ADI ANNUAL INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE-50 years of naming institutional racism: realising racial equity or intensifying injustices?

UNESCO Chair, Professor Fethi Mansouri opened the annual Alfred Deakin Institute Conference that was held at Deakin Downtown 1 November to 3 November 2017.

The conference coincides with the anniversary of the Racial Discrimination Act. The relevance this is underlined by the Federal Government’s recent rejection of the Indigenous Advisory body – “how are we advocating for indigenous relations in Australia?”

About the conference
It has now been half a century since the term ‘institutional racism’ was first coined in Black Power (1967) by Charles Hamilton and Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture). In this seminal work, they considered institutional racism as a form of racism ’less overt, far more subtle, less identifiable in terms of specific individuals committing the acts. But…no less destructive to human life…originat[ing] in the operation of established and respected forces in society’ (p. 4).

Institutional racism is a concept that retains much currency, if not a resurgence, in the 21st century through ongoing controversies in politics, policing, education and healthcare, among others. This conference will explore how far we have progressed during the last half century in elucidating the nature of, and effective countermeasures for, institutional racism.

The questions this conference will consider include: what critiques of the institutional racism as a concept have emerged over this time? What do we know of its articulation with colonisation and other intersecting forms of oppression across various contexts? What have we learnt about the interplay between individual agency and organisational structure in constituting institutional racism? What success and failures have emerged in efforts to combat racism within institutions?