“Race” and “post-colonialism”: should one come before the other?

“Race” and “post-colonialism”: should one come before the other?

Ethnic and Racial Studies
Published online 2018-01-15
19 pages
DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2018.1417617

Nasar Meer, Professor of Race, Identity and Citizenship
School of Social and Political Sciences
University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom

One unsettled analytical question in race scholarship concerns the relationship between categories of race and categories of post-colonialism. These are often run together or are used interchangeably; sometimes an implicit hierarchy of one over the other is assumed without explicit discussion. In that activity, a great deal is enveloped, including a portrayal of race scholarship which can be at some variance from how race scholars conceive it. In this paper, it is argued that paying attention to a distinction between these two categories, and then trying to get them not only in the “right order”, but also on their own terms, is conceptually fruitful – however messy the outcome may be. What is advocated is an approach in which categories of race and post-colonialism are not subsumed into one another, but retain their distinctive and explanatory power.

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