Radicalism, Anti-Racism, and Representation

Radicalism, Anti-Racism, and Representation

Radicalism, Anti-Racism, and Representation

Radicalism, Anti-Racism, and Representation

Synopsis

This book presents a sociological study of the development of anti-racist political consciousness amongst educationalists in both 'multi-racial' and 'white' areas. It engages with the contemporary crisis of 'racial' and political representation among anti-racists and radicals. The book also explores the development of self-aware, self-critical (reflexive) consciousness. It will be of particular interest to educationalists, sociologists and social geographers.

Excerpt

Recalling her activist past in the feminist movement the American poet Adrienne Rich (1985:11) observes, ‘We never meant less than the making new of all relationships’. ‘The problem was’, Rich continues, ‘we did not know who we meant when we said “we”’.

The failure of social self-consciousness Rich identifies has in recent years become one of the central, and most contentious, areas of intellectual debate. The sense of urgency in this discussion may be partly linked to the decaying plausibility of monolithic emancipatory ideals. As heterogeneous critical currents, such as green politics and the women’s, gay and anti-racist movements, have emerged they have exposed anti-ecological, male, heterosexual and white biases within traditional visions of liberation.

Moreover, for those on the left the question of who ‘we’ are and how do ‘we’ speak for others has become increasingly unavoidable as conservative forces have demonstrated their grip on political power. With the election of a Democrat President in the United States in 1992 the heyday of the New Right may be coming to an end. However, the conservative agenda has made profound in-roads into nearly all shades of contemporary political opinion. It has become an entrenched ‘common sense’, a taken-for-granted world-view deeply embedded within both popular and élite consciousness. The left, by contrast, has suffered a loss of direction and self-faith. Dazzled by the potency of conservative myths, radicals have been left wondering who (and how) they represent.

The power of the political right has been felt particularly acutely within the ‘race’ equality debate. This process is especially clear in Britain, which has seen some of the most extreme and enduring examples of conservative entrenchment in the Western world. Singled out for funding cuts and public ridicule, the confident

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