In this thought-provoking essay, Martina Tazzioli and William Walters argue that the political concept of solidarity is under-theorised in the academy, particularly as compared to concepts such as justice, equality, citizenship, equality. But in calling for a sharper ‘analytics of solidarity’ they are clear that theory must be informed by practice and that the perspectives of those struggling for migrant and refugee rights in a ‘new era of protest’ are key. By interrogating solidarity within the migration context, they show how the bounded and bordered nature of top-down solidarity, as institutionalised both in EU declarations, charters and policies and the more recent state-model of ‘good refugee hosting’, divides citizen from foreigner, betraying universal values. They contrast the branded ‘paternalistic humanitarianism’ favoured by the European Commission, with the bottom-up internationalist (and therefore anti-racist) solidarity of Europe’s citizens’ initiative of solidarity practices at the French-Italian frontier as a case study.
This chapter looks at the growth of ‘xeno-racism’ – a ‘non-colour-coded’ racism that is based on conceptions of immigration status, culture and religion. Racism is not a static concept. Within social work understandings of ‘race’ and racism Peter Fryer’s (1984) important three-fold distinction of the racisms of slavery, empire and post-war migration has often been utilised. Martin Barker (1981) in the early 1980s was already arguing that there was clear evidence of a ‘new’ racism that focused on culture (and was exemplified by Thatcher’s infamous ‘swamping speech’ in the run up to the 1979 General Election). The chapter argues this process has continued and deepened as a result of political and economic changes over the last 25 years. It is exemplified in media debates, in policy frameworks around asylum seeking and in state controlling frameworks for so-called ‘problem communities’. The relevance for social workers is obvious: the victims of racism may be black and Asian men or women, or they could be Polish or Romanian workers, or people from Roma communities or perhaps, most demonised of all, people from Muslim communities from anywhere across the globe. In practice and in understandings of the world there is the need to be aware of the structural and institutional barriers that social workers, social care workers and social work service users from these racialised groups will face.