LDE Centre GMD Statement: against institutional racism and discrimination

(Updated 9 July 2020)

LDE Centre GMD supports Black Lives Matter

The recent Black Lives Matter protests in Europe in solidarity with those in the United States offer an opportunity to reflect on the widespread effects and particular manifestations of racism. Recent police violence may have taken place in the U.S. but share in common the lasting legacies of colonialism and present day forms of racism and structural violence that we in Europe and The Netherlands must continue to recognize and redress.  

As the LDE Centre Governance of Migration and Diversity, our efforts to examine and address enduring strains of racism in politics and policymaking usually fall under our formal education, research, and public engagement activities. For example, our members’ and students’ recent contributions in blogs, media and articles highlight our engagement with questions of racism, discrimination, and inequality both generally and in relation to recent crises. Having the resources and space to explore, discuss, and offer commentary on the role of governments in societal changes is a privilege. Therefore, as members of three Dutch universities based in four diverse cities (Leiden, Delft, The Hague and Rotterdam), we must recognize and redirect the influence we carry to redressing institutional racism in these settings.

Knowing that declarative statements do not abolish racism and discrimination, we have instead taken recent events as a starting point for interrogating our complicity in racism and inequality and to set out our short- and long-term actions to which we have committed as a way to hold ourselves accountable:

  1. LDE Centre GMD

As a LDE Centre whose members are largely from white and otherwise privileged backgrounds, we acknowledge that we need to do more to include people of colour among our students, staff, and scholars within our centre as well as our universities. We aim to do this by:

  • joining existing diversity initiatives within our three universities while sharing best practices and outcomes among them to advocate for improvements
  • encouraging our members to participate in anti-racist and implicit bias trainings to improve their capacity as educators and mentors
  • using our platform to promote the visibility of work by minoritized scholars.
  1. Master GMD (1)

Each year we welcome a cohort of students from different racial, ethnic, socio-economic, cultural, and religious backgrounds, as well as different nationalities, sexual orientations, gender identities, and ages. Ensuring a respectful and inclusive environment is, thus, of utmost importance in the GMD Master program. As a first step, we recently developed a Code of Honour to state our expectation that no one will be discriminated, humiliated or harassed and that any behaviour promoting such discrimination will not be tolerated. Furthermore, we have plans to increase engagement with students on these and other issues on a more regular basis.

  1. Master GMD (2)

Meaningful change requires understanding and analysis. Our goal is to educate our students about the processes behind persistent inequalities so that, as professional practitioners, they might recognise and even redress such processes. For example, they learn to understand the historical paths that lead to the institutionalization of racism in sectors such as housing, education and the arts. At the same time, we aim to improve our course readings and material and including more anti-racist epistemologies.

  1. GMD Research

Institutional racism cannot be equated to individual racism, as we stated in this article, which means it requires a long-term focus on its patterns, systems and accumulative effects. We believe that our role is to produce research with insights about collective patterns of racism and other forms of injustice related to the practices and policies of local, national and European governments. To make this work more relevant and valuable, we have committed to building closer and more equitable relationships with societal partners and activists engaged in the practical work of addressing racial and other forms of inequality.

  1. GMD Meets

In addition to the aforementioned publications by our centre members, we have recently developed a series, GMD Meets, to host a range of videos and written interviews. Later this year, we will use this platform to feature interviews and conversations to reflect on racism and systems of oppression.

We welcome comments and suggestions to push our ambitions further because as an academic community, we should continually engage in a learning and improvement process. With this aim to change and adapt our teaching and research activities to combat institutional racism we also warmly welcome critique to sharpen our focus.

By this statement we reaffirm our support for the BLM movements and our responsibility to ensure that we ethically, collaboratively, and inclusively engage in our scholarly work in Leiden, Delft, The Hague and Rotterdam. We are loyal and dedicated to this responsibility, which unites us as scholars, humans and citizens.

LDE Centre Governance of Migration and Diversity