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Race & Social Justice

This initiative will aim to highlight issues, controversies, and all matters that relate to race, racism, and social justice including all forms of discrimination. By “race” we mean the socially and culturally “constructed categories of difference, whether phenotypical, cultural, linguistic, and/or other specific categories that are ascribed to designated groups; these groups are accordingly rendered the subject of systemic and sustained discriminatory ideas and practices.” ‘Racism’ refers to the bodies of ideas and practices that establishes, maintain, and perpetuates such categories of difference, sustained through multiple, varied and contextually specific social, political, legal, and economic constructions. We understand the construct as an intersectional that also includes discrimination on the grounds of gender, nationality, social origin, marital status, colour, age, disability, religion, conscience belief, culture, sex, sexual orientation, language, and birth.

The law plays and has continued to play an important role in supporting racism, social injustice, and many forms of discrimination in the past. The law has also played a pivotal role in the dismantling of racism and social injustice. This initiative thus aims to highlight, discuss, and disseminate information and research that touch on these important issues. The legacy of slavery and European colonialism remains embedded in many facets of our current lives: economic, political, legal, and cultural. The world today still witnesses many forms of racism and social injustices that the law and culture continually attempt to remedy and deal with. In many cases the impacts of racism, social injustices, and discrimination are historically represented by the transfer of intergenerational trauma and benefits.

The initiative thus will have an important and pressing agenda to see how the law and policy both of domestic states and international law can be channelled to address the continuing issues of racism, coloniality, and discrimination. It is important to note that social justice encompasses a wide array of social issues that affect many people around the world. Economic inequality generally and gender inequity specifically are issues that the initiative will strive to focus on and address in terms of research, organizing lectures, workshops, conferences, and reading rooms. Since all except one of the MPI Law institutes are in Germany, this initiative aims at highlighting the issue of race and how racism has manifested in Europe generally and Germany specifically.

All MPI Law institute’s research and non-research staff can and are encouraged to participate in the activities of this initiative. It aims to support awareness for matters related to race and social justice within the legal sciences, in the legal academia within the Max Planck Society and also in a broader context by including communities.

Initiative Activities

The initiative aims to organize a series of lectures that focus on race and the law, discrimination, and social justice. We will invite distinguished lecturers from all over the world with a wide variety of theoretical, methodological, and ideological persuasions. In terms of exchange and also potential speakers, the initiative also wants to act as an exchange platform within the network, so we hope to be able to attract scientists from the network for the lectures, so that all participants can benefit from the expertise of the institutes. The aim of these lecturers will be to highlight, critically discuss and engage with matters of race, racism, discrimination, and social justice. The initiative will also organize brainstorming, writing, and reading workshops that will critically and meaningfully engage with issues of race, racism, discrimination, and social justice. Such workshops will be led and conducted by invited and volunteering experts. It also aims to organize city tours together with other organizations that have in recent times focused on decolonizing cities tours. Such tours are intended to excavate the colonial continues in the economic, cultural, and political symbols and institutions in European cities.

Max Planck Law Projects and Max Planck Law Initiatives are grassroots  networking and cooperation formats. You are encouraged to submit a  proposal for one of these formats by completing the relevant on-line form. Further information on these and other forms of engaging the network can be found here.