Phenotype and Democracy: Towards a Materialist Ontology of Race

Prof Arun Saldanha
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Across the humanities, race is predominantly conceived as a mental, linguistic or otherwise social construction. This is chiefly to avoid the accusation of a belief in some sort of biological justification for existing social divisions between 'the races'. However, simultaneously, there is across the humanities a renewed interest in the materiality of the body, objects, scientific practice and the environment. This paper extends the 'new materialism' and asks whether the materiality of phenotypical variation amongst humans cannot be thought of in ways that do not repeat the political and conceptual mistakes of previous generations of materialists. Race is reconceived with Gilles Deleuze as something creative and full of possibilities, instead of something rigid. This leads to a democratic politics that emphasises the need of a broad front of both macro- and micropolitical commitments to fight discrimination on the basis of phenotypical traits. Central in this project is the understanding of the uneven spatialities of race in conditions of global capitalism and increasing migration and tourism.

Keywords: Race, Deleuze, Materialism, Body, Democracy
Stream: Immigration, Refugees, Race, Nation
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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Prof Arun Saldanha

Assistant Professor, Department of Geography College of Liberal Arts, University of Minnesota

Education and Employment: Since 2004: Geography, University of Minnesota; 2000-2003: PhD with Faculty Studentship, Geography, The Open University. PhD title: 'Psychedelic Whiteness: Rave Tourism and the Materiality of Race in Goa'. 1997-2000: Teaching Assistant, Communication Studies, Free University of Brussels. 1993-1997:Communication Studies, High Distinction. Thesis title: 'East Meets East: Globale Jongeren/Lokale Anderen in India'. Selected Recent Publications: 'Re-ontologising race: the machinic geography of phenotype', Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, forthcoming. 'Complications of whiteness in "Golden Goa", 1510-1760, with a focus on Linschoten's Itinerario', Journal of Historical Geography, forthcoming. 'Trance and visibility at dawn: racial dynamics in Goa's rave scene', Social and Cultural Geography, forthcoming. 'Goa trance and trance in Goa: smooth striations', in G. St. John, ed. Rave Culture and Religion. London, Routledge, 2003. 'Actor-network and critical sociology', Critical Sociology, 2003, 29(3):417-432. 'Music tourism and factions of bodies in Goa', Tourist Studies, 2002, 2(1):43-62. 'Music, space, identity: geographies of youth culture in Bangalore', Cultural Studies, 2002, 16(3):337-350. 'Identity, spatiality and postcolonial resistance: geographies of the tourism critique in Goa', Current Issues in Tourism, 2002, 5(2):94-111.

Ref: H05P0182