Newsletter "Living Equality" No.1, January 2008

Spenden gegen Rechtsextremismus

 

NEWSLETTER "LIVING EQUALITY" NO.1, JANUARY 2008


www.living-equality.org
Focus on Antiziganism, January 2008

This is the Amadeu Antonio Foundation’s electronic Newsletter for the program „Living Equality“.


 

CONTENT



1. Editorial: Fighting Bigotry


2. „Living Equality“
- Equality in everyday life
- The network for „Living Equality“

3. What is „Group-Focused Enmity“?
- Biased attitudes
- How do you recognize bigotry?

4. Focus on Antiziganism
- What is Antiziganism?
- „Moments of Reflection“

5. Projects for equality
- Against antiziganist paradigms
- „Dikhav taj ni dikhav“

6. New publications
- „German Conditions“ Volume 6
- www.living-equality.org
 
Impressum


 
 

1. EDITORIAL

 



Dear Readers,

This newsletter is an odd issue. Actually, that’s not quite true: it is the first issue of a special series—a series in addition to our regular monthly newsletter. Here we want to report about a large project of the Amadeu Antonio Foundation in which partners and contents are connected in such a way that it requires a newsletter of its own. The project is called “Living Equality.” How come the title is in English, some of you might ask, and what does the title mean? Well, the project’s title is in English because funding is provided by the Ford Foundation and because “Living Equality” seemed to us the appropriate response to what Professor Heitmeyer calls “group-focused enmity” (in the original: Gruppenbezogene Menschenfeindlichkeit). This admittedly awkward expression refers to a widespread phenomenon: the fact that people hate others simply because those others belong to a particular group, a minority. This phenomenon can be broken down into singular manifestations: racism, Antiziganism, Antisemitism, homophobia, xenophobia, sexism, and hostility towards the socially disadvantaged. Most often these aspects are studied in isolation.

 
Professor Heitmeyer has conducted a long-term study of these issues in conjunction and has come to the conclusion that there are connections between them and that individual aspects of “group-focused enmity” have the potential of generating further manifestations of bigotry. Someone who despises gay people is likely to be sexist too, will be susceptible to prejudices against immigrants, and most likely also drawn to other ideologies of hate that see people as inferior simply because they are members of a specific group.
 
This means that it is necessary to consider the phenomenon as a whole rather than focusing exclusively on one or the other aspect. This is especially important in an immigration country. For instance, Antisemitism and racism should not be pitted against each other, neither Antiziganism and homophobia. Because there are Antisemitic Black Germans just as there are homophobic Sinti and Roma, yes, also Jewish racists and sexists—and, as we learned recently, also Jewish Antisemites. No person is immune to despising groups and to hating others—even if this is stupid. The “Living equality” project is our attempt to stop shifting prejudices and hostilities from one group to the other. “Living equality” is the opportunity for everyone, regardless of their own affiliation in particular groups, to develop the capacity to live without projective hate or bigotry.
 
Still, we are working with the different aspects of the phenomenon in order to eventually confront the whole. That is why we are starting with Antiziganism today. Antiziganism is quite close to Antisemitism in terms of its role in society and its psychological function. Antiziganism creates a negative image of Sinti and Roma that allows the majority to project its aggressions and anxieties onto them. The Central Council of German Sinti and Roma rejects the term “Gypsy” because it has been used in a discriminatory and criminalizing way. The persecution and discrimination of Sinti and Roma has a centuries-long history and continues to flare up now and again in violent outbursts. Just in the last few weeks in Italy, Roma immigrants from Romania found themselves in fear for their lives in a pogrom-like atmosphere as all Roma from Romania became targets of rage after a crime was committed in the area. Nazi Antiziganism killed half a million Sinti and Roma in Europe during the Holocaust and their history is not known or even recognized in many places.
 
So we are starting with Antiziganism because it subsists unimpeded, whereas for example racism or sexism is condemned by society in general. There is much of the legacy from Nazism that still needs to be worked through with regards to Sinti and Roma, and thus there is lot of work ahead, work we are eager to do with our partners from the Regional Association of German Sinti and Roma in Baden-Württemberg. Our parterns have built up an extraordinarily interesting project and have carried intensive research on the topic. This newsletter thus introduces the issue of “group-focused enmity” and reports on projects against Antiziganism.
 
