Race and Reification

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This article uses Marx’s idea of commodity fetishism and subsequent theories of reification to understand the social-construction of race. Race is typically defined as a socially-constituted category that is misattributed as a natural one. The goal of this article, in contrast, is to explain how this misattribution arises. In addition to this main objective, the article uses this explanation of race to contest recent attempts that locate the ‘persistent entanglement’ of race and capital in their functional relationship. Finally, the article engages with related, commodity-based theories of race and racism and concludes with thoughts on what the socially-constructed category of race can teach us about the nature of value and capitalism.

This piece is being made available as a preprint edition of the Race and Capital special issue of Historical Materialism. The final published version of this text will be made available on the Brill website in the coming months, we ask that citations refer to the Brill edition.

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Historical Materialism: Research in Critical Marxist Theory


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