The Threat of Race

"Wonderfully readable and thoroughly radical"– Achille Mbembe

The Threat of Race by David Theo Goldberg Now available from Blackwell Publishing and

Wednesday April 7, 2010

Call and response


This essay is an extended response to five reviews of The Threat of Race contributed by Nadia Abu El-Haj, Susan Giroux, Kelly Gillespie, Nelson Maldonado-Torres and Peter Wade. Issues discussed range over the sadistic elements of racism’s characteristic violence, the ‘disappearance’ or ‘invisibility’ of race and the impact on racisms, the distinction and relation between naturalism and historicism in racial articulation, and the connection to biologism and culturalism, racial epistemologies, racial coloniality and racial neoliberalism. The central theme of the book, the notion of racial neoliberalism, is elaborated and exemplified by reference to the characterization of Obama by some since he was elected president of the United States.


This essay appeared in the Feburary 2010 issue of Patters of Prejudice

Susan Searls Giroux: Sade’s revenge: racial neoliberalism and the sovereignty of negation
Nadia Abu El-Haj: Racial palestinianization and the Janus-faced nature of the Israeli state
Peter Wade: The presence and absence of race 
Kelly Gillespie: Reclaiming nonracialism: reading The Threat of Race from South Africa 
Nelson Maldonado-Torres: The time and space of race: reflections on David Theo Goldberg’s interrelational and comparative methodology
David Theo Goldberg: Call and response 

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Monday January 5, 2009


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If anyone really thought the two-state solution for Israel-Palestine was a viable one, the logic underscoring the ongoing devastation in Gaza should put that to rest. Every missile fired and rocket launched, every mounting death and destroyed home or business, mosque, school, or (potentially) hospital, is a blow to a corpse already rotting. The idea is being buried along with the dead.

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Thursday November 13, 2008



As Barack Obama’s momentous electoral triumph became evident on Tuesday evening, the world—not just America but most anyone paying attention almost anywhere—broke into spontaneous celebration.  From the sprawling thongs of supporters and well-wishers in Grant Park, Chicago (site just 40 years ago of a dramatically different if not altogether unrelated kind of democratic undoing) to the country’s other mega-cities, coast-to coast. Time Square to Union Square, Rockies to Gulf, Minneapolis to New Orleans. From his father’s homeland of Kenya to Africa’s Little America in Liberia or oil-rich Nigeria, from de-colonized Cape Town to Cairo. From the cities flung clear across Europe to the Far East, Brazil to Beijing and Shanghai to Sydney; from the Middle East to Manila, India to the West Indies.

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Monday October 27, 2008

PRESIDENTIAL RACE by David Theo Goldberg


Barack Obama’s candidacy for the American Presidency has proved that racism in America is pretty much a thing of the past. Whether or not he wins, a black man has broken the barrier of racism in American politics. His candidacy has proven how inconsequential racism has become in a land long scarred by it. If a black man can rise to the nation’s highest office and can occupy the most powerful position in the world, racism can be no more than the sometime pernicious, occasionally violent but decidedly intermittent expressions of misguided individuals. The deep commitment to freedom of expression means that the country will just have to put up with these anomalies. It is the price to be paid for America’s unstinting commitment to liberty.

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Sunday October 12, 2008



Two competing historical frames have marked thinking about race and the conceptualization of racism.

A dominant view among academic commentators takes racism to acquire its explicit modern expression only from the nineteenth century onwards.  Advocates may acknowledge that a notion of race appears in literature and popular expression increasingly in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.  But they deny that such expression amounts to the sort of explicit, sustained, and elaborated mode of racist expression so widely circulated in the nineteenth century.

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Friday August 1, 2008

DIS-ARMING CHARM by David Theo Goldberg

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The Royal Belgium Museum for Central Africa (known in short as the Tervuren Museum after its location at the countryside edge of Brussels) has a century long history, about which I write critically in the pages of The Threat of Race (see pp. 169-75). Those pages are predicated on the basis of a visit to the Museum, its accompanying catalogs and commentary prior to 2005, when the Museum leadership began to rethink the design and representation of the institution in the wake of growing vocal criticism both locally, especially from Congolese Belgians, and internationally.

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