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Event series "Diversity, Racism and the Broken Promise of Inclusion in German Higher Education"

Diversity, Racism and the Broken Promise of Inclusion in German Higher Education

Diversity, Racism and the Broken Promise of Inclusion in German Higher Education
Image Credit: Cedis FU Berlin

In recent years diversity politics has become one of the core elements of organizational development within German Higher Education. German universities present themselves as cosmopolitan and liberal-minded spaces that embrace diversity. Diversity is publicly heralded as a strategic resource for innovation and academic achievement. However, the German higher education context presents particularities that shape its diversity strategies and politics. Among these we find for example difficulties in gathering and analyzing data intersectionally with a focus on unveiling exclusion mechanisms and tensions in the implementation of diversity policies based on a non-inclusive view of excellence. Furthermore, even though the adaption of diversity policies inherently contains the promise for inclusion, this promise is continuously broken as issues of (intersecting) discrimination not only prevail but are ignored and covered with happy diversity policies that do not aim to fundamentally transform the exclusionary structures and processes of the institutions.  Although there is consensus in the importance of horizontal and intersectional approaches to diversity, dimensions of difference are still approached in an isolated manner in many cases with the result that some are made salient (such as - having a longer history of institutionalization - gender) whereas others are given less attention or are even excluded from the diversity discourse/debates, as is the case with race. In the German context, as in Europe in general, racist discrimination is prevalent and yet neither thematized or integrated in diversity policies and measures directed at creating a more just university. For example, when universities use terms as ‘ethnicity’ or ‘migration background’ when speaking about diversity instead of racism, they focus on individual characteristics and run the risk of othering BPoC, all while avoiding naming and fighting racist structures and mechanisms in society and institutions.  This series of events aims at contributing to the debates around racism and diversity in German Higher Education from a variety of perspectives that include the possibilities and limits of intersectional data collection for making exclusion mechanisms visible; the relationship between the non-inclusive vision of excellence and diversity; the saliency of selected elements of internationalization in relation to diversity and the possibilities that the classroom might be a learning space as well as a safe space and a space of resistance. 


Dates: 04.11.2021, 15.12.2021, 13.01.2022 and 10.02.2022, always from 4-6 pm (CET)

November 4, 2021, 4-6 pm (CET)

Keynote: Dr. Nirmal Puwar (Goldsmiths, University of London): Space Invaders: Race, Gender and Bodies Out of Place (ENG)

December 15, 2021, 4-6 pm (CET)

Input: Dr. Linda Supik (Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main), Dr. Cengiz Barskanmaz (FU Berlin): “Ene, mene, muh und raus bist Du”?: Rassismus statistisch und juristisch erfassen (DE)

January 13, 2022, 4-6 pm (CET)

Input: Dr. Kathrin Zippel (Northeastern University, Boston), Dr. Kyoko Shinozaki (Paris Ladron University Salzburg): Internationalization and  Excellence: The Selectivity of Inclusion (ENG/DE)

February 10, 2022, 4-6 pm (CET)

Input: Diana Almeida (FU Berlin), Dr. Denise Bergold-Caldwell (Philipps-Universität Marburg), Dr. Rolando Vázquez Melken (University College Roosevelt und University College Utrecht): Roundtable: “Decolonizing the Classroom: A Space of Resistance?” (ENG/DE)

This event is a collaboration between the  Margherita von Brentano Center for Gender Studies, the Master Gender, Intersektionalität und Politik and the  Toolbox Gender und Diversity in der Lehre.

We would like to point out to all participants that the Code of Conduct (regulations for digital courses) of Freie Universität Berlin also applies to this online event. This includes, in particular, respectful interaction with one another and the refraining from unauthorized recordings. In addition, the following applies: Even if different perspectives on the topic of (anti-)racism at universities are exchanged during this series of events, the existence of racism is non-negotiable. As organizers, we do not tolerate racist, discriminatory and/or degrading comments. Please make us aware in the chat if you notice such comments. We reserve the right to make use of our domiciliary rights if necessary and to exclude participants from the event.