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What do people mean when they talk about race? Are they ackwledging a biological fact, a social reality, or a cultural identity? Is race real, or is it merely an illusion? This book brings analytical clarity to one of the most vexed topics in the social sciences today, arguing that race is more than a social construction, unsupported in biological terms and upheld for the simple reason that we continue to believe in its reality. Deploying concepts from the sociology of kwledge, religion, social memory, and psychoanalysis, the authors consider the conditions that contribute to this persistence of belief and suggest ways in which the idea of race can free itself from outdated nineteenth-century tions of biological essentialism. By conceiving of race as something that is simultaneously real and unreal, this study generates a new conceptualization that will be required reading for scholars in this field.
Sarah Daynes is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the New School for Social Research in New York. Orville Lee is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the New School for Social Research in New York.