Constructing the Nation

A Race and Nationalism Reader

Edited by Mariana Ortega & Linda Martín Alcoff

Subjects: Philosophy, American Culture, Cultural Studies, Immigration
Series: SUNY series, Philosophy and Race
Paperback : 9781438428482, 254 pages, October 2009
Hardcover : 9781438428475, 254 pages, October 2009

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Table of contents

INTRODUCTION: The Race of Nationalism
Mariana Ortega and Linda Martín Alcoff
1. Cultural Affirmation, Power, and Dissent: Two Midcentury U. S. Debates
Elizabeth Suzanne Kassab
2. When Fear Interferes with Freedom: Infantilization of the American Public Seen through the Lens of Post–9/11 Literature for Children
Kyoo Lee
3. Muslim Women and the Rhetoric of Freedom
Alia Al-Saji
4. Faith in Unity: The Nationalist Erasure of Multiplicity
María Lugones and Joshua M. Price
5. Muslim Immigrants in Post–9-11 American Politics: The “Exception” Population as an Intrinsic Element of American Liberalism
Falguni A. Sheth
6. Situating Race and Nation in the U. S. Context: Methodology, Interdisciplinarity, and the Unresolved Role of Comparative Inquiry
Mindy Peden
7. Citizenship and Political Friendship: Two Hearts; One Passport
Eduardo Mendieta
8. On the Limits of Postcolonial Identity Politics
Namita Goswami
9. Theorizing the Aesthetic Homeland: Racialized Aesthetic Nationalism in Daily Life and the Art World
Monique Roelofs
List of Contributors
Name Index
Subject Index

Philosophers and social theorists of color examine how racism can creep into defensive forms of nationalism.


"What does it mean today to be an 'American' when one does not represent or embody the norm of 'Americanness' because of one's race, ethnicity, culture of origin, religion, or some combination of these? What is the norm of 'Americanness' today, how has it changed, and how pluralistic is it in reality?" — from the Introduction

In this volume philosophers and social theorists of color take up these questions, offering nuanced critiques of race and nationalism in the post-9/11 United States focused around the themes of freedom, unity, and homeland. In particular, the contributors examine how normative concepts of American identity and unity come to be defined and defended along increasingly racialized lines in the face of national trauma, and how nonnormative Americans experience the mistrust that their identities and backgrounds engender in this way. The volume takes an important step in recognizing and challenging the unreflective notions of nationalism that emerge in times of crisis.

Mariana Ortega is Professor of Philosophy at John Carroll University. Linda Martín Alcoff is Professor of Philosophy at Hunter College, City University of New York. Her many books include Visible Identities: Race, Gender, and the Self and Identity Politics Reconsidered (coedited with Michael Hames-García, Satya P. Mohanty, and Paula M. L. Moya).


"The idealized and abstract nation-state may be a familiar topic for political investigation, but the actual white nation and its racial state are territory far less explored. This stimulating set of essays—ranging from a reading of post-9/11 children's literature to an analysis of the racialized aesthetic of white nationalism—provides a valuable and eye-opening introduction to the racial construction of the American polity. " — Charles W. Mills, author of The Racial Contract

"A smart and unique set of theoretical reflections on the constitutive role of race and ethnicity in the post-9/11 U. S. American political imaginary, this book should find its place on the bookshelves of everyone interested in questions of citizenship and belonging in a multiracial U. S. polity. " — Chandra Talpade Mohanty, author of Feminism without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity