from Commonwealth


Ideology critique always assumes that in the final analysis, even though it is pervasive, ideology is somehow external to, or at least separable from, the subjugated subjects (or their interests). Notions of ideology and representation,… in other words, do not go far enough to grasp the depth of the modernity-coloniality-racism complex. Generally when racism or ”race thinking” is considered an ideology, for example, it is posed as an aberration or failure of modernity and thus, even though widespread, relatively separate from modern society as a whole.

Racism, like coloniality, however, is not only internal to but also constitutive of modernity. It is ”institutional,” as Stokely Carmichael and Charles Hamilton argue, i n the sense that racism is not just an individual question of bias or prejudice but goes well beyond the level of ideology, that racism is embodied and expressed throughout the administrative, economic, and social arrangements of power.
”Such a conception,” writes Barnor Hesse, ”moves the emphasis away from the apparently autonomous ideological universe of codified ideas of discrete physiognomies and metaphors of autochthonous blood to ‘regimes of practices.'”

Hesse suggests, in other words, that racism is better understood as not ideology but governmentality. This is an important shift: the power relation that defines the modernity-coloniality-racism complex is primarily a matter not of knowing but of doing; and thus our critique should focus on not the ideological and epistemological but the political and ontological.



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