Heterogeneities: Race, Gender, Class, Nation, and State

By Robert Ackermann John | Go to book overview

PREFACE

This book is written without the usual scholarly apparatus. In thinking about matters of race, nation, state, class, and gender, one's authorities should be three: first, public texts; second, acquaintances and allies whose personal experiences speak with immediate knowledge of the relevant issues; and third, one's own carefully considered experiences. Citation is a form of public reference that only makes sense with respect to published texts. Equally recognizing all of one's authorities precludes citation. I have learned as much from talking with unpublished nonacademic scholars, activists, and students as from all of the coherently documentable texts that I have studied, but citation of these sources would be futile. As a result of animosities between some of those I had hoped to mention, as well as disagreements with portions of the text to follow, even my desire to list their names has been frustrated. Very much against my will, to thank all of them, circumstances only allow me to express here my deep personal gratitude.

The standard use of capital letters for proper nouns in English suggests reference to discrete and isolated objects that have obvious prominence. The major thesis of this book is that human groups are always already heterogeneous and interfused. In not capitalizing in the standard way, I am trying to avoid a practice of capitalization that functions as an ideological device reinforcing the logics of exclusion that I want to attack. As an example, "America" suggests a single, unified body of citizens whose will can be clearly expressed by the American government. The lower case "america" is more concrete and more obscure for initial analytical purposes, a site of contestation between opposed social forces with an uncertain outcome. This is the "america" that is important for understanding heterogeneity.

I intrude into my text where the authority for what I am saying comes from personal experience. I ask the reader to substitute his or her own examples and personal experiences for mine in order to evaluate and criticize what I say in my text. My path to a constant interest in the themes treated in this text was long and complicated. I did not start

-xi-

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Heterogeneities: Race, Gender, Class, Nation, and State
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents ix
  • Preface xi
  • Starting Point 1
  • Racism 9
  • Benign Racism 31
  • Gender 53
  • Class 79
  • Nation 103
  • State 131
  • World System 153
  • What to Do 179
  • FURTHER READING 205
  • Index 209
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