'How many of us as children, felt that it was entirely right that Tarzan should be the unquestioned leader of hordes of "natives"? Or
that Flash Gordon should vanquish Ming the Merciless, who was the very quintessence of the "Evil Oriental", even if he was from another planet?'
What is interesting about race as a concept is that it seems to be - and is used as - one of the most precise of categories. However, a few moments' carefully scrutiny reveals race to be precisely the opposite, loosely used to indicate ethnic origin, class, religion, nationality, even caste. Standing at the intersection of science and politics, race might be described as both politics disguished as biology, as well as a biological investigation, which in most cases has a political goal. It is this simultaneity of reference which gives race its 'slipery' quality.
This investigation ranges over crucial concept and practices such as racism, slavery and the slave trade, anthropology, intelligence testing and I.Q., anti-semitism, fascism and the Nazis, colonialism, and the nation-state, to unpack and hold up to rational scrutiny one of the most problematic but unquestioned terms in current usage today.
About the Author:
Dr. Somnath Zutshi, a psycho-analyst by training, studies and writes on cinema.
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