and Iyiola SOLANKE


Mathias MOSCHEL (Central European University), "Post-racialism : divergences and convergences between the US and Europe"

In 2010, Sumi Cho published a seminal piece entitled “Post-Racialism” in which she analyses the post-racial turn which the United States have taken around or after President Obama’s election. She identifies a series of elements which define post-racialism and how it constitutes a new iteration of American colorblindness. In this presentation, I will compare and contrast her analyses with the continental European context. The main argument is that Europe likes to see itself as post-racial since after World War II (without ever having something coming close to a Black President) which has a series of negative consequences for racial minorities. The presentation will be (partly) based on an introductory note to the French translation of Sumi Cho’s article in the recent book in French on Critical Race Theory published with Dalloz and edited by Hourya Bentouhami and myself.

Iyiola SOLANKE (University of Leeds), "The evolution of anti-racial discrimination law in Europe: a socio-legal approach"

Germany introduced a constitutional prohibition of racial discrimination in 1945 and the UK created its first Race Relations Act in 1965. Yet by 1976, the UK had far overtaken Germany in its legal framework for protection from racial discrimination. Why is this? In this presentation I will try to answer this question through a comparative historical socio-legal analysis of the creation of anti-discrimination laws in the UK and Germany. Drawing from my book, The Evolution of Anti-Racial Discrimination Law  (Routledge 2009), I will look at the role played by different forms of social action – right wing violence, social investigations, lobbying and campaigning – in the emergence of these laws and try to explain why such action did or did not have any impact on law-makers.

2-4pm, salle du Conseil, Sciences Po-CERI: 56 rue Jacob, 75006 Paris

 Discussant: Julie Ringelheim (UC Louvain)



October 8, 2018 - Cristina ROLDAO

Lusotropical blindness: Challenges of ethno-racial data collection in Portugal

Cristina Roldao (ISCTE-Instituto Universitário de Lisboa)

2-4pm, room 111, INED: 133, boulevard Davout, 75020 Paris

Until the end of 2017, the Portuguese state, faced with the demands of the Portuguese black movement and the recommendations of international organizations on the need to have ethnic-racial data to combat racism, argued that it could not be done because it was unconstitutional. However, in practice and in different ways, this collection has been made and is made by different institutions (hospitals, schools, police, social security services, etc.), without expliciting the goals and ethical principles that must be guaranteed. In 2017, the government established a working group that is currently discussing the introduction of questions about the ethno-racial background in the Censuses 2021. Being a critical observer of this process, but also part of this group, in this presentation I discuss some of the current challenges to the collection of ethno-racial data in Portugal, that have become evident in the process of constituting this working group; in the public speeches of the representatives of the state that lead this group; and in the discussions that have been held within it. These challenges reveal how even if we have advanced to a recognition of the need for this type of collection, a "Lusotropicalist" imaginary persists, legitimating, at the same time, the idea that Portugal is a country of ethnic-racial harmony and, if there is racism, it is not a structural issue, but a punctual one.

Discussant: Graziella Moraes Silva (Graduate Institute, Geneva)




June 15, 2018 - Romain ROBINET

Race, racialism and racialization: a Mexican perspective (1940s-1950s)

Romain Robinet (Université d’Angers, TEMOS)

3-5 pm, salle Alfred Sauvy, INED: 133, boulevard Davout, 75020 Paris

In its attempts to conceptualize "race" or the "racial question" as a modality of social life, the discipline of History cannot dispense with an analysis of the relationships between categories used by social actors in the past and categories that are used today to study human societies. Marked by the World War ("guerre-monde", 1937-1947) and its legacy, the 1940s and 1950s saw the coexistence and confrontation of several, mostly antagonistic, definitions of race, be they inspired by racialist Latino-Americanism, indigenist Anthropology or studies by the Chicago School. In order to address the concept of "race" in Contemporary History, this presentation will investigate a series of debates surrounding the notion of raza and its legitimate uses. These debates took place within the scientific, political and activist realms in Mexico, in close connection with a wide array of reflections around this category at the global level.

