Toward a Political Philosophy of Race

By Falguni A. Sheth

Subjects: Political Philosophy, Critical Theory, Ethnic History, Women's Studies
Series: SUNY series, Philosophy and Race
Paperback : 9780791493984, 270 pages, March 2009
Hardcover : 9780791493977, 270 pages, March 2009

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Table of contents

Introduction: If You Don’t Do Theory, Theory Will Do You
1. The Technology of Race and the Logics of Exclusion: The Unruly, Naturalization, and Violence
First Dimension: Taming the Unruly
Second Dimension: Naturalizing the Unruly
Race as a Tool for Sovereign Power: Dividing Populations
Enframing Race: Vulnerability and Violence
2. The Violence of Law: Sovereign Power, Vulnerable Populations, and Race
Law, Violence, and Undecidability
Sovereign Power
Unruly and Vulnerable Populations
The Racialization of a Population
The Unruly and the Vulnerable Manifested as Categories of Law: Immigrants, Aliens, Enemies
3. The Unruly: Strangeness, Madness, and Race
Huntington and Rawls: Islam, Madness, and the Menace to Liberalism
Difference, Madness, and Race
Liberal Hegemony and Heterogeneous Populations
4.The Newest Unruly Threat: Muslim Men and Women
The Racializing and Outcasting of Muslims in the United States
Culture, Heterogeneity, and the Foreigner: Unruly Women
5. Producing Race: Naturalizing the Exception Through the Rule of Law
Exceptions and the Rule of Law
Constitutional Rights: Political? Human?
6. Border-Populations: Boundary, Memory, and Moral Conscience
The Third Term: Pariah Populations as a Border-Guard
Pariahs, Border-Populations, and Moral Gauges: The Example of Black Americans
Furthering State Interests: Dividing Populations Against Each Other
Concealing and Unconcealing: Multiple Border-Guards and Outsiders
7.Technologies of Race and the Racialization of Immigrants: The Case of EarlyTwentieth-Century Asian Indians in North America
The Great “Hindu” Migration
Political Resistance or Insurgency?
Conclusion: Toward a Political Philosophy of Race
Works Cited

Examines how liberal society enables racism and other forms of discrimination.


Timely, controversial, and incisive, Toward a Political Philosophy of Race looks uncompromisingly at how a liberal society enables racism and other forms of discrimination. Drawing on the examples of the internment of U.S. citizens and residents of Japanese descent, of Muslim men and women in the contemporary United States, and of Asian Indians at the turn of the twentieth century, Falguni A. Sheth argues that racial discrimination and divisions are not accidents in the history of liberal societies. Race, she contends, is a process embedded in a range of legal technologies that produce racialized populations who are divided against other groups. Moving past discussions of racial and social justice as abstract concepts, she reveals the playing out of race, racialization of groups, and legal frameworks within concrete historical frameworks.

Falguni A. Sheth is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Political Theory at Hampshire College and the coeditor (with David Colander and Robert E. Prasch) of Race, Liberalism, and Economics.


"Falguni Sheth's Toward a Political Philosophy of Race is … not only ambitious and impressive, but illustrates the sort of intellectual courage that could benefit philosophy as a discipline … [it] offers us a way of understanding race that takes us beyond liberal political theory, race theory, and even Foucauldian discourse about the nature and workings of power in the political sphere." — Social Theory and Practice

"The black experience has long been taken as paradigmatic for theorists of race across disciplines in the United States, and certainly in philosophy, where blacks constitute the largest racial minority. Thus Falguni Sheth's exploration of how this dominant paradigm may blind us to the multiple ways in which populations can be, and have been, racialized is a very valuable contribution. This is the first philosophy text on race to focus in detail on Arabs and Asians, and it is also one of the first to draw on continental theorists to examine the issue of race and political power." — Charles W. Mills, author of The Racial Contract