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Introduction: Expanding the Discourse on "Race"

Faye V. Harrison
American Anthropologist
Vol. 100, No. 3 (Sep., 1998), pp. 609-631
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the American Anthropological Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/682041
Page Count: 23
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Introduction: Expanding the Discourse on "Race"
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Abstract

In response to Mukhopadhyay and Moses's call for biological and cultural anthropologists to reestablish a dialogue on race, anthropologists from the four major subfields join colleagues from two allied disciplines to address the possible ways in which the anthropological discourse on race can become more holistic and amenable to the urgent needs and interests of the public. This essay offers an overview of the current resurgence of race-focused scholarship in anthropology, as well as a framework for an intertextual reading of the articles featured in this theme forum. Anthropologists' current conversation on race and racism is built on a rich legacy, elements of which are still being uncovered in gender- and race-cognizant explorations of the discipline's past. Despite the considerable hiatus since the last major juncture of race-centered debate and research, that legacy has recently inspired a promising upsurge of critical analysis which, if mobilized effectively, may contribute to the subversion of the often subtle cultural and structural logics of contemporary racism, as well as clear the ground for a new culture for multiracial democracy. Toward this end, anthropologists and others interested in using anthropological tools must cultivate more richly nuanced analyses and intervention strategies informed by insights emerging from the cross-fertilization of ideas from the various subfields along with such fields as human genetics and ethnic studies. Anthropology's unique role in interrogating, theorizing, and potentially disrupting the dynamics of racism may be dependent on understanding the conceptual and methodological significance of strategic intradisciplinary and interdisciplinary interfaces.

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