Racialization: A Defense of the Concept

Ethnic and Racial Studies 42 (8):1245-1262 (2019)
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This paper defends the concept of racialization against its critics. As the concept has become increasingly popular, questions about its meaning and value have been raised, and a backlash against its use has occurred. I argue that when “racialization” is properly understood, criticisms of the concept are unsuccessful. I defend a definition of racialization and identify its companion concept, “racialized group.” Racialization is often used as a synonym for “racial formation.” I argue that this is a mistake. Racial formation theory is committed to racial ontology, but racialization is best understood as the process through which racialized – rather than racial – groups are formed. “Racialization” plays a unique role in the conceptual landscape, and it is a key concept for race eliminativists and anti-realists about race.
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