Race, Nation, Class: Ambiguous Identities

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Verso, 1991 - Social Science - 232 pages
9 Reviews
Forty years after the defeat of Nazism, and twenty years after the great wave of decolonization, how is it that racism remains a growing phenomenon? What are the special characteristics of contemporary racism? How can it be related to class divisions and to the contradictions of the nation-state? And how far, in turn, does racism today compel us to rethink the relationship between class struggles and nationalism?

This book attempts to answer these fundamental questions through a remarkable dialogue between the French philosopher Etienne Balibar and the American historian and sociologist Immanuel Wallerstein. Each brings to the debate the fruits of over two decades of analytical work, greatly inspired, respectively, by Louis Althusser and Fernand Braudel.

Both authors challenge the commonly held notion of racism as a continuation of, or throwback to, the xenophobias of past societies and communities. They analyse it instead as a social relation indissolubly tied to present social structures--the nation-state, the division of labour, and the division between core and periphery--which are themselves constantly being reconstructed. Despite their productive disagreements, Balibar and Wallerstein both emphasize the modernity of racism and the need to understand its relation to contemporary capitalism and class struggle. Above all, their dialogue reveals the forms of present and future social conflict, in a world where the crisis of the nation-state is accompanied by an alarming rise of nationalism and chauvinism.

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I read Balibar's book, I liked. Read full review

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User Review  - Will - Goodreads

Read so far: "Is there a 'Neo-Racism'?" and "The Construction of Peoplehood: Racism, Nationalism and Ethnicity." Read full review


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The Bourgeoisie as Concept and Reality
From Class Struggle to Classless Struggle?
Class Racism
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Banal Nationalism
Michael Billig
Limited preview - 1995
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About the author (1991)

Étienne Balibar is a French Marxist philosopher and the most celebrated student of Louis Althusser. He is also one of the leading exponents of French Marxist philosophy and the author of Spinoza and Politics, The Philosophy of Marx and co-author of Race, Nation and Class and Reading Capital.

Immanuel Wallerstein is director of the Fernand Braudel Center at the State University of New York. His books include a three-volume study, The Modern World-System, Historical Capitalism, and, cowritten with Etienne Balibar, Race, Nation, Class.

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