White Spaces Network

Who we are

In this section:

White Spaces Network


The White Spaces network is an international interdisciplinary network of scholars, activists, students and practitioners who share an interest in issues of whiteness in the context of global racialised power dynamics.

The network has grown from a small conference stream organised as part of the Gender Work and Organization conference at the  Keele University (United Kingdom) in 2007. It was officially established through a launch conference held in Leeds (United Kingdom) in 2009 [conference programme and publication]. It now involves academics, postgraduate students and practitioners from across 23 different countries: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, South Africa, USA, New Zealand, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, France, Greece, Finland, Italy, Spain, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Israel, Mexico, Portugal, UK and 17 disciplines across the humanities, health, psychology and social and even some natural sciences. The current membership stands at just under 300 people, most of whom have been involved in one or more of our range of activities and events.

The collaboration engages with ideas from critical race and whiteness studies to advance multidimensional analysis of processes of gendering and racialisation which form part of the complex and shifting social dynamics in contemporary multicultural societies. In particular we have been working with this set of ideas to understand how the reassertion of liberal narratives of tolerance serves to redraw the boundaries for national, institutional and organisational inclusion/exclusion in predictable, but also in new and surprising, ways.

On a practical level the network engages in a range of international and interdisciplinary research collaboration activities including exchanges, workshops, seminars and teaching between partners. These activities are both virtual and face to face; the latter have so far been held in Australia, England, South Africa, and Sweden and the former  has so far included partners in Australia, England, Germany, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States. There is a very strong and active early career/postgraduate arm of the network, for which a range of publication and research activity is on-going.

Community activists and policy makers working across public, private and third sector institutions. Indeed, many of the academics involved in the collaboration either have been or still are involved in activities outside of an academic context. Developing these partnerships is a growing part of our activity, as is working hard to continue to engage across a range of geographic contexts and in particular attempting to build North-South collaboration in a way which resists the dominance of Northern contexts.

Network Leads

Shona Hunter

Shona is the Academic Lead for the White Spaces collaboration. Shona’s approach to academic work is collaborative and interdisciplinary. She has worked across a range of social science contexts and her writing and research spans, critical social policy, sociology and psychosocial studies. The White Spaces collaboration connects to Shona’s broader work developing critical perspectives on governance, policy making and power. This work brings a range of critical cultural theory (feminist material semiotics, postcolonial and psychoanalytically informed) to bear on understanding contemporary governance as enacted through ‘relational politics’, that is in the interrelations between emotions, cultures and identities. Email: s.d.j.hunter@leeds.ac.uk.

See Shona’s profile here.

Say Burgin

Say has been the lead on the postgraduate/early career arm of the White Spaces collaboration since 2010. Say is interested in the relationships between race, gender, knowledge and resistances; her work explores the historical constructions of racial and gendered knowledges and the political mobilisations to which they are put to use, particularly within social movements in the United States. As such, her research is decidedly interdisciplinary, encompassing feminist, queer, and critical race theories alongside historical methodologies. Having previously been a community organizer and hailing from Iowa (USA), Say attempts to maintain links with and involvement in community-based and activist groups in both the UK and the US, and she is deeply invested in the development of meaningful and productive relationships between activist organisations and academic bodies. Email: s.burgin@leeds.ac.uk.

See Say’s profile here.

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