Successful collaboration begins with a shared language, hence the need for a glossary. This joint effort of contributors from several teams ensures, on the one hand, terminological and conceptual coherence across not only our theoretical approaches, but also the qualitative case studies and quantitative research conducted in OPPORTUNITIES. On the other hand, our glossary facilitates communication between the academic side of the project and the fieldwork conducted by NGOs, uniting our teams working from Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ghana, Italy, Mauritania, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania and Senegal.

For more information about the Structure and Objectives of the Glossary, click here...)

In the English language, the concept of ‘race’ has changed throughout history. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term race (a derivate from the French and Italian terms race and razza, respectively) enters the English language in the 16th century, describing “a group of people, animals, or plants, connected by common descent or origin.” There is no reference to biological or other differences such as colour of skin in this definition. By the late 18th century, race becomes “any of the (putative) major groupings of humankind, usually defined in terms of distinct physical features or shared ethnicity, and sometimes (more controversially) considered to encompass common biological or genetic characteristics.” The latter reflects, albeit in a destructive way, the influence of scientific methods of observation and categorisation of enlightenment and modernism. The early ‘scientific’ and superficial categorisation of humankind by physical markers of colour of skin and other physical features have been debunked by genetics and the fact that humankind share the same genetic make-up. ‘Race’ should therefore be treated as a social construct and as such has often been used as a basis for division of people into hierarchies of different categories and groups, justifying practices of othering and discrimination (see also the entries on “othering” and “discrimination,” respectively), or as “technique of power” (Titley 2020, 45).

⇢ see also antiracism, Discrimination, Epistemic injustice, Inequality, Othering, Politics of mobility, racism

References and further reading:

Gilroy. Paul. 2000. Between Camps: Nations, Cultures and the Allure of Race. London, UK: Routledge.

Penket, Laura. 2006. “Racism and Social Policy.’ In Social Policy: Theories, Concepts and Issues, edited by Michael Lavalette and Alan Pratt, 87–104. London: Sage Publications Ltd.

Titley, Gavan. 2020. Is Free Speech Racist? Cambridge: Polity Press.

Category: A

Work Package: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8