A foucauldian analysis of school memories told by undergraduates of color

This paper draws from the writings of Michel Foucault and his recently reconsidered provocations on race and racialization. Using Foucault’s definition of ‘internal racism,’ race is understood as a complex set of correlations that are employed for the purpose of establishing (ab)normality and exercising various forms of expulsion. Racialization is then seen as the circulation of knowledge that makes racial categorization evident as scientific truth, linked to themes of science, developmentality, and the governing of population. To illustrate its subjective materialization, I analyze childhood memories of school told by undergraduates of color at one large public university in New York City. In what follows, I present three narratives that exemplify the production of difference and abnormality, as a biopolitical strategy with racial significance, arguing that positivist school reforms and developmental theories in education cannot be thought of as separate from the mobilization of racial identity and experience. At its end, I argue that we must unravel our familiar ways of thinking about race and push against the constructs of normality that can have detrimental effects on everyday economic, political and social life.


About Giorgio Bertini

Research Professor. Founder Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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