Our theoretical framework explains racial stationarity, by contrast, at the level of industrial grounds. The technicians, machinery, and machinic institutions that ground racial hierarchies are localized to specific times and geographical spaces. For example, the racial profiling guidelines and practices of law enforcement agents endorsed by Terry v. Ohio help to ground racial hierarchy in the United States but not in Brazil. So being black in New Orleans does not travel to being black in Brazil in part because the race-creating and sustaining laws that govern New Orleans do not travel to Brazil.
And, more generally, race does not travel because many of its grounds do not travel. The raw materials for constructing his race remain the same, while the grounds that determine which race is constructed from that material change. Our explanations of racial passing and stationarity point toward a deep difference between racial passing and racial traveling: racial passing is possible because conditions for racial impact do not always track grounds for racial groupings, while racial travel is possible because grounds for racial grouping are spatially and temporally localized.
Different grounds construct products with different capacities, and different conditions for the same product facilitate different impacts upon using the same capacities. For example, the grounds for automobiles include their component parts. Working parts impact capacities for functional vehicles; defective parts, for dysfunctional ones. The conditions for automobiles, by contrast, include roads and various driving regulations.
Well-designed conditions facilitate safe vehicular operations; ill-designed conditions, dangerous ones, even for vehicles that are functional. By analogy, the grounds for racial hierarchy sort individuals into different racial groupings, some more privileged and empowered than others. The conditions for racial hierarchy, by contrast, facilitate how those privileges and powers or lack thereof are experienced by individuals so sorted.
Theorizing racial hierarchy as an industrial technology, and within a humanist framework, has several theoretical advantages to posthumanist cyborg- and prosthetic-approaches to understanding race. First, it accommodates the phenomena of racial passing and stationarity. It does so in a way that is principled rather than ad hoc. It also does so in a way that preserves relevant conceptual differences between human bodies and their races.
For example, our theoretical framework explains a deep difference between racial passing and racial traveling: racial passing is possible because conditions for racial impact do not always track grounds for racial groupings, while racial travel is possible because grounds for racial grouping are spatially and temporally localized.
Neither the cyborg nor prosthetic posthumanist theorizations of race offer a similar explanation of such difference. Second, theorizing racial hierarchy as an industrial technology provides a framework for organizing and integrating a wide array of research about race across a diverse range of disciplines.
Our framework does this, in part, by virtue of distinguishing between grounds for racial hierarchies and conditions that facilitate the impacts of those hierarchies. It does so, as well, by virtue of identifying various distinct yet interrelated categories of ground and condition: technician, technique, raw material, and machinic institution in the case of grounds; use-infrastructure and social institution in the case of conditions.
Finally, theorizing racial hierarchy as an industrial technology preserves the benefits of posthuman approaches to racialized humans while avoiding their costs.
For example, according to our approach, and in contrast to the cyborg approach, passing and traveling do not alter the biology of racialized persons. According to our approach, and in contrast to the prosthetic approach, racialized humans do not bear responsibility for their oppression; instead, that responsibility rests with the conditions that facilitate harmful and oppressive impacts-and with those who create or help to sustain those conditions.
Again, according to our approach, but not according to the prosthetic approach, racialized humans cannot part from their racial grouping at will: they must travel to a time or place with different grounds for racial hierarchy, thereby changing their race; or they must be fortunate enough to pass, benefiting from the indeterministic fit between racial grouping and conditions that facilitate impacts thereof.
Finally, our approach, unlike other posthuman approaches, draws attention to impersonal machinic and social institutions responsible for creating, sustaining, and shaping the impacts of racial hierarchy. For these reasons-of empirical fit, cross-disciplinary organization, and theoretical virtue-we recommend understanding racial hierarchy within a humanistic framework and as an industrial technology.
Doing so provides a powerful, and largely unexplored, critical scheme for scrutinizing the present and imagining better futures. It guides us, for example, to focus on grounds if we desire to understand better where race comes from, but to focus instead on conditions if we desire to combat harmful impacts of racial hierarchy. Bashi, Vilna. Bashi, Vilna and Antonio McDaniel. Benjamin, Ruha.
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