10:03, Report on Paul Gilroy’s keynote

Many thanks to University of Leeds PhD researcher Jennifer Carlberg for this summary of Professor Paul Gilroy’s keynote from yesterday evening.

One would be hard pressed to select a favorite from amongst the many worthwhile points probed by Professor Paul Gilroy’s provocative keynote, ‘The old new racism and the new old nationalism:  melancholia and prospective nostalgia’.  Yet his use of a snippet featuring Cheryl Cole at Camp Bastian as a means of illustrating the ‘growing militarization of our media environment‘ could indeed find its way to the short list.

Tonight, Gilroy exhorted listeners to refocus their attentions upon the ways in which neoliberal capitalism has impacted upon struggles of race and gender—for instance, by transforming politics into types of commoditized expertise, like ‘diversity management’.

Observing that no member of contemporary society wants to be associated with racism, Gilroy suggested that the disappearance of ‘racists’ must nonetheless be accounted for—especially when racist rhetoric can be so easily recast as seemingly commonsense fixations, like security.

Gilroy observed that the military-entertainment complex has allied itself with an anti-Islamic sentiment, such that ‘Muslim’ now serves as a quasi-racial category.

And though important, Gilroy does not feel that thinking only about affect will be enough to rectify the contemporary situation.  Both permanent warfare and climate change have inspired vast movements of people to Europe.

Near closing, Gilroy admitted: ‘I’m a dreamer, and I think our job is to imagine a better set of possibilities in this world’.  This task is one that requires Gilroy’s constant experimentation with the ‘banality of good’, especially when managing the influx of refugees that come out of the water.