Possessive Nationalism: Race, Class and the Lifeworlds of Property

Orange Car Crash Fourteen Times
Andy Warhol, Orange Car Crash Fourteen Times, 1963

This article was originally written in the early part of 2017, as an attempt to grasp the meaning of two significant electoral outcomes – the UK referendum on EU membership and the election of Trump – outside of what felt like an echo chamber of racist populism. The passage of time has only slightly muted the sense of acute crisis experienced by those on the left in the aftermath of the U.S. election and the Brexit referendum. In this article, I suggest that the material, immaterial and psychic dimensions of the current political moment can fruitfully be explored by thinking about the role of property logics in constituting the conditions of its emergence. My intent is to consider how property and relations of ownership give a specific form to contemporary racisms and nationalisms, usefully captured by the term “possessive nationalism”. By way of conclusion, I suggest that current intensifications of racism, right-wing populism and globalized, neoliberal forms of capitalist exploitation require us to find ways to estrange and depose the possessive individual and its practices, desires, and habits that are at the foundation of contemporary political formations.

While the political-economic, cultural, and social histories of the United States and the United Kingdom are radically different, both the campaign to Leave the EU and the campaign run by Trump shared many characteristics. The xenophobic and racist discourses, the sexism and, indeed, the unmistakably gendered appeal to masculinity embedded in the discourse of sovereignty in both campaigns, and the class composition and personal wealth of the (nearly uniformly) white men and women at their fore, lead me to ask what kind of racial régime (following Cedric Robinson) is being instantiated in this moment? Both campaigns appealed to a fantasy of a prior, simpler existence, a time when real American citizens and truly British subjects (i.e., English subjects) had the certainty of employment in good jobs, control over their borders, and access to markets over which they had dominance. 1 With a governing cabinet in the United States bearing the weight of several wealthy white supremacists, and the referendum to leave the UK the result of a fraternal spat amongst Etonians (with the family wealth of one of the leading protagonists deriving partly from involvement in the slave trade), the intercalation of race, gender, capital, and class interests demands an analytical framework capable of taking account of these intersections. 2 Property and specifically relations of ownership provide one such lens.

Here, property is conceived of in two different ways: property as possession, and property as the lifeworld of the brand. In the first instance, as I will discuss below, the subjectivity of the possessive individual is scaled up to the level of the nation state, wherein a desire to maintain control over social goods and private wealth, and a fantasy of absolute ownership over the boundaries of citizenship and the nation state manifest as possessive nationalism. 3 Second, I consider property in the form of the brand, and specifically the lifeworld that the Trump brand represents: one in which a strong man and his authoritarian régime protect the interests of people entitled to security (i.e., white people predominantly of the middle class), in a world that does away with “politically correct” laws intended to provide racial and other minorities with a modicum of equality under the law, or to provide women with access to healthcare and abortion, and which vanquishes the relatively weak and very recent attempts to prevent complete environmental catastrophe. While much of Trump’s wealth and political power hinges on the success of an actual brand (himself), in the UK, appeals from the Leave campaign to shore up the Greatness of Britain based on its imperial past were certainly central to the marketing of its message and, while not trademarked, followed the logic of the brand in its attempts to create a communicative sphere based on shared values with material, immaterial, and psychic dimensions. 4

Possessive Nationalism

At least two strands of commentary have emerged in the aftermath of the election and the referendum. One advances the idea that among the causes of both Brexit and the Trump victory, the most significant was a disenfranchised, white working class revolting against the established political order (“globalism,” “Bruxelles bureaucracy”) and the propertied classes (or “metropolitan elites”). This narrative, despite evidence to the contrary, continues to inform media coverage of those “have-nots” who are only now coming to their senses, realizing the error of their ways as basic social entitlements upon which they depend are increasingly coming under attack. The barely veiled contempt of the liberal media pundits for the working class, the under and unemployed, those without cultural capital, was quite evident in both the pre-election and referendum coverage of those who intended to vote for Trump/Leave; BBC interviews and “in-depth” stories about impoverished white people in northern England, for instance, had a distinctly “National Geographic” feel about them, with well-meaning journalists attempting to understand the depraved and exotic populations who were stupid and uneducated enough to think that voting Leave would improve their lot.

