Špela Drnovšek Zorko, Junior Henriette Herz Fellow

Dr. Špela Drnovšek Zorko

Dr. Špela Drnovšek Zorko

Soziologie, University of Warwick

“Dialoguing 'postness': race, migration, and cultural encounters between postsocialist and postcolonial pasts”

This book project follows several years of ethnographic and interview-based research with migrants from (Central-)Eastern Europe living in the UK (funded by the Leverhulme Trust), supplemented by recent insights from Japan (funded by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science). It re-frames conceptual debates about the racialization of Eastern European migrants in the West from the unique perspective of postsocialist legacies and the work they do to locate migrants in postcolonial regimes of race. The project further asks whether theoretical perspectives on ‘Eastern Europe’ can shed new light on the study of race and migration in postcolonial metropoles, and vice versa, bringing together academic fields that are only rarely put into conversation.

Taking the United Kingdom as the main case study while speaking to debates in other contexts, the book argues for the significant contribution made to the field of race and racialization, migration, and xenophobia by new research agendas addressing the intersections between the postsocialist and postcolonial worlds. At the same time, the project addresses the potential pitfalls of these agendas when applied to the position of Eastern European migrants in the West, including criticisms that using the term ‘decolonisation’ as a metaphor undermines indigenous struggles in settler-colonial contexts, or that equating the positions of diverse minoritized groups within specific conjunctures risks downplaying the effects of long-standing racial hierarchies. Instead, the project argues for an attention to ‘postness’ as a research lens, alongside a contextual approach to racialization that does not assume solidarity between Eastern European migrants and other minoritized groups but explores avenues for its potential. As such the project contributes both to academic and public understandings of ‘postsocialist migrants’, addressing growing polarisation around questions of identity, exclusion, and racial subjectivity.