Discussant: Paul Schor (Université Paris Diderot)




May 15, 2018 - Silyane LARCHER, Fanny MALEGUE and Benoît TREPIED


Silyane Larcher (URMIS, CNRS), "Citizenship and race making during the post-slavery period in the ’old colonies’ (1848-1890)"

While, in virtue of the Revolution’s principle of universality for citizenship rights, the abolition of slavery by the Second Republic in 1848 established absolute civil and political equality between mainland France (male) citizens and former slaves from the "old" plantation colonies, such equality did not lead to the full inclusion of the latter in the "community of citizens" (Dominique Schnapper, 1994).  As a matter of fact, in the West Indies (but also in French Guiana and the Reunion), French citizenship (i.e. civil and political rights) came along with a derogatory legal regime, different from common law.  The "colonies of citizens" (Laurent Dubois, 2004) were ruled according to a specific judiciary regime that placed them outside the legal apparatus of mainland France. What kind of "State thinking" enabled the improbable juxtaposition of civil equality and exception? The division of the concept of equality that led to the marginalization of some of the equals and the Otherization of post-slavery colonies’ citizens was made possible, in the long run, by a politicization of the historical and anthropological heritage of people hailing from the Sugar Islands. By investigating the history of French citizenship from its Caribbean colonial margin, it becomes evident that such citizenship was not always unifying nor abstract: it was articulated with the making of race. The racialization logic that produced a separation between mainland France citizens and citizens from the post-slavery "old colonies"  cannot simply be understood in colorist terms; it was also "civilizational" or, as we would say today, "cultural".

Fanny Malègue (EHESS, INED), "’Qu’on ne s’étonne plus de voir répéter si souvent un dénombrement des esclaves et des animaux’ : census taking in a colonial slavery empire, the West Indies, 1763-1804"

While census-taking was not performed in extenso in Metropolitan France before the Napoleonic era, censuses were meticulously and regularly conducted in the overseas territories, at the very beginning of the colonial expansion. As early as 1635, even before colonial domination became effective and before populations were even sent there, directions were given to members of the chartered company in charge of colonizing the Islands to perform an annual census of the population. Census taking, therefore, went hand in hand with the construction of Empire and the imposition of coloniality. The objective of this presentation will be to explore such hypothesis, through an investigation through space and time, starting from the origins of the first colonial Empire to its twilight, from the West Indian colonies to Corsica, and from the Ancien Régime to the Napoleonic Empire. The analysis will also be shaped by the diversity of the empirical cases surveyed, in which slavery was not systematically enforced. How does the practice of census taking interact with the imposition of colonial and imperial domination and the perpetuation of slavery?

Benoît Trépied (IRIS, CNRS), "Ethnic statistics in New Caledonia: debates around a Republican exception"

To this day, New Caledonia is the only territory of the French Republic where the collection of ethnic statistics is legally authorized. During population censuses, which take place every five years, people are invited to answer a question regarding their "community" belonging by ticking one (or, since 2009, several) of the nine boxes available; they can also write in additional details after ticking the box "Other." In this presentation, I intend to elucidate the reasons that lie behind such a Republican exception and open up avenues for reflection on the various tensions and issues at stake. First of all, this census device is in line with the administrative tradition of identifying populations, which developed during the colonial era and whose purpose becomes evident when analyzed in light of the specific kind of colonization ("settlement" colony) that befell New Caledonia within the French empire. In addition, the community issues underlying the Caledonian census have recently become a crucial tool for evaluating the process of "gradual decolonization" that New Caledonia has been experimenting for 20 years and which is supposed to come to a close with the self-determination referendum of November 4, 2018. Lastly, since 2009, the possibility of ticking several boxes - the result of a lengthy local mobilization - has transformed the dominant representations of the archipelago’s population by affording unprecedented visibility to people who self-identify as mixed ("métisses"). This recent development is not without consequences for the political debate between independence and anti-independence activists.

Discussant: Sarah Mazouz (CERAPS, CNRS)

2-5 pm, salle Alfred Sauvy, INED: 133, boulevard Davout, 75020 Paris



April 6, 2018 - Ellis MONK

The Shadow of the State: Social Categories, Politics, and the Standard Model of Inequality

Ellis Monk (Princeton University)

3 -5 pm, salle Alfred Sauvy, INED: 133, boulevard Davout, 75020 Paris

I contend that one of the main sources of obstacles to innovation and progress in the study of social inequality and stratification - especially ethnoracial inequality - is an adherence to what Bourdieu calls "State-thinking," seeing the world telescoped through the lens of the State. In almost exclusively relying upon State categories (e.g. census categories), I maintain that at least two important things are lost or obscured: (1) consistent scholarly recognition of and analytical attention given to important, yet relatively less politically salient and officially institutionalized forms of social difference and (2) the complexity of the processes and mechanisms underlying the production of social inequality associated with the highly socially and politically salient social categories and principles of social vision and division that we actually tend to examine such as race, ethnicity, and gender.

