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Desire for Race


  • Authors:
  • Sarah Daynes, New School for Social Research, New York
  • Orville Lee, New School for Social Research, New York
  • Date Published: October 2008
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521680479

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About the Authors
  • 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that contribute to this persistence of belief and suggest ways in which the idea of race can free itself from outdated nineteenth-century notions of biological essentialism.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.

    • 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
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '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

    '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 University

    '… splendid book … essential reading …' Alexander Riley, Sociological Enquiry

    'Desire for Race is a serious, innovative, thought-provoking contribution to social scientific theory of race. … Daynes and Lee have written an insightful, challenging, and unconventionally controversial book. … the authors present important future challenges for scholars of race …' Contemporary Sociology

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    Product details

    • Date Published: October 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
    2. Marxism
    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
    9. Desire

  • Authors

    Sarah Daynes, New School for Social Research, New York
    Sarah Daynes is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the New School for Social Research in New York.

    Orville Lee, New School for Social Research, New York
    Orville Lee is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the New School for Social Research in New York.

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