Over the past four decades, politicians and government officials of the so-called advanced industrial countries have scaled back state-sponsored programs in education, healthcare, welfare to the poor, and housing subsidies. In conjunction, international economic organizations, such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, have imposed fiscal policies upon developing nations, which disadvantage the poor by retrenching public services. These broad level shifts in the global political economy have been legitimized through a planetary newspeak that centers on such buzzwords as ‘globalization’ positing a ‘new economy,’ which require ‘flexible’ and ‘multicultural identities’ (Bourdieu and Wacquant 2001). In this way, free trade advocates naturalize these political processes with reductive biological models of society that often assume an autonomous individual, as Kapferer discusses in his contribution to this forum (see also Taussig, Rapp, and Heath 2003).
Between Myth, History, and Foregone Conclusions
Politics of Recognition and Myths of Race
At the time of this writing, the world is watching incredulously as terror and deprivation ravage the poorest citizens of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The region’s middle class and elite fled the disaster, while federal authorities’ inaction resulted in starvation for those too poor to leave. Such callousness embodied in US civil society and state institutions has been made transparent to the world, illuminating the increasing class inequality that has evolved since the passage of the Civil Rights Act. In light of this conflation of racism and class inequality, this forum focuses on the ways that multi-cultural politics mystify such power relations with romantic recollections of popular resistance to racism in the post–World War II era: decolonization, the US civil rights movement, and the fall of apartheid in South Africa.
Ien Ang, George Baca, Rohan Bastin, Jacob Copeman, Thomas Ernst, Jonathan Friedman, Kingsley Garbett, Diana Glazebrook, Greg Gow, Keith Hart, André Iteanu, Roger Just, Bruce Kapferer, Judith Kapferer, Khalid Koser, Neil Maclean, Jukka Siikala, Amy Stambach, Christopher C. Taylor, Pnina Werbner and Amanda Wise
Notes on Contributors