Bystander anti-racism: a study of enablers and constraints

Program Code: 

Dr Scott Sharpe (

Description of Work: 


Well-publicised incidents of racial vilification have raised the issue of the role of bystanders in combating or condoning such actions. Preliminary work suggests that a lack of bystander action in racist incidents can compound the injury suffered since victims perceive this lack as tacit support for the perpetrators of such actions. Yet should ‘speaking out’ be the only strategy? More recently, researchers have drawn attention to a series of more subtle actions and everyday incivilities that form the backdrop for these more obvious incidents and which increase the sense of hostility racialised subjects feel in public space. Sharpe and Hynes have indicated that direct approaches to speaking out against racism are not without potential deleterious effects, especially in the case of more subtle events, since they risk entrenching victimhood and further racialising subjectivities.

Description of Work:

  • Contribute to the theorisation of the ‘event’
  • Distinguishing between intensive and extensive concepts of racialised subjectivity
  • Examining the range of variables that enables or constrains bystanders for standing up for victims of racial abuse
  • Examining how context and geography shapes bystander responses to racist incidents
  • Exploring some of the more subtle forms or both racial incivilities and ‘slow anti-racism’
  • Investigate the role of new media in shaping perceptions of public incidents of racism