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Hans Speier Lecture: Relationality in Race Research by Alana Lentin

Monday, April 24, 2017 at 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm

Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Auditorium (Room N101), Sheila C. Johnson Design Center, 101 66 Fifth Avenue New York, NY 10003

The Department of Sociology at The New School for Social Research invites you to the lecture of their Hans Speier Visiting Professor, Alana Lentin, titled "Relationality in Race Research." This lecture is part of the department's Spring Lecture Series on Race and Racism. 

Alana Lentin is Associate Professor of Cultural and Social Analysis at Western Sydney University and hans Speier Visiting Professor of Sociology at The New School. She is the co-author of The Crises of Multiculturalism: Racism in a neoliberal age (2011) and the co-editor of Racism and Sociology (2014) among other publications.


David Goldberg (2009) argues that a relational approach to the study of race yields more than a comparativist one does because, mired in methodological nationalism, the latter misses the conjunctures and continuities across and between time and space that conjure race and keep it alive as something that does rather than is something. Comparativist approaches that train a discrete and particularising lens on racialized phenomena in a given location without connecting them to the longer and wider histories and contemporary performances of race often, also, mobilise a separation between race and racism. In my studies of ‘mainstream’ racism or migration studies (Lentin 2014, 2017) I noted the dislocation of what are thought of as individualised manifestations of racism in a ‘postracial’ age from accounts of what Weheliye (2014) calls ‘racializing assemblages’ that describe the production and reproduction of raced processes within the ongoing ‘racial-colonial’. A Eurocentric view of racism, that links it to individual behaviours and aberrant political arrangements, as the current era of Trump, Brexit and the return of the European far-right is largely being thought of, contributes to this compartmentalized view. This is to the detriment of more holistic accounts that would place race centrally in the sociohistorical account of modernity and, with regards to social struggle, would not subsume it under universalizing class-based analyses. In my paper, I discuss the role played by social scientists in eliding, neglecting or denying the salience of race. I suggest that a relational approach, such as that proposed by Goldberg and Weheliye, but which originates in the work of Black feminists such as the Combahee River Collective, the Black Power movement and contemporary decolonial antiracism initiatives such as the ‘Marche pour la dignité’ in France, critiques the sidelining of race in academia and activism and propose urgently needed transformations for our disciplines.

Presented by The New School for Social Research.

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