Posts Tagged 'class'

No Place Like Home: A Black Briton’s Journey Through the American South, by Gary Younge

Premised on The Guardian columnist’s journey along the route of the 1961 Freedom Rides, this somewhat confused book mixes travelogue and political analysis, sometimes to the detriment of both. Younge is at his best when talking to civil rights stalwarts, discussing contemporary social relations in the South and their intersection with history and sharing his experiences growing up in Britain as the son of immigrant parents from Barbados. He frequently returns to the nexus of race and class. But the book is weak in parts, occasionally slipping into banal description or simplistic cliché: like Bill Bryson but without the laughs. SS

Picador; 1999; 280 pages

The Meaning of Race: Race, History, and Culture in Western Society, by Kenan Malik

Malik’s study is an awesome and challenging counter-narrative of the history of ‘race’. He charts how the notion originated and developed through slavery and colonialism and the ways in which it was formalised via a scientific discourse. So far, so familiar. Malik’s originality lies in his bravura conclusion: he demonstrates how in the post-war era the discredited idea of ‘race’ was transmogrified into the equally tenuous notion of ‘culture’ and, even more ephemerally, ‘ethnicity’, serving merely as codes for the unscientific concept of ‘race’. Usefully, this thought-provoking work powerfully emphasises the strategic dead-end of identity politics and multiculturalism as ideology. SS

Palgrave Macmillan; 1996; 336 pages

Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America’s Class War, by Joe Bageant

With compelling anecdotes, Bageant illustrates the complicated circumstances of the lives of the working poor in the American south, who vote for politicians who undermine their economic and social freedoms. These stories are by turns funny and sad, almost always compassionate but sometimes ruthless as Bageant explores issues such as evangelical religion, anti-union sentiment, right-wing grassroots efforts, gun control, health care, and televised sports as the opiate of the masses. The first half of the book is especially strong in its analysis of the class struggle — not so much one class against another, as one class struggling to survive. MEL

Three Rivers Press; 2008; 288 pages


Language ought to be the joint creation of poets and manual workers. George Orwell

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