Xeno-racialization

I have described the process by which migrants to the UK from the newly joined countries of the European Union become falsely categorised as belonging to distinct ‘races’ as xeno-racialization (for an analysis, see Cole 2004b, 2008a, chapter 9, 2008c).22 With respect to the EU’s current enlargement, connections can be made between the respective roles of (ex-)imperial citizens in the immediate post World War II period, and migrant workers from Eastern Europe today (both sources of cheap labour). In addition, there are, as I have indicated, similarities in perceptions and treatment, something that is promoted by sections of the racist capitalist media.

The existence of xeno-racialization, although he did not use that term, along with other forms of racism, was recognized by the Chair of the Commission for Equality and Human Rights in 2005, Trevor Phillips, when he noted:

The nature of racism is changing subtly, but critically. We cannot respond by recycling the slogans of the ’70s and ’80s when race was regarded as a black and white affair. Today, we know that the reality of multi-ethnic, multi-faith Britain is more complex. Now, when we talk ‘racial equality’ and ‘disadvantage’, we are not necessarily referring to the needs of young black men. Rather we are speaking of the stigmatised eastern European asylum seeker; the Iraqi woman trapped in her own home by stone-throwing yobs; the Gypsies and Travellers who will live for 12 years less than the rest of us; and the Muslims unjustly victimised for atrocities committed by a tiny minority of followers of their faith ... A recent ... survey ... shows that bla?tant discrimination or gross harassment is not found as frequently as in the past. But increasingly we are seeing the emergence of some other forms of racial bias which demand different tools (redhotcurry.com, 2005).

While CRT analysis serves as a constant reminder that racism is central in sustaining the current world order, the CRT concept of ‘race-ing’ (Crenshaw et al. 1995b, p. xxvi), unlike the Marxist concepts of racializa- tion and xeno-racialization, does not need to make the interconnections with modes of production since ‘race’ is itself material. In other words, oppression on grounds of ‘race’ can be explained merely as the modus operandi of ‘white supremacy’, a power structure in its own right.

To reiterate, I would argue that, in articulating with modes of production, these Marxist concepts of racialization and xeno-racialization have more purchase in explaining and understanding contemporary racism than ‘white supremacy’. Indeed, I would maintain that if social class and capitalism are not central to the analysis, explanations are ambiguous and partial. Capitalism and social class are addressed in chapter 7 of this volume.

In this chapter I began by critiquing two of CRT’s central tenets, the concepts of ‘white supremacy’ and the belief in ‘race’ as primary. I then outlined the definition of racism preferred by Marxist theorist, Robert Miles and his colleagues (a narrow one) before developing my own definition, which I argued, contra Miles, should be wide-ranging, finding this more useful than ‘white supremacy’ in understanding the multiple manifestations of racism in the contemporary neoliberal capitalist world. I then went on to make the case that the Marxist concepts of racialization and xeno-racialization have most purchase in explaining the processes by which certain groups become racialized at different phases in the capitalist mode of production. I will revisit the concept of racialization with respect to US imperialism in chapter 7 of this volume. Having identified what I perceive to be CRT’s two major weaknesses, in the chapter 4 I turn to what I perceive to be some of its strengths, strengths which nevertheless can be enhanced by Marxist analysis.

 
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