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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

Dr Arun Saldanha: So what is race?

14th October 2008, 17:30, Kenworthy Hall, St Mary's College

IAS/St Mary's College Public Lecture

If race is usually put between inverted commas, does that mean that it isn't real?

If race is a social construction, a figment of the imagination, then how can there be racism in institutions or in economic distribution?

Can physical differences between human bodies be thought about without boxing them into the old colonial categories?

Over the last few decades, there has been some confusion about the ever-contentious category of race that needs to be resolved philosophically if antiracist policy is to be effective.

This lecture will provide a realist account of some of the many mechanisms whereby differentiation happens along racial lines, but does so whilst carefully avoiding reducing race to genes or to anything else. Using the example of racial segregation in cities, a critical ecological framework for approaching race and racism is suggested that will hopefully help to start clearing the confusion.

Arun Saldanha is Assistant Professor of Geography at the University of Minnesota and is an upcoming theorist of race. He is currently a Fellow at the Durham Institute of Advanced Study and St Mary’s College (October-December 2008) participating in the Institute’s ‘Being Human’ research theme.


Contact for more information about this event.