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Understanding Race, Resisting Racism: Racial Experience as Bioculturally Embodied Difference and Political Possibilities

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In multiple social forums, talk about race is often synonymous with the social problem of racism. Utilizing cross-cultural comparisons, this paper aims to disentangle race from racism in order to (1) articulate a biocultural theory of race as an extension of embodied difference and (2) constructively critique contemporary anti-racist political movements. In order to achieve these objectives, I will present three ethnographic examples of racial experience from the United States, Jamaica, and the Spanish-Moroccan borderland. I then propose that racial experience is best understood as a form bioculturally embodied difference. Finally, I argue that understanding race as bioculturally embodied difference allows us to more forcefully critique the false “problem” of liberal democratic governance vis-à-vis racism as a social problem; instead, we can place anti-racist politics in the political mainstream of polities where racialized groups live at the social margins.

Author(s):

Gabriel Torres Colón    
Vanderbilt University
United States

 

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