chapter  1
16 Pages

Ethnic Absolutism

WithPaul Williams

This chapter explores 'ethnic absolutism': the idea that humans belong to different ethnic compartments, with biological race regularly taken to be the basis of human differentiation. It shows that ethnic absolutism is not natural but historically produced, and that it leads to violence and irrationality. Paul Gilroy believes a newer way to define ethnic difference that has emerged since the New Racism. This recent approach relies upon science and new technology yet it is not a return to nineteenth-century raciology; rather, the newer form of racism is based on the late-twentieth-century interpretation of human life as springing from the blueprint of DNA. Race-thinking is not monopolized by white supremacists. Michel Foucault was a postwar French thinker whose major works were published from the 1960s to the 1980s. Gilroy notes the twin attributes of 'brutalism and masculinism' represented by Marcus Garvey's political project and Gilroy reads these as two defining principles of fascism.