Language, power and resisting racist discourse

Brown, A.R (1997) Language, power and resisting racist discourse. In: Power/Resistance: BSA Annual Conference, 7 - 10 April 1997, University of York, UK.


This paper address the issue of the textual power of racist discourse and acquiring the power to resist it. How do we define what should qualify as racist discourse? Does political racism always incite? What is the relationship between elaborate and simpler forms of racist discourse? Do definitions depend upon context or criteria? Drawing on recently completed PhD research on Powellism, arguably the most successful form of political racism to have emerged in post-war Europe, the paper argues that scholars have not addressed its central features as a political and ideological phenomenon, how its textual strategies and social referentiality achieved such widespread recognition from an otherwise politically divided electoral cohort. Powellism importantly reveals how the power of racist discourse is textually dispersed and dependent upon its context of transmission and reception. This discussion should be set against claims for a New Racism initiated by Powell and leading to the refashioning of Parliamentary Commons’ sense. The NR thesis fails to directly address the question of common-sense and therefore by what means the new racism is achieved. The Empire Strikes Back writers claiming a popular racism; Barker a parliamentary New Right victory. As a consequence the relationship between ‘new’ and ‘old ‘racism and how consciousness is interpolated, incited or persuaded is folded into an empty centre. We must examine both the textual content of racist discourse and the public relationship it materially inscribes. This is both a structural and discursive relationship and depends upon both for its success.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Divisions: Bath School of Art, Film and Media
Date Deposited: 09 Jul 2021 17:55
Last Modified: 05 Jan 2022 15:44
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