University of Leicester commissioned to undertake pioneering research into rural racism by Leverhulme Trust

University of Leicester experts have been commissioned by The Leverhulme Trust to develop a ground-breaking study on racism in rural England.

The study aims to shed light on the under-acknowledged reality of the growing numbers of people from minority ethnic backgrounds living in and visiting rural spaces.

In doing so, the study will generate fresh conversations enriched by the centring of minority ethnic voices and uncover the nature, extent and impacts of racism experienced in rural towns and villages across the country.

A cross-disciplinary team from the School of Criminology and the School of Museum Studies at University of Leicester will be led by Professor Neil Chakraborti, Director of the Centre for Hate Studies.

Professor Chakraborti will work alongside Dr Amy Clarke, Research Fellow at the Centre for Hate Studies and Professor Corinne Fowler, Professor of Colonialism and Heritage at the School of Museum Studies.

The study will build on previous studies of rural racism by the project lead.

The academic team have recruited 40 Community Research Partners from ethnic minority backgrounds, based in various rural villages and towns across the country. Through their direct experience of rural racism, these partners are uniquely placed to co-produce the research data in the form of stories, photos, poems and other arts-based media to help reconstruct a more inclusive narrative about rural life.

The study will also be the first to empirically record and analyse targeted abuse, acknowledging that the process of researching rural racism or engaging in discussions about race and rural spaces, can itself provoke ‘backlash’.

Researchers in this field regularly receive personal attacks on social media or email; targeted opinion pieces in media; ridicule and abuse within comments sections online; and in some cases, direct threats against personal safety.

Professor Neil Chakraborti said: “We know from previous research that racism is often overlooked, minimised and unchallenged within rural towns and villages. This important project will develop an evidence base which reveals the ways in which rural racism is expressed and experienced, and which can enable everyone to enjoy rural life free from harassment and hostility.

The two-year project will commence on 1 October 2023. For further information and to keep up to date with the project, follow @HateCrime_Leics.