School of History, Classics & Archaeology

British Academy Award for Dr Emile Chabal

The British Academy has awarded a £200,000 Knowledge Frontiers grant to Dr Emile Chabal, Reader in History.

Dr Emile Chabal
Dr Emile Chabal

The School wishes to congratulate Dr Emile Chabal who has been awarded a British Academy Knowledge Frontiers grant to study the contemporary history of identity politics and democracy in France and Britain.

Dr Chabal's Knowledge Frontiers grant provides £200,000 to launch a 2-year collaborative project entitled "A New Democratic (Dis)Order: Race, Identity, and Political Mobilisation in France and the UK, c.1970-Present". Looking specifically at race-based political mobilisation in France and the UK, this project will contribute to a better understanding of the impact of identity politics on contemporary democracy.

Since the 1970s, social movements based around race, gender, religion, language or sexuality have challenged traditional political structures and undermined the legitimacy of broad-based political parties. While some have argued that identity politics offers unique opportunities for citizens to participate in the democratic process, others have maintained that it damages the fabric of democratic politics by setting different groups against each other. This project steps back from the bitter polemics that have often accompanied discussions of identity politics to look at how it has transformed the way people make claims on the state and their fellow citizens. One of the best examples of this in recent decades has been the rise of race-based mobilisation, which has been accompanied by strident and vocal opposition. By situating this within a broader context of identity-based mobilisation, this project will not only give us a better sense of what, if anything, is new about such mobilisation, but also how it has changed the parameters of democratic politics in Europe and beyond. 

Dr Chabal said, "This is a tremendously exciting project - I have been thinking about some of these questions for years, but this grant provides an opportunity for me to zoom into a particular case study and really explore what is at stake in the charged debate over "identity politics". It also gets me to revisit some of my earlier work on French politics. There is so much to be learned by comparing two complex and highly diverse European societies, and the way they have related to their past. I have a great team, and I can't wait to get started!"

The project team is composed of an international set of co-investigators in the UK and France, including Tim Peace (University of Glasgow), Rochelle Rowe (University of Edinburgh), Camilla Schofield (University of East Anglia), Alex Hensby (University of Kent), Angéline Escafré-Dublet (Université Lyon 2), and Rachida Brahim (Observatoire Pluriversel des Rapports Sociaux). A postdoctoral research fellow, based at Glasgow, will work alongside the project team.