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The Machinery of Whiteness: Studies in the Structure of Racialization

Steve Martinot

Publication Year: 2010

In this follow up to his book, The Rule of Racialization—which considered the way class structure is formed in the U.S.—Steve Martinot now examines how the structures of racialization reside at the core of all social, cultural, and political institutions in the U.S. In The Machinery of Whiteness, Martinot examines how race and racism are produced in the United States, analyzing the politics of racialization, and the preponderance of racial segregation and racial deprivation that have kept the U.S. a white dominated society throughout its history. Martinot dedicates this work to expunging white supremacy from the earth.


The Machinery of Whiteness investigates how “whiteness” came to be as foundational to the process that then produced the modern concept of race. Martinot addresses the instrumentalization of women as a necessary step in its formation, furthering the debates regarding the relationships of race and gender. And he addresses U.S. international interventionism, the anti-immigrant movements, and white racist populism to describe the political forms that white supremacy takes.


Martinot puts these together to analyze the underlying cultural structures of racialization that have driven and conditioned the resurgence of white supremacy and white entitlement in the wake of the Civil Rights movements. This book is a call to transform the cultural structures of the U.S. to make justice and democracy, which depend on inclusion and not segregation, possible.

Published by: Temple University Press


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pp. v

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pp. vii-viii

Many of the chapters in this book are modified versions of articles that I published previously. Thus, I want to both thank and acknowledge the journals in which they were published. Chapter 1, “Motherhood and the Invention of Race,” is a modified version of an article by the same name, which appeared in Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy 22, no. 2 (Spring 2007): 79–97 (published by Indiana University Press). I am especially grateful to Alison Bailey and Jacquelyn Zita, editors of that issue, for their...

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pp. 1-34

When we see a bulldozer knocking down a house, crushing the furniture and belongings of its former inhabitants to rubble, to be scooped into trucks and hauled away, we know what is happening. Large machinery is obliterating an essential part of their lives. Some persons have lost their claim to exist in that place on the orders of someone else with greater power. The bulldozer...

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1. Motherhood and the Invention of Race

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pp. 35-65

An article in The Nation from December 3, 2003, titled “Criminalizing Motherhood,” tells an old story (Talvi 2003, 4). It is the well-rehearsed tale of a familiar prosecution, though one that the state nevertheless offers as a precedent. Yet it uses a social logic that has long inhabited U.S. jurisprudence. In the cold clang of its historically practiced procedure, it pretends...

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2. The Racialized State

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pp. 66-84

Three principal concepts emerge here. The first is the centrality of the instrumentalization of women for the construction of a structure of racialization, that is, for the development of the concept of race as a social structure (a social construct). Second, the primary purpose of the operations of white racism and white supremacy is the consolidation of an internal coherence...

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3. A Structural Concept of Race

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pp. 85-105

The question arises again and again: what is the nature of “race” that whiteness and white supremacy must keep returning and reconstituting its institutions of racialization? Race as a concept and a social structure has bequeathed us a difficult and horror-ridden history. For 300 years, it has presented itself as a machine of oppression, a political issue, a line drawn in the sand between...

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4. The Political Culture of Whiteness

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pp. 106-128

So far, in mapping the outlines of the structures of racialization and the preservation of white supremacy, we have examined specific forms of institutional state power and of white racialized identity, both in the present and historically. At no time has either the original invention of whiteness or the reconstitution of white cultural coherence and supremacy in the wake of a...

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5. The Boundaries of the United States and Immigration

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pp. 129-146

White democracy is a democracy based on exclusionism and an organizational monopolization of political participation. Its exclusionism originates in a paranoia, a sense of white solidarity, and a valorization of disenfranchising violence. It pursues its contemporary operations through a prison industry, interventionism, and police impunity, by which it preserves the white...

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6. The Dual-State Character of the United States

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pp. 147-170

A national border is part of the technology of a state as well as the edge of a nation. The several internal and unmapped boundaries we have encountered have shown themselves to constitute the technology of a white para-political entity and the edge of the white nation, residing within the United States under the auspices of the official constitutional state. That alternate entity...

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7. The Structures of Racialization

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pp. 171-186

It is the familiarity of the many racist actions, both the atrocities and the small harassments, that tells us that the machinery of racialization has conditioned our consciousness and our intentions to attribute a certain normalcy to racism. To demote the events we recognize to the background means precisely to grant the profundity of the cultural structures that condition...


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pp. 187-202


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pp. 203-213


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pp. 215-223

E-ISBN-13: 9781439900536

Publication Year: 2010