December 24th: The Absence of Numbers: A Choice of Ignorance? - Anat Leibler

Historically, statistics have been seen as a means to help democracy, a way for the underprivileged to denounce inequalities, to criticize unfair policies, and to fight for the maintenance of purchasing power; an “instrument for the weak to combat the powerful”. Yet we are witnessing an emerging culture of dissent, set against the generalization of quantification, group enumeration and resistance of quantitative evaluation. Recent accounts by social studies of science scholars describe a contemporary tendency to contest statistical enumeration, particularly in certain social movements in France, where the people have cried out: “No to quanto-phrenia! No to numbers! No to quantities! Yes to qualities!”. Ethnic groups are no longer conceived as communities grounded objectively in primordial origins, but rather as communities that are constructed, imagined, and made-up by systems of classifications. In the USA, however, counting and classifying people according to their race and ethnicity continues to play an important role in the politics of identity, as ethnic and racial groups rely on enumeration in order to negotiate political, social and cultural representation. In Israel, by contrast, while the politics of ethnic identity have been turbulent over the last two decades, demands to classify ethnicity – in order to count and estimate inequality levels - have not been heard. In the absence of a valid classification of ethnicity, Israel risks moving towards a “colorblind” society in which the state will have difficulty identifying and providing services that remedy ethnic and racial disparities.

יום א', 24 בדצמבר, 18:00, בית הסטודנט, בניין 502 חדר 43, אונ' בר-אילן