‘Race’ and ‘post-colonialism’: Should one come before the other?

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One unsettled analytical question in race scholarship concerns the relationship between categories of race and categories of post-colonialism. These are often run together or are used interchangeably; sometimes an implicit hierarchy of one over the other is assumed without explicit discussion. In that activity, a great deal is enveloped, including a portrayal of race scholarship which can be at some variance from how race scholars conceive it. In this paper, it is argued that paying attention to a distinction between these two categories, and then trying to get them not only in the “right order”, but also on their own terms, is conceptually fruitful – however messy the outcome may be. What is advocated is an approach in which categories of race and post-colonialism are not subsumed into one another, but retain their distinctive and explanatory power.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1163-1181
Number of pages19
JournalEthnic and Racial Studies
Issue number6
Early online date15 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - May 2018


  • race
  • post-colonialism
  • whiteness
  • categories
  • history
  • society
  • explanation


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