Critical Race Temporality: Three Dimensions of Racial Time

Debra Thompson, University of Oregon

Across the social sciences, time is the central, underlying basis of all political and social analysis. But time is not just how we measure political phenomena; temporality actually constitutes social relations. This paper seeks to explore the ways that time itself is a political construct that works to actively displace, produce, and disrupt dominant conceptualizations of race and racial politics. It theorizes and details three dimensions of “racial time”. First, the temporal dimensions of racial dynamics pertain to the ways that time allocation is a key element of the power relations that create and sustain the concept of race. Second, the ways that racial dynamics are constituted by temporal understandings, especially in the use of the prefix “post-“ to signify a break with the past. And third, the strategic bifurcation of the past and the present, and the present and the future. In particular, I suggest these dimensions are used, often in conjunction with racialized conceptualizations of space, to displace prevailing racial dynamics (e.g., there’s no racism here, no racism now), to produce racial identities (e.g., what Michelle Wright (2015) calls “Middle Passage epistemologies”), and/or to disrupt dominant understandings of race (e.g., the Black Fantastic and Afrofuturism). Broadly speaking, the paper demonstrates the analytical potential of thinking through the vectors of time, space, and race.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 71. Theorizing Race, Time, and Temporality