Anetta Kahane


 
 

2. "LIVING EQUALITY"

 

EQUALITY IN EVERYDAY LIFE
 
"All persons shall be equal before the law“ is the first sentence of the third paragraph of the Basic Law, which also explicitly prohibits discrimination. If equality is guaranteed by law, then why do we need a network for "Living Equality“? And what exactly does "equality“ mean? The studies on “group-focused enmity“ conducted by the Institute for Interdisciplinary Research on Conflict and Violence show the stubborn persistence of hateful ideologies. They also show that formal equal rights are not enough to prevent discrimination in everyday live. It is alarming that hateful ideas find fertile soil not only among so-called neo-Nazis but also in the general population. The borderline between the mainstream and supposedly marginal extremists is dwindling. Going beyond the research, the Amadeu Antonio Foundation founded the network for "Living Equality” in order to do something about all forms of bigotry.
 
THE NETWORK FOR "LIVING EQUALITY“
 
If the way people treat each other in their everyday life is to change in order to make possible the experience of equal treatment and to improve the quality of life of all members in a democratic community, it makes sense to begin there, where people are. For this reason the Amadeu Antonio Foundation has established a nationwide network of local and interregional cooperation partners. They work in conjunction with the Federal Working Group of the Regional Centers for intercultural Education, Youth-work and School, the Center for Democratic Culture, the Regional Association of German Sinti and Roma in Baden-Württemberg, and various smaller projects and initiatives, all of them with many years of practical experience in the field. Financial support for the project comes from the Ford Foundation in New York and the Freudenberg Foundation in Weinheim. The project is open to new partners interested in sharing their ideas with the network. The project has the academic support of Dr. Beate Küpper (Dresden) and Dr. Andreas Zick (Jena/Bielefeld).


 

3. WHAT IS "GROUP-FOCUSED ENMITY"?

 


BIASED ATTITUDES

"I find it repellent when two gay men kiss each other on the street.” Why does this statement find approval among 80% of those interviewed who are male and of Turkish origin, but only among 10% of those interviewed who are female and of German origin? Why do 61% of Germans believe that “there are too many foreigners in Germany”? Finding an answer to these questions is the aim of the research project on “Group-focused Enmity” of the Institute for Interdisciplinary Research on Conflict and Violence in Bielefeld. Under the direction of sociologist Wilhelm Heitmeyer, citizens have been polled since 2002 about their attitudes to socially disadvantaged groups. The long-term study focuses on how widespread bias and hostility against minorities is and on what the causes of such bias are. The results of this study form the basis for the project of the Amadeu Antonio Foundation. The project tries out and implements different practical approaches against bias and discrimination.

HOW DO YOU RECOGNIZE BIGOTRY?

The following characteristics belong to “group-focused enmity:” the hostility is directed against one or several groups, not necessarily against individuals: “I fully support my friend Ali, but Turks in general, well…” A prejudice appears seldom in isolation: those who agree with Antisemitic statements are highly likely to harbor prejudice against other groups. The link among the different kinds of bias is the notion that some people are worth more, some less than others. Disparagement and prejudice form a vicious circle. Prejudice is often the basis for disparagement: “in general, women are emotionally less in control than men and therefore are less suitable for leadership roles. ”At the same time, a supposed inferiority is used to justify prejudice: “Because of their brain structure, women’s mathematical and commercial capabilities are inferior to those of men. Women therefore try to usurp better positions through quota systems and affirmative action. ”Bigotry as understood in terms of “group-focused enmity” includes the disparagement of the socially disadvantaged---such as the homeless, the unemployed, and people with disabilities---, Antisemitism, xenophobia, homophobia, Islamophobia, racism and sexism.


 

4. FOCUS ON ANTIZIGANISM

 


WHAT IS ANTIZIGANISM?

In German, Sinti and Roma are derogatorily referred to as Zigeuner (gypsies). Zigeuner is a problematic term because it evokes the notion of Zieh-Gauner or “itinerant crook.” And this notion is at the core of Antizisganism: mainstream society perceives the Sinti and Roma as “foreign” and “strange” in terms of not being sedentary and thus not trustworthy either. Xenophobia, the fear and hatred of strangers and foreigners is one aspect of “group-focused enmity” and in this case the category under which Antiziganism may be subsumed. It is a type of bias, however, that has not been considered on its own in the long-term study on “Group-focused Enmity.” There are certainly several parallels to Antisemitism---such as the accusation against both Sinti and Roma and Jews that they are “rootless” peoples---but since Antiziganism is a centuries-old phenomenon of its own, it is the focus of this issue.

