We’re back to our regular schedule after a summer of fewer updates here. Today is Monday, and with the start of a new week, and a new semester, we continue our ‘Research Briefs’ with highlights from recent publications by some of our colleagues in the UK. As always, I’ll note which citations are Open Access (OA) or locked behind a paywall or otherwise not available on the open web (locked).
The journal Patterns of Prejudice selected twenty-four of their top articles from previous years (2011-2013); those are collected here. A few of those titles that may be particularly relevant for readers here include:
- Charters, Erica. “Making bodies modern: race, medicine and the colonial soldier in the mid-eighteenth century.” Patterns of Prejudice 46, no. 3-4 (2012): 214-231. The expansion of British imperial warfare during the middle of the eighteenth century provided motivation and opportunity for observations on British and native forces. The nature of military medicine, with its use of regimental returns and empirical observations about mortality rates of large groups of anonymous individuals, encouraged generalizations about differences between native and European bodies. As foreign, colonial environments accentuated European deaths due to disease during war-time, and as early modern medicine advised the use of acclimatized, native labour, the physical experience of eighteenth-century colonial warfare encouraged the recruitment of native forces as menial labourers under the direction of professional British soldiers. Although not inherently racial, such practices buttressed emerging social and cultural prejudices. In contrast to the traditional focus on intellectual writings on race and science during the modern period of nineteenth-century imperialism, Charters’s article examines the experience of common men—rank-and-file soldiers—during the early modern period, demonstrating the relationship between developing empirical and scientific observations and burgeoning racial theories. (locked)
- Pitcher, Ben. “Race and capitalism redux.” Patterns of Prejudice 46, no. 1 (2012): 1-15. Pitcher’s article deals with a revival of interest in the relationship between race and capitalism. The old reductionist arguments that once held that capitalism was ultimately to blame for racism have been subject to a peculiar inversion, and now capitalism is being conceived as having anti-racist outcomes. Engaging with arguments that suggest that anti-racism similarly serves as an agent of neoliberal capitalism, Pitcher suggests it is necessary to rethink the terms of the imputed relation between race and capital. He goes on to interrogate some of the pieties of contemporary race politics, and argues that common blind spots in left critique constitute an obstacle to understanding the articulation of capitalism and race. (locked)
- Saggar, Shamit. “Bending without breaking the mould: race and political representation in the United Kingdom.” Patterns of Prejudice 47, no. 1 (2013): 69-93. Saggar draws together research evidence and practitioner insights to evaluate and interpret change in race and political representation in Britain. The starting point is to ask: how far have British democratic institutions been responsive to the emergence of an ethnically diverse society? There have been significant impacts of such diversity on attitudinal change, demographic and electoral composition and political participation. Saggar’s article proceeds in four parts. First, the issue of the political integration of ethnic minorities is discussed, including theoretical debates about political difference in outlook and in behaviour across and within ethnic groups, as well as the ways this may be connected to ethnic background. Second, key normative and empirical arguments are examined about why political change and ethnic pluralism matters, and to whom. The structure, institutions and processes that shape representative outcomes form the backdrop to the remainder of the article. The third section highlights aspects of the party and electoral landscape that disproportionately influence the electoral prospects for discrete minorities. Finally, attention is given to the rise of a ‘political class’ and discusses how these filters can skew the opportunities available to minorities. Saggar concludes with a discussion of long-term political integration, the emerging focus on executive appointments, and how, through political integration and social cohesion, minorities can affect the wider political system they have joined. (locked)
The British Sociological Association’s Race and Ethnicity Study Group (@BSArace) released a special issue that provides an overview of the field:
- Andrews, Kehinde, Leah Bassel, and Aaron Winter. “The British Sociological Association Race and Ethnicity Study Group Conference ‘Mapping the Field: Contemporary Theories of Race, Racism and Ethnicity’.” Ethnic and Racial Studies 37, no. 10 (2014): 1862-1868. (OA)
The editors of the journal Sociology, the flagship journal of the British Sociological Association’s (@britsoci), have put together what they’re calling an “E-Special,” which is a compilation of previously published articles on race and racism, including this classic:
- Solomos, John and Les Back. “Conceptualising Racisms: Social Theory, Politics and Research.” Sociology 28 (1994): 143-161. This paper explores the changing terms of debate about race and racism in contemporary social and political theory. It focuses attention on criticisms of what is often called the `race relations problematic’, and looks at some of the critical approaches that have emerged in the past decade. By looking at the questions addressed in the debates of the 1980s and the 1990s, it outlines some of the issues which researches have to address in developing new research agendas. It suggests that we need to rethink key theoretical concepts in order to analyse the complex forms of racism that have emerged in contemporary societies. (OA)
The E-Special also includes ‘new’ classics, like this one:
- Bhambra, Gurminder K. “Sociology and Postcolonialism: AnotherMissing’Revolution?.” Sociology 41, no. 5 (2007): 871-884. Sociology is usually represented as having emerged alongside European modernity. The latter is frequently understood as sociology’s special object with sociology itself a distinctively modern form of explanation. The period of sociology’s disciplinary formation was also the heyday of European colonialism, yet the colonial relationship did not figure in the development of sociological understandings. While the recent emergence of postcolonialism appears to have initiated a reconsideration of understandings of modernity, with the development of theories of multiple modernities, I suggest that this engagement is more an attempt at recuperating the transformative aspect of postcolonialism than engaging with its critiques. In setting out the challenge of postcolonialism to dominant sociological accounts, I also address `missing feminist/queer revolutions’, suggesting that by engaging with postcolonialism there is the potential to transform sociological understandings by opening up a dialogue beyond the simple pluralism of identity claims. (OA)
The introduction to the E-Special, which provides a nice overview, is here:
- Meer, Nasar, and Anoop Nayak. “Race Ends Where? Race, Racism and Contemporary Sociology.” Sociology (2013): 0038038513501943. In this introductory article we critically discuss where the study of race in sociology has travelled, with the benefit of previously published articles in Sociology supported by correspondence from article authors. We make the argument for sociologies of race that go beyond surface level reconstructions, and which challenge sociologists to reflect on how their discipline is presently configured. What the suite of papers in this collection shows is both the resilience of race as a construct for organising social relations and the slippery fashion in which ideas of race have shifted, transmuted and pluralised. It is in a spirit of recognising continuity and change that we present this collection. Some of the papers already stand as landmark essays, while others exemplify key moments in the broader teleology of race studies. This includes articles that explore the ontological ground upon which ideas of race, citizenship and black identity have been fostered and the need to develop a global sociology that is critically reflexive of its western orientation. The theme of continuity and change can be seen in papers that showcase intersectional approaches to race, where gender, nationality, generation and class offer nuanced readings of everyday life, alongside the persistence of institutional forms of discrimination. As this work demonstrates, middle-class forms of whiteness often go ‘hiding in the light’ yet can be made visible if we consider how parental school choice, or selecting where to live are also recognised as racially informed decisions. The range and complexity of these debates not only reflect the vitality of race in the contemporary period but lead us to ask not so much if race ends here, but where? (OA)
Do you have new research on race, ethnicity, or racism? Want it included in an upcoming Research Brief? Use the contact form to let us know about your work. Be sure to include an abstract and a link.