Race, Nature, and the Politics of Difference

Race, Nature, and the Politics of Difference

Book Pages: 488 Illustrations: 4 b&w photos Published: May 2003

Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, Geography, Theory and Philosophy > Race and Indigeneity

How do race and nature work as terrains of power? From eighteenth-century claims that climate determined character to twentieth-century medical debates about the racial dimensions of genetic disease, concepts of race and nature are integrally connected, woven into notions of body, landscape, and nation. Yet rarely are these complex entanglements explored in relation to the contemporary cultural politics of difference. This volume takes up that challenge. Distinguished contributors chart the traffic between race and nature across sites including rainforests, colonies, and courtrooms.

Synthesizing a number of fields—anthropology, cultural studies, and critical race, feminist, and postcolonial theory—this collection analyzes diverse historical, cultural, and spatial locations. Contributors draw on thinkers such as Fanon, Foucault, and Gramsci to investigate themes ranging from exclusionary notions of whiteness and wilderness in North America to linguistic purity in Germany. Some essayists focus on the racialized violence of imperial rule and evolutionary science and the biopolitics of race and class in the Guatemalan civil war. Others examine how race and nature are fused in biogenetic discourse—in the emergence of “racial diseases” such as sickle cell anemia, in a case of mistaken in vitro fertilization in which a white couple gave birth to a black child, and even in the world of North American dog breeding. Several essays tackle the politics of representation surrounding environmental justice movements, transnational sex tourism, and indigenous struggles for land and resource rights in Indonesia and Brazil.

Bruce Braun, Giovanna Di Chiro, Paul Gilroy, Steven Gregory, Donna Haraway, Jake Kosek, Tania Murray Li, Uli Linke, Zine Magubane, Donald S. Moore, Diane Nelson, Anand Pandian, Alcida Rita Ramos, Keith Wailoo, Robyn Wiegman


"Race, Nature, and the Politics of Difference charts the growing contributions of science studies to anti-racist projects. . . . [It] maps a broad and shifting terrain of theory, history, and materiality." — Kimberly Lamm, College Literature

"Race, Nature, and the Politics of Difference is a splendid collection of essays, each of which, however much (or little) it contributes to the overall theme, stands alone as inherently interesting. Most chapters bear the marks of scholarship in being conceptually innovative, politically charged, carefully crafted, subtly argued, well written, and comprehensively referenced. The latter feature plus the bibliography as a whole makes the text especially useful for graduate students and all serious critical race scholars." — Kay Anderson , Environment and Planning D

"[M]any essays will be of interest to political theorists grappling with the cultural constructions of race and identity. . . ." — John Meyer , Theory & Event

"The introduction to the volume lays out this theoretical formation and offers a comprehensive guide to the literature that informs it. In a manner that has become increasingly rare in edited volumes, it is possible to read the introduction as an argument and an outline of the contribution of the volume as a whole. Each of the volume's sections then becomes a moment for reengaging the theoretical themes delineated in the beginning of the text, such as articulation, contingency, and conjuncture." — Paulla A Ebron, American Anthropologist

"This is a must-read book for those who are interested in a more nuanced discussion of race and nature, as well as for those readers, researchers, and practitioners who are about the business of exposing and challenging the many ways that racism works. . . . Race, Nature and the Politics of Difference gives us a fresh, thoughtful, and challenging framework within which to think imaginatively about our own research." — Yolanda T. Moses , Journal of Anthropological Research

“A stunning and original collection. As far as the essays here excavate the many valences of 'race' and 'nature' and the 'racisms' and 'naturalisms' that operate and mobilize them, they are cautiously hopeful, and write eloquently against the reproduction and government of life through these exclusive terms.” — Lisa Lowe, author of Immigrant Acts: On Asian American Cultural Politics

"This is a pathbreaking volume on the cultural politics of race, nature, and power. A range of innovative contributions address the most pressing questions regarding the mutually mediating ‘traffic’ between the terms of nature, culture, and race. This book now sets the standard in thinking critically—that is, politically—about the racial cultures of nature, difference, and distinction." — David Theo Goldberg, author of The Racial State


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Donald S. Moore is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley.

Jake Kosek is a geographer and a Lang Postdoctoral Fellow at Stanford University.

Anand Pandian is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments vii

Introduction: The Cultural Politics of Race and Nature: Terrains of Power and Practice / Donald S. Moore, Anand Pandian, and Jake Kosek 1

Part One. Calculating Improvements 71

1. After the Great White Error . . . The Great Black Mirage / Paul Gilroy 73

2. Simians, Savages, Skulls, and Sex: Science and Colonial Militarism in Nineteenth-Century South Africa / Zine Magubane 99

3. “The More You Kill the More You Will Live”: The Maya, “Race,” and Biopolitical Hopes fro Peace in Guatemala / Diane M. Nelson 122

Part Two. Landscapes of Purity and Pollution

4. “There is a Land Where Everything is Pure": Linguistic Nationalism and Identity Politics in Germany / Uli Linke 149

5. “On the Raggedy Edge of Risk": Articulations of Race and Nature after Biology / Bruce Braun 175

6. Beyond Ecoliberal “Common Futures": Environmental Justice, Toxic Touring, and a Transcommunal Politics of Place / Giovanna Di Chiro 204

7. Inventing the Heterozygote: Molecular Biology, Racial Identity, and the Narratives of Sickle-Cell Disease, Tay-Sachs, and Cystic Fibrosis / Keith Wailoo 235

8. For the Love of a Good Dog: Webs of Action in the World of Dog Genetics / Donna Haraway 254

9. Intimate Publics: Race, Property, and Personhood / Robyn Wiegman 296

Part Four. The Politics of Representation 321

10. Men in Paradise: Sex Tourism and the Political Economy of Masculinity / Steven Gregory 323

11. Pulp Fictions of Indigenism / Alcida Ramos 356

12. Masyarakat Adat, Difference, and the Limits of Recognition in Indonesia’s Forest Zone / Tania Murray Li 380

Bibliography 407

Contributors 461

Index 465

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-3091-2 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-3079-0
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