Race and Materialisms
ACLA Seminar: Race and Materialisms
If a common investment of “old” and emerging, non-human “new” materialisms is to displace anthropocentric orientations and humanist assumptions, then that investment is overdetermined when it comes to people of color. Western ideologies of racial and ethnic marginalization have historically defined the non-white body by its exclusion from the category of the human subject and its subsequent relegation to the material: an object to be administered or a byproduct of economic processes. In addition, philosophical materialism’s emancipatory investment in defusing race as a discursive veiling of the real requires critical reexamination today in light of All Lives Matter rhetoric and the race-based culture wars being waged by the Trump right, for whom something like a materialist dissolving of race as merely symbolic (illusory “identity politics”) now seems to work in the service of reaction. What new insights can we gain when questions of race are approached through the lens of materialisms, old and/or new? What detours or revisions does materialism have to undertake when it confronts racial difference?
We welcome papers to our proposed panel that explore such questions. Possible topics may include: considerations of race or ethnicity alongside and from the perspective of thing theory, spatial analysis, global trade, food studies, the history of science, or other materialist-inflected methods; theorizations of the materiality of race itself, especially in its intersections with gender, sexuality, or class; studies of the biologization of race and ethnicity; reconsiderations of Afropessimism, settler colonial studies, or queer of color critique in light of materialism; and recoveries of materialist interventions in the literary and cultural work of non-white and non-Western texts.