An extensive critique of the structures of whiteness and how they produce racism in the United States
The Machinery of Whiteness
Studies in the Structure of Racialization
Search the full text of this book
In this follow up to his book, The Rule of Racialization—which considered the way class structure is formed in the United States—Steve Martinot examines how the structures of racialization reside at the core of all social, cultural, and political institutions in the United States. In The Machinery of Whiteness, Martinot examines how race and racism are produced in the United States, analyzing the politics of racialization and the racial segregation and racial deprivation that have kept the United States a white-dominated society throughout its history. Martinot dedicates this work to expunging white supremacy from the earth.
The Machinery of Whiteness investigates how "whiteness" came to be foundational to the process that then produced the modern concept of race. Martinot addresses the instrumentalization of women as a necessary step in the formation of the concept, furthering the debates regarding the relationships of race and gender. He also addresses U.S. international interventionism, the anti-immigrant movements, and white racist populism to describe the political forms that white supremacy takes.
Martinot brings together these ideas to analyze the underlying cultural structures of racialization that have driven and conditioned the resurgence of white supremacy and white entitlement in the wake of the civil rights movements. This book is a call to transform the cultural structures of the United States to make justice and democracy—which depend on inclusion and not segregation—possible.
"[T]he book is unflinching in tracing the reconstitution of whiteness throughout history. Martinot is at his best when he is examining the way a white identity has been continually reconstituted through domination in the United States: the symbolic function of fugitive slave patrols and anti-miscegenation laws, the way women's bodies and sexuality were 'weaponized' as instruments of whiteness, and the ways that U.S. foreign intervention has been about shoring up a fragile whiteness at home....[T]he book does an excellent job in looking at the jagged and bloody edges of whiteness."
"Martinot makes an excellent case for how our refusal to look at America's race machine allows for people's lives to be destroyed over and over again despite social advances such as an end to Jim Crow and progressive civil rights legislation."
"Steve Martinotís book...makes a compelling case that racism is a necessary, unavoidable, outcome of the construction of whiteness as a standard of socialization (individual development within society) and as an identity....the authorís argument, is a compelling feature of this book."
"Steve Martinot's new book is a fascinating, if depressing, study of the way that what he calls the processes of racialization are deeply embedded in U.S. history as the result of the imperialist project by European settlers that established the country, its legal structure, and culture. Every U.S. feminist theorist needs to read and ponder his analysis for a fuller understanding of the particularly intractable nature of U.S. white supremacy and its implications for feminist activism.... [H]is political conclusion seems right on the mark, making this book a valuable contribution."
Steve Martinot is Instructor Emeritus at the Center for Interdisciplinary Programs at San Francisco State University. He is the author of The Rule of Racialization: Class, Identity, Governance and Forms in the Abyss: A Philosophical Bridge between Sartre and Derrida (both Temple). He is also the editor of two previous books, and translator of Racism by Albert Memmi. He has written extensively on the structures of racism and white supremacy in the United States, as well as on corporate culture and economics, and leads seminars on these subjects in the Bay Area.