From Race War to Socialist Racism: Foucault’s Second Transcription

Verena Erlenbusch


Since the publication of Michel Foucault’s lectures at the Collège de France, his position on race and racism has received much attention. The focus of discussion has largely been on his genealogy of biological racism as a feature of modern biopolitics. His account of social racism, by contrast, remains largely unexamined. Thus, the aim of this paper is to reconstruct and substantiate Foucault’s cursory remarks of the transcription of the historical discourse of race war into social racism. After contextualizing Foucault’s discussion of racism and outlining his account of two transcriptions undergone by the discourse of race war into biological and social racism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, I draw on the writings of the social revolutionary Lev Tikhomirov as well as Peter Holquist’s analysis of Soviet state violence as a technique of population management to give some substance to Foucault’s rather vague outline of a possible genealogy of social racism. 


Foucault; race war; social racism; genealogy; Russia; Soviet state racism

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