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RE-THINKING RACIALIZATION

The Analytical Limits of Racialization

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 February 2021

Deniz Uyan
Affiliation:
Department of Sociology, Boston College
Corresponding
E-mail address:

Abstract

This paper seeks to scrutinize the most recent definition of racialization, as proposed by Adam Hochman, and interrogate its utility as a productive analytic for social scientists. Due to theoretical conflations between race and racism, and analytical conflations of groupness and category, racialization functions as a tautological descriptive rather than an agenda-setting theoretical framework for scholars studying race. The most recent definition of the concept cannot, and does not try to, account for a mechanism for the process of racialization. Such an accounting is a necessary component of any conceptualization that aims to help identify the origins of racialization. Second, in the absence of locating an agent or mechanism, the concept is tautologized: racialization, with an inability to locate a mechanism, offers itself up as the mechanism. Third, this tautologizing leads to a profound conflation of racialization offered as both a descriptive and a causal concept. Not only does this conflation halt the analytic capacity of the term as it applies to social scientific uses, but this conflation proves harmful for the anti-realist agenda as proposed by Hochman. By conflating analyses of causality with description, the latest definition of racialization unknowingly countersigns a uniquely American ideological conception of race; that is, the latest definition allows a description of the appearance of race to stand in for an explanation for race.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of Hutchins Center for African and African American Research

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