Academic gives Keynote Address at International Society of Political Psychology Conference

Professor Kevin Durrheim
Professor Kevin Durrheim
Professor Kevin Durrheim

As the winner of ISPP’s Nevitt Sanford Award for Professional Contributions to

Political Psychology, Durrheim was invited as a speaker by the ISPP President Professor David Redlawsk.

‘We recognise Durrheim’s body of work in the discipline and its direct application in working to solve social problems,’ said Redlawsk. ‘Moreover, his research on racism, segregation, and social change speaks volumes under our conference theme of Empowering Citizens in liberal Times: The Political Psychology of Oppression and Resistance. His talk was warmly welcomed by the audience.’

Durrheim’s address was titled: The Beginning and the End of Racism – and Something In-Between. It examined the power of racism, how racism discourse can mobilise right‐wing populism, particularly the construction of identity, and alliance in reactions to UKIP’s Brexit ‘Breaking Point’ campaign, while tracking the trajectory of historical racism from Nazis to UNESCO to modern day racism and the discourse of racism denial.

‘Was there racism before the word racism?’ asked Durrheim. ‘Certainly, but the emergence of the word is telling. Racism emerges when the political and oppressive use of race categories become conscious of themselves as racism. Each contribution to science also reflects a socially situated point view.’

Durrheim noted that ordinary people reflexively understand their lives and actions in terms of the category ‘racism’ and participate in life in its terms and that ordinary people and elites are lay critics and lay scientists as they argue about the reality or unreality of both race and racism. ‘The hallmark of everyday racism is its refusal to recognise itself as such and be owned. Researchers are tempted to be authoritative,’ he argues.

Speaking about the end of racism, Durrheim said: ‘Begin with the beginning of racism: Horrors of the holocaust. Racism becomes conscious of itself. In some sense, this is actually the end of unbridled racism of the colonial era.

But racism gets a second life: it is transformed into a moral category.’

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