Monday, April 26, 2010

The changing face of racism

Me in the latest ISJ, on racism in Britain today:

Instead of looking for a reference to supposed static entities called “races” to define acts of racism, it makes more sense to consider racialisation as a constant process. Just as fascism is notoriously a “scavenger” ideology, opportunistically appropriating ideological bric-a-brac from other outlooks and traditions, so racist ideologies are continually constructed and reconstructed with a variety of elements of national, regional, religious, sectional and class stereotypes. What they have in common is their relationship to the practice of racial oppression in which a minority is systemically excluded from the opportunities and entitlements of normal citizenship. Nor are they strictly literal in their expression. Racism operates to a great extent by allusion and conflation—mark the speed with which “Muslim” was substituted for “Asian” in the target of racist polemics after 2001. Indeed, that very shift tells us that the cultural racism currently directed against Muslims is rooted in several generations of anti-immigrant racism and, before it, imperial racism.