Personal troubles as public issues: Revisiting Systemic Injustices in Europe  

Today, Europe continues to experience a series of crises that disproportionately affect racially, socially, and economically marginalised groups and communities. The assent of populist governments across the region have emboldened racist, homophobic, and misogynist narratives, alongside a disdain for poor and working-class communities, and people on the move. Further, negative media portrayals of organisations, movements, and collectives have galvanised sinister attention for community groups and organisations whose purpose is to support those who are subject to harmful government policies and practices.  

It is within this context that we committed to another community-centred research project, Revisiting Systemic Injustices across Europe (RSIE), to surface the harms felt and experienced by marginalised communities and to consider collaborative opportunities for change and action.   

Within our first consultation ‘Surfacing Systemic Injustices: A Community View’, the report of which was published in 2022, we found that discrimination and differential treatment falls heavily upon those who are (re)constructed as outsiders, as not belonging, and who reside in proximity to the harmful policies, practices, and initiatives of state institutions, non-governmental entities, and private corporations. We found that local and community movements and collectives, were typically responding to a complex array of racial, social, economic, and climate problems with comparatively less resources and limited capacity to tackle the significant plethora of systemic challenges.  

However, the role of research is not to simply affirm what we already know, but to surface what we do not know, and that which is concealed and hidden away from the public’s view.   

To this end, and in a steadfast commitment to the pursuit of justice, we build upon the stories which emerged across the thematic roundtable events that informed the ‘Surfacing Systemic Injustices: A Community View’ report in 2022.  

Over the last year, we have sought to foreground the voices and reflections of forty participants and representatives of groups and organisations who work and live in proximity to harm. We also intentionally extended upon the findings of the 2022 report by increasing the mapping of groups and organisations from 1,000 up to 3,000 organisations, movements, and collectives.  In addition, and through an evaluation of the historical, political, social, and economic contexts, we have sought to frame and situate the experiences of systemic injustices as (historical and contemporary) continuities and manifestations of colonialism and imperialism. Finally, and different from the 2022 report, we explicitly explored the role that the encroachment of Artificial Intelligence (AI), and pre-emptive and predictive technology plays in exacerbating the harms of systemic injustice for racially, socially, and economically marginalised communities. This research will be presented in a new report in June 2024 and, as with the last report, will be shared back with communities and activists for use in their campaigns for change.  

The central aim of this project has been that the findings of Revisiting Systemic Injustices across Europe can assist in the advocacy, campaigning and legal strategies necessary to support organisations, movements, and collectives who are resisting injustice and highlight collaborations for change, and opportunities for action. For one community organiser working on anti-racism and anti-policing, the aspiration was presented as follows:  

“We want to give people some strength to fight for their rights, but really fight, not only pretend that they are fighting. So, I suppose that would be our goal and prepare them for the consequences, because of course, if you fight for your rights, you need to fight the consequences, and we just want to be sure that people will feel that they are never alone in this struggle.”  

We look forward to sharing and building on these research findings together this summer.  

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