Expropriation as Racialization in Capitalist Society



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Expropriation as Racialization in Capitalist Society:

An Interview with Nancy Fraser by George Yancy

This interview is part of a larger collection of interviews to be published as a book titled "35 Interviews of Philosophers on Race" (forthcoming Oxford University Press). All of the interviews are conducted by George Yancy. We thank George and Nancy for permission to publish the interview here.     



Nancy Fraser is Henry A. and Louise Loeb Professor of Political and Social Science and Professor of philosophy at The New School in New York City. Her most recent book is Fortunes of Feminism: From State-Managed Capitalism to Neoliberal Crisis(Verso).

George Yancy: In what way have discussions of race shaped your thinking over the years?

Nancy Fraser: Race has shaped my thinking profoundly, and from a fairly young age. As a teenager, I was shaken out of my comfortable and rather boring life in a white middle-class suburb of Baltimore by the eruption of the civil rights movement. Drawn quickly into the struggle for desegregation, I experienced a major existential reorientation. Suddenly, my family’s move from the city to the suburbs appeared in a new light, as did my relation to our live-in black maid, who had had to wait in the car while we ate in restaurants on vacation road trips. The encounter changed me forever. The civil rights movement provided my first political engagement, my first taste of solidarity in a community of struggle, and my first experience of the power of critique to dissolve blinders. And it informed the whole of my subsequent development, including my gravitation to the radical, anti-imperialist and anti-racist wing of the anti-Vietnam War movement, to a Marxian strand of Students for a Democratic Society, to socialist and anti-racist currents of feminism, and eventually to Critical Theory as a genre of intellectual work aimed at disclosing the systemic bases of oppression and the prospects for overcoming it through social struggle.

G.Y.: In what ways have you come to specifically rethink the fact that you had a live-in Black maid? I ask this because there are ways in which when we acquire a critical consciousness things take on a different meaning, especially the past.

N.F.: Yes, that is exactly what I wanted to suggest. I was caught up in a nexus of racial oppression literally from birth, long before I could name it and subject it to critical assessment. That we were “white” and in a position to be served by a black woman was simply the way things were. That she lived most of the week with us, in close proximity and engaged with the most intimate aspects of our daily lives (preparing our food, cleaning our dirt), and yet was not a member of our family and did not eat with us–indeed, was someone we held at a distance–all that too belonged to the taken-for-granted reality of my childhood. As I grew up, I absorbed but did not grasp the meaning of these everyday experiences: that she was pretty much the only person I knew who rode the public bus, that everyone I saw waiting to be picked up at the bus-stop was black, that she came to our house on a long bus ride from another part of the city, where she had a home and a family, a whole other life, about which I knew next to nothing. I did, as a young child, question certain things–above all, that she couldn’t eat with us in restaurants on road trips; and I stored away for future use my parents’ reply that this was the law but it was wrong. In retrospect I can see that I was storing up a lot of information until the time arrived when I could decode it. And as I said before, that time began with the civil rights movement. I now believe that my whole upbringing primed me to jump into the struggle. On the one hand, I was living up close and personal with institutionalized racism. But on the other hand, I was hearing from my parents–solid FDR liberals, who nevertheless went along with the Jim Crow system–that it was wrong. My early anti-racist activism was informed not only by a passion for justice, but also by adolescent rage at my parents’ hypocrisy, their willingness to tolerate social arrangements they disapproved.

So yes, you are right, there is (if we are lucky!) an understanding that arrives late, like Hegel’s Owl of Minerva, to provide a retroactive re-reading of what we have lived. I think it is largely a process of self-decentering, of stepping back from lived experience and trying to grasp one’s reality from the outside, by locating oneself in a social system, a system, if truth be told, of domination. When that happens, one’s whole sense of who one is gets radically altered.

