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C-SAP teaching resources: Teaching race and ethnicity mapping theories
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C-SAP teaching resources: Teaching race and ethnicity mapping theories

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This resource was produced as part of C-SAP's project "Teaching Race and Ethnicity" http://www.teachingrace.bham.ac.uk/ by Dr Stephen Spencer from Sheffield Hallam University.

This resource was produced as part of C-SAP's project "Teaching Race and Ethnicity" http://www.teachingrace.bham.ac.uk/ by Dr Stephen Spencer from Sheffield Hallam University.

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  • Social movements in Mexico clearly regenerate and mark a resurgence in Marxist ideas in support of indigenous rights
  • So can ethnicity be understood as a PRIMORDIAL or an INSTRUMENTAL phenomena? Primordialism (in its most extreme form) suggests that cultures are fixed and unchanging (almost genetic blueprints - indeed sociobiology and other pseudo-sciences are often waiting in the wings). Instrumentalism on the contrary indicates that there is some intentional or conscious strategies behind identity formation. So can ethnicity be understood as a PRIMORDIAL or an INSTRUMENTAL phenomena? During media coverage of (for example the conflict in Rwanda) this essentialism or return to some primordial tribalism was seen time and again to allow for a simple and quick explanation. The ethnic minorities reported as fighting one another, as if they were homogenous entities. the true complexity of the situation becomes lost in a media blitz on brutal tribal attrocities. The background to these conflicts often stems from their colonial history. … Although ethnicity may appear instrumental , it is structurally primordial , possessing an intrinsic absolute value, involving and demanding a level of loyalty which transcends that given to any other group or the state. "(O)ne is bound to one’s kinsman, one’s neighbour, one’s fellow believer, ipso facto as the result not merely of personal affection, practical necessity, common interest, or incurred obligation, but at least in great part by virtue of some unaccountable absolute import attributable to the very tie itself." In contrast to such primordial ties, civil ties are characterised by amorphous, routine allegiance to the civil state, gingerly sustained to a greater extent by governmental use of brutal, suffocating force and hollow ideological rhetoric. Civil ties and primordial ties are not labels that characterise social relationships in different societies at different times or levels of development. Rather, they are centrifugal forces pulling persons in different directions at the same time. Increasing homogenisation through modernisation and education has not undermined the salience of the ethnic group to provide a tangible source of self-identification and a basis for political action. Values and norms of the incipient national character have not grown at the expense of the values and norms of the ethnic group, as if it were a zero-sum option in which the more a country becomes "modern" the less it remains "traditional". The citizen of the contemporary African state exhibits a type of survival instinct which enables him to combine values and norms from both civil and primordial centres, with his perceived interest and loyalty still weighted on the latter. … An ethnic group, of course, could have political interests, but it is arguably invalid to define the ethnic group in terms of its political interests; it confuses an aspect of the phenomenon with the phenomenon itself. Rather, the ethnic group, lacking confidence in the new political dispensation, naturally reposes its faith in primordial relations to protect the basic needs of identity and security in the new and suspect game of majoritarian electoral processes. THE CHALLENGE OF ETHNICITY AND CONFLICTS IN AFRICA:THE NEED FOR A NEW PARADIGM : Emergency Response Division, United Nations Development Programme Sam G. Amoo, Senior Adviser, Emergency Response Division, New York, January 1997 http://66.102.9.104/search?q=cache:myp0oYbDLoIJ:www.undp.org/bcpr/archives/cnflict.htm+Instrumental+v+Primordial+ethnicity&hl=en (accessed 7/11/04)   We can therefore conclude that there are moderate primordial influences and that groups thus identified may at times mobilise for political ends – but not that ethnic identity is either essentialist or merely expedient.
  • are interested in studying the evolved cognitive structure of the mind. EP argue that much has changed since the mind evolved in the ancestral environment, and behaviours observed today may or may not be adaptive. The focus of study is on psychological or mental mechanisms, also referred to as decision processes, information processes, or Darwinian algorithms. Darwinian algorithms are defined as: "Innate specialized learning mechanisms that evolved in ancestral populations for organizing experience into adaptively meaningful schemes or frames."
