AGAINST RACE by Paul Gilroy


Imagining Political Culture Beyond the Color Line
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An insightful but overly academic treatment of race by Yale sociologist Gilroy (The Black Atlantic, not reviewed).

"Raciology" is scholarly jargon not to be found in Webster’s but common on these pages, where it accompanies such

phraseology as "unamist fantasies," "biopolitical power," "nano-political struggles of the biotech era," and "the morality of

intersubjective recognition." Gilroy does have some worthwhile things to say, however, and he comments incisively on such pop

stars of the Black Atlantic diaspora (as he terms it) as Bob Marley and Snoop Doggy Dogg, and on films like Space Jam and Men

in Black. A West Indian raised in England, Gilroy compares the African diaspora to the Jewish one and sees Nazism as the

greatest force to perpetuate colonialist race consciousness in our era. He also feels that racism has not disappeared since the

independence of Third World countries, the American civil-rights movement, or the fall of South African apartheid—because now

blacks are just being exploited in different ways. The vast commercialization of rap music, black fashion, professional sports, etc.,

reflects a "culture as a form of property to be owned rather than lived." Gilroy feels that everything from the misogynist swagger

of hip-hop music to the Million-Man March and the militancy of the Nation of Islam is overly masculine and physical to the point

of anti-intellectualism. All these energies, in Gilroy’s view, perpetuate racial stereotypes rather than move us to a postracial

sensibility. Myths about the white devil, melanin, and crack or AIDS as tools of genocide are "out and out occultism," more

reminiscent of the worst race science and ideology of the last century than steps forward to Gilroy's new world order of

"planetary humanism."

Gilroy’s insights will be striking and fresh to the few brave souls capable of reading his turgid prose. (32 pages notes; index)

Pub Date: April 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-674-00096-X
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Harvard Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2000