Difference between racism and race wars

A self-described almost-finished politics student at Lancaster University raises an issue we should talk about more:

The difference between racism and race wars in Foucault.

Racism for example, happens when someone irrationally ‘hates’ someone of another ‘race’ and also discriminates against them, using what abilities they have (within their own personality) to disadvantage another. I dont see racism as such, or at least another sort of racism, in the disadvantagement of a group as a result of societies mechanisms.

Now reading Foucault, or at least an understanding of Foucault from my lectures I think I may have come to the understanding of that differentiation. This propsition is entitled ‘Racism’ and ‘Race War, as it is an idea of a subtle ‘Race War’ within sociatal biopolitics which allows for a differentiation.

(Wouldn’t like to mark this what with all the dodgy spelling!).

In any case here is the difference:

Indeed it would, but as you can control the best places to live, you can also control the best people. It is of control and knowledge of the individual that biopolitics shows it’s ugly underbelly. And here Racism is shown. Not the racism of hate, but the mechanisms of race without the discourse of racism. How would this work? And how is this any different from a singlar understanding of Racism?

Funnily enough I have not seen enough discussion on Foucault’s use of race, which is a specific and uncommon one. So this is nice to see.

Chris Philo has written the most sustained piece about this, to my knowledge.


4 Responses

  1. Don’t forget Elden’s “review” of SMBD, Stoler’s discussion of the lectures in Race and the Education of Desire (likely the first sustained discussion of them in English) and Hanssen’s chapters in her Critique of Violence. (I wonder if it is significant that two of the earliest discussions (published in English) of the lectures were by women?) I’d also point in the direction of my dissertation, which takes the eighteenth century “race war” as a point of departure. (Here – I’m still working through the less interesting part and haven’t had much time to spend on the more interesting archive at the core of the project.)

    But, generally, the “race” and “war” discussion has been more or less ignored – something Foucault was complaining about as early as 1977!

  2. Thanks for the reminders and the link to your stuff.

    The Hanssen piece was new to me. Must check it out!

  3. Thanks for finding my (badly spelt) effort worthy of quoting.

    For anyone interested the module based largely on Foucault was run by Michael Dillion.


    Has a list of publications that may be of interest.

  4. Hi Anthony! Thanks for the comment.
    Dillon: yes, I read his paper in Pol Geog., it’s very good. I actually share some of the same interests, namely security and biopolitics as applied to spatial government:
    2002. “The Risks of Security.” Guest Editorial. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 20, pp. 631–635.
    2003. “Cartographic Rationality and the Politics of Geosurveillance and Security.” Cartography & GIS, 30(2), pp. 131-144.

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