Whose Knowledge? Knowledge about Migrants vs. Migrants’ Knowledge

Oct 12, 2022  | 6:00 - 7:30pm PT

Bucierus Lecture at the David Brower Center / Zoom | Speaker: Shalini Randeria (Central European University, Vienna)

Partners:  Institute of European Studies

Shalini Randeria, president and rector of the Central European University (Vienna) will deliver the fourth Annual Bucerius Lecture. In 2021, she was the first woman, and the first person from the Global South, to become president of the CEU since the founding of the university 30 years ago. 

Professor Randeria’s reflections on migration — a pervasive, unwanted, yet enduring process — interrogate the complicity of mainstream European academic scholarship on the phenomenon with the attempts of the modern states to establish monopolies of truth by shaping the narratives and even the vocabulary in this fraught field of enquiry. By placing the question of the migrant’s ‘undesirability’ by definition at the center of so-called liberal border policies, Professor Randeria highlights the dynamics of deeply entrenched post-colonial asymmetries of power and privilege that manifest themselves in classifying some people as being “out of place.” The migrants are thus marked not by their mobility but by a position of political and legal precarity, rightlessness and exclusion. Moreover, the current European framing of migration as a problem of radical cultural alterity pits the liberal European citizen against an illiberal non-European migrant, whose very presence poses a threat to European “host” societies and cultures. Liberal values thus function as a new register of Othering that redirects our attention to exclusionary practices in strengthening the citizen/migrant divide.

Shalini Randeria has had a distinguished academic career as a sociologist/social anthropologist at institutions of higher education across Europe. She was rector of the Institute for Human Sciences, Vienna, and a professor at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva, where she directed the Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy. She holds the Excellence Chair at the University of Bremen, where she leads a research group on “soft authoritarianisms”. Professor Randeria has published widely on the anthropology of globalization, law, the state, and social movements with a regional focus on India. Her podcast series, Democracy in Question, goes into its fourth season in spring 2022.

The lecture is part of an annual program that also includes a workshop for emerging scholars from Germany and the Northern America who present and discuss their research in “Histories of Migration: Transatlantic and Global Perspectives.” The Young Scholar Forum and the lecture are funded by the ZEIT-Stiftung Ebelin und Gerd Bucerius, one of the major German private foundations active in the field of migration and transformation studies.

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