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

By Robert Ackermann John | Go to book overview

STATE

nation-states may or may not contain populations that recognize themselves as essentially homogeneous in terms of language, ethnicity, and common history. Whether they do or do not is dependent on the success of the nation-state in having convincingly defined a single nation that it represents. The state must manipulate heterogeneity to construct a single nation to represent. One way it does this is to invoke the logic of racism in the definition of the nation, defining as a class the citizens that are protected by racist exclusions of others through cultural differences, high court decisions, and immigration policies. The state, in short, has extensive resources for controlling who counts as a national, at least in the short run.

That the details of citizenship and the exclusions of noncitizens are somewhat arbitrary is obvious to historical scholarship. Full voting citizenship was denied to women and the poor in some advanced industrial countries until very recently. In many industrial countries, one is subject to a military draft before one can become a voting citizen of the state. Racism can interpenetrate the definition of citizenship, as when england's formal retreat from colonialism forced complicated definitions that denied english citizenship to the colonized who had possessed it formally when few of them could exercise their rights. Colonials were unproblematic citizens only when they couldn't get to the home country. Many nation-states, such as germany, will grant asylum to political refugees and give work permission to immigrant labor, but will not grant citizenship on application except to those who are already nationals according to an exclusionary formula. These matters are part of a state's survival strategies, but they are defended in the name of preserving the nation, or in the name of the state security needed to preserve the nation. Modern liberal states are theoretically egalitarian only with respect to their national citizens, those who count in after the wars of definition stabilize.

The state (of a nation-state) enforces citizen/subject rights, defines

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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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