Returning the Gaze II: Stories of Resistance (2016)

Returning the gaze LOGO transparant
Following on from our first ever conference in 2014, ERIF hosted it’s second major international event Returning the Gaze II: Stories of Resistance at the University of Innsbruck in Austria, on the 4th and 5th November 2016.

This conference picked up where the last one left off, bringing together scholars, artists and activists, in order to confront the issues of visual and rhetorical racism throughout Europe and encourage the building of new networks and alliances in the fight against racialised discrimination.

Kicking off with a screening of the documentary Too Black to be French? (2015) on the 3rd November, we opened the event officially on the morning of the 4th, with opening remarks from Professors Sebastian Donat (Dean of Faculty) and Gabriella Mazzon (Head of Department), as well as co-organisor Dr. Ulrich Pallua and a welcome from ERIF chair Bel Parnell-Berry. We then organised a networking hour for all delegates and after the lunch the full programme of workshops and presentations got rolling!

The conference proceedings were complemented and punctuated by the thought provoking “Becoming Afro-German” installation by Karina Griffith, the moving keynote lecture by Anandi Ramamurthy, and the energising play “Weisser Piet” by Mohamed Wa Baile. Check out the full programme here.

At the end of the two day conference, we hosted a strategy building exercise for all delegates, where they could openly brainstorm with each other and communicate how ERIF should move forward in continuing its facilitation of anti-racism movements across Europe. Below are some impressions (verbal and visual) from the conference:

Read the testimonials from attendees for a sense of how the conference went:

“The greatest thing about this conference is the gathering of people who have a great drive to do something about the subject. It is always import to get energized during these gatherings and that is what I get here, a strong drive to continue.” – Arjan (Using Design and Branding in Resistance Movements workshop)

“I write about the media representation of Muslim women and people with disabilities. I think it [Returning the Gaze II] is really great. To know about concrete strategies that the participants have been talking about the last day; that is really my interest to not be engulfed in theory, but to actually put activism into practice.” – Sha (conference attendee)

“I really are enjoying it because it has a really European continental focus where we can really relate to the situations. I like that it is de-centered of an American approach to think about race and strategy, of course inspired but relocalized in our experiences. And the intermingling of how do we think about it, how can we theorize about it and how can we find practical strategies, a kind of mixture of people who are thinking about issues, voicing these issues and people who tackle and resist these issues.” – Pamela (Performances, counter narratives and resistance panel)

“I think the conference’s program was really rich, which sometimes made it very hard to choose. What I also liked about the conference was that there were different formats not only academic speeches, but also theater, performance, and video installation for example. Then, it means there is an exchange of knowledge, which doesn’t only go through the art work in itself, but also through the discourse about this work.” – Sophie (Gaze Politics panel)

“I am an artist. I think the conference is a very necessary space. The conversations that we have had over the past two days are important, to hear voices that are underrepresented in the media and mainstream publications. So I think it is really, really, really important that this is happening that we could talk about blackness, black youth, migration, being a queer person of colour; how all these things tie together I think it is essential.” – Zin (conference attendee)

“I was never in such say a organization to present my work. I am usually working in art field and I am not so used to the format, but I really like the atmosphere and enjoy my encounters. And I see that there is a lot of inspiring thoughts and works which we can exchange.” – Mo (Gaze Politics panel)

“The panels are all high level. I wish I could split myself in two or three to attend them all, but I discovered so much. I knew it was really going to be enjoyed by people who were in more academic related fields, but I was really enthusiastic by the fact that there were so many artists bringing their new perspectives and designers, people who are less academic but who bring something really deep to the discourse.” – Inès (Gaze Politics panel)

Check out this photo gallery of the two-day event (all credits go to Studio Othieno):