Neoliberalizing Race

Neoliberalizing Race
In this lecture, David Theo Goldberg briefly traces the history of race through 500 years of planetary globalization, drawing a distinction between two forms of racial thinking. “Racial naturalism” is the view that non-Europeans are inherently inferior to Europeans. “Racial historicism,” by contrast, constructs non-Europeans as historically immature and in need of civilizing by Europeans. “Race” itself is a construction of the modern state that institutionalizes racial violence by elevating racial thinking to a kind of secular theology—an assertion of faith in one type of “humanity” and an embodiment of an unrelenting will-to-power. In it neoliberal manifestation since the 1980s, race has become a focal point for modes of privatization and an alibi for the attack on the welfare state and affirmative action. The role of the neoliberal “traffic cop state” is to provide order to the flows of capital, people, goods, and information, while eviscerating race as an explicit facet of modern governmentality. Two prevailing forms of managing heterogeneity under neoliberalism involve regulating racial “mixture”—implicitly a reassertion of the purity and privileges of whiteness—and more overtly through the control and policing of space.

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