The most powerful account I know of this is Christa Wolf’s “fictional autobiography,” Patterns of Childhood.1 In this extraordinary book, the adult narrator struggles to reconstruct what it was like to be a young German girl growing up in a “normal Nazi family,” and eventually to own that experience, to integrate her childhood and adult selves, which at first are split off from one another, marked in the text by two different pronouns, “I” and “she.” Another book that deals brilliantly with related issues is Marlene Van Niekerk’s novel Agaat, which reads the whole 40-plus year history of South African apartheid through the intimate and almost unbearably painful relation between Milla, an Afrikaner farmwife, and Agaat, her black housekeeper. Born with a shriveled arm and rejected by the community of farmworkers, Agaat had been brought to the farmstead by Milla and treated as a substitute for the child she couldn’t have, only to be converted into a servant a few years later when Milla became pregnant. In the novel’s present, the Afrikaner woman lies dying from ALS. Unable to speak and immersed in her memories, she has no choice but to listen as Agaat reads aloud from her (Milla’s) youthful diaries. Hearing her own words, pregnant with evasion and loss, Milla is hit by the full force of what she has done, of her love for Agaat, and of the way this most enduring and important relation of her life has been irredeemably twisted.2 These are two of the deepest books I’ve ever read. In both cases, the authors are grappling with their own implication in brutal oppression as members of the perpetrator groups. Both of them explore the dynamics of retroactive self-understanding and responsibility. And both enact that decentering of subjectivity that is, in my view, the necessary starting point for critique.

G.Y.: How has race specifically shaped your philosophical work?

N.F.: I am widely viewed as a feminist and critical theorist–and rightly so. Nevertheless, my philosophical work has often attended to racism in one way or another. As I reflect on that now, it occurs to me that I have dealt with issues of race in four different ways. I have treated race, first, as a pervasive dimension of capitalist society, which informs every aspect of it and must be reckoned with in every social inquiry. When writing in this mode, I have sought to reveal the footprint of racialization in matters that could, at first glance, seem far removed from it. Thus, one aim of my early work on the welfare state was to disclose the racial subtext of social programs, along with the gender subtext. An example is my 1994 essay, co-authored with Linda Gordon, on then-fashionable criticisms of “welfare dependency.” In that essay, Gordon and I exhumed racialized strands of dependency discourse, examined their imbrication with class-oriented and gendered strands, and situated them in terms of two major historical shifts–first, from preindustrial society to industrial capitalism and then, to postindustrial (or neoliberal) capitalism.3

But I have also approached race in a second, almost opposite, way–namely, as a feature of “commonsense” that can suck up all the oxygen and occlude other forms of domination. In work of this sort, I have analyzed the use of racializing discourse to screen out gender and class, an approach that is especially revelatory with respect to class, which is so often occulted and disavowed in US politics. An example is my 1992 essay on the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill confrontation, which drew on Habermas’s theory of the public sphere to clarify the power dynamics behind Thomas’s notorious claim that he was the victim of a “high-tech lynching.”4

Then too, I have approached race in a third way, as a “case” that can disclose general features of social oppression. In writings of this type, I have examined racial injustice in order to illuminate injustice more broadly and to concretize my analysis of it. An example is my work on recognition and redistribution, which parsed race as a “two-dimensional” power asymmetry, forged from both culture and political economy, and combining features of both status and class. My aim there was twofold: to understand race for its own sake and to bring home the general point that struggles for recognition are not by themselves sufficient to overcome structural injustice.5

Finally, I have approached race in a head-on way, as a primary focus of investigation. In work of this type, I have lifted racial dynamics out from their larger social matrix and moved them to center stage. An example is my 1998 essay on Alain Locke’s early effort to develop a critical race theory avant la lettre. There I sought to excavate Locke’s largely forgotten but still unsurpassed insights, especially his brilliant disaggregation of the concept of “race” into three sub-concepts: biological, political, and social.6 Also in this category is a recent (2016) paper in which I try to explain why capitalist society has always been entangled with racial oppression. Proposing a systemic explanation, I argue that capitalism’s official, foreground dynamic of exploitation depends on an equally central but disavowed background process of “expropriation,” and that the distinction between those two “exes” corresponds to the color line.7 In these cases, I have sought to contribute directly to critical race theory–generally by replacing conventional identitarian framings with a focus on historicized capitalism.

G.Y.: There is the argument that class trumps race. Some who have argued this position assume some variation of Marxism. Yet, racism involves more than exploitation, yes? Please elaborate on how you understand the difference between the terms “exploitation” and “expropriation” and how the latter term outstrips an analysis of oppression based upon class alone.