This is not to deny the fact that some working-class voters, and indeed, entire communities in areas of England and Wales that had been subjected to decades of state neglect opted to vote Leave. However, what is of crucial importance here is to challenge the easy recourse (by some on both right and left of the political spectrum) to the discourse (implicit or explicit) of a white working class as a naturally constituted group who has inevitably embraced a racist nationalism as an understandable or unavoidable consequence of neoliberal forms of globalized capitalism which have “left them behind.” The work of Vron Ware, Satnam Virdee and Brendan McGeever reminds us that this is a socially constructed category as much as that of “the immigrant” and that this term has been misused and abused for the benefit of predominantly right-wing politicians. 5 Indeed, Ware’s article, published in 2008, seems most prescient when we consider how both the “print and broadcast media contributed to a sense of the white working class as a homogeneous social segment driven inexorably into the arms of the far right” in the aftermath of the Brexit vote. 6

Nonetheless, Virdee and McGeever argue that a decade-long period of crisis in which the “white working class” as a descriptive and analytical category featured prominently in the dominant narrative about globalization and multiculturalism has “brought [it] to life… as a collective social force.” 7 The decision amongst some poor and working-class populations to accept the racial framework that has long been at the core of English national identity needs to be placed in this context.

Another more plausible set of explanations complicates both the category “working class” by examining its racial composition, and complicates the category of race by looking at the class composition of white voters who opted for leaving the EU and voted for Trump in large numbers. 8 Several studies in the aftermath of both the referendum and the American election have shown that the average income amongst a majority of Trump supporters was above the average household income, and that a majority of those who voted to Leave were middle class (59%). 9 A further complicating factor, Dorling, Stuart, and Stubbs have shown, is age. Their analysis of Lord Ashcroft’s (admittedly limited) polling data, shows that “differences in voting patterns appear to divide along the lines of age (above all else), then by social attitudes, and then by education, with older, socially conservative and less well-educated voters more likely to vote to leave the EU.” 10 When we consider the evidence, of the large number of older, white, middle-class voters who opted for leaving the EU in the UK, and who voted for Trump in the United States, one can surmise that at stake in both the election and the referendum was a fear of loss of existing entitlements, power, and privilege. 11 In a world that may seem increasingly volatile, even if not for those in power, and even if things are more volatile as the result of an intensification of structural violence and brutal exploitation wrought by those in power for the benefit of the wealthy, it is arguable that the fear of loss of security which underpins the Benthamite rationale for private property ownership informed the decision to embrace the blatantly protectionist, xenophobic, and racist brands of nationalism being peddled on both sides of the Atlantic.

This fear of loss of security not only pertains to the individual qua owner, but also to the individual as part of a racial, ethno-national community, which takes citizenship as its juridical form. The notion of possessive nationalism can be understood as a corollary of possessive individualism. For the possessive individual, the value of property ownership lies not only in the material power it affords the owner, but also in ownership being posited as the path to full personhood, citizenship, and belonging within the nation state. The psycho-affective dimensions of the possessive individual, including the desire to possess exclusively and to control one’s possessions absolutely, to deal with the need for security and to calm the fear of losing one’s property, are here transmuted to the stage of the nation-state. The possessive individual develops a close identification with national identity. Frank Cunningham describes possessive nationalism as a coalescence of the “worst aspects of national or ethnic chauvinism and aggressive capitalism” with the values of the self-possessive individual, including greed and selfishness. 12

Trump represented himself as the embodiment of precisely this conflation; for instance, it was his alleged acumen as a “smart businessman,” evidenced by his success in avoiding/evading tax liability (through questionable means), that would enable him to protect America’s borders and businesses, and make a deal with his Mexican counterpart to foot the bill for a wall that would keep out Mexican “murderers and rapists.” In the U.K., the Leave campaign was premised on the argument that individual prosperity could only be gained by “taking back control” over the nation’s borders, rejecting the presence of foreigners from Poland, Romania, Lithuania, and other parts of eastern Europe, whose “whiteness” became contestable seemingly overnight.

