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Racecraft: The Soul of Inequality in American Life
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Racecraft: The Soul of Inequality in American Life

4.25 of 5 stars 4.25  ·  rating details  ·  72 ratings  ·  12 reviews
Most people assume that racism grows from a perception of human difference: the fact of race gives rise to the practice of racism. Sociologist Karen E. Fields and historian Barbara J. Fields argue otherwise: the practice of racism produces the illusion of race, through what they call “racecraft.” And this phenomenon is intimately entwined with other forms of inequality in ...more
Hardcover, 310 pages
Published October 9th 2012 by Verso (first published January 1st 2012)
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Inna
Brilliant work. The authors adopt Durkheimian approach to explain why, even though we all know that race is a cultural construct, it is still such a basic part of American culture. Their point is that since every society needs some basic principles which cannot be questioned to sustain its stability (they compare race in US to witchcraft in Africa) and since race was so basic to US culture, first as justification for slavery and later as a disguise for class, it will take much more than rational ...more
Onefinemess
by: Karen E. Fields & Barbara J. Fields

I know - with a title like that, the gamer in me is still confused. It has nothing to do with Warcraft, Starcraft or Minecraft. Just an FYI ;).

Overall, I found it a good read. The academic language and phrasing can be a bit offputting, but the subject matter is compelling.

I do wish the authors had just gone all the way and been clear about "race as religion" instead of hiding it one level out as "racecraft works like witchcraft". I could be wrong, but t
...more
Robert
I love some parts of this book, found others unintelligible, and was bored by others (esp. the parts where the authors indulge their penchant for their own family's oral history and ":tell stories"). But the good parts are really terrific. The Fields sisters present a dense and carefully written, creative and original critique of race that includes cutting-edge historical, sociological and anthropological arguments. The notion that racism creates race (an inversion of the usual construction that ...more
Jason
During the Heyday of the cotton empire in the nineteenth century, slavery continued to perform the service it has pioneered in colonial times: that of limiting the need for free citizens(which is to say white people) to exploit each other directly and thereby identifying class exploitation with racial exploitation. 131

Racial ideology supplied the means of explaining slavery to people whose terrain was a republic founded on radical doctrines of liberty natural rights, and more important a republi
...more
Emily
Mar 06, 2014 Emily rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Emily by: Doug Henwood, Jerry Monaco
Shelves: occupy, nonfiction
For all of Fields's grumbling about historians writing about "agency" and "voice," these terms are at the center of media criticism around identity issues. What her analysis brings to the discussion is how to step away from the Feeling Offended basis for complaining about Othering in media, in order to focus on how mainstream pop culture narratives are "ritual" repetitions of ideologies that serve (or used to serve) the ruling class's economic and political interests.

The essay on Witchcraft/Rac
...more
Whittyfh
"Racecraft does not refer to groups or ideas about groups or traits, however odd both may appear close up. It refers instead to a mental terrain and a pervasive belief"

The above is the best descriptor of what the authors mean by the term racecraft but to really understand how it affects science, politics, economic justice, prison systems, etc., you have to read the book. The author's premise is race is not natural it is an ideology constructed and perpetuated by humans but there is no biological
...more
Tony Richardson
Wonderful, spot-on book. A precise, detailed, carefully articulated analysis of race that presents the necessary, radical intervention upon America's ruling/founding narrative of racism.

" And the first principle of racism is belief in race, even if the believer does not deduce from that belief that the member of a race should be enslaved or disfranchised or shot on sight by trigger-happy police officers or asked for identification when crossing the campus of the university where he teaches, just
...more
Anita
Talks about and around the absurdity of racism and inequality in America. That race is not natural, rather is an ideology constructed and perpetuated by humans. I like the concept of seeing racism and racist remarks through the eyes of a Martian visiting America.

"To say that race is entirely a social construction provokes a surprising level of resistance, even amongst the socially liberal. Though it is no longer socially acceptable to presume inferiority based on descent, so-called racial “diffe
...more
Trinity School Summer Reading
A complex and intriguing look at race and inequality in America. Schock and Berko went to hear Fields speak, and she blew our minds!
Rodney
Interesting read regarding the absurdity of racism and inequality in America.
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