Walter Benn Michaels

Walter Benn Michaels teaches at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is working on a book about aesthetic autonomy and political economy, called The Beauty of a Social Problem.

Believing in Unicorns: Racecraft

Walter Benn Michaels, 7 February 2013

The historian Barbara Fields and her sister, the sociologist Karen Fields, open Racecraft, their collection of linked essays, by denying that there are such things as races. Race today does not, they point out, refer to ‘a traditionally named group of people’ but to ‘a statistically defined population’. So, for example, the determining factor in susceptibility to...

What Matters: Class Trumps Race

Walter Benn Michaels, 27 August 2009

Once you start redefining the problem of class difference as the problem of class prejudice you no longer have to worry about the redistribution of wealth. You can just fight over whether poor people should be treated with contempt or respect. And while, in human terms, respect seems the right way to go, politically it’s just as empty as contempt.

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