  • The plates from Baron Cuvier's Natural History (1890) which portray the Human race are divided into 4 categories: American Indian, Caucasian, Mongol and Negro (the same as Linnaeus red, white, yellow and black) show the varieties within these colour coded groups. Each plate purports to show details of human types. The inclusion of the skull is representative of the materialist anthropology and physiognomy of the time. The studies from drawings by Thomas Landseer are sensitive and sympathetic to the dignity and character of their subjects, and a long way removed from the crude stereotypes which can be seen in other works of the period. The accompanying text explains that these categories of humankind are not considered separate species as this precluded interbreeding between species, whereas it is clearly possible between human groups. However, the physical boundaries of race are affirmed by the presence of 'hereditary peculiarities of conformance' - “ Although the human species would appear to be single, since the union of any of its members produces individuals capable of propagation, there are nevertheless, certain hereditary peculiarities of conformation observable, which constitute what are termed races, Three of these in particular appear eminently distinct: the Caucasian , or white, the Mongolian , or yellow, and the Ethiopian , or negro. (1890:37) Swedish biologist Linnaeus who's General System of Nature (1735) established four basic colour types in descending order: White Europeans, Red Americans Yellow Asians Black Africans
  • Plural Society Theories Theories which seek to explain the way race and ethnicity operate as loci of power within society, are relatively recent. The phenomena associated with plural societies themselves are fairly recent and were previously, as we have seen, explained away through crude racial theorising which has been shown to have little foundation in scientific fact as well as associations with the Nazi pseudoscience of race. The concept of a 'plural society' first emerged prior to the Second World War through anthropological analyses of colonial societies at the turn of the Twentieth Century. Anthropologist J S Furnival who studied Indonesia and Burma, wrote that 'the first thing that strikes the visitor is the medley of peoples - European, Chinese, Indian and native' that constitute the society. The different groups, Furnival wrote, 'mix but do not combine'. Each group 'holds by its own religion, its own culture and language, its ideas and ways'. The result was a 'plural society, with different sections of the society living side by side but separately within the same political unit' (Malik, 1998) Plural societies viewed as composed of essentially antagonistic ethnic groups prevented from all-out conflict by the coercive force wielded by colonial powers anthropology providing support to paternalistic colonialism
  • In the diagram (1) if ‘A’ is the colonial force which governs the country, they have obvious political motives for exploiting any racial divisions and often would seed dissent in the form of slurs and scares about each of the enclaves. So the subject groups are divided. However, with time and the fluctuating influence and support for the colony, the subjugated groups will begin to unite beneath the banner of resistance against a common oppressor, (2) and there will be increasing mobility between the groups as the pressure increases and the position of ‘A’ becomes more uneasy. If ‘B’ were African Guyanese and ‘C’ Indian- Guyanese certain cultural/ethnic dimensions will operate to allow or delay this ascent to higher levels of administration and responsibility. In Guyana the Africans had the advantage of being more acculturated than the Indians – their original culture being largely destroyed or lost and therefore embracing the language and social mores of the dominant group. The Indian-Guyanese having stronger cultural/language bonds to their origins would be held back by religious considerations from participating in the education system. Stewart was however, optimistic that the eventual outcome would be a levelling of boundaries and a thorough acculturation which he believed was actively in process at the time (1991) Walter Rodney writes of the divisive use of stereotypes on the plantations of British Guiana to maintain control and exploit labourers even after slavery had ended: “ Early in the history of indentureship, planters recognised the value of having a working population segmented racially; and they never lost sight of the opportunity of playing off the two principal races - by using one to put down any overt resistance by the other. (Rodney: 1981, 188).
