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Context Matters! How to Change the Context of Discrimination and Racism?

Location: U-Residence at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (campus Etterbeek), Generaal Jacqueslaan 271, 1050 Brussels
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Symposium on the 8th of September 2020 at the VUB


Hoe kunnen we de context van discriminatie en racisme veranderen? How to change the context of discrimination and racism? Comment changer le contexte de la discrimination et du racisme ?



Racism and discrimination are major problems in our society. They are often considered in terms of individual perpetuators and victims. Discriminatory employers and real estate agents should, for example, be punished and victims should make formal complaints. This individual approach is reaching its limits. Racism and discrimination do not emerge in a societal vacuum. People are social beings who act within the context of a company, school, neighbourhood, municipality or broader society. Context matters! Let’s contextualize racism. Which factors on the level of an organization, neighbourhood or municipality might have an impact on discrimination? Which roles play the political discourse and the media? How are our innate tendencies to think in boxes stirred up in the society and how can we contain them?

Once we deeply understand the contextual dynamics of racism and discrimination, we might change this context too. Many other societal problems are tackled both individually and collectively. Let’s do the same with racism. This symposium aims to bring together academics, policy makers, civil society organizations around this theme.

We welcome everybody -  experts, policy makers, scholars and civil society organisations - to participate in this symposium (also if you are not presenting at the symposium).

Participation in this symposium is free, but registration is mandatory through this link:




Date of the symposium: Tuesday the 8th of September 2020 from 9:30 until 17:00

Location: U-Residence at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (campus Etterbeek), Generaal Jacqueslaan 271, 1050 Brussels


Language policy

The spoken languages of this symposium will be Dutch, French and English. We assume that everybody has an active command of at least one of these languages and a passive language of the two other languages. We would like to ask presenters to speak in one of the three languages and to translate their slides in one of the other two languages. This means that, for example, one speaks in Dutch and has slides in English or French; or one speaks in French and has slides in Dutch or English; or one speaks in English and has slides in Dutch or French. This language policy reflects the multilingual reality of our academic community and of Brussels as the heart of Belgium and Europe.



09:00 – 9:30        Welcome

09:30 – 10:00     Welcome speech by Prof. Pieter-Paul Verhaeghe (VUB)

10:00 – 10:20     Speech by Naima Charkaoui – author of the book ‘Racisme. Over wonden en veerkracht’

10:20 – 10:40     Discrimination on the private rental housing market: the context and approach in the Netherlands

Arwen Hoogenbosch & Bauke Fiere (vzw RADAR)

10:40 – 11:00     How does ethnic discrimination on the housing market differ across neighbourhoods and real estate agencies? 

Abel Ghekiere (VUB-UGent) en Prof. Pieter-Paul Verhaeghe (VUB)


11:00 – 11:20     Ethnic discrimination in school: Is a multicultural school approach a remedy?

Dr. Fanny D'hondt, Charlotte Maene, Dr. Roselien Vervaet, Prof. Mieke Van Houtte & Prof. Peter Stevens (UGent)

11:20 – 11:40     School of choice or schools’ choice? Intersectional correspondence testing on ethnic and class discrimination in the enrolment procedure to Flemish kindergarten

Dounia Bourabain (VUB), Prof. Peter Stevens (UGent) & Prof. Pieter-Paul Verhaeghe (UGent)

11:40 – 12:00     Racism through the eyes of children and youngsters. What are the structural causes, what is the impact and how can we tackle it?

Ikrame Kastit (vzw Uit de marge)

12:00 – 13:00     Sandwich lunch with informal round tables

13:00 – 13:20     Speech by director Els Keytsman (Unia)

13:20 – 13:40     Pushing the limits: how right-wing Flemish politicians explore the boundaries of hate speech on their Twitter accounts

Prof. Martina Temmerman (VUB)

13:40 – 14:00     Welcome in my backyard? Examining how the local context shapes individual attitudes towards refugees

David De Coninck & Prof. Bart Meuleman (KU Leuven)

14:00 – 14:20     The colour of the fieldworkers. Racism, discrimination and diversity on the field

 Prof. Géraldine André (UC Louvain & VUB) & Dr. Chiara Giordano (ULB)

14:20 – 14:40     Taste or statistics? A systematic review of the economic mechanisms of ethnic labour market discrimination

Louis Lippens (UGent – VUB), Prof. Stijn Baert (UGent), Prof. Eva Derous (UGent), Abel Ghekiere (VUB – UGent) & Prof. Pieter-Paul Verhaeghe (VUB)

14:40 – 15:00     Are our opinions really our ‘own’? The role of our social groups in our outgroup attitudes

 Dr. Jasper Van Assche (UGent & KU Leuven)

15:00 – 15:15     Break

15:15 – 16:20     Parallel thematic workshops: housing – work – youth and education

16:20 – 16:30     Presentation of the Brussels Interdisciplinary Research centre on Migration and Minorities (BIRMM)

16:30 – 16:40     Presentation of the SBO-FWO project EdisTools

16:40 – 16:50     Presentation of the Hannah Arendt Institute

16:50 – 17:00     Closing speech by Prof. Pieter-Paul Verhaeghe (VUB)


Questions, remarks or suggestions?

Contact Pieter-Paul Verhaeghe:


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