Disappearing Act

Race and the Neo-liberal State

in Social Analysis

Since the 1990s, many countries have jettisoned a focus on economic development in favor of promoting markets and market efficiency. Much has been written on the influence of these neo-liberal economic policies and the linked idea of globalization. Less noticed is that this shift from a developmentalist ideology to neo-liberal reform has often been paired with an ideology that casts the state as neutral with respect to race, ethnicity, and even nationality. Indeed, while the heyday of wholesale adoption of neo-liberal economic policies may be receding, the neo-liberal state appears to be a more enduring feature. There is a need to examine more closely the neo-liberal ideology that pairs economic reforms with a neutral state, and a need to understand how this ideology is involved in the creation of racialized identities and racist practices.