State of White Supremacy: Racism, Governance, and the United States

State of White Supremacy: Racism, Governance, and the United States

State of White Supremacy: Racism, Governance, and the United States

State of White Supremacy: Racism, Governance, and the United States


The deeply entrenched patterns of racial inequality in the United States simply do not square with the liberal notion of a nation-state of equal citizens. Uncovering the false promise of liberalism, State of White Supremacy reveals race to be a fundamental, if flexible, ruling logic that perpetually generates and legitimates racial hierarchy and privilege.

Racial domination and violence in the United States are indelibly marked by its origin and ongoing development as an empire-state. The widespread misrecognition of the United States as a liberal nation-state hinges on the twin conditions of its approximation for the white majority and its impossibility for their racial others. The essays in this book incisively probe and critique the U. S. racial state through a broad range of topics, including citizenship, education, empire, gender, genocide, geography, incarceration, Islamophobia, migration and border enforcement, violence, and welfare.


Moon-Kie Jung

The U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have stirred, once again, much talk of an “American empire.” Despite sharp disagreements, the general consensus has been that the United States is a relatively new and decidedly informal, or noncolonial, empire, particularly compared to the European powers of the past. Even for many of the dissenters the only true foray into formal empirebuilding by the United States was at the turn of the last century, consequent to the Spanish-American War. Otherwise, the United States has been distinctly a nation-state, even if an informally imperialist one. Against this prevalent assumption I make three arguments: the United States has never been a nationstate; the United States has always been an empire-state; the United States has always been a racial state, a state of white supremacy.

My strategy in this chapter is simple and straightforward: I discuss several concepts and apply them in, by turns, broad and fine strokes to the case of the United States. I examine the origins and early development of the U.S. empire-state during the long nineteenth century, drawing on evidence from constitutional law. None of the concepts or applications are, or should be, controversial in and of themselves. Taken together, they may cohere into something more original and useful, particularly in my own discipline of sociology.

My intention is not to specify a new theory but to outline the basic elements of a framework upon which theorizing can take place. The emergent empire-state approach aims to bring together studies of race, the state, and empire. It also allows us to make unified sense of, and see connections between, the divers histories of peoples who have been racially subjected to . . .

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