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CFPs: “Race-Making and the State: Between Postracial Neoliberalism and Racialized Terrorism”
The 10th Annual Critical Race and Anti-Colonial Studies Conference 8-10 October 2010
University of Alberta
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada


• Lily M. Ling, The New School, author, Postcolonial International Relations: Conquest and Desire between Asia and the West;
• Achille Mbembe, WISER, University of Witwatersrand, author, On The Postcolony;
• Sherene Razack, OISE/University of Toronto, author, Casting Out: The Eviction of Muslims from Western Law and Politics;
• Sunera Thobani, University of British Columbia, author, Exalted Subjects: The Making of Race and Nation in Canada.

CONFERENCE DESCRIPTION: Despite the ‘wilful forgetting’ evident in much Canadian and international studies scholarship, racial thinking, race-making and racial imaginaries long have served the imperial and colonial designs of empires and states alike. German philosopher Eric Voegelin was among the first to think through the relationship between race-making and the state. In Race and State, he insisted that the racial idea was a fundamental element of the modern state. For Voeglin, it was irrelevant whether race was a biological or genetic fiction; this did not belie its power or its real life political, material or social salience. Hannah Arendt in turn persuasively argued that race thinking has been wide-spread across the west since at least the eighteenth century, and functioned as a political device to differentiate the ‘primitive’, ‘savage’ and ‘barbarian’ from the ‘civilized’. Racism was a powerful ideological weapon in imperialist policies including the ‘scramble for Africa’ and in the dispossession of Indigenous lands. In Society Must Be Defended, the French social theorist Michel Foucault advanced the notion of ‘state racism’ as one expression of the biopower of the modern state, which unleashed governing technologies to ‘make live’ some groups and ‘let die’ others. Other important works on the ‘racial state’, prominent among them, Omni and Winant (1994), Anthony Marx (1998), David Theo Goldberg (2002), Sherene Razack (2008) and Sunera Thobani (2007), have linked imperial and colonial racisms to the conceits of modern liberal states, which purport to be race neutral, colour-blind and even postracial, while masking, reproducing and even reinforcing historical inequities.

The nature of race thinking and race-making are differently configured in two dominant logics of the twenty-first century: neoliberalism’s racial imaginaries of an individualized, atomized person who can leave behind her or his racial, ethnic and gendered self and the racial imaginaries of 9/11 and the ‘war on terror’, which make clear that ‘outsider groups’ are always already shaped by racial and gendered markers. Arguably neoliberalism has depoliticized race and racism, indeed, all structural inequalities. It has reduced racism to a psychological shortcoming that can be mediated through the promotion of cross-cultural understanding. In this context, we are confronted with the paradoxical claim that while there may be racism, apparently there are no racists and no systemic conditions of racial inequality. This paradox disdains historical memory of institutional and structural racism and ‘forgets’ that racial thinking and race-making have shifted over time, space, and regimes with sometimes devastating effect. What is racism and who if anyone can be called a racist? Race-making and the ‘racial state’ too often are imagined as cases of exceptions, such as Nazi Germany or apartheid South Africa. This too elides the everyday and normalized practices of race-making and racism and obscures meaningful anti-racist practices. In such contexts, what do anti-racism and decolonization mean? How do they manifest in theories, practices and policies?

The Researchers and Academics of Colour for Equality (R.A.C.E.) Network is in its tenth year. Annually it hosts the largest conference gathering of critical race and anti-colonial studies scholars and activists in Canada. Its goals are to foster and promote critical anti-racist, feminist and anti-colonial scholarship and to work in partnership with allies to create research and mentoring networks among Indigenous scholars, scholars of colour and allies with the aim of effecting a more fair and equitable academy and society.

CALL FOR PAPERS: The primary purpose of this conference is to explore race-making, anti-racism, decolonization and the state. We encourage papers and panels that take an interlocking analysis with class, gender, sexuality and disabilities. Topics may include but are not limited to: the role of the state in producing racial classifications, hierarchies and imaginaries; racial projects including colonialism, indigenous dispossession, slavery and internments; 9/11, violence and the war on terrorism; state inventions of ‘black sites’ of rendition and torture as well as routinized practices such as photographing, fingerprinting, and surveillance of racial others; race in immigration and refugee policies, detention centres and similar securitized initiatives; the political economy of race in a neoliberal era; science, genetics and race; skin, body and identity; race, fantasy and desire; comedy, satire and race; the evasion and even erasure of race from many disciplinary efforts to understand the constitution of advanced liberal states and markets; colonial encounters and racism that informed dominant relations between indigenous peoples and white settler societies; and that think through anti-racisms, anti-colonialism, decolonization and social justice in theory, policy and practice.

HOW TO SUBMIT A PROPOSAL: The R.A.C.E. 2010 conference organizer is Dr. Malinda S. Smith, Political Science Department, University of Alberta. Please send a 300 words abstract in Word or RTF with title, keywords, institutional affiliation and contact to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and include a 150 words Bio locating your work in critical race /anti-colonial scholarship by 30 March 2010 to: Dr. Malinda S Smith
2010 R.A.C.E. Conference Organizer University of Alberta
Telephone: 780.492.5380 / Fax: 780.492.2580
Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Web site: www.criticalraceconference.arts.ualberta.ca

Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 May 2010 05:46

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