BSC Hate Studies Virtual Discussion Group: Microaggression Towards Asian Students

Wednesday 19 April 2023, 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm GMT, online (UK)


Ammeline Wang – The University of Manchester


The role of microaggressions in advancing the concerns of hate crimes is that they constitute ‘low-level’ behaviors that contribute to the escalation of bias-motivated behaviors along the hate crime continuum. Grounded in a framework of structural oppression, the premise of microaggressions is that they are behaviors that are motivated primarily – if not solely – by an individual’s (conscious or unconscious) prejudices. However, microaggressions is a concept that attends to the structural and systemic oppression (both historical and contemporary) that minority groups have had to contend with for generations; a history that international students, as temporary migrants, do not share with their British born and/or bred counterparts. Using ‘knowable community’ (Williams, 1987) as a conceptual frame, this presentation focuses on how Southeast Asian and Mainland Chinese interpret the concept of microaggressions and how they navigate their experiences of microaggressions in the UK. The findings gathered from six focus groups and an online questionnaire administered to Southeast Asian and Mainland Chinese international students reveals that in the absence of a “knowable community”, the visceral impacts of microaggressions and the cumulative effects of dealing with discriminatory or exclusionary behaviors can be lost on international students, particularly for those who may not have had to contend with such behaviors until arriving in the UK. I conclude that the concept of microaggressions cannot simply be bolt on to the hate crime debate on the basis that it captures the ‘low-level’ exclusionary or discriminatory behaviors that are, on the one hand, not serious enough to be considered a ‘crime’ in law but, on the other, are thought to be dangerous enough to establish, reinforce, and validate harmful stereotypes against certain groups. Rather, I suggest that university policies aimed at tackling microaggressions could perhaps focus on mobilizing curiosity in a non-defensive way, particularly when it comes to interacting and dealing with international students who originate from different cultures.

About this discussion group:

This discussion group is part of the BSC Hate Crime Network, and has been designed to create a supportive space for PGRs and ECRs who are researching within the broad area of hate studies. PGRs could include students studying at MA and doctoral level, and ECRs includes those researchers who are within five years of receiving their doctorate. The group brings PGRs and ECRs together to share their research projects, discuss methodological issues, and consider best practices when researching sensitive topics.

The group will touch upon, but are not limited to, the following topics:

  • Working with and supporting victims
  • Managing the sensitivity of hate studies research
  • Ethical issues
  • Working with policy-makers and practitioners
  • Creative and inclusive research methods
  • Our responsibility as researchers
  • Working with perpetrators of hate crime

In addition to these discussions, the group will also organise occasional training sessions with more experienced researchers. These training sessions could cover some of the above, but please get in touch if there are any particular areas that you would benefit from. These sessions will be led by an experienced researcher within the area of hate studies, but there will continue to be an emphasis on open discussion and Q&A. All sessions will run online (unless otherwise stated) via Zoom. These will be bi-monthly on a Wednesday afternoon lasting 1 hour (2-3pm). Presenters will speak for approximately 25 minutes, and this will be followed by a discussion.


Find out more information and book your free place here:

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