Race, Nature, and the Politics of Difference
How do race and nature work as terrains of power? From eighteenth-century claims that climate determined character to twentieth-century medical debates about the racial dimensions of genetic disease, concepts of race and nature are integrally connected, woven into notions of body, landscape, and nation. Yet rarely are these complex entanglements explored in relation to the contemporary cultural politics of difference. This volume takes up that challenge. Distinguished contributors chart the traffic between race and nature across sites including rainforests, colonies, and courtrooms.
Synthesizing a number of fields—anthropology, cultural studies, and critical race, feminist, and postcolonial theory—this collection analyzes diverse historical, cultural, and spatial locations. Contributors draw on thinkers such as Fanon, Foucault, and Gramsci to investigate themes ranging from exclusionary notions of whiteness and wilderness in North America to linguistic purity in Germany. Some essayists focus on the racialized violence of imperial rule and evolutionary science and the biopolitics of race and class in the Guatemalan civil war. Others examine how race and nature are fused in biogenetic discourse—in the emergence of “racial diseases” such as sickle cell anemia, in a case of mistaken in vitro fertilization in which a white couple gave birth to a black child, and even in the world of North American dog breeding. Several essays tackle the politics of representation surrounding environmental justice movements, transnational sex tourism, and indigenous struggles for land and resource rights in Indonesia and Brazil.