Race Talk is about racism and multilingual communication. The book draws on original, ethnographic research conducted on heterogeneous and multiethnic street markets in Napoli, southern Italy, in 2012. Here, Neapolitan street vendors worked alongside migrants from Senegal, Nigeria, Bangladesh and China as part of an ambivalent, cooperative and unequal quest to survive and prosper. A heteroglossia of different kinds of talk revealed the relations of domination and subordination between people. It showed how racialised hierarchies were enforced, as well as how ambivalent and novel transcultural solidarities emerged in everyday interaction. Street markets in Napoli provided important economic possibilities for both those born in the city, and those who had arrived more recently. However, anti-immigration politics, austerity and urban regeneration projects increasingly limited people’s ability to make a living in this way. In response, the street vendors organised politically. Their collective action was underpinned by an antihegemonic, multilingual talk through which they spoke back to power. Since that time, racism has surged in Napoli, and across the world, whilst human movement has continued unabated, because of worsening political, economic and environmental conditions. The book suggests that the edginess of multilingual talk – amongst people diversified in terms of race, legal status, religion and language, but united by an understanding of their potential disposability – offers useful insights into the kinds of imaginaries that will be needed to overcome the politics of borders and nationalism.
This book explains theoretical work in postcolonial and postsocialist studies to
offer a novel and distinctive insight into how Yugoslavia is configured by, and
through, race. It presents the history of how ideas of racialised difference
have been translated globally in Yugoslavia. The book provides a discussion on
the critical race scholarship, global historical sociologies of 'race in
translation' and south-east European cultural critique to show that the
Yugoslav region is deeply embedded in global formations of race. It considers
the geopolitical imagination of popular culture; the history of ethnicity; and
transnational formations of race before and during state socialism, including
the Non-Aligned Movement. The book also considers the post-Yugoslav discourses
of security, migration, terrorism and international intervention, including the
War on Terror and the refugee crisis. It elaborates how often-neglected aspects
of the history of nationhood and migration reveal connections that tie the
region into the global history of race. The book also explains the linkage
between ethnic exclusivism and territory in the ethnopolitical logic of the
Bosnian conflict and in the internationally mediated peace agreements that
enshrined it: 'apartheid cartography'. Race and whiteness remained
perceptible in post-war Bosnian identity discourses as new, open-ended forms of
post-conflict international intervention developed.
4 Postsocialism, borders, security and race after Yugoslavia
The historical legacies shown in the last chapter do much to explain the contradictory racialised imaginaries of the Yugoslav region's ‘cultural archive’ ( Chapter 1 ) and the shifting nature of translations of race into discourses of ethnic and national belonging ( Chapter 2 ). Though many past applications of postcolonial thought to south-east Europe have bracketed race away, identifications with racialised narratives of Europeanness predated state socialism, yet alone the collapse
3 Transnational formations of race before and during Yugoslav state socialism
In domains from the history of popular entertainment to that of ethnicity and migration, ideas of race, as well as ethnicity and religion, have demonstrably formed part of how people from the Yugoslav region have understood their place in Europe and the world. The region's history during, and after, the era of direct European colonialism differed from the USA's, France's or Brazil's; but this did not exclude it from the networks of ‘race in translation’ (Stam and
were playful, horizontal and tactical (Glissant 1981 : 793–6, 1997 : 20). This revealed the ‘penetrable opacity’ of Relation: ‘a world in which one exists, or agrees to exist, with and among others’ (Glissant 1997 : 14).
The opaque, playful, risky, exhilarating and generative linguistic edginess that I witnessed were evidence that it was possible to exist in a normal, fluid and continually evolving Relation with other people differentiated by ‘race’, class and legal status. The patterns of culture and communication that existed on the street markets where I did
Theorising race, racism and culture:
David Lloyd’s work
My focus here is an important and influential article by postcolonial
scholar David Lloyd, ‘Race Under Representation’, published in the 1991
‘Neo-Colonialism’ issue of Oxford Literary Review.1 Lloyd sets out to
explain ‘how the meshing of racial formations can take place between various levels and spheres of social practice, as, for example, between political and cultural spheres or between the individual and the national level’
(p. 63). A central argument of his
- and twentieth-century history, however, is (in the prevailing paradigm) primarily a history of (what are constructed as) settled mono-ethnic nations forming states and engaging in territorial disputes which have often led to forced migration when perpetrators of ethnicised violence purge those they identify as minorities from what they intend as homogenous national territories, but which are rarely viewed in the context of migration around the globe.
Histories of ‘race’, however, are always and already migration histories. White Europeans
What does race have to do with the Yugoslav region?
Introduction: what does race have to do with the Yugoslav region?
The Yugoslav region – or so one would infer from most works about the territories and identities that used to be part of Yugoslavia – apparently has nothing to do with race, and race apparently has nothing to do with the Yugoslav region. The region has ethnicity , and has religion ; indeed, according to many texts on the Yugoslav wars, has them in surfeit. Like south-east Europe and Europe's ex-state socialist societies in general, the Yugoslav region has legacies of nation
1 Popular music and the ‘cultural archive’
This book began its Introduction, and begins its chapter structure, not in the mainstream of international affairs (the politics of state socialist Non-Alignment, or postsocialist European border control) but with what might seem a more distant topic: popular music. It does so because the everyday structures of feeling perceptible through popular music are a readily observable sign that ideas of race are part of identity-making in the Yugoslav region; proving this point opens the way to revisiting
Even though the Yugoslav region was not an imperial metropole, even though many symbolic geographies of ‘Europe’ allocate it to Europe's spatial and material periphery, race is part of its social and historical reality. Categorisations of race, processes of racialisation and constructions of collective identity in relation to whiteness have not even simply been a postsocialist phenomenon: accordingly, cultural racism and anti-blackness in the region cannot just be called a product of identification with the symbolic pole of ‘Europe’ in