2nd Applied Diversity Awareness Workshop in Hannover

Input “Critical whiteness and racism”

Martin Gössl talking about critical whitenessThe field of whiteness studies is relatively young compared to other well-established disciplines, including critical race theory. On its trajectory to carve out a new academic niche, whiteness studies is challenged with, and must therefore negotiate, a wide range of criticisms intended to dismantle the enterprise especially in an European perspective. Despite various complaints that cast doubt upon the legitimacy of the subject, whiteness studies do make a substantial contribution to the study of contemporary racism and the processes of racialization, usually from a white person’s perspective. Additionally, a long US tradition in Black history cannot be find in Europe and other parts of the world in a similar intensity. The workshop concludes with a discussion on the relevance of whiteness studies in today’s European context and future prospects for racial equality. I suggest that whiteness studies offers a distinctive standpoint to explore racism, which provides the potential for this field to contribute to our understanding of racial justice in ways that warrant its emergence.

Group work: critical whiteness perspective on your institution

Performing the group work in the meeting room

Phase 1: Exchange in small groups (4 participants per group)

Questions to discuss in the small groups about your institution:

  1. Who is there?
    Who is missing?
  2. Power circles
    My role?

Phase 2: Exchange in the plenary about the results of the exchange

Some of the points which were discussed:

  • The participants released which persons are missing in their organisation, for example in one organisation working for persons with a disability, there are no employees as teachers or managers with a disability.
  • Accessibility of buildings (for persons with a physical disability)
  • Lack of applications from persons with a disability
  • Role of the second job market (protection, but also fear of leaving it)
  • Requirements of certificates, e.g. to teach
  • Which are invisible barriers in the culture of an organisation?! e.g. culture of working 60 h a week; being able to move quickly from one course room to the next – not that easy for users of wheel chair; the culture that the body needs to function all the time
  • Regarding power circles: who is willing to take responsibility?! Who is willing to adapt to change?!
  • What is missing à what is needed regarding innovation for an organisation?! E.g. in the Netherlands two cities have majors with a Moroccan background.

Diversity Walk

View of a street in Hannover
After lunch we asked participants to walk back to VHS with eyes open and the following questions in mind


  • What can you see regarding diversity during your walk? Also with the critical whiteness perspective?
  • What is similar and different in comparison to your walk in Graz?

Also keep the diversity wheel presented during Transnational Project Meeting 1 in mind and its different dimensions of diversity (e.g. age, gender, national origin, sexual orientation, mental / physical ability, religion, income, etc.), http://web.jhu.edu/dlc/resources/diversity_wheel/index.html

Summary of discussion / results of exchange:

  • Some participants perceived a relaxed atmosphere in the streets, people walk at a slower pace.
  • Some noticed, that people in the streets are older (late 40s – 70s), there were hardly any children.
  • There are lots of customers in restaurants, the restaurants are crowded.
  • There are lots of different, international restaurants.
  • We discussed about typical drinks and food in the city: we learned that due to previous migration history and geographical location, the local food was influenced from the South and North.
  • Compared to Graz, in Hannover more differences were perceived in a short period and space.
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