Theorizing Anti-Racism: Linkages in Marxism and Critical Race Theories
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Over the last few decades, critical theory which examines issues of race and racism has flourished. However, most of this work falls on one side or the other of a theoretical divide between theory inspired by Marxist approaches to race and racism and that inspired by postcolonial and critical race theory. Driven by the need to move beyond the divide, the contributors to Theorizing Anti-Racism present insightful essays that engage these two intellectual traditions with a focus on clarification and points of convergence.
The essays in Theorizing Anti-Racism examine topics which range from reconsiderations of anti-racism in the work of Marx and Foucault to examinations of the relationships among race, class, and the state that integrate both Marxist and critical race theory. Drawing on the most constructive elements of Marxism and postcolonial and critical race theory, this collection constitutes an important contribution to the advancement of anti-racist theory.
It has led a number of postcolonial theorists to note, with David Scott, that “Foucault requires some supplementation” (2005, n.p.). While a number of key theorists have registered concerns with Foucault’s epistemology and methodology, of these, the two theorists who have undertaken the most consistent and elaborate discussion of the limits of Foucault’s writings are Edward Said and Stuart Hall. In this chapter, I trace the reflections of Said and Hall on Foucault throughout their writings,
Theoretical Synthesis Étienne Balibar has noted that Foucault’s work can be characterized as a “genuine struggle” with Marx, this struggle being one of the principal sources of its productivity (1992, 39). In this vein, I would Not Quite a Case of the Disappearing Marx 83 suggest that the work of several of those who theorize race and racism has been a genuine struggle to synthesize aspects of Foucauldian epistemology with that of Marx(ism); similarly, this struggle is one of the principle
ideologies over various historical periods. Though the biological basis of “race” has been repeatedly demonstrated to be an ideological construct without scientific basis, the real, lived experience of overt and systemic discrimination grounded in the idea of race, and the commitment to racism, is no less incontrovertible. Marxism and Anti-Racism: Rethinking the Politics of Difference 113 The twofold nature of oppression for Marx is related to the contradictory relations associated with
issues of political modernity and the categories that define this modernity did not allow for the ex-slaves to make a revolution on their own terms. Or to put the matter another way: What were the various meanings of freedom that were created by the practices of the revolutionary slaves? How did these differ from or in what ways were they related to the conceptions and practices that emerged in the French Revolution? James did not pose these questions, but his achievement was to reorder any
Foucault’s methodology. I then turn to relook at the work of Hall, Gilroy, and Said, with a view to rethinking tensions between postcolonial and critical race theories regarding Marxism in addressing theorizations of race and racism. Revisiting Genealogies: Theorizing Anti-Racism beyond the Impasse 21 Revisiting Genealogies While Marxists and postcolonial theorists have offered important observations about the limitations of both perspectives, it is certainly not an understatement to suggest