Race, the condition of neo-liberalism

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This article addresses the social and historical relation between Chicago School neo-liberalism and contemporary racism, and its connections with the formations of racism in classical liberalism and its colonial character. I show the pragmatic and discursive operations of neo-racism in the context of this shift to a neo-liberal discourse, drawing particularly on Michel Foucault's seminars, Society Must be Defended, and Birth of Bio-politics. Insofar as "race" cannot be understood as a discrete category outside its social, economic, moral, and political embeddedness in liberalism, I argue that methodological individualism and expectations of high-specialization constrain the theorization of race in U.S. scholarship. Racial lines will continue to be (re)excavated, borrowed, or inscribed afresh to channel, reinforce, and institutionalize the social violence that neo-liberalism must unleash.

Original languageEnglish
Article number84
JournalSocial Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2017


  • Foucault
  • Internal racism
  • Liberalism
  • Neoliberalism
  • Race


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