N.F.: Racism definitely involves more than exploitation. It is no mere “secondary contradiction” of capitalism and cannot be reduced to class oppression. But to reject those vulgar, orthodox views is not necessarily to abandon Marxism. To the contrary, I have proposed an account of racial oppression that belongs to the Marxist tradition, or perhaps I should say, to its “Black Marxist” current, which includes such towering thinkers as C.L.R. James, W.E.B. Du Bois, Eric Williams, Oliver Cromwell Cox, Stuart Hall, Walter Rodney, Angela Davis, Manning Marable, Barbara Fields, Cedric Robinson, David Roediger, Adolph Reed, and Cornel West.8 This strand of Marxism takes us far beyond conventional economistic, class-essentialist, and color-blind orthodoxy, but without throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

My contribution turns on the distinction between capitalism’s foreground economy and the latter’s background conditions of possibility. According to the official Marxian view, capital is accumulated via the exploitation of “workers”: free but propertyless “producers” contract to exchange their “labor power” for wages, while the “surplus value” their labor produces accrues to the capitalist. This view accurately depicts a central process of capitalism. But it gives us only the system’s “front story” while leaving unexamined its equally fundamental “backstory.” If, as I said, the front story is about exploitation, then the backstory concerns expropriation; and the distinction between those two “exes” is vital for understanding racial oppression. Whereas exploitation transfers value to capital under the guise of a free contractual exchange, expropriation dispenses with all such niceties in favor of brute confiscation–of labor, to be sure, but also of land, animals, tools, mineral and energy deposits, and even of human beings, their sexual and reproductive capacities, their children and bodily organs. Moreover, whereas exploited workers are accorded the status of rights-bearing individuals and citizens who enjoy state protection and can freely dispose of their own labor power, those subject to expropriation are constituted as unfree, dependent beings who are stripped of political protection and rendered defenseless–as, for example, in the cases of chattel slaves, colonized subjects, “natives,” debt peons, “illegals,” and convicted felons. Thus, the distinction between the two “exes” is at once “economic” and “political.” It has to do not only with two different mechanisms of accumulation but also with two different modes of subjectivation, which fabricate two distinct categories of persons, one suitable for “mere” exploitation, the other destined for brute expropriation.

So I am claiming that expropriation is a built in feature of capitalism, as constitutive of it as exploitation–and that it correlates strongly with racial oppression. The link is clear in practices widely associated with capitalism’s early history but still ongoing, such as territorial conquest, land annexation, enslavement, coerced labor, child labor, child abduction, and rape. But expropriation also assumes more “modern” forms–such as prison labor, transnational sex trafficking, corporate land grabs, and foreclosures on predatory debt, which are also linked with racial oppression. Finally, expropriation plays a role in the construction of distinctive, explicitly racialized forms of exploitation–as, for example, when a prior history of enslavement casts its shadow on the wage contract, segmenting labor markets and levying a confiscatory premium on exploited proletarians who carry the mark of “race” long after their “emancipation.”

Here, then, is my argument in a nutshell: Capitalism harbors a deep-structural distinction, at once economic and political, between exploitation and expropriation, a distinction that coincides with “the color line.” I can also state the point in a different way: the racializing dynamics of capitalist society are crystalized in the “mark” that distinguishes free subjects of exploitation from dependent subjects of expropriation.

G.Y.: How do you see the relationship between capitalism and racism? Is racism a byproduct of capitalism or is it something far more integral to the expansionist structure inherit in capitalist circuits of desire?

N.F.: I see the connection as integral. The first clue is that racial oppression has always been part and parcel of capitalist society–just as expropriation has always accompanied exploitation in capitalism’s history. We are not talking only about the period of racial slavery and modern colonialism. On the contrary, the relation between the two “exes” persisted throughout the era of Jim Crow and decolonization, when value was confiscated from racialized populations through sharecropping and debt peonage, through the “super-exploitation” of Black workers in dual labor markets, and through neo-imperial “unequal exchange.” And racialized expropriation continues today, despite the appearance of equal citizenship and despite lip service to equal rights. In the Global South it assumes the guise of corporate land grabs and dispossession by debt, while in the Global North it operates through for-profit prisons and prison services and through predatory subprime and payday loans. This ongoing history belies the orthodox interpretation of “primitive accumulation,” which limits expropriation to the initial stockpiling of capital at the system’s beginnings.9

