[OPE-L:7380] [OPE-L:910] Re: Readings on Labor, Gender, Class, and Race

Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@phoenix.Princeton.EDU)
Thu, 15 Apr 1999 14:10:10 -0400 (EDT)

Hi Duncan,

Hmm. Marxist work on race in the United States.

A good overview is *Theories of Ethnicity: A Critical Appraisal* by Richard
H Thompson (Greenwood, 1989). I prefer it to Michael Omi and Howard
Winant's Racial Formation in the United States.

Well recently hired New School Professor Adolph Reed's essay on the Cabrini
Green Housing Project in Chicago is an insightful study of urban poverty,
racism and the underclass discourse. It's in a new book from Westview Press
he has edited titled *With Justice For All?* I don't have a copy with me.

Seems that The New School has been making very good hires lately.

Melvin Leiman's *Political Economy of Racism* (Pluto) and Michael
Goldfield's *The Color of Politics* are studies of racialised divisions
within the American working class.

The former is an almost comprehensive study and critique of how the
economics profession has studied 'race'. OPE participant Alan Freeman has
written a stinging critique in *Capital and Class*; Wm Darity has penned
one as well in a leading economics journal in which he argued that Leiman
has paid insufficient attention to recent work that vindicates the Eric
Williams' Thesis (importance of slavery to the industrial take off) and
that demonstrates the endogenity of discrimination to the competitive
process (the work of New Schoolers Patrick Mason and Howard Botwinick is
mentioned). Darity himself has a new book out *Persistent Inequalities*
which I have not read.

Goldfield's study is a comprehensive and at times monomaniacal study of
how radical unionism has foundered on racialised divisions. He was involved
in an important debate with Judith Stein and Eric Arensen a few years back
in the Journal International Labor and Working Class History about the
racism of the CIO in the 1930s. The same kind of debate about the racist
nature of American unionism has been carried on by Herbert Hill and Nelson
Lichentenstein in a recent *New Politics*.

I myself have written a long review of Martin Carnoy's *Faded Dreams* which
tries to extend Michael Reich's divide and conquer approach into the the
first Clinton Administration; and an essay on William Julius Wilson's
underclass concept.

Though it's not political economy, I would recommend that the topic of race
not be broached without some kind of discussion of what kind of category it
is. Two excellent and brief discussions are the relevant chapters in John
Vandermeer's Reconstructing Biology (Wiley, 1996) [Jonthan Marks' Human
Biodiversity is more comprehensive but still introductory] and Barbara
Fields' "Slavery, Race and Ideology in the United States of America" New
Left Review (May/June 1990). That in discussing the social constructedness
of race Fields underestimates the hold it has on social life is argued,
among others, by David Roediger in his book Towards the Abolition of
Whiteness (verso). In *The Racialisation of America* Yehudi Webster studies
the complicity of social scientists and govt statisticians in the
racialisation of consciousness--a provocative book that has been repudiated
more than refuted.

One of the most interesting historicisations of race, in the context of
political economy and class struggle, is the making of the colored category
in South Africa. See Ian Goldin *Making Race* (Longman, 1987)

With the emphasis on political in political economy, I found Wolfgang
Wippermann and Michael Burleigh's The Racial State, Germany, 1933-1945 to
be a brilliant study of how class conflict can be transmuted into the
projection of a barbaric racial utopia.

One rather famous round in the idealist vs. materialist study to race
relations is the critique of Gunnar Myrdal, doubtless the most influential
student of race relations in 20th century America, by Oliver Cox in *Caste,
Class and Race*. Ralph Ellison's analysis of the famous Myrdal Report went
unpublished at the time, though he included it in *Shadow and Act*. It's
quite good. There is a new book by Horace Clayton. ed. *An American Dilemma
Revisted*. There's a bio of Myrdal by Walter Jackson, and Reed is writing
an intro to a new ed. of Cox's work.

Etienne Balibar and Immanuel Wallerstein's *Race, Nation and Class* is
perhaps the leading text among those in cultural studies. There are astute
insights scattered along the way.

For a world perspective on race, see Peter Robb, ed. The Concept of Race in
South Asia and Benjamin Brouswer, ed. Racism and Anti Racism in World

I haven't got to the racialisation of the welfare state or immigration yet.

I can go on if nothing has hit the spot yet.

Yours, Rakesh