Race and Biology: Scientific Reason and the Politics of Purity

Michael J. Monahan

in The Creolizing Subject

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print May 2011 | ISBN: 9780823234493
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823240715 | DOI:

Series: Just Ideas

Race and Biology: Scientific Reason and the Politics of Purity

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In order to articulate an account of racial ontology that transcends the politics of purity, it is necessary to spell out in more detail exactly what the politics of purity is and how it operates. Broadly understood, the politics of purity holds that the norm toward which racial categories and racialized individuals ought to strive, or are even driven, is one of purity. The claim is not that the categories and individuals actually are pure but only that they ideally should be — it is in this way that it is the politics, and not the reality, of purity. Even outright rejections of race, such as racial eliminativism and the new abolitionism, participate in the politics of purity insofar as it is precisely because the categories and individuals cannot live up to this standard of purity that they should be eliminated or abolished. This chapter articulates a more in-depth account of the politics of purity and elaborates its failures to understand important questions about race and biology.

Keywords: racial ontology; politics of purity; racial categories; race; racial eliminativism; abolitionism; biology

Chapter.  12485 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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