But my claim is not simply that racialized expropriation persists throughout capitalism’s history. As I see it, the history reflects a deeper, more structural connection. The link is in part “economic.” A system devoted to the limitless expansion and private appropriation of surplus value gives the owners of capital a deep-seated interest in confiscating labor and means of production from subject populations. Expropriation raises their profits­ by lowering costs of production, including the wage bill–and it does so in at least two ways: on the one hand, by supplying cheap inputs, such as energy and raw materials; on the other, by providing low-cost means of subsistence, such as food and textiles, which permit them to pay lower wages. Thus, by confiscating resources and capacities from unfree or dependent subjects, capitalists can more profitably exploit “free workers.” And so the two “exes” are deeply intertwined. In the memorable phrase of Jason Moore, “behind Manchester stands Mississippi.”10

But not everything can be reduced to economics. Political dynamics play an indispensable role in entrenching racial oppression in capitalist society. Capitalism’s economy has always depended on public, political powers to secure the conditions for accumulation. No one doubts that such powers supply the legal frameworks that guarantee property rights, enforce contracts, and adjudicate disputes, as well as the repressive forces that can be called on to suppress rebellions, maintain order, and manage dissent. But that is not all. Public powers also engage in political subjectivation: they codify the status hierarchies that distinguish citizens from subjects, nationals from aliens, freemen from slaves, “Europeans” from “natives,” “whites” from “blacks,” entitled workers from dependent scroungers. Forged politically, such status hierarchies are essential for accumulation, as they mark off groups subject to brute expropriation from those destined for “mere” exploitation. And so that distinction is as much “political” as it is “economic.”

What all of this entails, finally, is that expropriation and exploitation are not simply separate, parallel processes. Rather, the two “exes” are systemically imbricated–they are deeply intertwined and mutually calibrated engines of a single capitalist world system. The conclusion I draw is that the racialized subjection of those whom capital expropriates is a hidden condition of possibility for the freedom of those whom it exploits. And that tells us that racial oppression stands in a systemic, non-accidental relation to capitalist society, that the connection between them is inherent.

G. Y.: In Black Skin, White Masks, Frantz Fanon argues that “Jean-Paul Sartre forgets that the black man suffers in his body quite differently from the white man.” For you, how does the Black body suffer in ways that the wage earning white proletariat doesn’t?

N.F.: Well, I would start by unpacking the phrase “to suffer in one’s body.” One obvious meaning is to be subject to physical violence, and there is no question that that condition afflicts people of color (both women and men!) disproportionately. Members of racialized groups are far more likely than “whites” to be murdered, assaulted, harassed, and raped; and the violence they suffer is far more likely to go unpunished. Worse still, those who are supposed to prevent and punish violence are, in the case of black Americans, too often the perpetrators of it. And that fact compounds the violence. It sends the message that black lives don’t matter, that they can be maimed and extinguished with impunity, that there is no protection and no recourse, that attempts at self-defense will be branded as criminal and crushed by still more violence. All of this has recently erupted into full view in the United States; and the Black Lives Matter movement deserves enormous credit for insisting that we face it squarely, without averting our gaze. But none of it is new. The vulnerability of racialized people to socially tolerated violence is at least as old as this country. Everyone knows that it was an enduring feature of slavery and that it persisted (for example, in the form of lynching) long after abolition. But we should not forget that it has also been a constant for native peoples and for “illegals” and immigrants of color, as well as for LGBT people. Nor should we forget that susceptibility to socially tolerated violence is gendered–a fact that Fanon appreciated in the case of black men, but obfuscated in the case of black women.11 To correct his blind spot, we need only mention the systematic rape of enslaved women, including the instrumentalization of their childbearing capacity for breeding, and the targeting of women of color for forced sterilization, transnational sex trafficking, sexual harassment and sexual assault (both domestic and otherwise). No less than that directed against racialized men, this violence too has been socially tolerated in the United States–indeed throughout the capitalist world system.

We hear far too much of the word “terrorism” today, but I can’t resist using it here. To be susceptible to socially tolerated violence is precisely to be terrorized, to be constantly bracing oneself in expectation of a blow, without knowing when or whence it will come. This internal tension borne of anticipated violence is itself a form of “suffering in one’s body,” even apart from, or in the absence of, any blow. Simultaneously psychical and physical, it is a suffering that explodes the mind-body distinction. But the same is true of other historic forms of institutionalized racism: disfranchisement, segregation, exclusion, rejection, coerced labor–these also wound body and soul in ways that testify to their ultimate unity. Thus, we should take an expansive view of Fanon’s phrase. What is sometimes called symbolic or cultural violence is not without its effects on racialized bodies. This was Fanon’s great insight: that racialization imprisons people of color in their bodies; “race” itself is a form of bodily harm and bodily suffering.

