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The New Politics of Race

The New Politics of Race: Globalism, Difference, Justice

Howard Winant
Copyright Date: 2004
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 301
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  • Book Info
    The New Politics of Race
    Book Description:

    Howard Winant, one of the leading sociologists of race and ethnicity working today, clearly locates race at the crossroads of identity and social structure, where difference frames inequality. The New Politics of Race brings together Winant’s new and previously published essays to form a comprehensive picture of the origins and nature of the complex racial politics that engulf us today.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-9558-4
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Introduction. The Racial Present: State, Society, Identity
    (pp. ix-xx)

    Race is fundamental in modern politics. Race is situated at the crossroads of identity and social structure, where difference frames inequality, and where political processes operate with a comprehensiveness that ranges from the world historical to the intrapsychic. Always flexible and fungible, yet also always present since the inception of the “modern world-system” (c. 1500 CE), the system of racial classification has been invoked for half a millennium in the service both of domination and resistance.

    Since the rise of Europe and the dawn of the capitalist era, there has been a continuous tendency, arguably a necessity, to organize and...

  4. PART I. U.S. Racial Politics

    • One Hundred Years of Racial Politics
      (pp. 3-24)

      Race is above all a matter of politics. The assignment and acceptance of racial identity, the configuration of racially demarcated groups, the “logic of collective action” as practiced by members of these groups, and the stratification (imposed and opposed) of society along racial lines are but some of the main dimensions of racial politics. The state is a central player in racial matters: the modern state carries out racial classification, surveillance, and punishment of the population; it distributes resources along racial lines; it simultaneously facilitates and obstructs racial discrimination; and it is both structured and challenged by political mobilization along...

    • Dialectics of the Veil
      (pp. 25-38)

      W. E. B. Du Bois’s concept of “the veil,” first fully articulated inThe Souls of Black Folk(1903b), contains the most nuanced and powerful theory of race and racism ever developed. Du Bois understands the veil dialectically. This philosophical termdialecticrefers to a relationship that simultaneously embodies both antagonism and interdependence, that develops over historical time, and that links the small-scale and large-scale (or “micro” and “macro”) dimensions of social life. The concept represented by Du Bois as the veil operates, in other words, both at the level of the personal or intrapsychic and at the institutional or...

    • Racism Today: Continuity and Change in the Post-Civil Rights United States
      (pp. 39-49)

      In the complex crosscurrents of the post-civil rights era, what is racism? Is it the same old thing, or has it changed in response to the changing dynamics of race itself in the post-civil rights era? To answer such questions, to understand the meaning of racism today, to take an informed and politically effective stand in such complex crosscurrents is no easy matter.

      Before we even tackle the matter of racism, we must first develop a working understanding of what we mean by race. This is not so easy either. Today we recognize that the concept of race is problematic,...

    • Behind Blue Eyes: Contemporary White Racial Politics
      (pp. 50-68)

      In a quiet office at a Washington think tank, a tract is composed on the biologically determined intellectual inferiority of blacks. On a Brooklyn street, as black demonstrators march through a segregated white enclave, white residents yell racist epithets. At an urban college campus in California, Latinos and Asians, whites and blacks, sit side by side in the overcrowded classroom, and in their own separate groups in the cafeteria. As they drive home to their segregated neighborhoods, they pump the same high-volume hip-hop sounds through their car speakers. A few miles up the interstate, neo-Nazis train at a private ranch....

    • Teaching Race and Racism in the Twenty-first Century
      (pp. 69-78)

      This is a crucial moment for those of us who teach about race and racism. People, we are experiencing a crisis of racial meaning. In the classic definition, a crisis is a situation in which “the old is dying and the new cannot be born.” That is the situation in which racial pedagogy finds itself at the start of the twenty-first century.

      More is at stake than just what we teach. What we teach is what people learn, and what they learn is what they know. A straightforward argument can made that higher education curricula, taken as a whole, embody...

  5. Part II. Comparative Racial Studies

    • Babylon System: The Continuity of Slavery
      (pp. 81-93)

      It’s all there in “Babylon System” by Bob Marley. The song condemns the uncompensated labor that was slavery. It demands repayment or reparations. It includes the metaphor of the “winepress” drawn from the Book of Revelations: “We’ve been trodding on / the winepress much too long,” Marley sings. But where the “winepress” in the Bible is the place where souls are refined, presumably by the treading of God, in “Babylon System” it is the slaves who both labor and are themselves trampled. It is not God but the system that presses upon them, that oppresses them, squeezing out of them...