“MOMENTS OF REFLECTION“

Prejudices, hatred and hostility against the Roma and Sinti are very old and deeply rooted in the culture of mainstream society. These notions are transported for example in “pictures of Gypsies,” whether with positive or negative connotation. In the cybernetic age we could talk of “attachments,” that is, of messages that are appended to the minority—and that to such an extent that the whole group is identified with the message. To “frame someone” is an expression that is used to talk about showing something or someone in a particular manner, usually negatively. Whatever is attributed to the Roma and Sinti is something that originally does not have anything to do with the Roma and Sinti, but as a consequence of the “framing” comes to adhere to them like a tag or an indelible stigma. The causes and the motives for such framing or stigmatization have to do with those who discriminate and stigmatize, not with those who are stigmatized. In an interview with mut-gegen-rechte-gewalt.de, Egon Schweiger from the Regional Association of German Sinti and Roma in Baden-Württemberg provides background information about his work in the context of the Network for “Living Equality.” He calls for "moments of reflection“ in the fight against prejudice.

You may find the complete interview under:
http://www.mut-gegen-rechte-gewalt.de/debatte/interviews/antiziganismus/


 

5. PROJECTS FOR EQUALITY

 

AGAINST ANTIZIGANIST PATTERNS OF THOUGHT!

The Regional Association of German Sinti and Roma in Baden-Württemberg is part of the network for “Living Equality” and is working against bigotry by calling attention to Antiziganism and to the discrimination of Roma and Sinti. The project “Against antiziganist patterns of thought” is geared towards members of mainstream society, who need to be informed about the centuries-old prejudices, and also towards the victims of antiziganist discrimination. The victims are to be helped to form a positive self-image as Sinto or Rom. The Regional Association runs the Cultural Center RomnoKehr in Mannheim, where the project will prepare Sinti and Roma trainers for work in schools and other educational institutions. The trainers will inform the general public about the life of Sinti and Roma and thus contribute to dispelling prejudice about them.

THEATER "DIKHAV TAJ NI DIKHAV"

With the project "Dikhav taj ni dikhav – I see and I don’t,” the Rroma Aether Klub Theater from Neukölln in Berlin intends to stimulate discussion about racism and power differentials. Sinti and Roma are often perceived as “socially disadvantaged” and as “problem cases”. This theater piece shows the contribution to society by people who find little or no recognition in society. The piece works against the speechlessness that comes along with the lack of opportunity to participate. With this project the Rroma Aether Klub Theater wants to create an atmosphere in which “being at home,” or belonging, is independent from ethnic origin, language, age, religion, sexual orientation or other “pigeon-holes”. The theater piece shows the social mechanisms behind social inclusion or exclusion. After each show members of the public have an opportunity to discuss with the people who created the project. The Network for “Living Equality” funds the project "Dikhav taj ni dikhav“ because it offers positive role models for Sinti and Roma without reducing people to their ethnic origins.


 

6. NEW PUBLICATIONS

 

GERMAN CONDITIONS Volume 6

On December 17th Surkamp Verlag published the sixth volume in the series Deutsche Zustände (“German Conditions”). The series explores different aspects of “group-focused enmity”. The new volume concentrates on the discrimination of the socially disadvantaged such as the long-term unemployed. It discusses as well the social and political factors that play a role in the creation of inequality and bigotry. This volume focuses in particular on the ways in which utilitarian thinking comes to pervade thinking about society, to the extent that some members of society are labelled economically “useless” and thus worthless. The empirical analyses are complemented in the volume by case stories and reports that identify strategies for facilitating equality. There is also a photo essay about “Visible Inequality.”

WWW.LIVING-EQUALITY.ORG

The Network for "Living Equality“ now has its own website: www.living-equality.org. On the site, the Amadeu Antonio Foundation presents each project, its particular methodology, and the results of their work. The main projects as well as important results will be presented in this occasional series. The next issue will focus on the question: what can be done at the communal level to strengthen an orientation towards equality.


 

IMPRESSUM


Copyright (c) 2007
Date of publication: 21. December 2007

Amadeu Antonio Foundation
Linienstrasse 139
10115 Berlin
Germany
Tel. 030. 240 886 10
Fax 030. 240 886 22

This edition: Timo Reinfrank with Anetta Kahane, Berit Lusebrink, Torben Richter, Rufus V. Sona, Jan Schwab, Christoph Zarft
Translation: Andrés Nader


 

Kontakt

Amadeu Antonio Stiftung
Novalisstraße 12
10115 Berlin
 

info@amadeu-antonio-stiftung.de

Tel.:  ++49 (0)30. 240 886 10
Fax:  ++49 (0)30. 240 886 22

 

Spendenkonto

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