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Racecraft: The Soul of Inequality in American Life

Karen E. Fields Barbara Jeanne Fields

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Paperback

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Verso Books
01 April 2014
History; Social discrimination; Ethnic studies
Most people assume that racism grows from a perception of human difference: the fact of race gives rise to the practice of racism. Sociologist Karen E. Fields and historian Barbara J. Fields argue otherwise: the practice of racism produces the illusion of race, through what they call racecraft. And this phenomenon is intimately entwined with other forms of inequality in American life. So pervasive are the devices of racecraft in American history, economic doctrine, politics, and everyday thinking that the presence of racecraft itself goes unnoticed. That the promised post-racial age has not dawned, the authors argue, reflects the failure of Americans to develop a legitimate language for thinking about and discussing inequality. That failure should worry everyone who cares about democratic institutions.
By:   Karen E. Fields, Barbara Jeanne Fields
Imprint:   Verso Books
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 140mm,  Width: 210mm,  Spine: 25mm
Weight:   408g
ISBN:   9781781683132
ISBN 10:   1781683131
Pages:   310
Publication Date:   01 April 2014
Audience:   College/higher education ,  A / AS level ,  Further / Higher Education
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Barbara J. Fields is Professor of History at Columbia University, author of Slavery and Freedom on the Middle Ground: Maryland During the Nineteenth Century and coauthor of Free at Last: A Documentary History of Slavery, Freedom, and the Civil War. Karen E. Fields, an independent scholar, holds degrees from Harvard University, Brandeis University, and the Sorbonne. She is the author of many articles and three published books: Revival and Rebellion in Colonial Central Africa, about millennarianism; Lemon Swamp and Other Places: A Carolina Memoir (with Mamie Garvin Fields), about life in the twentieth-century South; and a retranslation of Emile Durkheim's masterpiece, The Elementary Forms of Religious Life. She has two works in progress: Bordeaux's Africa, about the view of slavery from a European port city, and Race Matters in the American Academy.

Reviews for Racecraft: The Soul of Inequality in American Life

A most impressive work, tackling a demanding and important topic - the myth that we now live in a postracial society - in a novel, urgent, and compelling way. The authors dispel this myth by squarely addressing the paradox that racism is scientifically discredited but, like witchcraft before it, retains a social rationale in societies that remain highly unequal and averse to sufficiently critical engagement with their own history and traditions. - Robin Blackburn With examples ranging from the profound to the absurd - including, for instance, an imaginary interview with W.E.B. Du Bois and Emile Durkheim, as well as personal porch chats with the authors' grandmother - the Fields delve into 'racecraft's' profound effect on American political, social and economic life. - Global Journal Karen E. Fields and Barbara J. Fields have undertaken a great untangling of how the chimerical concepts of race are pervasively and continuously reinvented and reemployed in this country. - Maria Bustillos, Los Angeles Review of Books The neologism 'racecraft' is modelled on 'witchcraft' - It isn't that the Fieldses regard the commitment to race as a category as an irrational superstition. On the contrary, they are interested precisely in exploring its rationality - the role that beliefs about race play in structuring American society - while at the same time reminding us that those beliefs may be rational but they're not true. - Walter Benn Michaels, London Review of Books It's not just a challenge to racists, it's a challenge to people like me, it's a challenge to African-Americans who have accepted the fact of race and define themselves by the concept of race. - Ta-Nehisi Coates Demanding and intelligent. - Jennifer Vega, PopMatters Racecraft forces a quite profound reconsideration of familiar categories, by navigating between what is real and what is made-up, and by deeply probing how economic inequality gets reproduced. It is impossible to read this rich book without being challenged and enlightened. - Ira Katznelson, Fear Itself: The New Deal and the Origins of Our Time I love the simple elegance with which they hammer home that race is a montrous fiction, racism is a monstrous crime. - Junot Diaz, author of This is How You Lose Her This is a very thoughtful book, a very urgent book. - The Academic & The Artist Cloudcast


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