To illustrate this, I conduct a comparative analysis of ethnoracial inequality in the U.S. and Brazil focusing on a bodily marker of ethnoracial difference – skin tone. In so doing, I sidestep conventional research practices, which typically consist of between-group comparisons using dichotomous categories based on self-identification that inadvertently obscure how gradations of skin color significantly stratify life chances within and across official "State" categories. I conclude by discussing the implications of these findings for the study of ethnoracial inequality, pressing debates about the possible future(s) of the U.S. and Brazilian racial orders (e.g. "Latin Americanization" or "Convergence/Divergence"), and an approach to the study of social inequality, in general, that proceeds from centering the body in our analyses via a re-conceptualization of Bourdieu’s relatively neglected concept of bodily capital.

 Discussant: Daniel Sabbagh (CERI, Sciences Po)



March 14, 2018 - Jean-Frédéric SCHAUB

What history for racial categories? Contemporary or much older?

Jean-Frédéric Schaub (EHESS)

3-5 pm, salle Jean Monnet, Sciences Po-CERI: 56 rue Jacob, 75006 Paris


Doing research in History, as in any other social science, means detaching the analysis of racial issues from the unevitable simplifications that activist discourses usually entail. The idea is not to claim an overarching perspective, but rather, at least, to avoid clinging to current political emergencies.

The act of racial distinction can be located across a very large historical spectrum. It is manifest since Pâris, son of Priam, who was raised by shepherds far from Troy, started displaying his princely qualities as a teenager; or since Moses, a Hebrew raised like a son of Pharaoh, proved to be the one he had never ceased to be.  It is manifest when future parents, be they heterosexuals or homosexuals, wish for a fertilization to happen by resorting to sperm that coincides with their self-representations. From Priam and Moses to today, the political issue that is raised is that of the conflation of nature and society.

Within this immense historical field, a wide range of political demands can rightly develop arguments against various forms of discrimination, segregation and crime. Yet, the task of the historian should not be to select within this field the episodes or arguments that are most likely to support such and such activist demand. Nothing would be more damaging than allowing the otherwise normal competition between activist orientations to build up inside the research world itself. Some attach importance to fighting against the discriminations that befall French citizens hailing from postcolonial families;  some want to tackle the issue of anti-Jewish murders and resist the importation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict onto our territory; some wish to disprove the idea that all Chinese immigrants are rich and legitimate targets for attackers; others oppose the universalization of antiracist activism because they are wary of universalist claims in general; and others wish to demonstrate that anxieties about mixed marriages are not the preserve of State racism but can also be a racist way of regulating communities under the guise of strategic essentialism. This list is not, of course, exhaustive. But my approach does not consist in aligning my research with this or that orientation. 

Refusing the competition between various trends of activism can lead to adopt positions that legitimately raise a few questions. In the French and American social sciences of the last 30 years, two phenonema can be observed. In the US, there is an almost perfect overlay between "race" and "color". This is not surprising given the history of the slave trade, which has rightly been labelled a crime against humanity, and of racist legislations - the Jiw Crow laws - which explicitly targeted the descendants of African slaves, in a way that would later inspire Nazi legislations. In France, social scientists have put the emphasis on the notion of "racism without races", given that contemporary racist attitudes do not bother with biological phraseology. This is particularly true of anti-Arab racism, which derives from the resentment felt by some in France after the Algerian war, and which manifested itself during the 1960-2000s through racist murders (ratonnades) which, for the most part, targeted workers and laborers from North Africa, some of whom were active in trade unions or internationalist political organizations. 

The difficulty that arises from this double movement - conflating race and color on the one hand and reducing racism to the reproduction of colonial domination on the other - is that it tends to leave aside historical phenomena that it would be unwise to cast outside the realm of racist violence. Not only was Captain Dreyfus’ skin color white but as evidenced by his belief in the Republic model he was also a citizen who did not claim to be the bearer of a culture or history different from the nation he served as a soldier. Should we infer that the anti-Semitic upsurge he suffered from is not a chapter in the history of European racism? In addition, the imposition of the yellow star by Gauleiter Goebbels to Berlin’s Jews, including those who had converted to Christianity or who had only one Jewish parent, had nothing to do with color or cultural difference. Should we conclude, absurdly, that Nazi policies were not racist?

These two examples invite us to enlarge the spectrum of the racial question beyond the simple rejection of alterity. To paraphrase the important book by Claude-Olivier Doron, L’homme altéré, if we fail to take into account the issue of alteration, i.e. political processes through which groups who yesterday were not distinct from one another end up being redefined as different, we obscure large parts of racial history. On the one hand, we forget the fact that racial categorization has been for centuries an intra-European practice, before going along with colonial expansion. On the other hand, we overshadow processes that are in every respect similar and that weave the history of many other world regions beyond Europe.

