PUBLI : Laura Odasso, “Controversial Approaches to Measuring Mixed Race in Belgium: the (in)visibility of the Mixed Race Population”, in Aspinall Peter et Rocha Zarine (dir.), The Palgrave International Handbook of Mixed Racial and Ethnic Classification, Palgrave MacMillan, 2020, p. 279-299

Cet article de Laura Odasso, fellow de l’IC Migrations,  fait partie d’un manuel qui fournit une étude globale de la classification de la mixité raciale et ethnique au niveau de l’État, en rassemblant un éventail varié d’études de cas de pays du monde entier.


Through a socio-historical analysis, this chapter elucidates the measurement of mixedness in Belgium. The federal state does not systematically measure the mixed-race population that, in contemporary national surveys, is included under the nationals of foreign origin. Origin is conceptualised as ancestry: having a foreign-born parent or grandparent categorises mixed children among nationals of foreign origin, Belgian with regard to their nationality. Individuals cannot self-describe as belonging to an ethnic group and ethnic labels are not included in any administrative or identity documents. The study of colonial and contemporary ideologies – namely the “mulatto problem”, the gender and nationality rights, and the Flemish and French socio-political divide on the collection of ethnic statistics – assists in better understanding the (in)visibility of this topic. Although nationality is the variable employed to distinguish foreign residents from citizens, the persistent inequalities on labour market inclusion led, in 2013, to a federal consensus on the need for measuring origin to tackle ethnic-based discrimination among citizens. Its developments may improve the knowledge on visible origins, perceived discrimination and mixedness more difficult to address than retracing origin through ancestry. Nonetheless, beyond revising social ethno-stratification and colonial history, recent migration management opens new questions concerning mixed unions and mixed descendants.

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