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Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art

Reading workshop “Racism and Eastern Europe”
LCCA, Alberta 13 / Online
07.07.20

On 7 July at 6 pm, as part of its informal education programme, the Evening School, the Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art invites you to the reading workshop “Racism and Eastern Europe”.

The workshop will take place at the Latvian Centre for Contemporary Art, on Alberta iela 13, as well as online.

Link to the online meeting: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89968259134?pwd=RGZUa3dNL0w2L3hEdXQ3QUwvTGJsQT09
ID: 899 6825 9134
Password: 930133

Currently, one of the most vivid and visible global movements is Black Lives Matter, which demands a fundamental, systemic change in racial inequality and fights for the rights of black people. In a broader perspective, it is also mapping relations among colonialism, slavery, and contemporary financial capital, which continue to create new forms of oppression and exclusion.

In Latvia, the dominant political narrative is that the country is racism-free; however, a recent example such as the refugee crisis in Europe reveals “the exclusionary character of national discourse together with a social environment conducive to the development of hostility to the entry of ethnoracially marked migrants” (Law & Zakharov, 2018: 125). The wish to preserve ethno-racial uniqueness in the Baltic countries is largely informed by the parallel processes of globalisation and Europeanisation. The emergence and legacy of racism in Eastern and post-Soviet countries also reveals further complexity, including a “process of racial Europeanisation which privileges Western Europe and denies the agency of Eastern European states in this process, and attempts to rediscover the privileged whiteness that has been partly lost during the socialist past” (Law & Zakharov, 114).

What role do art institutions play in maintaining and preventing systemic racism and related inequalities? What changes would be needed in institutions, beyond representing black artists in their collections and exhibitions? Currently, in museums in the United States and Europe, debate about the history and exclusive nature of art institutions themselves has intensified, with many trying to fundamentally rethink their accessibility and encourage openness to different voices and knowledge systems. In light of this, we might also ask how these processes resonate in Eastern Europe and the Baltic region?

Texts to be discussed:

Achille Mbembe, Critique of Black Reason. Duke University Press Books, 2017, pp. 10–37.

Ian Law, Nikolay Zakharov, “Race and Racism in Eastern Europe: Becoming White, Becoming Western”, in: Relating Worlds of Racism: Dehumanisation, Belonging, and the Normativity of European Whiteness. Eds P. Essed, K. Farquharson, K. Pillay, E.J. White. Palgrave Macmillan, 2018, pp. 113–139.

To receive the texts, please email to: ieva.ast@gmail.com.


The Latvian Center for Contemporary Art within its programme, the Evening School continues reading workshops or non-academic and informal discussions about seminal texts, devoted to current issues of contemporary art and culture as well as exploration of the recent past. The programme is curated by Ieva Astahovska. The project is supported by the State Culture Capital Foundation.


Cassius Fadlabi painting Tirailleurs Senegalais at the festival Survival Kit 10. 2018. Photo: Margarita Ogoļceva
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