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Racial Formation Article by Michael Omi and Howard Winant Presentation by Carianne Bradley.

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Presentation on theme: "Racial Formation Article by Michael Omi and Howard Winant Presentation by Carianne Bradley."— Presentation transcript:

1 Racial Formation Article by Michael Omi and Howard Winant Presentation by Carianne Bradley

2 In this presentation, we will discuss: …race, according to Omi …what Racial Formation is, and discuss it in different aspects of life …the evolution of modern racial awareness …the presence of these issues in film

3 WHAT IS RACE???? According to Omi: We tend to think of race either as an “essence, something fixed, concrete and objective,” OR as an “illusion, a purely ideological construct which some ideal non-racist social order would eliminate.”

4 Omi’s Definition: Race is a concept which signifies and symbolizes social conflicts and interests by referring to different types of human bodies.


6 According to Omi, “we should think of race as an element of social structure rather than as an irregularity within it; we should see race as a dimension of human representation rather than an illusion.” Which I think means…

7 Race is a topic which will always be around. No matter what we can think, it will never “go away.” So we might as well embrace it as a part of our culture instead of trying to pretend it doesn’t affect us everyday.

8 This idea gives way to Omi’s term Racial Formation. Racial Formation is the sociohistorical process by which racial categories are created, inhabited, transformed, and destroyed.

9 Racial Formation Theory Omi argues that “racial formation is a process of historically situated projects in which human bodies and social structures are represented and organized.

10 Racial Formation Theory (continued) Racial Formation is linked to the evolution of hegemony (the way in which society is ruled and organized).

11 Hegemony: helps “explain the nature of racism, the relationship of race to other forms of differences, inequalities, and oppression such as sexism and nationalism, and the dilemmas of racial identity today.”

12 NEW TERM!!! Don’t get too excited! RACIAL PROJECT: –Is simultaneously an interpretation, representation, or explanation of racial dynamics, and an effort to reorganize and redistribute resources along particular racial lines.

13 In other words, A racial project just helps to explain how people of different races interact in the world.

14 Racial Formation as a Macro- Level Social Process “To interpret the meaning of races is to fame it social structurally.” “Race is not a morally admissible reason for treating one person differently from another,” Charles Murray on welfare reform.

15 (continued) “No state policy can legitimately require, recommend, or award different status according to race.” This is known as a “neoconservative” racial project in the U.S.

16 The Political Spectrum of Racial Formation Neoconservative approach: –Where the state is “color blind” and the significance of race is denied Liberal approach: –The significance of race is affirmed, leading to an “activist” state policy

17 Racial Formation as Everyday Experience “One of the first things we notice about people when we meet them is their race. We utilize race to provide clues about who a person is. This fact is made painfully obvious when we encounter someone whom we cannot racially categorize- someone who is “mixed” or of an ethnic/racial group we are not familiar with. Such an encounter becomes a source of discomfrot and momentarily a crisis of racial meaning.

18 (continued) “Temperament, sexuality, intelligence, athletic ability, aesthetic preferences, and so on are presumed to be fixed and discernible from the palpable mark of race.”

19 (continued) “Sexual preferences and romantic images, our tastes in music, films, dance, or sports, and our very ways of talking, walking, eating, and dreaming become racially coded and simply because we live in a society where racial awareness is so pervasive.

20 The Evolution of Modern Racial Awareness The distinction between groups of people goes back all the way through history, but it wasn’t until the Europeans traveled to the Americas that a “modern conception of race” occurred.

21 The Europeans’ discovery of the new people “raised questions as to which native peoples could be exploited and enslaved.”

22 “The seizure of territories and goods, the introduction of slavery, and then the organization of the African slave trade all presupposed a world-view which distinguished Europeans, as children of God, full-fledged human beings, etc., from “Others.”

23 The European conquest of the Americas “initiated modern racial awareness.” This was the first racial formation project.

24 From Religion to Science In the 18 th and 19 th centuries, race was thought of as a biological concept, a matter of species. Voltaire wrote about the Negro race: –“If their understanding is not of a different nature from ours…, it is at least greatly inferior.”

25 (continued) Jefferson wrote about blacks: –“I advance it therefore…that the blacks…are inferior to the whites.” People today are still in search of a scientific definition of race

26 (continued) “The concept of race has defied biological definition.”

27 From Science to Politics “Race is a social concept.” Omi concludes that we have “now reached the point of fairly general agreement that races is…a socially constructed way of differentiating human beings.”

28 Dictatorship, Democracy, Hegemony U.S. was mostly a racial dictatorship –Most non-whites were excluded from politics Therefore America was defined as white This changed only in the 1960’s

29 (continued) “Racial rule can be understood as a slow and uneven historical process which has moved from dictatorship to democracy, from domination to hegemony. In this transition, hegemonic forms of racial rule- those based on consent- eventually came to supplant those based on coercion.

30 What is Racism? The combination of prejudice, discrimination, and institutional inequality which defined the concept of racism at the end of the 1960’s. Omi states that racism, like race, has changed over time.

31 A racial project can be defined as racist if and only if it creates or reproduces structures of domination based on essentialist categories of race. “There can be no timeless and absolute standard for what constitutes racism, for social structures changed and discourses are subject to rearticulation.

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