  • The following passage comes from a letter that Marx (Marx and Engels, 1971) wrote from London in 1870 to Sigfrid Meyer and August Vogt in New York 9 April 1870: Every industrial and commercial centre in England now possesses a working class divided into two hostile camps, English proletarians and Irish proletarians.  The ordinary English worker hates the Irish worker as a competitor who lowers his standard of life.  In relation to the Irish worker he regards himself as a member of the ruling nation and consequently he becomes a tool of the English aristocrats and capitalists against Ireland, thus strengthening their domination over himself.  He cherishes religious, social, and national prejudices against the Irish worker.  His attitude towards him is much the same as that of the "poor whites" to the Negroes in the former slave states of the U.S.A. The Irishman pays him back with interest in his own money.  He sees in the English worker both the accomplice and the stupid tool of the English rulers in Ireland. This antagonism is artificially kept alive and intensified by the press, the pulpit, the comic papers, in short, by all the means at the disposal of the ruling classes.  This antagonism is the secret of the impotence of the English working class, despite its organization.  It is the secret by which the capitalist class maintains its power.  And the latter is quite aware of this. (Marx in Marx and Engels, 1982, 222) a valid assessment of the instrumental use of race as a strategic tool to enable the divide and rule of workers by the elite, whether they are factory and mill owners, colonists in the New World, or perhaps a government which wants to draw attention away from the numbers of unemployed under stringent economic policies (e.g. the neo-conservatism of Margaret Thatcher in the UK, Reagan in the US during the late 70’s and early 80’s) and in the 2000’s Bush and Blair’s war on terror, and concurrent concerns about ‘asylum seekers' and refugees. Critics of Marxist views might do well to consider the enduring relevance of the view that race is not an inherent identity based on biological or ethnic characteristics but is used expediently – as a fluid set of rationalizations, continuously shifting to respond to considerations related to the demands of industry, military needs in times of war and calls for national unity in the face of economic global threat. Marxism suggests racism serves the ruling class in several ways. First to legitimize domination and exploitation; if racial hierarchies are accepted this inequity is neutralized. For example colonial attitudes expressed colonial relations as a 'natural' hierarchy: “ Nature has made a race of workers, the Chinese race, who have wonderful manual dexterity and almost no sense of humour; ...a race of tillers of the soil, the Negro...; a race of masters and soldiers, the European race. reduce this noble race to working...like Negros or Chinese and they rebel...” (quoted in Loomba, 1996: 126)
  • he following passage comes from a letter that Marx (Marx and Engels, 1971) wrote from London in 1870 to Sigfrid Meyer and August Vogt in New York 9 April 1870: Every industrial and commercial centre in England now possesses a working class divided into two hostile camps, English proletarians and Irish proletarians.  The ordinary English worker hates the Irish worker as a competitor who lowers his standard of life.  In relation to the Irish worker he regards himself as a member of the ruling nation and consequently he becomes a tool of the English aristocrats and capitalists against Ireland, thus strengthening their domination over himself.  He cherishes religious, social, and national prejudices against the Irish worker.  His attitude towards him is much the same as that of the "poor whites" to the Negroes in the former slave states of the U.S.A. The Irishman pays him back with interest in his own money.  He sees in the English worker both the accomplice and the stupid tool of the English rulers in Ireland. This antagonism is artificially kept alive and intensified by the press, the pulpit, the comic papers, in short, by all the means at the disposal of the ruling classes.  This antagonism is the secret of the impotence of the English working class, despite its organization.  It is the secret by which the capitalist class maintains its power.  And the latter is quite aware of this. (Marx in Marx and Engels, 1982, 222) The contention contained in Marx’s letter is certainly a valid assessment of the instrumental use of race as a strategic tool to enable the divide and rule of workers by the elite, whether they are factory and mill owners, colonists in the New World, or perhaps a government which wants to draw attention away from the numbers of unemployed under stringent economic policies (e.g. the neo-conservatism of Margaret Thatcher in the UK, Reagan in the US during the late 70’s and early 80’s) and in the 2000’s Bush and Blair’s war on terror, and concurrent concerns about ‘asylum seekers' and refugees.
