9780860916581-frontcover

Towards the Abolition of Whiteness: Essays on Race, Politics, and Working Class History

Counting the costs of whiteness in the American past and present.
Towards the Abolition of Whiteness collects David Roediger’s recent essays, many published here for the first time, and counts the costs of whiteness in the past and present of the US. It finds those costs insupportable. At a time when prevailing liberal wisdom argues for the downplaying of race in the hope of building coalitions dedicated to economic reform, Roediger wants to open, not close, debates on the privileges and miseries associated with being white. He closely examines the way in which white identities have historically prepared white Americans to accept the oppression of others, the emptiness of their own lives, and the impossibility of change.

Whether discussing popular culture, race and ethnicity, the evolution of such American keywords as gook, boss and redneck, the strikes of 1877 or the election of 1992, Roediger pushes at the boundaries between labor history and politics, as well as those between race and class. Alive to tension within what James Baldwin called “the lie of whiteness,” Roediger explores the record of dissent from white identity, especially in the cultural realm, and encourages the search for effective political challenges to whiteness.

Reviews

  • “David Roediger has emerged as the leading analyst, critic and interpreter of the role of ‘whiteness’ in US history and culture. His carefully researched and historically grounded writing shows us that white racism has been a central force in US history, and a key component of Euro-American identity, not just an aberration in an otherwise color-blind society.”

Blog

  • 12 Years a Slave: Verso’s essential reading list on slavery and race relations



    This month sees the UK cinema release of Steve McQueen’s brilliant and brutal new film, 12 Years a Slave. McQueen has been vocal in condemning cinema’s wariness in confronting the subjects of slavery and race, and his film has galvanized a new interest in the unspeakably ugly period in American history. 

    Based on Solomon Northup’s 1853 documentary, 12 Years a Slave takes an unflinching look at the story of a free black man from New York who is abducted and sold into slavery.

    Verso has long held a commitment to telling similar stories, and we now present a selection of books as the essential starting point for those looking to learn more about the roots, events and legacies of slavery and racial tensions in America and the world.

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  • Django Unchained and Lincoln: A reading list on race, plus your chance to win 3 titles

    Out in the UK this month, Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained and Steven Speilberg's Lincoln has energized interest in a period of American history defined by race. Rather than make our own critiques or slap downs, we present these books to fill the gaps left by Hollywood.

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  • The Journal of African American History on David Roediger's How Race Survived US History

    In a recent review for The Journal of African American History, Gerald Horne recommends David R. Roediger's How Race Survived US History as a book to be relied upon for "much needed historical perspective" as the Obama presidency plays out. And with Obama's 2012 reelection campaign having officially kicked off today (and with The Hill suggesting he "would probably do well to steer clear of race in general during his upcoming reelection season"), now seems as good a time as any to pick up How Race Survived US History ...

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Other books by David R. Roediger