Histories of Racial Capitalism
BlurbThe relationship between race and capitalism is one of the most enduring and controversial historical debates. The concept of racial capitalism offers a way out of this impasse. Racial capitalism is not simply a permutation, phase, or stage in the larger history of capitalism--since the beginning of the Atlantic slave trade and the colonization of the Americas, capitalism, in both material and ideological senses, has been racial, deriving social and economic value from racial classification and stratification. Although Cedric J. Robinson popularized the term, racial capitalism has remained undertheorized for nearly four decades. Histories of Racial Capitalism brings together for the first time distinguished and rising scholars to consider the utility of the concept across historical settings. These scholars offer dynamic accounts of the relationship between social relations of exploitation and the racial terms through which they were organized, justified, and contested. Deploying an eclectic array of methods, their works range from indigenous mortgage foreclosures to the legacies of Atlantic-world maroons, from imperial expansion in the continental United States and beyond to the racial politics of municipal debt in the New South, from the ethical complexities of Latinx banking to the postcolonial dilemmas of extraction in the Caribbean. Throughout, the contributors consider and challenge how some claims about the history and nature of capitalism are universalized while others remain marginalized. By theorizing and testing the concept of racial capitalism in different historical circumstances, this book shows its analytical and political power for today's scholars and activists.
Comment from our editors:
At a time when racial capitalism is becoming an increasingly popular term, this book provides a much-needed historical anchoring of the debates about how capitalism may be racial. It shows how racial capitalism is not simply a stage or phase in the long history of capitalism, but that capitalism has been racial in both ideological and material senses since the Atlantic slave trade and the colonizaiton of the Americas. This book is especially interesting because of the diversity of the contributors, which draw on a vast methodological and theoretical toolkit to study the racialisation of capitalism from different angles. In doing so, the book shows how the concept can be relevant for understanding many topics in economics, from labor in India, transpacific migration, and foreclosures, to fossil capital and Latinx Businesspeople in New York. It will thus be of interest to both scholars and activists interested in the many ways racial capitalism can be understood and resisted. Read the editors’ blog post on the book.