From the European South

a transdisciplinary journal of postcolonial humanities

Nodi e questioni intorno al ‘parlare di razza’

Anna Scacchi


On the use of ‘race’: notes and queries. In 2014 the Italian Institute of Anthropology launched an appeal to remove the word ‘race’ from article 3 of the Italian Constitution, substituting it with ‘skin color’ and adding an explicit denial of the existence of ‘alleged races’. Similar appeals were presented in the same year, on the grounds that since ‘race’ is a social construct whose existence is denied by genetics, using the word, however critically, gives it legitimacy and reality. The lukewarm debate raised by the proposals has mainly revolved around whether the banning of a word is an effective weapon in the fight against racism. Because of the European reluctance to use the notion of race as an interpretive paradigm and the limited familiarity with Critical Race Theory, it has not dealt with issues that are instead central to the discourse on race in Great Britain and the US, that is to say race as foundational in the making of Western modernity and deeply implicated in the structuring of the liberal order. Race, to use David T. Goldberg’s words, is “one of the central conceptual inventions of modernity,” and as it often operates undercover, producing apparently colorblind effects, we need to make its daily work visible.




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