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UK Study of Racial Discrimination Curiously Racial

• August 22, 2012 • 5:22 AM

A study of bias in immigration policy by researchers at the UK’s Bristol University concludes that treatment of immigrants by the British visa system and the British media “exhibits features of institutionalized racism that implicitly invokes shared whiteness as a basis of racialized inclusion.”

If true—that whites have an easier time applying for UK residence than anyone else does, and newspapers treat immigrants as ethnically distinct—that’s important, but less-than-shocking news. From there however, things get odd.

A useful summary at phys.org, which reported the study, quotes the lead researcher explaining that the analysis focuses on two white-majority immigrant communities, Hungarians and Romanians. They found the Romanians treated in a “racialized” way and the Hungarians less so. “While immigration controls against Romanians were not racially motivated, they did produce racialised effects. Romanians were symbolically stripped of their whiteness by an immigration policy that refused to recognise them as full Europeans with associated rights.”

The leap from being denied recognition as “full Europeans with associated rights,” to being “stripped of their whiteness,” is confusing. Does it mean that not being stripped of one’s whiteness, should one happen to have whiteness to strip, would grant recognition as a “full European?” Does he mean that this is how immigration officials think? It’s a strange conclusion to draw, particularly with memories fresh of the Britain we saw at the recently concluded London Olympics.

We have so far only located snippets of the full study, which is behind a paywall. What are we missing here?

Marc Herman
Marc Herman is a writer in Barcelona. He is the author of The Shores of Tripoli.

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