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Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

Professor Robert Bernasconi: The policing of race mixing - When did Racism come under the sway of biopower?

17th January 2008, 18:15, Debating Chamber, Palace Green

The history of the scientific concept of race reveals that, since its introduction in the late eighteenth century, it has always been organized around the possibility of race mixing. This places at the core of the concept the threat or promise of the refashioning of races, as well as making possible an obsession with racial purity. The lecture focuses on the period roughly in the middle of the nineteenth century, when race mixing began to be conceived biologically as a cause of disease. This makes race mixing central to what Foucault and others have called biopolitics and points toward some of the extreme racist policies of the twentieth century, including segregation, sterilizations, and genocide. In addition to tracing the history of how the scientific concept of race fostered new racisms, the lecture presents that history as a location for rethinking the interweaving of racism and sexism.

Robert Bernasconi is Moss Professor of Philosophy at the University of Memphis. He has written extensively on Hegel, Heidegger, Sartre, and Levinas, but in recent years has turned his attention to the problem of racism. As part of his response to contemporary racism, he has investigated the history of the scientific concept of race. He has published a number of articles and edited some 30 volumes on this topic.

The above venue is located on Palace Green, upstairs in the Union Society Building, next door to the Almhouses Restaurant.

Contact enquiries.ias@durham.ac.uk for more information about this event.