Workshop 8: Discourses on sexism, xenophobia and racism – the role of media

The event on New Year’s Eve in Cologne and the debates about burka and burkini are examples how powerful media are in shaping discourses which influence public opinions as well as political decision making. This workshop to explored hegemonic media strategies as well as possible counter strategies and the use of media in a way that secures justice, social inclusion, and respect for “others”.

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Katharina Pühl, scientific expert on feminist analysis at Rosa-Luxemburg-Foundation in Berlin (moderator)
Massimo Perrinelli, Referent for migration, Akademie für politische Bildung, Rosa-LuxemburgFoundation, Berlin (speaker)
 Aliaksandra Ihnatovich, Researcher and practitioner of visual culture including documentary maker in Belarus (speaker)
Emine Aslan, co-founder of #schauhin on racism and sexism in Germany (speaker) @emineElShabazz
Marianna Karakoulaki, journalist and editor who is currently reporting on the refugee crisis at the Greek borders (speaker) @Faloulah

During this workshop, discussions looked at translocal and regional strategies, how we can create a language between people, which are part of polarised groups, and, in general, how we can create links between people from intersecting perspectives.

In his input, Massimo Perrinelli discussed how Cologne became the 9/11 for the welcoming culture and how Emma, one of Germany´s feminist magazines, argues women´s rights versus refugee rights. It became clear that feminism is not automatically anti-racism. Culturalising sexism is not the way forward.

Emine Aslan introduced ##schauhin  to the audience, a hashtag  which was created post-Cologne. ##schauhin scripted an intersecting analysis of the aftermath of Cologne, in particular media coverage and societal discussions on who the perpetrators might be. It was important to push narratives of Muslim women and men into the mainstream media. The discussions post-Cologne was not on what has happened to the women but it was reduced to a discussion on asylum law. Hence, the initiators of ##schauhin felt the need to express their outrage. She also highlighted an important factor about how race inequality and gender inequality are interlinked and how racial discrimination often presents itself on the frontlines of gender. For example – post the cologne incident – there was a polarisation of the perpetrators – non- white refugee men – vs the victims – white german women-. In this polarised picture there was a complete erasure of ‘Muslim women’, who infact were the first ones to face the brunt of the backlash caused by the incident.
Ermine further, spoke about the importance of using social media and ‘striking when the iron is hot’ so that we can change frames from negative to positive and take the discussion to another level.

Aliaksandra Ihnatovich from Belarus discussed how the refugee discourse in Belarus is on refugees in the rest of Europe but not on those that are in Belarus. Also in Belarus the othering of “our” women and “their” women exists. Marianna Karalouki explained that In Greece, on the other hand, illegal immigrants as a term was taken from the police report. The Greek media builds stories around asylum seekers which aren´t true.

In the discussion the question of identities was one which gave a lot of questions. In addition, how right-wing groups are able to use the communication gaps that activist groups and academia seemingly have in explaining what they mean with certain terms.

Therefore, we need to look at key moments for interventions. We have to look for shared visions for feminisms and anti-racism. It is important to re-politicise feminisms, re-politicise racism and all other –isms.