But that is not all. People of color also disproportionately suffer in their bodies from what Rob Nixon has called “slow violence.”12 That phrase is meant to signal the long-term effects of the ordinary, everyday living conditions of impoverished racialized people: mal- or poor nutrition, lack of or poor health care, unsanitary water, unsafe housing or homelessness, exposure to pollution and other environmental hazards, dangerous and toxic work. The effects of these conditions unfold very slowly in many cases, but they are nevertheless lethal. So this is “slow violence,” akin to “environmental racism.” And it is also a form of suffering in one’s body. Working gradually and imperceptibly, it stunts the growth, impairs the health, and shortens the lives of people of color across the globe.

When I try to put all of this together, I can’t help but return to the idea of expropriation. Part of what I mean by that term, in contradistinction from exploitation, is exposure, the inability to set limits to what others can do to you, the incapacity to draw boundaries and invoke protections. The condition of expropriability, of being defenseless and subject to violation, seems to me to lie at the core of racialization and racial oppression. And that is why I said earlier that “race” is the mark that distinguishes free subjects of exploitation from dependent subjects of expropriation in capitalist society.

G.Y.: You argued earlier that capitalist society has always been entangled with racial oppression. Attacking racist ideological assumptions, while necessary, will not be sufficient to effectively eliminate racism, assuming that it will ever be eliminated. To engage in something far more radical, in what specific ways must capitalism, because it is always already linked to racism, be restructured? If racism must go, then what does this means for capitalism?

N.F.: Well, that’s just about the hardest question you could possibly ask me! And I can’t provide a fully satisfying answer. But let me suggest a way of thinking about it that draws on the conception of capitalism I’ve been sketching here. Assuming this conception, which encompasses expropriation as well as exploitation, politics as well as economics, I would like to address your question in its most classical and pointed form: is it possible to abolish racial oppression without abolishing capitalism? The short answer is: in theory, yes; in practice, given capitalism’s history, almost certainly no. Let me explain.

A major consideration has to do with the ontology of “race.” Like many critical race theorists, I hold that “race” does not exist apart from racialization, which is to say, apart from the political mechanisms of subjectivation that sort populations into different categories, suited to different functional roles and social locations. If that is right, then “race” just is that differential marking of capitalism’s subjects, in the one case for exploitation, in the other for expropriation. Absent that political marking, it wouldn’t exist. By the same token, however, “race” must exist in one form or another wherever social arrangements constitute expropriation and exploitation as distinct and separate processes assigned to distinct and separate populations. In those situations, whoever is constituted as expropriable will be racialized, constructed as dependent and inherently violable, deprived of rights and protections, and on that basis oppressed–even if the people in question are not disproportionately of African descent. If “race” is understood in this pragmatic, de-substantialized way, and if capitalism requires both expropriation and exploitation, as well as their mutual separation, then it cannot be detached from racial oppression.

But before we embrace that conclusion we should consider another possibility: that while capitalism does require both expropriation and exploitation, it does not require that they be clearly separated from one another. Suppose, accordingly, that a new form of capitalism emerges, one that does not assign the two exes to distinct populations. Such a regime would conscript nearly all adults into wage labor, but pay the overwhelming majority less than the socially necessary costs of their reproduction. Reducing the “social wage” by dismantling public provision, it would entangle the bulk of the population in massive debt, empowering creditors to evict them from their homes and their land, to garnish their wages and seize their assets, including their personal capacities and bodily liberty. Universalizing precarity, the new regime would compel most households to rely on multiple earners working long hours at multiple jobs and thus to sacrifice health, family life, education, sleep, nutrition, leisure, and retirement in order to service their loans and meet their most pressing needs as best they can. In this new form of capitalism, the line between exploitation and expropriation would blur. Virtually everyone would be subjected to both those processes of value extraction, which would no longer be clearly separated from one another. Neither subjects of expropriation nor subjects of exploitation would exist as such. Those “pure” positions would be replaced by a new, nearly universal hybrid status: the exploitable-and-expropriable citizen-worker, formally free, but deeply vulnerable and highly dependent. Certainly, this type of capitalism would be no picnic. But in overcoming the dichotomous separation of the two exes, it would have transcended the historic basis of racial oppression in capitalist society.

