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2 Scopus citations


Race is a chaotic, yet powerful, collection of ideas and practices. It has been used to organize and rank peoples and places across time and space, according to a dynamic set of embodied and social characteristics often linked to skin color and always structured by unequal power relations. Central to human geographies across scales, race is overdetermined by other axes of difference and has influenced colonialism/imperialism, nation building, industrialization, and other processes. Race works as both a purportedly fixed category whose content is so obvious as to require no explanation and an ostensibly fluid social force whose form is malleable across time and space. This chameleon-like characteristic gives race much of its power, as race takes on different forms and meanings across scales, spaces, and borders, as well as geographic paradigms. Analytically powerful in understanding the world, race can be a problematic term when uncritically positioned as the primary category of analysis or when examined without equal attention to the workings of racism. Human geography can contribute much to critical studies of race, through its focus on processes across scales and its blending of methodological and theoretical approaches. To do so most effectively, however, geography must come to grips with its own institutional history of whiteness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationInternational Encyclopedia of Human Geography
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)9780080449104
ISBN (Print)9780080449111
StatePublished - Jan 1 2009


  • Class
  • Colonialism
  • Difference
  • Essentialism
  • Ethnicity
  • Gender
  • Hegemony
  • Identity
  • Nation
  • Place
  • Power
  • Racialization
  • Racism
  • Resistance
  • The everyday

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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