That activist organizations pick and choose as they see fit among the stock of knowledge that social scientists attempt to produce in the least incoherent way as possible, is both inevitable and legitimate. However, research endeavors should not be designed according to the political commodities that will find takers. 


Discussant: Patrick Simon.




February 16, 2018 - David SULMONT

Ethnicity in the 2017 Peruvian census: debates and criteria for defining the question on ethnic self-identification

David Sulmont (Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú)

3-5 pm, salle Alfred Sauvy, INED: 133, boulevard Davout, 75020 Paris

In October 2017, took place the XII National Population Census of Peru. The National Institute of Statistics and Informatics (INEI) introduced a question on ethnic self-identification for people aged 12 and above. While this type of question has been in use from 2001 onwards in the national surveys of households carried every year by the INEI, this was the first time it was introduced into a national population census in Peru, in opposition to other Latin American countries with large indigenous populations, which have been using such indicators in their censuses for at least a decade.

In 2013, the INEI gathered a technical committee, composed of representatives of Indigenous and Afro-descendants organizations, academics, public officials and officials from international organizations (UNFPA and UNICEF), to discuss and put forward ethnic identification and self-identification questions for the 2017 population census. The debates that took place and the criteria that were used to define ethnic identification questions for the Peruvian population illustrate the political tensions and social dynamics that exist around ethnic and racism issues within contemporary Peruvian society. This presentation aims at locating these debates within the larger history of the "ethnic issue" in Peru and the way the State has sought (or not) to represent ethnic diversity within its official statistics.

Discussant: Graziella Moraes Silva (The Graduate Institute, Geneva).

David Sulmont is a sociologist and political scientist. He is a Professor at the Department of Social Sciences at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (PUCP). Since 2005, he has been working on ethno-racial structures and their statistical representation in Peru and other Latin American societies. Between 2013 and 2017, he represented PUCP at the Inter-Institutional Technical Committee of Ethnicity Statistics in the INEI.

Publications :

Sulmont, David. 2011. « Race, ethnicity and politics in three Peruvian localities: An analysis of the 2005 CRISE Perceptions Survey in Peru ». Latin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies 6 (1): 47‑78.

———. 2012. « Raza y etnicidad desde las encuestas sociales y de opinión: Dime cuántos quieres encontrar y te diré qué preguntar ». In La discriminación en el Perú: Balance y desafíos, edited by Cynthia Sanborn. Lima: Universidad del Pacífico.

———. 2015. « Desigualdades y estructuras étnico raciales en el Perú: aportes empíricos del proyecto etnicidad y raza en Latino América ». In Desigualdades en un mundo globalizado, 135‑50. Lima: Pontifica Universidad Católica del Perú.

Sulmont, David, and Juan Carlos Callirgos. 2014. « ¿El país de todas las sangres? Race and ethnicity in contemporary Peru ». In Pigmentocracies: ethnicity, race, and color in Latin America, edited by Edward Eric Telles, 126‑71. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

Sulmont, David, and Néstor Valdivia. 2012. « From pre-modern “Indians” to contemporary “Indigenous People”: race and ethnicity in Peruvian censuses 1827 - 2007 ». In Everlasting countdowns: Race, ethnicity and national censuses in Latin American States, edited by Luis Fernando Angosto Fernández and Sabine Kradolfer. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.



January 19, 2018 - Françoise MORIN

From ethnicity to indigenousness. The activism of indigenous organizations to be recognized as "indigenous peoples" at the UN and contribute to the elaboration of a universal declaration on their rights (1977-2007)

Françoise Morin (Université Lyon 2 – Université Laval)

3-5 pm, salle Jean Monnet, Sciences Po-CERI: 56 rue Jacob, 75006 Paris

In the 1970s, in the absence of dialogue with the various States they depended upon, indigenous organizations in the two Americas turned towards the UN to ask for the recognition of their right to self-determination. The UN agreed to open its doors to their representatives in 1977 for a conference on "Discrimination Against Indigenous Populations in the Americas". This was the beginning of the internationalization of the indigenous question, which gave rise to 30 years of debates within UN instances. The UN thus became the crucible of indigenousness, where representatives of indigenous peoples coming from all parts of the globe could meet and gather. In 2007, indigenous populations were at last recognized as "peoples" in the text of the universal declaration on their rights. We will see why that political category proved contentious among anthopologists and political leaders alike.

Discussant: Elisabeth Cunin