Representations of Race and the European Union

by Kamilla Joanna Monari

Institution: Roskilde University
Year: 2014
Keywords: Whiteness; Stuart Hall; Race; Eurocentrism; European Union; colonialism; Racism; Representation
Record ID: 1122492
Full text PDF: http://rudar.ruc.dk/handle/1800/15238


In the year 2012 the European Union (the EU) published a commercial promoting the enlargement of the Union. The claimed intention of the product was to depict mutual respect and harmony. The commercial showed multicultural/-racial people practicing martial arts; an image accused of being portrayed in a ‘racist’ manner, which, consequently, caused the advertisement to be quickly withdrawn from the media. This project focuses on examining the representation of the characters in the commercial in order to comprehend how the dominant and prevailing discourse of the EU – in relation to the notion of race and that of the EU itself – is reflected by use of certain signs. This study is a critical textual representation analysis conducted in accordance to the social constructionist perspective within social sciences. The concrete chosen theoretical framework consists of selected theories by Stuart Hall, along with other articles specifically focusing on the ideas of race in a European context. Altogether these theories establish the analytical tools for the analysis. The analysis discusses the representations of the advertisement in relation to the theories as well as through the personal ‘conceptual maps’ of the researchers conducting this study. The reading of the commercial reveals several dichotomies in regards to the represented racial characters, which further reinforce racial categorization and hierarchization. ‘Eurocentrism’ and the ideology of ‘whiteness’ is reflected through reproduction and enforcement of these particular representations; representations, which are mirroring the contemporary discourses of the EU. We conclude that the existing ‘racist’ aspect of the commercial is not to be perceived as a ‘traditional’ manifestation of racism based on biological factors, but rather a new form of racism. This ‘new racism’ is reflected through a direct or insinuated emphasis of naturalized cultural differences, and due to the effects of a ‘whiteness’ discourse this remains unnoticed to the producers of the commercial