Karen E. FieldsRacecraft: The Soul of Inequality in American Life

Verso Books, 2012

by Annie Sapucaia on November 11, 2012

Karen E. Fields

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Racism is a process by which people are segregated and discriminated against based on their race, and race is defined as a set of physical characteristics which certain groups share. Or is it?  In Racecraft: The Soul of Inequality in American Life (Verso Books, 2012), Karen E. Fields and Barbara J. Fields argue that racism does not come from race. In fact, racism is the very act of creating race, by transforming it from something an aggressor does, into something the target is. So-called physical characteristics are red herrings in the discourse, conveniently there to justify certain kinds of racism, but certainly not necessary for them (anti-Semitism being an example). In this highly original book, the Fields’ draw a fascinating parallel between our everyday concept of race and the outdated notion of witchcraft, two beliefs firmly held by the societies which birthed them, reproduced and recreated in daily life  by what was, in their time, “evidence,”  and both which are, quite plainly, false. This is a fascinating book about the power that racecraft and other delusions have on all of us, and more importantly, how to defeat them. In this interview, we talk with Karen E. Fields about this important new book.

Interview Audio Below

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

BM Weber January 22, 2013 at 9:40 pm

The first comment here is from some scientific racist? Great. Don’t you guys ever rest?

Otto Kerner November 13, 2012 at 5:48 pm

Seems like a very strained comparison, which makes it feel tendentious. “Invisible” is underspecified. Witchcraft is, as Fields says, “invisible and impossible”. But differences in intelligence or criminality are patently not impossible. They are also not really invisible; I would say they are too visible, since anyone could come up with anecdotal evidence both to confirm and deny them. They are highly visible but require statistical aggregation to be intelligible.

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