The contextualisation of racism requires consideration of not only class relations but also of the nation state in order for us to examine in more detail the relationship between racism and political and ideological relations. The relationship between the rise of capitalism and the nation state has been a central theme in many of the social sciences and certainly preoccupied the ‘founding fathers’ of sociology. Of course, states (in the sense of a set of institutions dedicated to the exercise of political power within a particular territorial space) existed prior to capitalism and various writers have therefore sought to develop typologies of different kinds of state (e.g. the nation state, the colonial state and so on). As we shall explore in this chapter, what distinguishes the nation state is the claim that the world’s population is ‘naturally’ divided into distinct nations, each of which has the right to distinct and separate political organisation and representation by means of a state.