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Symposium: Context matters! How to Change the Context of Discrimination and Racism? --- CALL for ABSTRACTS! Deadline: 15 May ---

  • April 16, 2020


On 8 September BIRMM and Interface Demography organize a full-day Symposium on the contextual dynamics of discrimination and racism at VUB.

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.


Call for Academic Abstracts

The aim of this symposium is to contextualize racism and discrimination. We are looking for empirical, conceptually or theoretical papers that examine how indicators of racism and discrimination differ between contexts at the meso-level (such as municipalities, schools, compagnies or organizations) and/or macro-level (such as countries or political economies). In addition, also studies that investigate the role of contextual factors (such as political discourse or social media) on prejudices, anti-minority attitudes or discriminatory behaviour) are very welcome. Scholars who work with a multilevel, longitudinal and/or intersectional research design are especially encouraged to submit a paper. Moreover, we are also very interested in policy-oriented papers that examine how discrimination and racism can be tackled by changing the context. This symposium is interdisciplinary and welcomes papers from economics, psychology, political sciences, communications sciences, history, urban studies and other sciences.

Please, submit your abstract (max. 300 words) together with your short bio (max 300 words including ORCID) to Prof. Pieter-Paul Verhaeghe (, before the 15th of May 2020. Authors will be notified whether their paper is accepted or not within two weeks. Full or draft versions (min. 4000 words) of accepted papers are expected to be submitted before the 15th of August 2020.



Date of the symposium: Tuesday the 8th of September 2020 (full day)

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

Deadline for academic abstract submission: 15th of May 2020

Publication of temporary program: 30th of May 2020

Publication of final program: 15th of June 2020


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.


Questions, remarks or suggestions?

Contact Pieter-Paul Verhaeghe: