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      Raced Repetition: Perpetual Paralysis or Paradoxical Promise?



            This article engages with key contemporary questions about the extent to which the obstinacy of racial formation processes, as well as the apparent global resurgence of raced thinking, represent a paralysis of the global anti-racist project or signal an important analytic opportunity for revitalising critical race scholarship and anti-racist praxis. To this end, it is incumbent upon critical race scholars and practitioners to take stock of their historical, current and future contributions to addressing the vexing nature of race and racism. The article mobilises three main illustrative arguments in this regard. First, we have to deploy our analytic tools more thoughtfully and robustly in the service of understanding the current historical period in which race seems to have an infinite elasticity globally as such analyses have a great deal to offer us in thinking through the contemporary relationships between race, materiality, histories, politics and populism. Second, writing from South Africa, the article focuses on the historically racialised nature of the social formation as an exemplar of how the deployment of race and resistance to it did not simply reflect an unprocessed repetition compulsion of the raced binary over time but actually represented incremental gains for a productively antagonistic and adversarial anti-racist political project. Third, the article also surfaces alternative ways of approaching the question of race today, by examining elements of the post-race paradigm, raced embodiment and affectivity, and more diverse conceptions of what it means to be human as part of the anti-racist project. The article concludes that thoughtful analyses of the histories of anti-racist praxis, contemporary manifestations of race and racism, and an openness to new approaches to addressing the histories and continued legacies of race are paradoxically promising and hopeful in a seemingly despairing time when race thinking seems to be on the ascension once more.


            Author and article information

            International Journal of Critical Diversity Studies
            Pluto Journals
            1 December 2018
            : 1
            : 2 ( doiID: 10.13169/intecritdivestud.1.issue-2 )
            : 42-57
            University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
            © 2018 International Journal of Critical Diversity Studies

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            Custom metadata

            Social & Behavioral Sciences
            embodiment,human,decoloniality,race,racial formation,racism,populism,anti-racism,critical race scholarship,South Africa,post-race paradigm,affect


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