  • Rodney also quotes evidence given at the West Indian Royal Commission, clearly showing that this manipulative attitude was commonplace in the colony. The two peoples do not mix. That is, of course, one of our great safeties in the colony when there has been any rioting. If the negroes were troublesome every coolie on the estate would stand by one. If the coolies attacked me, I could with confidence trust my negro friends for keeping me from injury. (Rodney, 1981: 188)
  • ) Stuart Hall (1980) in Policing the Crisis suggested that the racism of the British press in discussing the street crime of mugging acted as a screen behind which the government could hide a deepening economic and social crisis. However, there is a further debate within race analysis developed by neo-Marxists within the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCCS), which is whether race should be considered as merely part of social class analysis or whether it has a significance that runs deeper. Neo-Marxists came to two conclusions, creating two models within the theoretical approach: 1. Relative Autonomy Model (Hall, 1980) – suggests racism is a historical phenomenon and works separately from social relations, but at the same time affects them. Consequently class and ‘ race ’ should be examined together. 2. Autonomy Model ( Gabriel and Ben-Tovim, 1979) – racism is a product of contemporary and historical conflict, arising independently of class and social relations. Therefore racism cannot be reduced to class conflict, it exists as a consequence of ideological and political practices Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci, to allow a more sophisticated Marxism to be brought to bear on the discourses which compose racism. Gramsci’s concept of 'hegemony' [1] , based on the suggestion by Machiavelli that political domination of the masses is achieved by a combination of force and fraud, led Gramsci to consider the manner in which elites were able to create willing submission to colonial rule. This view was quite different to the notion of direct repression and coercion, but does not deny the existence of brutal repressive force as well. However, “hegemony is achieved not only by direct manipulation or indoctrination, but by playing upon the commonsense of people, upon what Raymond Williams calls their ‘lived system of meaning and values’ (1977, 110). [1] However, the post-Fordist restructure of the labour force and the recognition that the other forms of social division like ethnicity and gender are not merely the result of class structures render any simple views of race as class as highly problematic. Race is fundamental to the formation of the working classes in general and to the experience of black labour in particular. A pioneering study pointed out that the class relations within which black working-class people exist ‘function as race-relations. The two are inseparable . Race is the modality in which class is lived.” (Hall et al 1978: 394)
  • The linguistic turn in social theory enables the recent anti-reductionist views on race. Concepts like Winant's "racial formation" ("Racial Formation Theory" 130), Paul Gilroy's "multi-modal" ( There Ain't 28) and David Theo Goldberg's "grammatical" reading of race ("Racist Discourse" 95) reflect the current anti-reductionist logic that currently dominates contemporary theorizing on race. All three theorists vigorously oppose reducing race to class, but apparently, it is acceptable to "reduce" race to a "hybridity" of factors (Goldberg 93), which once again establishes liberal pluralism as the limit of politics. Indeed, at the moment, it is fairly commonplace to "reduce" race to culture, or politics, or desire. Hence, these theorists are not so much opposed to reductionist theories, they simply are opposed to class understandings of race and, in this way, they articulate a conceptual displacement of materialism (in the name of epistemological skepticism) and, consequently, they reclaim the autonomy of race (in the name of liberalism). Certainly Marxist perspectives offer powerful insights into the use of racism as a means to an end. However the weakness of traditional Marxist analyses for issues of race and gender was an over -emphasis on economic bases as primary and a blind spot where other instrumental intersections with the institutions of capitalism were concerned. The role of the family, culture, sexuality, ethnic identity were not given serious analysis. Marxist theory of ideology through which the relations of the means of production are operationalised through human subjects caught up in the struggle for survival has been criticized as economistic and reductionist, allowing very little recognition for human agency. Yet by contrast Marx’s beliefs in social change through conscious and collective action partly mitigate such a conclusion.
