restricted access 1.1: Labor Formalism
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appeal, and the appeal of Eve’s face frankly causes serious problems for antiracists ” (CW, 15). The term “in the face of” may well be taken to mean in spite of Eve’s nefarious “nativist folklore credibil[ity]” (CW, 10). But the words “like it or not” and “appeal” also bespeak Roediger’s reluctant admission that U.S. academics may well have to begin where the rest of their countrymen do. We will have to begin, that is, with the contradictions at work in the mass culture about which we speak. After Whiteness never leaves the contradictions that surround the virtual visage of Eve. This book is therefore part forensic report, part user’s guide, and maybe part hallucination. Its core question asks how an emergent post-white national imaginary figures into public policy issues, into the habits of sexual intimacy , and into changes within public higher education, at a moment when white racial change has declared its ambivalent debut. Part One of the book examines the congressional and popular debates over multiracial identity that surrounded the census leading up to the 2000 count. Here, I argue, a new form of identity politics leaves behind the civil rights legacy and signals the crisis of the liberal state. In my account of racial selfrecognition , the constitutional mandate for enumerating citizenship reaches a revealing point of computational unease. Census counting is now beset with forms of ontological complexity that press upon identity itself as the formal basis of democratic governing. The first two sections of Part One trace the unlikely , but ultimately successful, addition of a check-all-that-applies option to racial self-enumeration for the 2000 census. Along the way, I offer a brief account of the crucial link between 1960s civil rights legislation and the forms of official race classification as constructed for the last two census counts. I do this in order, first, to interrogate the precarious idealism behind the notion of consistent racial self-recognition. Second, I am interested in the civil rights movement ’s influence on the census in order to link the various forms of misrecognition that now accompany the act of racial self-regard. The ontological permutations I want to trace in multiracialism signal a crisis within the liberal state where multitudes replace identity as such. The third section of Part One adjoins the U.S. census debates to developments regarding identity and the law that have occurred within Critical Race Theory. I am also interested in changes at work in what David Theo Goldberg calls the racial state. The goal here is to bring the contingencies of state-authorized racial self-categorization to bear on questions of juridical procedure. I maintain that the state’s postmodern interest in race is doubly coercive and protective, inclusive and exclusive. As the claims upon civil rights justice proliferate and intensify, the state has developed an accompanying experimental interest in racial heterogeneity. But this interest, I N T R O D U C T I O N : A F T E R W H I T E N E S S E V E 12 paradoxically, also enables the state’s presumed domestic obligations to all but disappear. The fourth section of Part One applies the lessons of the preceding sections to the question of civil society in more general terms. Here, too, I want to complicate the Enlightenment ideals of intersubjectivity that multiracialism might seem to uphold. Of particular interest in this fourth section is the influential work of Jürgen Habermas on communicative reason, as well as Charles Taylor’s seminal endorsement of a politics of mutual, over purely self-, recognition. My claim is that the form of neo-Hegelianism espoused by these two distinguished social theorists never quite escapes Hegel’s nationalist longings, and indeed, is inadvertently sympathetic to a multiracial rebirth of the nation. The overall goal of my discussion of Habermas and Taylor (and secondarily, Hegel) is to trace civil society’s apparent disintegration, as much as to foster a more pronounced collision between individual and political life. I want to critique a liberal progressive-activist tendency that upholds a post-white national order by emphasizing racial oppositions and retaining civil rights solutions to them. The fifth and final section of Part One explores post-formalist conceptions of identity in the wake of civil rights, and offers a cursory rethinking of class as a way of coming to better terms with the immanent force of racial multitudes. In general , the goal of...


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Subject Headings

  • Heterosexual men -- United States -- Psychology.
  • Education, Higher -- Political aspects -- United States.
  • Education, Higher -- Social aspects -- United States.
  • Whites -- Race identity -- United States.
  • United States -- Race relations.
  • Men, White -- United States -- Psychology.
  • National characteristics, American.
  • United States -- Census, 2000.
  • Multiculturalism -- United States.
  • Group identity -- Political aspects -- United States.
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