What Is Racism Today?

English-language conference given by :

Ghassan Hage

Director, School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry,

Department of Anthropology, University of Sydney

and Visiting Professor, Harvard University.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Salle Marie-Gérin-Lajoie (room J-M400)

Judith-Jasmin Pavilion

Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)

(405 Sainte-Catherine Street East/Berri-UQAM metro)

Organized by :

The Observatoire international sur le racisme et les discriminations,

the Centre de recherche sur l’immigration, l’ethnicité et la citoyenneté,

the Concordia-UQAM Chair in Ethnic Studies,

the Institut d’études internationales de Montréal,

the Chaire UNESCO d’étude des fondements philosophiques de la justice

et de la société démocratique, with the support from the ministère de l’Immigration et des Communautés culturelles



criec@uqam.ca <mailto:criec@uqam.ca>

(514) 987-3000, ext. 3318


Abstract : There is considerable confusion today as to what constitutes racism. the problem is partly historical: the belief in the superiority of a biologically conceived ‘white race’, which constituted the core element of nineteenth and early to mid twentieth century, has become a negligible political force. Instead, there is a rise in the modes of inferiorising, humiliating and discriminating against others on the basis of some perceived difference or another. The confusion is also partly political: as the self-defined anti-racist left develops a tendency of abusing the term and using it far too often, the same term has been appropriated by the right and we have a growth in concepts such as reverse racism and minority racism. Finally, the problem is also analytical. For example, and this is one issue among many: do we analyse racism according to the intention of the racist or according to its impact on those being racialized. This lecture attempts to find some ordered way out of what is an increasingly chaotic definitional field.