  • The strengths of using Bourdieu’s approach are: allow ethnic relations to be viewed as social and historical codes which, while they shape individual identity and behaviour, are not immutable structures may be seen as part of a repertoire of strategies, which an individual will use, depending on individual as well as larger communal codes of practice to make sense and help negotiation of the social situations s/he is confronted with. The habitus is a product of history and it produces individual and collective practices. It creates the 'active presence of past experiences', which tend to ensure the 'correctness' of practices and their 'constancy over time'. [1] Bourdieu suggests that the objective conditions of existence - material events in social history - generate the habitus which in turn generate certain dispositions, attitudes and behaviours; a lexicon from which each individual may choose [1] Bourdieu, P, 1990, p54. Bourdieu’s concept of habitus appears to be a valuable theoretical tool. It allows us to take into account both social class and socio-cultural factors. It recognised that all acts of ethnic expression can be explained in terms of lived experiences, habitual practices which produce the codes, and inscribe meanings onto the body and psyche of the individual. It allows us to analyse individuals and groups. There are differences in each individual's habitus. Unique individuals construct their own. However, the individual is also influenced by the specific traditions of a group. The group habitus places limits upon the actions of the individual. It helps to define acceptable behaviour. ... without violence, art or argument' The group habitus tends to exclude all 'extravagances' ('not for the likes of us'), that is, all the behaviours that would be negatively sanctioned because they are incompatible with the objective conditions. [1] Symbolic Dominance – eg of cricket in Guyana Critique of Bourdieu’s Habitus It has been suggested that the concept of the habitus is too vague and something of a 'black box'. The 'dispositions' which Bourdieu says make up the habitus, and which are the 'generative basis' for practices, [1] are not clearly defined. Furthermore, whatever these dispositions are Bourdieu claims they are largely unconscious. This does raise concern, as very often in social situations, people can be seen to be consciously manipulating codes of practice [1] Jenkins, R. 1992, p78. [1] Bourdieu, P, 1990:56 All extracts from Spencer, S (2004) A Dream Deferred: Ethnic Conflict in Guyana, Dido Press

Transcript

  • 1. Mapping Theories Sociology of 'Race'
  • 2.  
  • 3. Key Theoretical Approaches
    • Primordialism or Instrumentalism
    • Plural Society theorists
    • Marxist Approaches
    • Weberian
  • 4. Instrumental or Primordial?
    • Ethnicity as a resource to be used in times of competition.
    • Ethnicity and race as deep-seated and relatively fixed
  • 5. Primordialism
    • Social Darwinism – survival of the fittest
    • Sociobiology – the 'selfish gene', 'inclusive fitness' - person as 'survival machine‘
    • Evolutionary Psychology
    • Anthropological versions – Geertz concept of ineffability, a-priori and affective bonds.
  • 6. Criticisms
    • Sociobiological explanations extrapolate from non-human non-self aware organisms
    • biological predestination
    • Use of Social Darwinist approaches in eugenics
    • Most ethnic identities go through renewal each generation, ‘ineffability’ questionable
    • Mysticism of 'affectivity'
  • 7.  
  • 8. Plural Society Theories
    • Plural societies viewed as composed of essentially antagonistic ethnic groups prevented from all-out conflict by the coercive force wielded by colonial powers
    • Colonialism produced racism as a means of rationalisation or economic justification which sowed the seeds for racist ideologies.
  • 9. E D C B A
  • 10. Marxism & Race
    • Marx recognised that racism – the divide and rule of colonialism prevented a united working class opposing the bourgeoisie
    • Race is not a primary category of analysis
    • But serves as a convenient tool of capitalism which will wither away when economic reality is recognised,
    • or a mask which serves to obscure true relations of power in a society, which are, in fact, class-based.
  • 11. Marx on race/ism
    • Writing about slavery just after the Civil War Marx (1867, 1961:301) made the following comment showing that he recognised that racial divisions were crucial to the success of the exploiters - "In the United States of North America every independent movement of the workers was paralyzed so long as slavery disfigured a part of the republic.  Labour cannot emancipate itself in the white skin where in the black it is branded."
