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Traces of History: Elementary Structures of Race

4.50  ·  Rating details ·  60 ratings  ·  11 reviews
Traces of History presents a new approach to race and to comparative colonial studies. Bringing a historical perspective to bear on the regimes of race that colonizers have sought to impose on Aboriginal people in Australia, on Blacks and Native Americans in the United States, on Ashkenazi Jews in Western Europe, on Arab Jews in Israel/Palestine, and on people of African d ...more
Hardcover, 306 pages
Published April 5th 2016 by Verso (first published August 18th 2015)
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4.50  · 
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It has been a long time since writers, analysts, other academics and a whole host of us whose work regularly connects with the question of ‘race’ have been using sneer marks to indicate that despite its powerful impact and signficance in everyday life ‘race’ is not an actual thing, but a social construct – a characteristic constructed to maintain a set of social relations, hierarchies and power. We’ve had the analyses that link the invention of ‘race’ to the global worldview that emerged in the ...more
Dec 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Race is a social construct. [please note that I use the author's original British spellings of certain words in quotes]

”…racialisation represents a response to the crisis occasioned when colonizers are threatened with the requirement to share social space with the colonised.”

”…race denotes certain peoples as being out of place, rendering the subordinate populations concerned inherently dirty, as we see in the ubiquitous linkage of race and hygiene.”

”Race […] is a trace of history: colonised pop
Mallory Yung
Apr 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An incredibly comprehensive historical account that traces the contours of racialization in white settler societies and really distills the importance of this racialization in upholding social hierarchies in these societies. I was recommended this book to read as part of an academic paper review process and was not disappointed by the richness of analysis that Wolfe brings in this book. Very important read for those that are interested in the topic of race and want to delve more into how it has ...more
Vishal Misra
Dec 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
As a piece of academic history, this is incredibly accessible and compelling to read. Indeed, I ploughed through it compulsively in 2 days. Wolfe looks at how settler colonial societies create race, and once the racial binaries have been produced, he charts their evolution within social structures and systems.

Wolfe take the subject matter of his analysis to be the settler colonialism of the US, Australia, Brazil and Israel. The first half of the book looks at how race is created and the tension
Bill Brydon
Oct 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
notes are visible
"Indigenous Brazilians were demographically overwhelmed by a majority who were not themselves the conquerors: the millions of enslaved Africans who, by the late sixteenth century, had all but supplanted enslaved Native labour in the Brazilian colonial economy. Thus the racial regime in Brazil presents a distinctive configuration. In addition to the elimination of Indigenous people, it was structured to accommodate a Portuguese minority’s coercion of the African majority who were
Eurethius Péllitièr
May 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Brilliant and important, although the language can be difficult, the information explains systems and structures well
Jeremy Carnes
Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Such a brilliant exploration of race with some fresh and interesting arguments about how race operates across different spaces and times to serve colonial ends.
David Kirby
Mar 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful, clear and readable analysis of the extraordinary durability of the practices of domination that are grouped together under the heading of 'race'.
Heather Tomlinson
Feb 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Traces of History by Patrick Wolfe tackles racism and colonialism by comparing Jews, Native Americans, Indigenous Australians, and the descendants of African slaves. This book is pretty darned amazing and engaging. Wolfe posits that the experiences of the two indigenous groups were quite a bit different from the experiences of the Jews and Blacks, even if they all experienced discrimination and racism. He makes his case well. He even brings up the differing experiences of the two major areas in ...more
John Passant
Dec 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Great book.
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Madison Mega-Mara...: #9 Traces of History by Patrick Wolfe 1 3 Jan 27, 2016 08:04PM  

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