The regime I’ve just imagined is logically possible, to be sure, which is why I said at the outset that a nonracial capitalism is possible in theory. For all practical purposes, however, we can rule it out. The reason has to do with path dependency, the constraints of history on real possibility, and with the dynamics of transition, the process of getting from here to there. Given the accumulated weight of racialization in capitalism’s history and barring some unimaginable cataclysm, I can discern no practicable path to a regime of accumulation in which the burdens of expropriation are equitably shared across the color line.

To see why, we need only compare my hypothetical scenario to the really existing capitalism of the present era, with which it has clear similarities. Today’s financialized capitalism is indeed a regime of universalized expropriation: of government “austerity,” falling real wages, ballooning consumer debt, precarious employment, and increased hours of waged work per household. And the situation of “white” citizen-workers, previously protected from such expropriation, has badly deteriorated. Structurally, their circumstances now encompass both of the “exes,” just like their counterparts of color, many of whom joined the ranks of exploited wage labor long ago, but without fully escaping expropriation. Today, accordingly, the relation between the two exes has changed. What once was a stark dichotomy, separating two distinct classes of subjects, now resembles a continuum. The hybrid status of the (disempowered, precarious) exploitable-and-expropriable citizen-worker, previously restricted to people of color, has now been generalized to virtually the entire non-property-owning population. In these respects, present-day financialized capitalism resembles the hypothetical post-racial scenario I sketched above.

And yet: present-day capitalism is anything but post-racial. The burdens of expropriation still fall disproportionately on people of color, who remain racialized and far more likely than others to be unemployed, homeless, poor, and sick; to be victimized by crime and predatory loans; to be incarcerated and sentenced to death, harassed and murdered by police; to be used as canon fodder in endless wars. Racial oppression persists despite the advent of a new, less dichotomous configuration of the two exes. And that configuration may even aggravate racial animosity. When centuries of stigma and violation meet finance capital’s voracious need for subjects to expropriate, the result is intense insecurity and paranoia–hence, a desperate scramble for safety–and exacerbated racialization. Certainly, “whites” are less than eager to share the burden of violation–and not simply because they are racists, although some of them are. It is also that they, too, have legitimate grievances, which come out in one way or another–as well they should. In the absence of a cross-racial movement to abolish a system that requires expropriation as well as exploitation, their grievances find expression in the growing ranks of rightwing authoritarian populism. Those movements, which flourish in virtually every country of capitalism’s historic core, represent the entirely predictable response to the hegemonic “progressive” neoliberalism of the present era. The latter cynically deploys appeals to “fairness” as a cover for extending and exacerbating expropriation. In effect, it asks those who were once protected from it by their standing as “whites” and “Europeans,” to give up that favored status, embrace their growing precarity, and surrender to violation, all while funneling their assets to private investors and offering them nothing in return beyond moral approval. In the dog-eat-dog world of financialized capitalism, marked both by the historical weight of centuries of racialization and by intensified expropriation-cum-exploitation, it is practically impossible to envision a “democratic” path to non-racial capitalism.

Nor, of course, is it easy to envision a path to a non-racial postcapitalist society. But the kernel of the project is clear. Contra traditional understandings of socialism, an exclusive focus on exploitation cannot emancipate working people of any color; it is necessary also to target expropriation, to which exploitation is in any case tied. By the same token, contra liberal and “progressive” anti-racists, an exclusive focus on discrimination, ideology and law, is not the royal road to overcoming racial oppression; it is also necessary to challenge capitalism’s stubborn nexus of expropriation and exploitation. Both projects require a deeper radicalism–one aimed at structural transformation of the overall social matrix, at overcoming both of capitalism’s exes by abolishing the system that generates their symbiosis.

Perhaps we can find some grounds for hope in the current situation. Today, when the exploited are also the expropriated and vice-versa, it might be possible, finally, to envision an alliance of populations that that were too easily pitted against one another in earlier eras, when the two exes were more clearly separated. Perhaps in blurring the line between them, financialized capitalism is creating the conditions for their joint abolition.


