This project reveals the false conceptual space within which the contemporary debate about the nature of race is taking place. There is an implied spectrum within philosophical discussions of the nature of race that ranges from purely biological accounts of race to purely socially constructed accounts of race. In reality, no account of race can be given which exists at either extreme of the spectrum. The same discussion also applies to accounts of ethnicity. Ethnicity, though typically thought of as a non-biological entity, can be shown to be the result of a combination of nature and nurture or biological and social effects. In this project I examine six contemporary positions on race and ethnicity and illustrate how each makes the assumption that race and ethnicity are two distinct concepts. These positions include those proposed by Naomi Zack, Sally Haslanger, Joshua Glasgow, Linda Martin Alcoff, Robin Andreasen and Jorge J. E. Gracia.
Susan L. Smith
Towards a Re-statement
Central in clearing the ground around the standing of the concept of 'race' are two positions with which we need to come to terms. The first is what I call 'the science' position and the second 'racial realism'. Neither of the positions is coherent and homogeneous. Neither, also, self-consciously projects itself as a political position in response to the other. In this contribution I attempt to bring these positions into a clearer juxtaposition with a view to developing a statement about the value of 'race' as an analytic concept. in taking this expository route I lay out what 'the science' position is in the first part of the discussion and proceed to engage with 'racial realism' in a second. The premise with which the 'science position' begins, adumbrated above, is the argument that 'race' cannot be empirically demonstrated. It takes its substance from the historical time and place in which it finds itself. In the Althusserian sense its materiality is in the effects of ideology. The second position of racial realism argues that the science position is naïve and fails to understand the materiality of 'race'. The focus of this paper is the second position. It looks at the issues and shortcomings of this position.
Richard Turner and South African Liberalism
its adherents what to think and write, while Turner was more likely to persuade them to act to change the world. The Race of Class Turner’s view of capitalism may have made an impression on his students but it is not the reason why he was so
Kira Erwin and Gerhard Maré
This special issue emerges from a concern with academic practice around researching and theorising race, racialism and racism; particularly within the current theoretical climate in which race is, in the majority, accepted as a social construct. In public thinking and discourse, however, acceptance of the biological existence of races continues to dominate in many societies. Racial classification also continues in many state practices in South Africa such as the collection of racial demographics though the national census, and through countless private and public officials reporting towards government-stipulated race-based employment acts. These classification practices raise contradictions for the constitutional goal of non-racialism in South Africa. South Africa has also signed and ratified the International Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Professional Interest/Pages/CERD.aspx), which aims to eliminate racial discrimination in member states. The convention, to which member states are legally bound, raises a number of pressing issues that, to date, are not present in a wider national debate on the continued use of race in South African state policy. For example, there is little recognition by the state of the difficulties associated with identifying a targeted group based on race, nor clarity as to whether these groups are identified through markers based on phenotype, or socio-economic or cultural differences. Nor is there open discussion on the use of terms such as fair and unfair discrimination and how they relate to terms such as distinction and differentiation (see Bossuyt 2000), and the legal consequences of using such terms.
A Bikoist Challenge to Professor Xolela Mangcu
Race is a contested concept around which vigorous debate continues. For instance, although some writers theorise race as a fiction, others argue that it is an illusion ( Appiah 1998 ) while yet others support the idea that race is a biological
’s leading backroom intellectual (Seleti 1990: 171). Sobukwe rose to prominence during the apartheid era by intellectually grasping and navigating the dynamics of politics through his steadfast belief in redress of the skewed education, land and race politics
Non-racialism is examined in relation to the concepts of race, generic humanism and universalism in order to establish conditions under which non-racialism can be implemented as an emancipatory concept. Denial of the salience or even the existence of the concept 'race' and also tendencies to organise on the basis of race essentialism are examined. It is accepted that race does not exist at an ontological level, in that it is not required for the constitution of the human subject. But race does exist historically and socially. To ignore its existence in addressing the question of non-racialism would be to deny the validity of the experience of racial inequality. At the same time, organisation on the basis of race, while sometimes motivated by strategic considerations, carries the danger of slippage and a permanent racialised identity. The post-1994 period is seen as opening the road to universalism and thus removing the basis for strategic essentialism.
This article sets out a few key questions, themes, and problems animating an Azanian social and political philosophy, with specific reference to the radical promise of undoing South African disciplinary knowledges. The article is made up of two parts: The first part discusses the epistemic and political forces arrayed against black radical thought in South Africa and beyond. A few current trends of anti-black thinking – liberal racism, Left Eurocentrism, and postcolonial post-racialism – which pose challenges for the legibility of Azanian critique are outlined. Part two constructs an exposition and synthesis of key tenets of Azanian thinking elaborated upon under three signs: ‘South Africa’, ‘race and racism’, and ‘Africa’. The aim of the discussion is to illustrate the critical, emancipatory potential of Azanian thought and its radical incommensurability with dominant strands of scholarship in the human and social sciences today. The article ultimately defends the reassertion of black radical thought in the South African academy today and underscores in particular the abolitionist drive of Azanian political thought.
Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther and Jonathan Michael Kaplan
All eyes are turned towards genomic data and models as the source of knowledge about whether human races exist or not. Will genomic science make the final decision about whether racial realism (e.g. racial population naturalism) or anti-realism (e.g. racial scepticism) is correct? We think not. The results of even our best and most impressive genomic technologies under-determine whether biogenomic races exist, or not. First, different sub-disciplines of biology interested in population structure employ distinct concepts, aims, measures and models, producing cross-cutting categorisations of population subdivisions rather than a single, universal biogenomic concept of 'race.' Second, within each sub-discipline (e.g. phylogenetics, conservation biology), genomic results are consistent with, and map multiply to, racial realism and anti-realism. Indeed, racial ontologies are constructed conventionally, rather than discovered. We thus defend a constructivist conventionalism about biogenomic racial ontology. Choices and conventions must always be made in identifying particular kinds of groups. Political agendas, social programmes, and moral questions premised on the existence of naturalistic race should accept that no scientifically grounded racial ontology is forthcoming, and adjust presumptions, practices and projects accordingly.
If social units are to be classified it must be by reference to some distinctive characteristic or characteristics that they share. Administrative classifications are usually based on the characteristics identified in the everyday language that reflects practical knowledge. Classifications that will assist the growth of social scientific knowledge have to be based on the identification of theoretically relevant characteristics. Classification precedes the naming of categories. Experimental research into the relative strength of civic and ethnic preferences could uncover the variables that underlie popular notions of nation, race and ethnic group.