SSP Research Seminar Series: RACEOCRACY

We are delighted to welcome Dr Barnor Hesse to give a Research Seminar entitled RACEOCRACY.


How should we think about the ostensible transition of western societies from advocates of white racism to advocates of white anti-racism?

At the beginning of the 20th century Britain was an empire based on racial exploitation and hierarchy and the US was a Jim Crow society based on racial hierarchy and racial segregation. Like many other western nations these were white sovereign democracies in which it was widely and deeply understood in politics, culture and society that non-white populations generally, and Black populations specifically were racially inferior and racially subordinate subjects.

After World War 2 and the western allies’ victory against the Fascism and Racism of Nazi Germany, followed by anti-colonial movements across the non-western world and the US civil rights movement, a curiously under-theorized social and racial transition occurred. During the 1960s modern contemporary western liberal democratic capitalist societies re-emerged as undefined and unmarked, societies against racism. This was a conjunctural inauguration of the post-civil rights and post-colonial eras symbolized by the formal political incorporation of ‘non-white’ people generally and Black people in particular, into the democratic franchise on the basis of citizenship nominally equal to white citizenship with the same formal rights and protections. However, that conjunctural inauguration was also constituted by the inception of Black movements and anti-racist campaigns contesting and opposing the assimilation and precarity of non-white citizens based on the outlawing of racial discrimination, and the continuity of institutions of white sovereignty.

In opposing racism and condoning racism, recognizing racism and denying racism, what specifically distinguished these post-colonial and post-civil rights eras of western society were all the liberal and democratic ways in which their white sovereignties proscribed representational racism and affirmed performative racism. This is what I call Raceocracy. 

Speaker Biography 

Dr Barnor Hesse is Associate Professor of African American Studies, Political Science and Sociology at Northwestern University. His research interests are critical race theory, black political thought and political theory. He is author of ‘Raceocracy: White Sovereignty and Black Life Politics (forthcoming)’, co-editor of ‘After #Ferguson, After #Baltimore: The Challenge of Black Death and Black Life for Black Political Thought’, and editor of ‘Unsettled Multiculturalisms: Diasporas, Entanglements, Transruptions’. 

Event joining details

You will need to register for a place using the Eventbrite Link below, log on details will then be sent directly to you before the event.

Please register your attendance via Eventbrite.