Today, race seems to be both everywhere and nowhere. There still exists a general abhorrence about discriminating between people according to their race. And yet, people are continually categorized according to their race--Afro- Caribbean, white, Jewish--though we often have difficulty in defining just what race is. Everything from criminality to the entrepreneurial spirit is given a racial connotation--witness stereotypes of black muggers or Asian shopkeepers.
The Meaning of Race argues that the social meaning of race in modern society emerges from the contradiction between an ideological commitment to equality and the persistence of inequality as a practical reality. Kenan Malik here follows the development of racial ideology over the past two hundred years, tracing the different forms it has taken, from biological theories of race to the relationship between race and culture. Specific attention is focused on the impact of the break up of the postwar order and the end of the Cold War and the concomitant repoliticisation of the notion of racial difference. Malik goes on to critique the poststructuralist and postmodern theories of difference which have become the backbone of contemporary antiracist discourse, and to examine the possibility of transcending the discourse of race.