Discipline of Sociology & Criminology Seminar Series 2023 | Antiracism in Australian Parliament: Cycles of contention and institutionalisation | David Smith
Discipline of Sociology & Criminology Seminar Series
Antiracism in Australian Parliament: Cycles of contention and institutionalisation
Speaker: David Smith, Associate Professor of American Politics and Foreign Policy, United States Studies Centre, Department of Government and International Relations, The University of Sydney.
Zoom: Email for link and more information – Leah Williams Veazey firstname.lastname@example.org
The way political actors use the term “antiracism” reveals much about how, or whether, they treat racism as a problem. They may embrace it in the antagonistic sense suggested by Angela Davis, as a responsibility of living in a racist society. They may use it to denote a societal consensus against racism, which has been reduced to a problem of a retrograde but educable minority. Or they may treat it as a suspicious political program that uses the taboo against racism to crush opposition.
This study analyses 257 utterances of the terms “antiracism” or “antiracist” in Australian Parliament from 1956 to 2022 to examine how antiracism, and by extension racism, have been conceived by political elites in Australia. There has been great variance in the use and meaning of “antiracism” over time and across parties. It has usually been seen as a positive label to be claimed, but there has been deep disagreement over what the term entails about Australian society. Different versions of the “societal consensus” view of antiracism have predominated in government, but these have been challenged both by overtly racist actors in parliament and by their opponents who argue that parliament is not doing enough to counteract them.
Feature image by Jason Bennee on AdobeStock