The possessive individual is a raced and gendered subject. As an ideal – that is to say as the archetypal subject of the liberal democratic capitalist nation state form – this figure carries within it the manifold histories of violent dispossession inaugurated by colonialism and slavery. The privileges that accrue to the possessive individual, as Cheryl Harris argued in her seminal article, “Whiteness as Property,” are not simply a consequence of owning stuff; indeed, the privileges that attach to being considered (legally and politically) white appear regardless of one’s actual status as owner. The eventual legal codification of slavery as a state of subjection reserved for black bodies, and the legal codification of racial segregation that followed the end of slavery, produced over time a value attributed to whiteness that functions much like a property interest. 13 Race, as many feminists have analyzed and explained since at least the late 19th century, is gendered and operates differentially along the axes of sexual difference and sexuality. There are thus many identity characteristics, properties, that come to have value in a way analogous to other property interests.

The fear of losing one’s security that grips the possessive individual not only relates, therefore, to tangible goods both personal and social, but to the raft of privileges attached to whiteness, heteronormativity and masculinity. The strong sense of entitlement to these tangible and intangible privileges operates, recursively, with another hallmark of property ownership, expectation. The possessive individual has “legitimate” expectations that the state will protect his interests, based on a sense of entitlement to the privileges and power he enjoys. When these expectations are threatened, or indeed not met, the resistance ranges from attacks on progressive legislation intended to level the field (such as affirmative action policies), to lethal violence. When scaled up to the level of the state, possessive nationalism is expressed in xenophobic, ethno-racial terms that lay claim to a white nation, with the expectation that the state will secure the borders, both internally and externally.

When considering the manifestation of possessive nationalism in the settler colonial context, the imperial dimensions of this political formation become clear. Writing in relation to Israel, Judith Butler has observed that “we can see how, in fact, the aims of both the nation and the colony depended upon an ideology of possessive individualism that was recast as possessive nationalism.” 14 Lockean rationales for the appropriation of indigenous land, including the belief that one who improves the land according to capitalist agrarian modes of production is entitled to own it, have long been the basis for the transmutation of possessive individualism into a form of nationalism premised on the marginalization if not erasure of indigenous populations. Eva Mackey has revealed in compelling detail how “settler expectations” of territorial integrity and personal security are based both on a fantasy of entitlement and terra nullius. 15 In her remarkable book, she shows how the rationales for ownership devised by Locke and Hobbes, entrenched in legislation, government policies, legal judgments, and state institutions over centuries have created a common-sense “settler logic” in individuals and communities that inform their resistance to the recognition of indigenous rights to land and resources.

In this first sense of property as possession, possessive nationalism emanates from the historical and ongoing dispossession of First Nations, indigenous, and racialized communities. Possessive nationalism took root in the “real property” of land and enslaved bodies: the individual owner’s sense of entitlement to securing his status as a full citizen, as rightful owner, coalescing with the territorial sovereignty and juridical power claimed by the colonial state, both as imperial power in the case of the UK, and as a settler colony, in the case of the United States.

The clear rejection of membership in the European Union signaled by the vote for Brexit marked not only a desire to protect the borders and territorial integrity of the UK from foreigners in the present, but in doing so, hearkened back to a time of imperial rule when the British also laid claim to vast swaths of territory globally. The Brexit vote was not only about keeping foreigners out, but reflects a desire to revivify a moment when the British ruled colonial populations either directly or indirectly. The repeated references to the “Commonwealth” as a potential alternative source for immigration was a polite if barely veiled reference to this prior time when Britain was, in the minds of colonial apologists, truly Great.

Given the basis of possessive nationalism, the fact that Trump is a real estate developer (with a family history of racial discrimination against would-be tenants) is not insignificant. His alleged business acumen is based on his experience as a rentier and speculator, rather than as an entrepreneur in a field requiring any sort of technical knowledge or expertise, nor on the productive investment of capital. His ability to “make deals” is premised on knowingly overvaluing his properties so as to inflate his image and the public perception of his personal value and net worth. Moreover, Trump has acknowledged that his own evaluation of his wealth is dependent on his emotional state, taking the affective and psychic dimensions of ownership to new heights. As a possessive individual, his net worth fills him with feelings of self-worth and value; as a brand, his own emotional state and feelings about himself determines his net worth. 16 And it is this confidence in his capacity to shore up his own value, based on a feeling (about himself) that gives way to the second type of property logic at play in this maelstrom of race, class, and nationalism.