1 Christa Wolf, Patterns of Childhood, tr. Ursule Molinaro and Hedwig Rappolt (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1984; originally published in German as Kindheitsmuster by Aufbau-Verlag in 1976).

2 Marlene Van Niekerk, Agaat, tr. Michiel Heyns (Tin House Books, 2010; originally published in Afrikaans 2004).

3 Nancy Fraser and Linda Gordon, "A Genealogy of 'Dependency': Tracing a Keyword of the US Welfare State," Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, vol. 19, no. 2 (Winter 1994) pp. 309-336. Reprinted in Fraser, Fortunes of Feminism: From State-Managed Capitalism to Neoliberal Crisis (Verso Books, 2013).

4 Nancy Fraser, “Sex, Lies, and the Public Sphere: Some Reflections on the Confirmation of Clarence Thomas," Critical Inquiry, 18 (Spring 1992) pp. 595-612.

5 Nancy Fraser, “From Redistribution to Recognition? Dilemmas of Justice in a 'Postsocialist' Age," New Left Review, no. 212 (July/August 1995) pp. 68 - 93. Reprinted in Nancy Fraser, Justice Interruptus: Critical Reflections on the "Postsocialist" Condition (Routledge, 1997). For a more extended discussion, see also my chapter 1 of Nancy Fraser and Axel Honneth, Redistribution or Recognition? A Political-Philosophical Exchange, trans. Joel Golb, James Ingram, and Christiane Wilke (London: Verso, 2003).

6 Nancy Fraser, “Another Pragmatism: Alain Locke, Critical ‘Race’ Theory, and the Politics of Culture,” in The Revival of Pragmatism: New Essays on Social Thought, Law, and Culture, ed. Morris Dickstein (Duke University Press, 1998) pp. 157-175. Reprinted in The Critical Pragmatism of Alain Locke: A Reader on Value Theory, Aesthetics, Community, Culture, Race and Education, ed. Leonard Harris (Rowman and Littlefield, 1999) and in The Philosophy of Race: Critical Concepts in Philosophy (Routledge, 2011).

7 Nancy Fraser, “Expropriation and Exploitation in Racialized Capitalism: A Reply to Michael Dawson,” Critical Historical Studies (Spring 2016) pp. 163–178.

8 C. L. R. James, The Black Jacobins (London: Penguin Books, 1938); W.E.B. Du Bois, Black Reconstruction in America, 1860–1880 (1938); Eric Williams, Capitalism and Slavery (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1944); Oliver Cromwell Cox, Caste, Class and Race: A Study of Social Dynamics (Monthly Review Press, 1948); Stuart Hall, “Race, Articulation and Societies Structured in Dominance,” Sociological Theories: Race and Colonialism (UNESCO, 1980): pp. 305–345; Walter Rodney, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa (Howard University Press, 1981); Angela Davis, Women, Race, and Class (London: The Women’s Press, 1982); Manning Marable, How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America (Brooklyn: South End Press, 1983); Barbara Fields, “Slavery, Race and Ideology in the United States of America,” New Left Review I/181 (May-June 1990): 95-118; Cedric Robinson, Black Marxism (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1999); David Roediger, The Wages of Whiteness (London: Verso, 1999); Cornel West, “The Indispensability Yet Insufficiency of Marxist Theory” and “Race and Social Theory,” both in The Cornel West Reader (New York: Basic Civitas Books, 1999), 213–30 and 251–67; and Adolph Reed, Jr., “Unraveling the Relation of Race and Class in American Politics,” Political Power and Social Theory 15 (2002): 265–74. I should explain that I understand Black Marxism as a political-theoretical perspective, not an identity category–which is why I include Roediger in this list and why I myself can hope to contribute to it.

9 Karl Marx, Capital Volume I, trans. Ben Fowkes (London: Penguin Books, 1976): 873ff.

10 Jason W. Moore, Capitalism in the Web of Life (Verso, 2015).

11 Gwen Bergner, “Who is that Masked Woman? Or, the Role of Gender in Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks,” PMLA 110,1 (1995): 75–88. Diana Fuss, “Interior Colonies: Frantz Fanon and the Politics of Identification,” Diacritics 24,2/3 (1994): 19–42. T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting, Frantz Fanon: Conflicts and Feminisms (Rowman & Littlefield, 1998).

12 Rob Nixon, Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor (Harvard University Press, 2013).


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