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This chapter challenges the notion that the “new racism” is rooted in culture, as opposed to the “purer” and earlier biological racism that was not. It questions what those who study the history of racism think we know about racial epistemologies and what might be considered the political consequences of thinking race is secured as a concept by knowing race or dismissing race in certain ways. It argues that the hardened assumptions about what colonialism and racism once looked like make little room for the mobile essentialisms that produce racism’s protean qualities. Racial essences are made up not of a fictively fixed and finite set of features but of an essentialized, malleable, and substitutable range. Racial formations combine elements of fixity and fluidity in ways that make them both resilient and impervious to empirical, experiential counterclaims

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