Invoking Racism in the Public Sphere: Two Takes on National Self-Criticism

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Invocations of “racism” are treated here as socially and historically situated acts of societal criticism. Getting away from arguments about the “truth-value” of particular accusations and from worries about the diffuse or polysemic nature of the term racism, this essay recommends focusing on what the invocation of “racism” accomplishes contextually given a field of available options that range from its silencing to its naming as a different “thing.” Drawing on noticeable recent shifts in the naming of particular social phenomena in Israel and the United States, the analysis highlights both the way these new public discourses (on Israeli Jewish racism and U.S. multiculturalism) critique habitual categories of understanding and the ways they inadvertently reproduce them.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)325-346
Number of pages22
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • Israel
  • Kahane
  • United Nations
  • racism
  • “race-talk”

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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