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Nikhil Pal Singh is associate professor of social and cultural analysis and history at New York University and director of the NYU Prison Education Program. He is the author of Black Is a Country: Race and the Unfinished Struggle for Democracy (2004) and the forthcoming Exceptional Empire: Race and War in US Globalism.
In light of recent historiography that increasingly emphasizes the centrality of slavery to the origins of capitalism, this essay returns to Marx, especially Capital, volume 1, to rethink the relationships among capitalist abstraction, violence, and racial differentiation.