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The Ethnic Conflict Research Digest

2005, Vol. 5 No. 1 .


Racism and Anti-Racism in Europe
Alana Lentin

Pluto Press: London 2004
338 pp, 16.99, ISBN: 07453 2220 4.


Racism and Anti-Racism in Europe provides us with a very in-depth study of the phenomenon of anti-racism. Lentin notes that there has been a considerable lack of analysis of anti-racism, within the social science literature. The author critiques the notion that anti-racism is the mere opposite of racism and provides us with the view that anti-racism is a variety of discourses that are central to the understanding of the politics of modern states. She sees anti-racist discourses and the practices of anti-racist organizations as ?existing along a continuum of proximity-to-distance from the public political culture of the nation-state?. (p. 1)

Chapters 1 and 2 are somewhat in-depth and quite intense, (my only criticism of the book) but Chapter 3 is particularly informative. The author provides us with a detailed comparison of anti-racist activism in Britain, France, Ireland and Italy. The author accomplishes the goal ?of setting the scene in order to provide the reader with a more tangible sense of what could be thought of as the political, social and cultural opportunity structure in which anti-racism intervenes? (p. 114). This chapter provides us with a deep insight into anti-racist discourse and practice as it has evolved and developed over time in each of the four countries. This section makes for very interesting reading, and highlights the fact that each of the four national settings, ?harbours its own diversity of anti-racist discourses and practices? (p.178).

Chapter 4 provides us with a discussion of the identification of a crisis in anti-racism in the early 1990s. The author makes many references to the work of Pierre-Andre Taguieff and Paul Gilroy, who made the claim that anti-racism was in crisis, and highlights the differences in their approach. In the concluding chapters, Lentin focuses on the challenges facing anti-racism in the future, which proves to be a very apt closure to her book.

The author includes quotes from interviews she carried out with anti-racist activists, throughout the book. This is an added benefit as it helps to put everything into context, and provides us with an ?empirically grounded account? that supports the author?s theorisation of anti-racism.

This book clearly adds value to the literature on racism and anti-racism, and will prove particularly useful to students and those interested in increasing their knowledge of the history of racism and anti-racism. As Lentin tells us the work of anti-racism is ?ultimately a much spoken-about but little studied phenomenon? (p. 306). In my opinion, her book has made a significant contribution to this work.


Roisin O?Hagan, INCORE, Project Worker, Local International Learning Project, University of Ulster



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