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Critical Studies of Whiteness, USA

Origins and Arguments

David R. Roediger

The call-in show on Wisconsin Public Radio in 1995 began with the host skilfully introducing me as an historian who tried to explain how a white identity had come to seem so important to so many working people in the United States. We talked about efforts to understand why such significant numbers of people came to see themselves not as workers, but as white workers; not as women but as white women, and so on. And then to the phones and eager callers: Why do African countries make so little progress? Aren’t African Americans racist too? Isn’t their “reverse racism” the biggest problem? Hasn’t the welfare system enlarged a parasitic, amoral nonwhite underclass? The barrage of such questions, on public radio in a quite liberal city, took virtually the whole hour. The last caller, an African American worker at the University of Wisconsin, initially offered no question but a comment. All of the prior questions, she observed, focused on people of colour. Despite the subject of my work, she continued, and despite the moderator’s unambiguous introduction, no caller had deigned to discuss whiteness at all. If I were an expert on race, the white callers had been certain that my role was to contest or to endorse accusations and generalisations concerning those who were not white. Why was it so hard to discuss whiteness?

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Throwing the Genes

A Renewed Biological Imaginary of 'Race', Place and Identification

Zimitri Erasmus

In the United States of America, use of DNA samples in criminal investigation and of genetic ancestry tests in 'personalised medicine', 'pharmacogenetics' and for personal consumption has grown exponentially. Moreover, use of such technologies is visible in the public sphere. In South Africa, DNA sampling for ancestry testing is the most publicly visible application of these technologies. This work has shifted constructions of 'KhoiSan' communities from yesterday's 'missing evolutionary link' to today's 'Edenic origin of humankind'. I question human biogenetics as a home for meanings of history, humanity and belonging. To this end, I read selected genetic genealogical studies of communities considered 'KhoiSan', 'Coloured' and 'Lemba' in South Africa against concerns raised in recent literature about the use of such studies in the United States of America. I ask why bio-centric conceptions of 'race', identity and 'the human' remain so resilient. To grapple with this question, I draw on Sylvia Wynter's (2001; 2003) adaptation of Frantz Fanon's (1986) concept of 'sociogeny' into 'the sociogenic principle'. I close by suggesting the code for what it means to be human is best located in the 'word' rather than the human genome.

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Contested Memory

Retrieving the Africanist (Liberatory) Conception of Non-racialism

Ndumiso Dladla

Liberalism and racism have been intertwined for hundreds of years, for the same developments of modernity that brought liberalism into existence as a supposedly general set of political norms also brought race into existence as a set of

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Book Reviews

On 20th Century Revolutionary Socialism, from Poland to Peru and beyond

Jean-Numa Ducange, Camila Vergara, Talat Ahmed, and Christian Høgsbjerg

heterogeneous world. Talat Ahmed University of Edinburgh Here to Stay – Here to Fight: A Race Today Anthology, by Paul Field, Robin Bunce, Leila Hassan and Margaret Peacock (eds). London: Pluto Press, 2019. 304 pp. The journal Race Today

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Editorial

Some Senses of Pan-Africanism from the South

Christopher Allsobrook

argues that one cannot presume shared values and African solidarity in such a gigantic land of complex ethnic, cultural, religious and linguistic diversity. He warns against simplistic bigotry in calls for race-based Pan-African unity, which exacerbate

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Wiping away the Tears of the Ocean

Ukusulaizinyembezizolwandle

Mogobe Ramose

’ terms. I write out of a personal existential context. This context is a profound source of knowledge connected to my ‘raced’ body. I theorize from a place of lived embodied experience, a site of exposure. In philosophy, the only thing we learn to

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Imagining Utopia in an Unfree World

Rick Turner on Morality, Inequality and Existentialism

Mary Ryan

a country, it seems contemporary debates about a universal basic income or brain drain are similarly incomplete unless they also address Turner’s demand that poverty and race reforms must cut to the heart of people’s personalities and rewire how

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Valery B. Ferim

need for unity and solidarity among the black race. The initial impetus behind pan-African solidarity was thus the need to unite black people in their fight against a common oppressor, the white slave masters. However, pan-Africanism became a distinct

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Maša Mrovlje and Jennet Kirkpatrick

interests and loyalties and shaped by a plethora of situational factors beyond their full control, including the hierarchies of gender, race and class inequality. Indeed, the moral dilemmas they confront can stem from their embeddedness within the same

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Lawrence Ogbo Ugwuanyi

done to the African family. As a result of this, this brand of pan-Africanism has historical roots in the enslavement of Africans peoples by both the Arabs and the Europeans. Hence, it promotes the race consciousness among sub-Saharan Africans and