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Racial Formation in the United States

Michael Omi and Howard Winant’s Racial Formation in the United States is a groundbreaking study of how meanings of race in the United States are called into existence through powerful social, economic, and political institutions. The sociohistorical processes through which racial categories are constructed and challenged over time are called “racial formations.” Answer the following questions after completing the reading.


1. How do Omi and Winant define race and how does their definition differ from conceptualizations of race as an essence or illusion?

2. How are racial projects the “building blocks” of hegemony, according to Omi and Winant? Provide two examples of racial projects and how they may contribute to hegemony.

3. Like Du Bois, Omi and Winant describe how racial formation is an everyday experience as well as a structural condition. Compare and contrast Du Bois’s concept of “double-consciousness” and Omi and Winant’s concept of racial formation at the micro-social level.

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