Planetary Prejudices: Race, Migration, and Technology in the New Global Order

Taking racism as the engine of capitalism, the study of “racial capitalism” offers a potent framework for understanding how racism structures modern life. Yet commentaries about racial capitalism often make assumptions at odds with a changing world. My book-in-progress, Planetary Prejudices: Race, Migration, and Technology in the New Global Order, is a concise theoretical attempt at thinking beyond these assumptions to understand how large-scale economic and social
shifts are reconfiguring racism in unprecedented ways.
What happens, for instance, when capital’s appetite for human labor abates? Automation, digitization, artificial intelligence: economists warn that these technologies announce a permanent future of mass joblessness. How do we understand racism’s implication in—and transformation by— the coming human superfluity?
Planetary Prejudices spans multiple geographies. A chapter on South Africa examines how the structural persistence of racial inequality after apartheid conceals a discontinuity in how the new economics of superfluity is racializing the unemployed. A chapter on Europe argues that the migrant crisis is transforming Islamophobia into a worldview as sociologically “sticky” as antisemitism once was. And a chapter on police brutality against black Americans explores how the Internet shapes individual white users’ racialized perception of where they fit into an evolving economic landscape.

Project leader(s):
  • Dorian Bell (Department of Literature, University of California, Santa Cruz)

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