Skip to main content

What Happens to Anti-Racism When We Are Post Race?

Abstract

Despite the resistance from radical antiracist formations, autonomously organised by racialized minorities and migrants themselves, that can be witnessed in many spaces, the success with which antiracism has been both appropriated and relativized by the state as well as hegemonic activist voices poses a significant threat. The politics of diversity and the consensus around the notion that western societies are post-race contribute to portraying the critique of racism from people of colour as inaccurate, alienating and counter-productive to the achievement of social cohesion. The necessity of dismantling the idea of race as suggested by antiracist activists and scholars has been subverted in the deconstruction of the experience of racism by an ‘antiracialist’—rather than a more radical antiracist—agenda intent on relativizing the struggle against racism as one among many. The consequence of this in the context of postracialism is for racism itself to be departicularized and dissociated from its historical roots. Antiracism needs to reclaim the risk, that Goldberg argues is inherent to it, and rescue it from being universalised into meaninglessness.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Notes

  1. This is not to say that the politics of diversity emerged exclusively from an anti-racialist logic. It is important to note that the mainstreaming of critical race and gender critiques, intersectionality in particular (Crenshaw 1989), has also played a significant role in facilitating the generalised focus on diversity consequently, although not purposefully, often removing attention from the specificity of individual discriminations.

References

  • Ahmed, Sara. 2008. Liberal multiculturalism is the hegemony: It’s an Empirical Fact—A response to Slavoj Žižek. Darkmatter: In the ruins of imperial culture, 19 February 2008.

  • Arendt, H. 1966. The origins of totalitarianism, new edition. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bauman, Zygmunt. 1989. Modernity and the holocaust. Cambridge: Polity Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bruckner, Pascal. 2010. The tyranny of guilt: An essay on western masochism. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cameron, David. 2011. PM’s speech at munich security conference. http://www.number10.gov.uk/news/speeches-and-transcripts/2011/02/pms-speech-at-munich-security-conference-60293. Accessed 20 May 2011.

  • Community Builders. 2006. All different—All equal european youth campaigns for diversity, human rights and participation. http://www.communitybuilders.ro/all-different-all-equal-european-youth-campaigns-for-diversity-human-rights-and-participation/. Accessed 20 May 2011.

  • Cooper, Davina. 2004. Challenging diversity: Rethinking equality and the value of difference. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Crenshaw, Kimberlé. 1989. Demarginalizing the intersection of race and sex: A black feminist critique of antidiscrimination doctrine, feminist theory and anti-racist politics. University of Chicago Legal Forum, 1989, 139–167.

  • Den13. 2005. Histoire secrète de SOS-Racisme. http://www.oulala.net/Portail/spip.php?article1697. Accessed 5 Feb, 2011.

  • Duggan, Lisa. 2003. The twilight of equality? Neoliberalism cultural politics, and the attack on democracy. Boston: Beacon Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Etienne, Balibar. 1991. Is there a neo-racism? In Race, nation, class ambiguous identities, ed. Etienne, Balibar, and Wallerstein, Immanuel, 37–67. London: Verso.

    Google Scholar 

  • Foucault, Michel. 1997. Il faut défendre la société: Cours au Collège de France, 1976. Paris: Gallimard Seuil.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gilroy, Paul. 1987. There ain’t no black in the union jack: The cultural politics of race and nation. London: Unwin Hyman.

    Google Scholar 

  • Goldberg, David Theo. 2002. The racial state. Oxford: Blackwell.

    Google Scholar 

  • Goldberg, David Theo. 2008. The threat of race: Reflections on racial neoliberalism. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

    Google Scholar 

  • Goodhart, David. 2004. Too diverse? Prospect 95, February.

  • Hall, Stuart. 1997. Race, the floating signifier. Media education foundation film.

  • Hannaford, Ivan. 1996. Race: The history of an idea in the west. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Haritaworn, Jin, Esra Erdem, and Tamsila Tauqir. 2008. Gay imperialism: The role of gender and sexuality discourses in the ‘War on Terror’. In Out of place: Silences in Queerness/Raciality, ed. Miyake, Esperanza and Kuntsman, Adi, 9–33. York: Raw Nerve Books.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kundnani, Arun. 2007. The end of tolerance: Racism in twenty-first century britain. London: Pluto Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lentin, Alana. 2004. Racism and anti-racism in Europe. London: Pluto Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lentin, Alana., and Gavan Titley. 2011. The crises of multiculturalism: Racism in a neoliberal age. London: Zed Books.

    Google Scholar 

  • Malik, Serge. 1990. Histoire Secrète de SOS Racisme. Paris: Albin Michel.

    Google Scholar 

  • Media Education Foundation. 1997. Race, the floating signifier: Featuring stuart hall. http://www.mediaed.org/assets/products/407/transcript_407.pdf. Accessed 20 May 2011.

  • Porter, Andrew. 2011. David cameron: Migration threatens our way of life. The Telegraph, 14 April.

  • Puar, Jasbir. 2007. Terrorist assemblages: Homonationalism in queer times. Durham and London: Duke University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Tatchell, Peter. 2009. Speech at the centre for local policy studies summer school. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJQK5el5J48&feature=related. Accessed 20 May 2011.

  • Yúdice, George. 2003. The expediency of culture: Uses of culture in the global era. Durham and London: Duke University Press.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Alana Lentin.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Lentin, A. What Happens to Anti-Racism When We Are Post Race?. Fem Leg Stud 19, 159 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10691-011-9174-5

Download citation

  • Published:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10691-011-9174-5

Keywords

  • Antiracism
  • Antiracialism
  • Multiculturalism
  • Diversity