This article examines the political implications of the resurgence of biological concepts of race at the turn of the twenty-first century, especially as these are viewed through the prism of science fiction. Current racial science purportedly recognizes racial difference in the service of political inclusion and thereby exemplifies a new biopolitical paradigm that decisively breaks from the regime of modern biopower theorized by Michel Foucault. This claim forms the nucleus of highly charged debates across a range of disciplines about the political stakes invested in the recent revitalization of biological racial difference. Focusing on the ways in which the race-genocide scenario of Walter Mosley’s Futureland (2001) reprises the best-known novel dealing with early twentieth-century racial science, George Schuyler’s Black No More (1931), the article investigates the claim that the “new” biopolitics of race serves the purpose of life enhancement rather than the death function that Foucault ascribed to scientific racism in the context of modern biopolitics. Reading these science fiction texts in contrapuntal relation to a broader spectrum of dystopian and utopian positions taken by current analysts of the science and politics of race, such as Dorothy Roberts, Paul Gilroy, Nikolas Rose, and Karen Fields and Barbara Fields, the author shows how the distorted realism of science fiction can sharply illuminate the contradictory status of race—as an obsolete yet undead, true but false category—in the post-civil rights period.
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Madhu Dubey; The Biopolitics of Race in Futureland. Social Text 1 June 2015; 33 (2 (123)): 29–55. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01642472-2869107
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