Democratising Switzerland: Challenging Whiteness in Public Space

Author(s) : Patricia Purtschert

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« Hegemonic views of migration in Switzerland are often based on the alleged whiteness of the nation. According to them, recent migration patterns change the appearance of Switzerland and introduce racial difference into a formerly white space. However, the idea that Switzerland is always-already white has been challenged by people of color activists and their allies. This article describes these shifting views by focusing on two recent political actions, a campaign against a racist advertisement and the demand to decolonise public institutions in Bern. Both are interventions that contest the whiteness of the nation and point out historical and contemporary manifestations of racism in public space by addressing the violent and exclusionary effects of racist images on people of colour. As I argue, they provide us with a new and crucial way of understanding democracy based on the decolonisation of public space. »


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