Southern Africa is a region marked by huge tensions caused by the longevity of colonial rule and racial discrimination. Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and South Africa all achieved independence only years after most of Africa, and only with protracted militarized struggle. Even those countries that did enter independence in the 1960s, alongside most of Africa, were marked by the struggles of their neighbors—Zambia, host to exile liberation movements, was a frequent military target; and wars, sponsored or supported by apartheid South Africa, continued to rage in Angola and Mozambique even after they achieved independence. This has marked the post-independence politics of most countries of the region, almost all of whom have gone through, or remain within, an era of one-party politics or dominant party rule. In part, this can be read as a residual longing for stability. In other part it can be read as a “liberation generation” using its history as a lever by which to hang onto power. Having said that, the politics of each country has distinctive characteristics—although one has certainly been protracted effort to adhere to forms of ethics, such as “Humanism” in Zambia, and truth and reconciliation in South Africa. The contemporary politics of the region, however, is one with forms of authoritarianism and corruption and, in many cases, economic decline or turmoil. The rise of Chinese influence is also a new marker of politics in the region as all of Southern Africa, with many different former colonial powers, enters a new era of problematic cosmopolitanism—with the international jostling with already sometimes-volatile elements of ethnic diversity, balancing, and conflict.
Ashley Jardina and Spencer Piston
A great deal of work in the domain of race and politics has focused on two phenomena: racial prejudice and racial solidarity. Scholarship on racial prejudice has primarily examined the nature and consequences of white racial animus, particularly toward blacks. In the latter half of the 20th century, in the post-Civil Rights era, scholars argued that racial prejudice had been transformed, as most whites rejected the belief that there were innate, biological differences between racial groups. Instead, whites came to embrace the belief that blacks did not subscribe to particular cultural values associated with the protestant work ethic. While these attitudes profoundly shape public opinion and political behavior in the United States, we suspect that there has been a resurgence in the belief that consequential biological differences between racial groups exist, and that biological racism is a growing force in American politics. Most of the development of work on racial consciousness has examined the effects of racial solidarity among racial and ethnic minorities on public opinion. Individuals’ psychological attachments to their racial group are an important element in American politics, and their importance may increase as the country becomes more racially and ethnically diverse.
Marcelo Paixão and Irene Rossetto
Latin America ranks highest in the world in markers of social and economic inequality, as well as in the negative effects of inequality on other realms of social life, such as access to basic services, political power, and, in many countries, unfair treatment by police and the justice system. Yet in Latin America it is not possible to talk about racism, ethnic-racial discrimination, and inequality without taking into consideration the hegemonic narratives of mestizaje and racial democracy that shape the way many Latin American nations think about themselves today. Can a region characterized by extreme levels of social inequality also be ethnically and racially democratic? The pattern of ethnic and racial relations in Latin America is marked by discrimination, but at the same time, it creates mechanisms that prevent individuals from recognizing the existence of discrimination against themselves. This reality carries several complications for census-taking and other forms of statistical data collection intended to measure ethnic-racial inequality. Because the main paradigms of analysis of social inequality prioritize economics and class, they have directly or indirectly strengthened the discourse that in Latin America, there is no racism. Certainly, the future of research on race relations and inequality in Latin America will benefit from new demographic data and public opinion surveys, carried out since the turn of the century, which include the identification of indigenous and Afro-descendant people. This trend may advance the production of studies grounded in more robust empirical evidence of ethnic-racial asymmetry.
The fusion of race with political and economic agendas was materialized in the 15th century, with the enslavement and transportation of Africans to the Americas. Thenceforth, race, politics, and economic growth have been inextricably linked and established as a lasting structure. The birth of the black republic, République D’Haïti, in 1804, unveiled, to a flagrant degree, the significant impact of institutionalized racial politics. As racist ideologies served to justify and reinforce the economic enterprises of enslavers and imperialists, the new black republic endured rapacious politico-economic policies from the 19th century onward. Ratified decrees, proclamations, and constitutions lay bare perennial institutionalized methods of race disenfranchisement in Saint-Domingue, subsequently Haiti. The imposition of France’s indemnity against the Republic of Haiti—for daring to reclaim its humanity by breaking the yoke of enslavement—discloses, unequivocally, the precarious position of an emerging black nation within a world of systemic and fiendish chattel enslavement of Africans and their descendants. Within the context of imperial power and economic enterprises, it remains vital to probe the extent to which the categorical refusal of that lucrative system of human commerce affected the economic and political position of the Republic of Haiti. Nominally free, the leaders of the new black republic increasingly lost—from the 1820s onward—autonomy of self-governance, at different junctures of the nation’s political history. Within the temporal framework of the 19th and 20th centuries one could question the extent to which ideologies of contempt and disregard were translated into economic and political policies. To what degree did long-standing racialized politics and policies, in tandem with acute uninterrupted corruption within the nation’s state, contribute to the material destitution of the republic? Can the Republic of Haiti recover from the quotidian concrete outcomes of its political and economic history?