AADS Speaker Series: Racial Entanglements: Racialization Across Groups, Species, Objects, and Environments
The divide and rule practices of empire have inadvertently organized U.S. race studies. Too often, scholars have isolated ethnic studies fields from each other, conceived race relations in Majority/Minority terms, and treated the struggles of different racialized groups as separate. Recent comparative and relational race studies are promising, but their vocabulary of relation is vague. Moreover, none of our prevailing models registers nonhuman agencies as central to racialization. I trace the 19th-century ecocide of Hawaiian sandalwood forests to reveal the inadequacy of our models. This ecocide linked Native Hawaiians, Chinese, Indians, British, and White, Black, and Indigenous Americans with the histories of sandalwood, tea, cotton, silver, and poppy in sites across the world. I propose a vocabulary of racial entanglements for grasping how groups, species, goods, and environments are entangled agencies in the workings of race. Instead of taking distinct groups and discrete struggles as our units of analysis and political horizons, a racial entanglement approach seeks multi-racial/species/site possibilities aimed at addressing whole entanglements.
Long Le-Khac is assistant professor of English at Loyola University Chicago. His research and teaching focus on 20th- and 21st-century American literature, relational race studies, Asian American studies, Latinx studies, migration studies, narrative theory, and digital humanities. He is the author of Giving Form to an Asian and Latinx America(Stanford University Press 2020). His second book project, "Racial Entanglements: Racialization Across Groups, Species, Objects, and Environments," develops a theory of racial entanglement to grasp the full range of agencies involved in racialization and to pursue multi-racial/species/site possibilities.
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