    • The Modern World Racial System
      (pp. 94-107)

      As the world lurches forward into the twenty-first century, there is widespread confusion and anxiety about the political significance, and even the meaning, of race. In this essay I argue that far from becoming less politically central, race defines and organizes the world’s future, as it has done for centuries. I challenge the idea that the world, or the national societies I briefly consider in comparative light, is moving “beyond race.” I suggest that the future of democracy itself depends on the outcomes of racial politics and policies, as they develop both in various national societies and in the world...

    • Reaching the Limits of Reform: Postapartheid South Africa and Post–Civil Rights United States
      (pp. 108-121)

      The city of Durban hosted the UN-sponsored World Conference Against Racism in August-September 2001. The conference was the third in a series of WCARs: the two preceding conferences had occurred while the apartheid regime was still in power, and indeed were devoted to mobilizing and articulating world opposition to the apartheid system. The very fact that the third WCAR could take place in a democratic, postapartheid South Africa, now led by the African National Congress, the party/movement that had spearheaded the freedom struggle, was an inspiration to the thousands of delegates from antiracist nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) from all over the...

    • Durban, Globalization, and the World after 9/11: Toward a New Politics
      (pp. 122-128)

      The UN World Conference Against Racism was a very American event. About 40 percent of the delegates accredited to the NGO forum were North American; at Durban, one had the constant experience of running into old movement comrades and friends, as well as seeing a new and younger generation of U.S. activists coming together.

      The WCAR was American in another way, too: It was anti-American. Just as the first two WCARs (1978 and 1983) were focused on anathematizing and ending the South African apartheid regime, the 2001 Durban conference sought to challenge the U.S. empire, the hegemonic position the United...

    • The New Imperialism, Globalization, and Racism
      (pp. 129-150)

      On his way to see a Broadway show in April 2003, Justin Halperin, an activist with Doctors Without Borders/Médicins Sans Frontières, stopped in for a plate of vegetable curry at a New York Indian restaurant. Little did he know he had wandered into an all-too-real “Patriot Game”: a police/INS raid being carried out under the authority of the U.S. Patriot Act:

      “All of a sudden, there was a terrible commotion and five NYPD in bulletproof vests stormed down the stairs. They had their guns drawn and were pointing them indiscriminately at the restaurant staff and at us.”

      After the entire...

  6. Part III. Racial Theory

    • One Hundred Years of Racial Theory
      (pp. 153-165)

      In the past few decades the significance of race has been called into question. Social and political change have overtaken the concept, which until quite recently had retained a relatively stable set of meanings, both in social theory and in popular consciousness. To be sure, racial meanings have never been solid and fixed. Racial identities are themselves not immutable; they have always been reinvented and reinterpreted. The very concept of race itself only came into being with the dawn of the modern world system and the rise of capitalism in the sixteenth century. Still, the use of racial categories to...

    • Racial Dualism at Century’s End
      (pp. 166-187)

      Race matters: whether we in the United States—and in many other countries as well—wish this to be the case or not. The United States: What is it? A nation built on the soil of conquest, battened on the theft of human beings. Yet it is not only this. The United States was also created out of the doctrine of natural rights, whose restrictive application was continually eroded by the struggles of the excluded: first the European “others,” and then the other “others,” down to our own day. Throughout U.S. history, racial conflicts continually shaped and reshaped the categories...

    • What Can Racial Theory Tell Us about Social Theory?
      (pp. 188-204)
      Joe R. Feagin

      Race is a peculiar theoretical category. While it is very much a part of everyday social life, not only in the United States but in various ways all around the world, race is also a suspect social classification. In social scientific terms and even in biological ones, the very existence of racial distinctions has been called into question.¹ Not only intellectuals but also politicians frequently dismiss the race concept as an outmoded relic of the past, an illusion. In practical terms this questioning of the reality of race gives rise to calls for “color blindness,” notably in debates over social...

  7. Conclusion: Racial Politics in the Twenty-first Century
    (pp. 205-216)

    Racial globalism, racial difference, and racial justice are among our most fundamental political challenges. The modern epoch was founded on European imperialism and African slavery. Both these systems were organized racially. The theft of labor and life, of land and resources, from millions of Africans and Native Americans, and from Asians and Pacific Islanders as well,¹ financed the rise of Europe and made possible both its subsequent mercantilism and its later industrialism. Conquest, imperial rule, and the chattelization of labor (principally but not entirely African labor) divided humanity into Europeans and “others.” Ferocious and unending cultural and psychic energies were...

  8. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 217-218)
  9. Notes
    (pp. 219-238)
  10. Works Cited
    (pp. 239-260)
  11. Publication History
    (pp. 261-262)
  12. Index
    (pp. 263-276)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 277-277)