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‘White privilege’ and shortcuts to anti-racism

A Research Paper by Miriyam Aouragh, published by Race & Class

By unpacking the way in which the concept of ‘white privilege’ is taking over as a shortcut in the analysis of racism, this article assesses its use in anti-racist movements. Using the author’s experiences as both an academic and an activist of colour in the Netherlands, it focuses on two schisms that are emerging in social movements. The first schism pits class-based against race-based analyses. The second schism is a questioning of solidarity politics, also marked by the rise of political articulations in terms of personalised and skin-colour based positions, with terminologies such as ‘non-black-people-of-colour’ (NBPoC), leading to implied hierarchies of oppression. Drawing on the conceptual legacies of radical black thinkers and activists, from W. E. B. Du Bois, and A. Sivanandan to Assata Shakur and Angela Davis, the article asks how to recover and meaningfully engage with radical universalist principles as a means of overcoming such ‘shortcuts’ whilst fighting racism. The piece builds on an understanding of ‘radical kinship’ and proposes internationalism as a way to recreate a dynamic anti-racist, anti-capitalist movement at a time when racism is on the rise.


Photo by Colin Lloyd on Unsplash

Miriyam Aouragh


Dr. Miriyam Aouragh is a Reader at CAMRI. She has studied the implications of the internet as it was first introduced (“Web 1.0”) in Palestine (PhD, University of Amsterdam, 2000-2008) to understand in particular the significance of techno-­social evolutions by analysing how a new technology coincided with the outbreak of a mass uprising (Second Intifada 2000-2005). She then focused on the political role of new internet developments, such as blogging and social networking (“Web 2.0”) for grassroots activism in Lebanon and Palestine (Postdoc, Oxford Internet Institute, 2009-2011). After earning a Leverhulme Early Career (UoW, 2013-2016) funding Miriyam set-up a critical research project in which she relates theory with online analysis through a focus on the complex revolutionary dynamics in the Arab world. In these new techno-social relations, marked by revolution and counter-revolution, she researched and wrote about the paradoxical context of online-revolution and cyber-imperialism. During fieldwork in Palestine, Jordan Lebanon and Morocco, she combined participant observation and interviews with media analyses and throughout her academic projects and collaborations in general, she relates online studies and observations with ethnographic (offline) methodologies, and theoretical focus on critical race, political-economy and infrastructures. Miriyam theorizes how the contradictions of capitalism shape the modes and meanings of resistance in the era of revolution and digital transformations. Her work is published in several books and journals (see Publications) including her own monograph Palestine Online (IB Tauris 2011), forthcoming book on Cyber Imperialism (2021) and monograph about the (r)evolutionary dynamics of protest in Morocco (2022). Miriyam teaching about internet, (global) media, (Middle East/race) politics and anthropology. She welcomes and supervises PhD students.


3 October 2019
Published By
Race & Class
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CAMRI | 'White privilege’ and shortcuts to anti-racism - CAMRI
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