Against Race: Imagining Political Culture beyond the Color Line

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After all the progress made since World War II in matters pertaining to race relations, why do we still divide ourselves into different identity groups based on skin color? In this provocative new work, Paul Gilroy casts a penetrating look at race-thinking, shedding light on its relationship with fascism and arguing that both live on today in subtler, more insidious guises in modern pop and commercial culture.

Fascism's power to seduce did not die in a bunker in Berlin. Rather,...

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Overview

After all the progress made since World War II in matters pertaining to race relations, why do we still divide ourselves into different identity groups based on skin color? In this provocative new work, Paul Gilroy casts a penetrating look at race-thinking, shedding light on its relationship with fascism and arguing that both live on today in subtler, more insidious guises in modern pop and commercial culture.

Fascism's power to seduce did not die in a bunker in Berlin. Rather, as Gilroy argues, the devices the Nazis used in their propaganda films and demonstrations -- psychologically powerful iconography, overwhelming imagery and sound, and an emphasis on making spectacles of our identities and differences -- are the same tactics used today by Madison Avenue advertising and the media. Drawing attention to the legacies of racism and fascism that continue to pervade our newly minted global society, Against Race is a convincing manifesto that calls for the renunciation of race-based thinking and challenges us to accept a humanism that goes beyond the color line.

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Editorial Reviews

Stanley Aronowitz
At the end of the day, [it] remains the brilliant jeremiad of an out-of-step intellectual whose main weapon is criticism.
The Nation
Stanley Aronowitz
Gilroy's reach is dazzling, his analysis acute and insightful......a powerful, albeit minoritarian defence of the position that racial thinking — not just racism䃉 is a key obstacle to human freedom.
Nation
Rhetoric and Public Affairs

Guides readers through the complex, interwoven incarnations of race-thinking from inception in the modern period through overt climax in the Colonial Era and the rise of Nazism in Europe to a lingering presence in today's vernacular cultures and ever more globalized corporate consumer landscape...[Gilroy] clearly outlines the complex connections between "race" and "place" in the development of Colonial Era nation-state identities and the systematic fascism that followed...Gilroy provides useful, historically fascinating accounts of black experiences in Europe during the first half of the twentieth century...Anyone interested in the history of racial politics and, in particular, the history of fascism will benefit from...the perspectives Gilroy derives from the voices of the Atlantic diaspora. Gilroy's examples are wide-ranging; he clearly is as comfortable discussing Nazi racial hygiene theories as he is discussing current genetic research, and is as fluent in critiquing jazz scholars as he is analyzing Snoop and other rappers.
— Jody M. Roy

Nuruddin Farah
Readers used to Paul Gilroy's incisive political and cultural analysis will be highly impressed with Against Race. Those not familiar with his previous writings will be so impressed that they are bound to look for them. Gilroy is an erudite scholar and this is an imperative reading not only for those coming to grips with political culture beyond the color line but for any serious scholar interested in 'cosmopolitan cultures,' or in questions of identity.
The Nation - Stanley Aronowitz
Paul Gilroy, whose Black Atlantic broke through the nation-specific context of race politics, has written a powerful, albeit minoritarian defense of the position that racial thinking--not just racism--is a key obstacle to human freedom (an aspiration, he sadly notes, that has virtually disappeared from political discourse). In his analysis of the origins and uses of racial thinking Gilroy spares from his critique neither black pride nor black separatism, let alone racism's most virulent forms, fascism and colonialism...The result is that he has offered one of the most impressive refutations of race as an anthropological concept since the publication of Ashley Montagu's Man's Most Dangerous Myth: The Fallacy of Race more than fifty years ago...Gilroy's reach is dazzling, his analysis acute and insightful, but in the end he recognizes that, lacking a political constituency for his planetary humanism, his ideas remain not a program but a utopian hope...At the end of the day, Against Race remains the brilliant jeremiad of an out-of-step intellectual whose main weapon is criticism. There are few who do it better.
Mahmood Mamdani
As with his past work, Paul Gilroy continues to disturb settled ways of thinking in a fundamentally creative way. Here, he challenges us to explore the dangers of race-thinking, whether 'race' be an imposed or an insurgent identity.
Rhetoric and Public Affairs - Jody M. Roy
Guides readers through the complex, interwoven incarnations of race-thinking from inception in the modern period through overt climax in the Colonial Era and the rise of Nazism in Europe to a lingering presence in today's vernacular cultures and ever more globalized corporate consumer landscape...[Gilroy] clearly outlines the complex connections between "race" and "place" in the development of Colonial Era nation-state identities and the systematic fascism that followed...Gilroy provides useful, historically fascinating accounts of black experiences in Europe during the first half of the twentieth century...Anyone interested in the history of racial politics and, in particular, the history of fascism will benefit from...the perspectives Gilroy derives from the voices of the Atlantic diaspora. Gilroy's examples are wide-ranging; he clearly is as comfortable discussing Nazi racial hygiene theories as he is discussing current genetic research, and is as fluent in critiquing jazz scholars as he is analyzing Snoop and other rappers.
The Nation

Paul Gilroy, whose Black Atlantic broke through the nation-specific context of race politics, has written a powerful, albeit minoritarian defense of the position that racial thinking—not just racism—is a key obstacle to human freedom (an aspiration, he sadly notes, that has virtually disappeared from political discourse). In his analysis of the origins and uses of racial thinking Gilroy spares from his critique neither black pride nor black separatism, let alone racism's most virulent forms, fascism and colonialism...The result is that he has offered one of the most impressive refutations of race as an anthropological concept since the publication of Ashley Montagu's Man's Most Dangerous Myth: The Fallacy of Race more than fifty years ago...Gilroy's reach is dazzling, his analysis acute and insightful, but in the end he recognizes that, lacking a political constituency for his planetary humanism, his ideas remain not a program but a utopian hope...At the end of the day, Against Race remains the brilliant jeremiad of an out-of-step intellectual whose main weapon is criticism. There are few who do it better.
— Stanley Aronowitz

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674000964
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/2000
  • Series: Belknap Press Series
  • Pages: 416
  • Product dimensions: 6.42 (w) x 9.59 (h) x 1.31 (d)

Meet the Author

Paul Gilroy holds the Anthony Giddens Professorship in Social Theory at the London School of Economics.
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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1 The Crisis of "Race" and Raciology 11
2 Modernity and Infrahumanity 54
3 Identity, Belonging, and the Critique of Pure Sameness 97
4 Hitler Wore Khakis: Icons, Propaganda, and Aesthetic Politics 137
5 "After the Love Has Gone": Biopolitics and the Decay of the Black Public Sphere 177
6 The Tyrannies of Unanimism 207
7 "All about the Benjamins": Multicultural Blackness - Corporate, Commercial, and Oppositional 241
8 "Race," Cosmopolitanism, and Catastrophe 279
9 "Third Stone from the Sun": Planetary Humanism and Strategic Universalism 327
Notes 359
Acknowledgments 391
Index 393
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