  • 12. Racism & Capitalism
    • Oliver Cox perceived racism as developing out of capitalism “ and provided a means for furthering the use of labour as a commodity, pure and simple, resulting in a greater exploitation.”
    • Does racism grow out of capitalism (as Cox, the black Marxist writer claims?
    • Race is fundamental to the formation of the working classes in general and to the experience of black labour in particular. A pioneering study pointed out that the class relations within which black working-class people exist ‘function as race-relations. The two are inseparable .
    • "Race is the modality in which class is lived.” It is also the medium in which class relations are experienced. This... has consequences for the whole class, whose relation to their conditions of existence is now systematically transformed by race.’(Hall et al 1978: 394)” (p133 Loomba)
  • 13. The secret exploitation
    • Marx perceptively recognized that European and U.S. capitalists promoted racist divisions within the working class in similar ways. 
    • This antagonism is the secret of the impotence of the English working class, despite its organization.  It is the secret by which the capitalist class maintains its power.  And the latter is quite aware of this."
  • 14. Walter Rodney Walter Rodney writes of the divisive use of stereotypes on the plantations of British Guiana to maintain control and exploit labourers even after slavery had ended: “ Early in the history of indentureship, planters recognised the value of having a working population segmented racially; and they never lost sight of the opportunity of playing off the two principal races - by using one to put down any overt resistance by the other. (Rodney: 1981, 188).
  • 15. Guyana
    • It is sometimes assumed that a universal ideology such as socialism might serve to straddle the ethnic groups. But, even under such an umbrella group interests can be involved. In contemporary Guyana both major parties claim to be socialist. Both claim to be based on a 'working class', both are led by ethnic leadership. ...as Rodney recognised there are two working classes in Guyana ... Thus even a universal ideology must square with differences in culture or succumb to it (LaGuerre, 1987 :50)
  • 16. Neo-Marxists
    • 1. Relative Autonomy Model (Hall, 1980)
    • class and ‘race’ should be examined together.
    • 2. Autonomy Model (Gabriel and Ben-Tovim, 1979)
    • racism cannot be reduced to class conflict
    • 3. Migrant Labour Model (Miles & Phizacklea
    • “ Race is an idea which should be explicitly and consistently confined to the dustbin of analytically useless terms.”(Miles, 1984:42 in Solomos p8).
  • 17. Robert Young on putting materialism back into race theory
    • "the idea of race and the operation of racism are the best friends that the economic and political elite have in the United States" Wahneema Lubiano
    • Race mystifies the structure of exploitation and masks the severe inequalities within global capitalism.
    • many contemporary race theorists, in their systematic erasure of materialism, have become close (ideological) allies with the economic and political elites, who deny even the existence of classes. A transformative race theory pulls back into focus the struggle against exploitation and sets a new social priority "in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all" (Marx 31).
  • 18. Pierre Bourdieu
    • concept of 'habitus', grounded in material conditions and experience
    • struggle for ‘symbolic dominance’
    • the habitus is a reflexive, generative structure
    • a useful tool to look at cases of inter-ethnic differences, alienation, and conflict
    • which are in a state of constant adjustment and negotiation.
  • 19. Bibliography
    • Bourdieu, P (1977) Outline of Theory of Practice, Cambridge University Press.
    • Hall, S. et al. (1978) Policing the Crisis: Mugging, the State and Law and Order, Macmillan, London.
    • Loomba A (1998) Colonialism/Postcolonialism , Routledge
    • Marx, K, and Engels, F (1982) Selected Correspondence , Progress p222.
    • Rodney, W (1981 ), A History of the Guyanese Working People , 1881--1905, Baltimore, John Hopkins University Press
    • Spencer,,S. (2006) A Dream Deferred: Guyana and the Shadow of Colonialism, Hansib.
    • Spencer, S (2006) Race And Ethnicity: Culture, Identity and Representation , Routledge
    • Y oung, Robert Putting Materialism back into Race Theory: Toward a Transformative Theory of Race . The Red Critique; Marxist Theory and Critique of the Contemporary [Online] http:// www.redcritique.org /