A briefing by Cumberland Lodge Research Associate, Dr Farhan Samanani on the 'Race in Britain: Inequality, Identity, Belonging' conference at Cumberland Lodge on 1 - 2 November 2018.

Published Date: 
Friday, 26 October 2018
Dr Farhan Samanani


Questions about the place of diversity in British society have acquired a new urgency, not least in light of the vote to leave the European Union. In the year that followed the Brexit referendum, reported hate crimes rose by 29%, prompting fears that the vote had given new license to simmering feelings of racial resentment (Achiume 2018). Scholars typically define ‘racism’ as the belief that groups can be defined by certain innate characteristics (Murji and Solomos 2015).

There are numerous examples of recent cases in which victims were abused for being ‘illegal’, or told to ‘go home’, regardless of their citizenship status (Jones et al 2017). The beliefs that underlie these incidents of hate crime – that it is possible to tell whether someone is ‘truly’ British on the basis of superficial markers such as skin-colour, ethnic dress or accent alone – reveal the enduring power of racial thinking in society today. Yet race isn’t the only lens through which minorities in Britain have been understood.

As migrants from across the world have come to settle in Britain, and as communities, policymakers and popular sentiment have adapted to their presence, a range of competing discourses have emerged, to characterise diversity in different ways. Cosmopolitanism, multiculturalism, tolerance and nativism are just a few of the prevalent discourses for understanding and discussing diversity in Britain.


1. Inequality, Identity, Belonging – persistent questions?

2. Contested Histories

3. Discourses of Race, Migration and Belonging Today

4. Structures of Belonging

5. New Identities