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Transnational Dimensions of Racial Identity: Reflecting on Race, the Global Economy, and the Human Rights Movement at 60

Maryland Journal of International Law, Vol. 24, pp. 296-308, 2009

Northeastern University School of Law Research Paper No. 37-2009

14 Pages Posted: 12 Aug 2009 Last revised: 6 Feb 2015

Hope Lewis

Northeastern University, School of Law (deceased)

Date Written: August 10, 2009

Abstract

The last six decades have witnessed the end of formal colonialism, the adoption of the Race Convention, the rise of domestic civil rights movements and the partial implementation of affirmative action measures in North America and Europe, the end of formal apartheid in South Africa, a World Conference Against Racism and Xenophobia, and the election of the first African-American president of the United States of America. These positive developments seem to signal the potential for a new, non-racist, global perspective. "Another World is Possible," as the saying goes.

Nevertheless, and during the same period, mass killing, genocide, and ethnic cleansing in Cambodia, Rwanda, Darfur, and Eastern Europe; the rise of anti-Semitic and white supremacist violence in Europe; violent post-election conflicts in Kenya; ethnically motivated profiling, arbitrary detention, and even torture in both Global North and Global South provide clear evidence that racism remains inextricably linked to other causes of widespread violations of civil and political human rights.

But race and racism are also linked to the dimensions of economic, social, and cultural rights and the right to sustainable human development. We in the human rights movement tend to put explicit questions of race in the context of the global economy on the back burner. In the absence of state-sponsored or organized private racial violence, we treat race as irrelevant, or at least less relevant, than economic class alone. I take the brief opportunity presented by this symposium paper panel to call for a deeper analysis of the more subtle aspects of race and racism for human rights law and politics in today's global economy.

Suggested Citation

Lewis, Hope, Transnational Dimensions of Racial Identity: Reflecting on Race, the Global Economy, and the Human Rights Movement at 60 (August 10, 2009). Maryland Journal of International Law, Vol. 24, pp. 296-308, 2009; Northeastern University School of Law Research Paper No. 37-2009. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1446815

Hope Lewis (Contact Author)

Northeastern University, School of Law (deceased)

United States

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