The Racialization of Difference: Enlarging the Story Field

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In this article, I explore ways of loosening the interpretive grid of “race” in critical geographical analysis without obscuring that concept's efficacy as a social force. In recent years, social constructivist perspectives on race have brought much evidence to bear on the logics of race/power formations in America and other British settler societies. The risk of petrifying “race” in the analysis of social life and reinscribing the very power that antiracists wish to undo has, however, prompted efforts to reframe the geographical study of race and racism. This article takes up that challenge by exploring an alternative modality of representational power that can be tracked to figurations of humanity and animality in Western cultural process. Such discursive formations take us some way toward understanding the norms and interiorised anxieties out of which racialized whiteness and its subjugated others were, and continue to be, constructed.

Keywords: animality; civilization; critical race theory; humanity; post-humanist critique

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Durham

Publication date: February 1, 2002

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