The Politics of Moral Order

A Brief Anatomy of Racing

in Social Analysis

Franz Fanon and Elva Cook point out that race is more than simply a cognitive system of classification. Race is also inscribed on bodies and realized in geographies of space (Williams 1989). David Harvey (2001) has developed the latter theme in his account of the ‘moral geographies’ that symbolize relations between nation-states. His discussion calls attention to the ways in which a state gives value to place across various types of terrain. Spatializing race and class in the towns and cities of a state involves creating stigmatized zones that are naturalized. These zones are described as ‘slum’, ‘ghetto’, ‘fringe camp’, and the like. They suggest detritus and morass, islands of disturbed moral order residing within the state. ‘Reserve’, ‘homeland’, ‘quarter’, and ‘hinterland’ may seem more benign but can be turned to similar effect in any national discourse. Both in cities and interstate, these are spaces to ‘go around’. It becomes appropriate to know such places only through received knowledge and without the contaminating risk of actual engagement.