Roundtable Discussion and Book Launch on 'British Multiculturalism and the Politics of Representation'

Tue, 15 May 2018 12:30 in Discussion Forums

Date: 15th May 2018
Time: 12:30


  • Prof Heidi Safia Mirza, Goldsmiths, University of London (Chair)
  • Dr. Lasse Thomassen, Queen Mary University of London
  • Dr. Simon Thompson, University of the West of England
  • Dr. Varun Uberoi, Brunel University London


What is the connection between inclusion, exclusion, and identity? In British Multiculturalism and the Politics of Representation, I argue that the politics of inclusion and identity should be studied as struggles over the representations of the identities involved. The argument is developed through analyses of cases from the last four decades of British multiculturalism, including Gordon Brown’s and David Cameron’s different versions of Britishness, legal cases about religious symbols and clothing in schools, public debates about the role of religion in British society, and a novel by Nick Hornby. In my presentation, I will illustrate the argument of the book with the case of the head of Ofsted, Amanda Spielman’s comments about banning the hijab in schools and the sexualisation of school girls.

Speakers Biography

Heidi Safia Mirza is Emeritus Professor in Equalities Studies, UCL Institute of Education and visiting Professor of Race, Faith and Culture at Goldsmith’s College, University of London. She is known for her pioneering intersectional research on race, gender and identity in education and has an international reputation for championing equality and human rights for women, black and Muslim young people through educational reform. She is the author of several best-selling books including, Black British Feminism and Young Female and Black, which was voted in the BERA top 40 most influential educational studies in Britain. Her forthcoming co-edited book is Dismantling Race in Higher Education: Racism, whiteness and decolonising the academy (Palgrave McMillian 2018).

Lasse Thomassen teaches Political Theory at Queen Mary, University of London. He holds a Ph.D. in Ideology and Discourse Analysis from the University of Essex. He was a García Pelayo Fellow at the Centro de Estudios Políticos y Constitucionales in Madrid. His current research focuses on three areas: debates within the radical democratic theory and radical politics (autonomy vs hegemony, the indignados movements, Podemos, etc.); identity politics and the politics of inclusion, particularly in the context of the United Kingdom and Europe; and new approaches to the concept of representation. In addition, he has a long-standing interest in the work of Jürgen Habermas. Cutting across these research foci is his interest in developing deconstruction and discourse theory as methods for political analysis. He is the author of Habermas: A Guide for the Perplexed (London: Continuum, 2010) and Deconstructing Habermas (London: Routledge, 2007).

Simon Thompson is Associate Professor in Political Theory at the University of the West of England, Bristol, UK. He is author of The Political Theory of Recognition (2006) and co-editor of Global Justice and the Politics of Recognition (2013), The Politics of Misrecognition (2012), Politics and the Emotions (2012), Emotions, Politics and Society (2006), and Richard Rorty: Critical Dialogues (2001). He has co-edited special issues of Ethnicities (2012) and Res Publica (2012). He has also published articles in a wide range of journals including Constellations, Contemporary Political Theory, Ethnicities, European Journal of Political Theory, Philosophy and Social Criticism, Res Publica, and Social and Legal Studies. His current research focuses on the politics of religion, and the regulation of public space.

Varun Uberoi did his doctoral and post-doctoral work at the University of Oxford and is Senior Lecturer in Political Theory and Public Policy at Brunel University London. His research combines normative political theory and public policy. In his theoretical work, he has published extensively about the concept of multiculturalism, national identity, and unity among culturally diverse citizens. And in his empirical work, he has published extensively about the nature and origins of policies of multiculturalism in Britain and Canada. Outside academia, his research has been used by the UK House of Commons, the Canadian Department for Citizenship and Immigration and the Australian Senate Committee for Strengthening Multiculturalism. His latest peer-reviewed journal article is National Identity – A Multiculturalist’s Approach and is published in the Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy.

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