Groundings in anti-racism : racist violence and the 'War-on-Terror' in East London



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The interlocked social struggles waged by overlapping and diverse Britons of color for racial and social equality and everyday survival is the dynamic corollary of the contradictions engendered by the ruling relations of racial differentiation and racism in Britain. Grassroots struggles against routine racist violence and state violence, conceptualized as politically interlinked, are the critical sites that contribute to the recursive racial domination experienced by Britons of color in contemporary Britain, and forms the key ethnographic research focus of this study. Prior studies have already critiqued the dominant state framework of viewing racist violence as random, de-racialized and nonpolitical events – as individual incidents, neighborhood disputes, inter-personal conflict, and robberies gone wrong. These studies have alternately identified the social dehumanizing functions of racist violence, the possessive local white territorialism that they materially support and their relationship with macro-level socio-economic crises and changing racial exclusion ideologies of the liberal democratic nation.
What I add to these studies is the argument that the racial subordination and ruling relations inherent in the social processes of racist violence and, by formal extension, state violence are not only derivative of broader ideological forces or local social relations but are in fact constitutive of white racial state formation in Britain’s postcolonial era. I argue that the processes of racist violence and state violence are productive of the domination and hierarchy that is secured for whites, through unevenly empowered and routinized contestations within the re-configurations of white racial state formation and an emergent neoliberal-multicultural national security state. It is within this framework of analysis that the politics of black mobilization by Britons of color and their allies, in the context of contemporary multiculturalism’s contradictions, and against the many-sided form of racial subordination is made legible -- not as an anachronism -- but as socially meaningful, interlocked and politically urgent.