Presentation on racism at the Centre for Citizenship and Identity Studies

On 26 October 2010, Alexander Osipov, ECMI Senior Research Associate of the Justice & Governance Cluster, made a presentation at the monthly seminar of the Centre for Citizenship and Identity Studies (CCIS). CCIS is a research and training unit of the Institute of Philosophy, Russian Academy of Sciences; its seminar series “Citizenship in Globalizing World: Political and Cultural Dimension” is open to the broad public. The invited speakers are scholars representing a multiplicity of disciplines and working in the areas connected to the issues of citizenship and identity. Most of the participants are researchers from academic institutes, PhD students and journalists. The organizers seek new opportunities for cross-disciplinary exchange of ideas and simultaneously try to disseminate information about the scholarly work in progress among local researchers and the broader public.

Alexander Osipov‟s presentation was entitled “Limits and Opportunities of the Terms „Racism‟ and „Discrimination‟”. The presentation focused on two issues: reification of social groups in ethnic and racial studies and epistemological problems caused by crossing borders between scientific disciplines as well as between academia and practical knowledge. The author‟s argument was that the term “racism” serves as a “folk” cognitive and explanatory model and can have a narrow application in social sciences exclusively for naming certain ideologies. The term “discrimination” may be correctly employed in jurisprudence; transcending the legalist borders creates insurmountable methodological problems. The author offered an explanation of the reasons why these two terms were employed so widely and without critical reflections in the contemporary social sciences.

Records of the presentations and discussions are available at the CCIS website; the Centre also plans to issue a compilation of presentations in print.

For references see:

Alexander Osipov heads the Justice and Governance cluster, one of ECMI‟s five research units. The cluster‟s activities are carried out from cross- and multidisciplinary perspectives and are focused on issues of norm diffusion, convergence and translation into political and administrative practice. In particular, the cluster works on the intersection and synergy of minority protection and non-discrimination.


Place and Date: Moscow, Russia, 26 October 2010
For further information, please contact:
Alexander Osipov,

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