Posts Tagged 'imperialism'

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

Saviors and Survivors: Darfur, Politics, and the War on Terror, by Mahmoud Mamdani

Mamdani’s is an ambitious endeavour: to challenge the dominant narrative on Darfur, to offer an alternative explanation of the conflict and to associate its representations with the “war on terror”. He meets his objectives but the scope of the book makes it rather disjointed. The first section is the most interesting: he forensically demonstrates the deceit and exaggerations of the Save Darfur organisation. Later sections devoted to how colonial policy constructed ethnic categories which still frame internal conflicts – despite their inaccuracy – are familiar from elsewhere, while his account of Sudan’s history is detailed but confusing to the non-expert. SS

Pantheon Books; 2009; 416 pages

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