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Compelling Evidence Highlights Racism in Rural Areas

Innovative research from across the UK, published today by investigators from the University of Leicester, reveals racism is rife in rural Britain.

The research, published in a book, Rural Racism, draws on studies by experts across the country and echoes claims made recently by Chair of the CRE Trevor Phillips that the countryside is a place "in which people from ethnic minorities feel uncomfortable".

The studies reveal a rural arena worlds apart from the cosy imagery with which it is typically associated; an arena where minority ethnic households can suffer isolation and exclusion from communities unfamiliar with people from different cultural, religious or ethnic backgrounds, and where this unfamiliarity can often manifest itself through the use of racist language and violence.

Key concerns revealed by the research include:

  • the frequent, and alarming, forms of racism that affect ethnic minorities in the countryside;
  • the ‘invisibility’ of racist crime which tends to go unnoticed by rural agencies, authorities and policy-makers;
  • the fear of the unknown and the unfamiliar that pervades white rural communities;
  • the lack of consideration given to the growing number of minority ethnic rural inhabitants and visitors.

Editors Neil Chakraborti and Jon Garland have put together a volume that charts the different forms that racism can take in the countryside as well as ways in which harassment can be combated in rural communities. For example, research conducted in Suffolk has outlined how a Racial Harassment Initiative tackles racism in rural and isolated areas and evidence suggests that this work can be applied to rural environments elsewhere. Similarly, introducing elements of diversity and multiculturalism into the classroom has been shown to be a particularly effective way of confronting prejudicial attitudes amongst schoolchildren in largely white, rural areas.

Long viewed as a problem confined to urban locations, the book shows that racist prejudice is very much an issue of concern in rural towns and villages as well, which can have serious implications for minority ethnic populations and for policy-makers.

Neil Chakraborti, Lecturer in Criminology, said: "We, together with other contributors to the book, have found disturbing levels of racial prejudice and victimisation in various rural environments, and yet have encountered complacency amongst many policy makers and stakeholders in rural affairs who remain reluctant to even acknowledge the existence of racism".

Jon Garland, Research Fellow, said: "Rural Racism seeks to highlight key issues, concerns and preventative strategies that are belatedly receiving recognition at a local and national level. In putting together this book, it is our sincere hope that we can raise awareness of issues that have, to date, received far too little attention".

Contacts

Neil Chakraborti, Lecturer in Criminology, Department of Criminology, on 0116 252 5706; email nac5@le.ac.uk

Jon Garland, Research Fellow, Department of Criminology, on 0116 252 5701; email jgd@le.ac.uk

Rural Racism is published by Willan. Further information on how to order a copy is accessible via the weblink below.

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