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What do people mean when they talk about race? Are they acknowledging a biological fact, a social reality, or a cultural identity? Is race real, or is it merely an illusion? This book brings analytical clarity to one of the most vexed topics in the social sciences today, arguing that race is no more than a social construction, unsupported in biological terms and upheld for the simple reason that we continue to believe in its reality. Deploying concepts from the sociology of knowledge, religion, social memory, and psychoanalysis, the authors consider the conditions that contribute to this persistence of belief and suggest ways in which the idea of race can free itself from outdated nineteenth-century notions of biological essentialism. By conceiving of race as something that is simultaneously real and unreal, this study generates a new conceptualization that will be required reading for scholars in this field.Read more
- Striking argument that race is foremost an idea that is an object of belief
- Race is a central concept in social science: this book debunks it
- Deploys a range of different arguments from across the sciences and social sciences
Reviews & endorsements
"This book is a sophisticated and subtle treatment of the 'belief in race' that is often confused with 'race' itself. The analysis is comprehensive and often compelling. Don't miss it!" - Cornel West, Princeton UniversitySee more reviews
"An outstanding contribution to political and cultural theorizing, Desire for Race systematically unpacks the tenacity of the belief in that un-real thing we call race. Thanks to this book we will never again refer to 'race' without the quotation marks – and without referencing the desire for race, the dreams of race, the memories of race, and the persistent academic repetitions of the category of race that ultimately reinstate the belief in “race” and offer fuel to the fire of racism. A must read for any serious social theorist, and for all those who care about social inequality." - Sharon Hays, Professor of Sociology and Streisand Chair of Gender Studies, University of Southern California
"...erudite, elegantly and tightly argued.... Recommended." - Choice
"It is thrilling (and long overdue) to see thinkers such as Durkheim, Mauss, Karl Mannheim, and Freud invoked by sociologists in theorizing race. In light of its very significant contribution, any criticisms I may have of the book are so minor as to fade into insignificance.... I learned so much from this book and will use it in my teaching and scholarship for years to come. I believe it will be essential reading for anyone interested in understanding the elusive concept that is its object." - Alexander Riley, Bucknell University, Sociological Inquiry
"Desire for Race is a serious, innovative, thought-provoking contribution to social scientific theory of race. In an area of the discipline that is never short on controversy, but where the controversies are often over-rehearsed and under-thought, Daynes and Lee have written and insightful, challenging, and unconventionally controversial book." - Mara Loveman, University of Wisconsin, Contemporary Sociology
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- Date Published: November 2008
- format: Paperback
- isbn: 9780521680479
- length: 256 pages
- dimensions: 227 x 152 x 15 mm
- weight: 0.42kg
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
1. American sociology
3. British social anthropology
4. British cultural studies
5. Intermediate reflections on essentialism
6. Belief and social action
7. Theorizing the racial ensemble
8. The politics of memory and race
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