The Occlusion of Empire in the Reification of Race
Bates, Julia C. “The Occlusion of Empire in the Reification of Race”, Boston College, 2018. http://hdl.handle.net/2345/bc-ir:108103.
In a series of case studies, I problematize the reification of race in the American Sociology of race from a postcolonial perspective. I argue prominent theories within the American sociology of race tend to essentialize race as a cause of racial inequality in the United States. These theories assume the existence of racial categories and then discuss how other entities become racialized into racialized social systems (Bonilla-Silva 1997), or racial projects (Omi & Winant 1994). These theories emphasize national structures, but occlude empire. I argue the occlusion of empire in the American sociology of race, particularly in theorization of racial categorization, is problematic. Empire is the structure that links race to class inequality, and produces race as a social category of exclusion. Therefore, a sociological theory of American racial inequality, which does not analyze imperialism as a structure that produces race, and rather focuses solely on national-structures, or a definition of capitalism severed from imperialism, cannot provide a thoroughly structural explanation for the persistence of racial inequality in the United States.