Linking racial capitalism, structures of feeling, and value

Authors: Christian Anderson*, University of Washington Bothell
Topics: Social Theory, Ethnicity and Race, Economic Geography
Keywords: Structures of feeling, value, whiteness, Racial Capitalism
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Embassy Room, Omni, East
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper examines the linkages between situated formations of popular feeling and thought, place-based (re)productive activities, and broader value regimes within racial capitalism. Consider, for instance, the similarities and differences among “structures of feeling” such as what indigenous scholars have termed “settler common sense,” American and Ethnic Studies scholars have called “white being,” and cultural studies and Black radical scholars have variously theorized as “tradition.” Each refers to a distinctive conjunctural, often deeply place-embedded, and profoundly racialized crystallization of affective feeling and common sense which is at once material and ideological. Such structures of feeling, sensed, known, and reproduced in quotidian practice and thought, can in turn be understood to articulate with particular value forms and regimes (in and through relations to land and property, the enactment and valorization of forms of labor or iterative economic cultures, popular consent, etc.). In this framing, racial capitalism might be understood to involve not only subjection and exploitation in relation to production and capital, but extensive, variegated cultural-epistemological and related social-structural formations as well. Attention to the differences and connections across such disparate “structures of feeling,” their geographies, and their contingent articulation with regimes of value might provide additional and generative means to situate, analyze, and perhaps intervene in particular articulations of racial capitalism as a “complex whole” continuing to emerge and mutate in and across these linkages. Drawing especially on examples from urban ethnography and from different US urban contexts, I pose these as open questions awaiting further collective articulation and explication.

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