Prague Forum for Romani Histories

James et al.: „Who Counts in Official Statistics? Ethical-Epistemic Issues in German Migration and the Collection of Racial or Ethnic Data“

Daniel James, Morgan Thompson and Tereza Hendl


On Wednesday, 1 November at 5:00 PM CET, we will be discussing Daniel James, Morgan Thompson and Tereza Hendl´s draft „Who Counts in Official Statistics? Ethical-Epistemic Issues in German Migration and the Collection of Racial or Ethnic Data“

Tina Magazzini has kindly accepted to be our main discussant.


In European countries (excluding the UK), official statistics do not use racial or ethnic categories, but instead rely on proxies to collect data about discrimination. In the German microcensus, the proxy category adopted is ‚migration background‘ [Migrationshintergrund]: an individual has a  ‘migration background’ when one or more of their parents does not have German citizenship by birth. We apply a coupled ethical-epistemic analysis to the ‚migration background‘ category to illuminate how the epistemic issues contribute to ethical ones. Our central claim is that these ethical-epistemic issues with the ‚migration background‘ category are best analysed in terms of Charles Mills’ white ignorance. We appeal to Annette Martín’s structural account of white ignorance to highlight the cyclical reinforcement of ignorance and racial injustice in the use of the ‘migration background’ variable. Colourblind eliminativism about race perpetuates the use of ‘migration background’, which in turn sustains and intensifies racial injustices.

„We are encountering that representatives of Romani and Sinti initiatives and organizations do not support the collection of data out of fear of further discrimination by the state. It would therefore be very valuable for us to discuss this at the Seminar.“

Please note: papers presented at the seminar have not been published yet. As a participant of the Romani History Seminar, you agree to respect the intellectual property of the author, i. e. to not reproduce, distribute, display or use their paper, sections of their paper, or their primary sources in any way.

Daniel James is a postdoctoral researcher and research associate (‚wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter‘) at the Technische Universität Dresden, Germany. He studied philosophy and musicology at the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn and the Humboldt-Universität Berlin. He received his PhD from the University of Konstanz in 2017 with a dissertation on the metaphysical foundations of Hegel’s theory of ‘Ethical Life’. His research focuses on 19th-century German philosophy, especially Hegel, as well as social philosophy and the philosophy of social science. Daniel’s research is primarily concentrated on classical German philosophy, with a particular focus on Hegel, social philosophy emphasising the philosophy of race, and the philosophy of social science. He also has academic interests in Africana and feminist philosophy, as well as Marx and Marxism.

Tereza Hendl
is a philosopher and bioethicist. She holds a PhD in Philosophy from Macquarie University in Sydney. Her research spans across moral and political philosophy, philosophy of technology, feminist philosophy, normative and public health ethics. She investigates concerns of justice, vulnerability, empowerment and solidarity and the ethics and epistemology of health technologies and interventions. She currently works as a Postdoctoral Researcher and Project Co-lead on the project “META – mHealth: Ethical, legal and societal aspects in the technological age” at the University of Augsburg and Research Associate at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. She is the founder of the CEE Feminist Research Network, supporting feminist researchers from Central and Eastern Europe, countering the epistemic marginalisation of CEE scholarship and amplifying CEE critiques of structural oppression and coloniality, including in knowledge production.

Morgan Thompson is a philosopher whose research lies at the intersection of philosophy of science, feminist philosophy, and the use of ‘race’ and ‘racism’ concepts in science. She received her PhD in History and Philosophy of Science from the University of Pittsburgh. Prior to Cornell, she was a postdoctoral researcher at Universität Bielefeld in Germany on the project “Integrating Ethics and Epistemology of Scientific Research”. She is particularly interested in problems arising during measurement of socially-relevant constructs, such as ‘microaggression,’ ‘implicit attitudes,’ ‘intersectionality,’ and ‘racial discrimination.’

Tina Magazzini

is a political scientist whose research focuses on migration and inclusion policies, identity politics, and how categories of inclusion and exclusion are cted and maintained across different settings in a comparative perspective. She holds a PhD in Human Rights from the University of Deusto, where she focused on Roma integration frameworks in Southern Europe questioning the political dynamics that drive the framing of certain minorities as “in need to integrate.”
Currently a senior researcher in a project researching the transcontinental processes of ethno-racial identities (Romani Atlantic, Czech Academy of Sciences) and with the Societies in Motion research group of the University of A Coruña, outside of academia she has also worked for a number of NGOs, the European Commission, the Council of Europe, and UNESCO.

Zoom registration link:

Please note : Registered participants can access the draft article using the link provided in the Zoom registration confirmation email. In case you face any difficulty, do not hesitate to contact us.

Romani History Seminar hosts online discussions of unpublished texts, such as dissertation chapters, draft papers, and book chapters. Our goal is to bring together specialists in Romani history and scholars from related fields to provide collective feedback on ongoing historiographical work.

If you would like to submit a draft text to the Romani History Seminar, please contact one of the organizers below.

Contacts for Romani History Seminar:
Renata Berkyová (
Vita Zalar (
Théophile Leroy (

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