Article: Ethnicity, Race, and a Possible Humanity

Updated: Jun 22, 2021

Ethnicity, Race, and a Possible Humanity: The Social Construction of Race and Ethnicity

Arash Abizadeh. “Ethnicity, Race, and a Possible Humanity.” World Order 33.1 (2001): 23-34.


Abstract: Neither ethnicity nor race is genealogically or biologically determined; they are both social constructs. Shared genealogy cannot by itself determine ethnicity or race because one must arbitrarily choose which genealogical line to trace and how far back to locate the first ancestor. Similarly, shared biology must be arbitrarily fixed by picking out which particular traits are the relevant markers of difference. Racial categories are thus produced sociopolitically, via power relations and social practices that offend human dignity. The transformation of these practices requires a positive anticipatory undertaking, centred on a vision of the oneness of humanity, that addresses the political, economic, and spiritual dynamics of racial production.

(c) 2002 Arash Abizadeh

[Text version available here]

[Russian translation available here]