Booking Now Open: Bourdieu in Migration and ‘Race’/Ethnicity Studies

BSA Bourdieu Study Group Event:

Bourdieu in Migration and ‘Race’/Ethnicity Studies

Tuesday 25th February 2014



Key Note Speakers:

Prof. Karen O’Reilly (Loughborough University) and Dr. Nirmal Puwar (Goldsmiths)

Bourdieu’s Algerian fieldwork in the late 1950s and his personal position on colonial France informed many of his subsequent intellectual developments, while his later work was marked by the impact of migration and displacement. Yet, his failure to consider class, colonialism/postcolonialism and racism together often left him open to accusations of being a Eurocentric thinker. Bourdieu wrote in a time when immigration from former colonies was still relatively recent against the backdrop of an intellectual and political context that was nationally bounded and opposed the theoretical or political significance of ethnicity, particularly in France. In fact, survey questions that focused on ethnic identification were illegal in France; hence, the depiction of France as ethnically undifferentiated in Distinction (Bennett, et al, 2009).

However, his early work on Algeria reveals that he was interested in the relations between ethnicity and colonialism. As did his expansion of the concept of cultural capital in his later work, which showed his concern over the cultural capital holdings that migrants had in a new era of globalisation and transnational movements of people. Puwar (2008) argues that the perception of Bourdieu in the UK as primarily a class theorist with little recognition of racism in France, may well be a consequence of the lack of translations of a considerable number of texts written by him on the subject in French. This is itself a significant insight into the prevalence of class in British sociology.  Recently, scholars have gradually started to apply a Bourdieusian approach to an increased extent when investigating class and migration.  Oliver and O’Reilly (2010), for instance, apply a Bourdieusian approach in their case study of expatriates living in the Costa del Sol, Spain. In this study, Bourdieu’s methodological approach as well as his sociological concepts are drawn upon to help understand the cultural processes and the reproduction of the economic positions of the emigrants.  As these scholars argue, Bourdieu’s attempts to overcome dualism and see the interrelation between structure and action prove useful in their analyses of this migration case study.


9.15-9.45           Registration and Refreshments         Introduction

10.00-11.15       Key Note: Prof. Karen O’Reilly (Loughborough University)

11.15-11.30       Comfort Break

11.30-13.00       Presentations (3 papers)

  • Derron Wallace (University of Cambridge)  Between ‘Bad’ Blacks & ‘Better’ Blacks?: Exploring the Role of Black Cultural Capital in the Educational Experiences of Afro-Caribbean Youth in London and New York (Derron Wallace Abstract)

13.00-14.00       Lunch

14.00-15.15       Key Note: Dr. Nirmal Puwar (Goldsmiths)

15.15-15.45       Refreshment Break

15.45-16.45       Workshop Discussions

16.45-17.00       Closing Remarks

Recommended Reading for the Event

Oliver, C and O’Reilly (2010) A Bourdieusian Analysis of Class and Migration: habitus and the individualising process. Sociology, 44(1) (with C. Oliver) Available here
Special Issue: Special issue: Post-colonial Bourdieu, Guest editors: Les Back, Azzedine Haddour and Nirmal Puwar:
Puwar, Nirmal. 2004. Space Invaders: race, gender and bodies out of place. Berg. [Chapter 6 of Book]

This event costs £30 for BSA members and £40 for non-members and includes refreshments and lunch.

Registration will be open shortly.  Early booking is recommended as we anticipate this to be a popular event. There will be 35 places available.

You can book at:

The event will take place at the BSA meeting room in Imperial Wharf London

For academic queries please contact: Jenny Thatcher:


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