Published online by Cambridge University Press: 01 September 2004
Understanding racial dynamics and power relations in comparative, cross-spatial perspective is a topic which should have an extensive archive in the literature of comparative politics. Yet, the field of comparative racial politics remains at its infancy. While we have witnessed a resurgence in the study of race and ethnicity in the social sciences and humanities, much of the debate has been concerned with the meaning and relevance of the race concept, rather than its implementation. The authors believe comparative politics has a potentially distinctive and important contribution to make in the study of racial politics, as opposed to race relations, by foregrounding the role of politics in the social and political mobilization of various social groups premised upon the race concept, racial hierarchy, and distinction. This article provides a categorical review of the major trends and approaches to the comparative study of race in the social sciences, and provides an alternative conceptualization of racial politics.