Andrew Zimmerman argues that to understand racism as a form of power-knowledge we must understand it as a derivative response to some other, democratic-revolutionary thing: the rural insurgency. He shows that racism has been an important form of counterrevolution, that is, of political reactions to preserve hierarchies of power against democratic revolutions. Transatlantic uprisings of serfs and slaves created strategies and theories of killing, death and freedom. These uprisings found philosophical and political expression in the work of Hegel and the Marxist tradition his work inspired. Biological racism and physical anthropology may have been, in part, a response to this early insurgency. In the second part of the article Zimmerman deals with cultural racism pioneered by Max Weber. Weber responded to a different kind of insurgency, one of mobility and biopolitical/sexual rebellion, particularly of young Russian-Polish migrant sugarbeet workers. Identifying these workers as a “Polonizing” racial threat mirrored some of the terms of their insurgent challenge, but in a way that helped state and social science check their rebellion. Zimmerman claims that Max Weber generalized this cultural racism from migrant labor in Central and Eastern Europe to a global theory of labor, race, and culture that continues to shape the world we live in today. He thus makes clear in the concluding part of the article how weak an opposition culture provides to race, for the culture concept is already intimately connected to the race concept. Zimmerman suggests that we should make culture an object of investigations of racism and racial science, not a grounding assumption from which to conduct these investigations.


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pp. 23-57
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