The Political Lifeworld of the Brand

Trump, as a brand, signifies and celebrates individual greed, a phantasm of absolute control over a vast property empire, as well as authoritarianism. His blatantly racist, sexist, and ableist hate speech has become a license given to loyal followers to freely unleash similar sentiments. The brand that he had created over several decades that was more-or-less limited to the world of celebrity television, real estate, and other business holdings, was recast as a political brand that would operate as a unique and unprecedented stage for his and his family’s personal capital accumulation, and would engage in a bio-political form of governance that is not only about individuals and communities of consumers (as with most brands) but now operates on the level of national identity and citizenship. That the Trump brand prevailed in the November election reflects a new intensification of the citizen cum consumer; the communicative sphere engaged by the Trump brand marketing strategy for years, the corporate driven “public” platforms of social media, celebrity television, and alt-right websites gave way to political rallies that transformed loyal customers/consumers into a political constituency.

If “building brand equity is about fostering a number of possible attachments around the brand…[including] experiences, emotions, attitudes, lifestyles or, most importantly perhaps, loyalty,” we can see what the implications are of the Trump brand being recast on the level of national politics. 17 Arvidsson emphasizes that the economic value of the brand is produced by (and based upon) the social relations and emotional involvement created by people around a brand.

In its contemporary use, the brand refers not primarily to the product, but to the context of consumption. It stands for a specific way of using the object, a propertied form of life to be realized in consumption. In their productive agency, consumers employ this propertied context as capital in the obvious sense of a means of production. Brands supply a virtual context that facilitates or enables the production of a particular kind of common. 18 The brand is a “platform for action” that anticipates certain activities and certain modalities of relating to those activities. 19. The virtual nature of the branded context means that it only exists in so far as consumers take it seriously: “The power of a brand is what resides in the minds of customers.” 20 The brand has to be enacted. (Arvidsson, “Brands: A Critical Perspective,” 244.))

When recast at the level of national politics, the enacting of a brand based on individual greed and accumulation (most pointedly at the expense of the environment), racist nationalism, and authoritarianism become clear. The “virtual context” becomes the political rally; the “platform for action” that was primarily an individual one in the context of a virtual or imagined community becomes the political platform of proposed policies, legislation, supreme court appointments, and military action. The political rallies, like Trump’s inauguration, were also often misrepresented in terms of the actual numbers of attendees. The constant assertion of “alternative facts” was part of a continuüm of branding, now of the presidency. The enacting of the Trump brand as sovereign authority possibly heralds a new corporatist form of authoritarian rule. While earlier fascist regimes sought to conserve forms of class privilege and ownership that essentially reified feudal relations (such as was the case in Franco’s Spain, for instance), the brand based on the individual persona of authoritarian figures such as Trump appear to derive value from the affective, psychic, and performative nature of his most odious traits and tendencies (or properties). Whereas C.B. MacPherson’s theory of possessive individualism was based, as J.A. Pocock pointed out, on property in its landed, or “real” form, the increasing importance of the brand signals the emergence of a different kind of subject, and relations of ownership that rely more heavily on immaterial and mobile forms of property. 21 These are both proprietorial subjects, but they are embroiled in different forms of property, and perform different functions in the constitution of contemporary forms of nationalism.

Considering the other side of this dialectic of consumption and capital accumulation, the Trump brand has gained an unparalleled platform for profiteering (with unprecedented ethical complexities for the customary declaration of personal interests that previous presidents have always adhered to). In this way, the lifeworld of his political brand has a personal dimension lacking in the UK context, where the branding of the Leave campaign did not entertain a nexus with the personal financial interests of any of the politicians behind it in such a direct manner. Notwithstanding that, property as the lifeworld of the brand, of the propertied life that is the definition of a brand, has salience in that context too.

In the UK, the Leave campaign and subsequent dubious proposals for coping with the fiscal fallout of leaving the European market have both appealed to Britain’s imperial past either explicitly or implicitly. The Leave campaign focused on two primary claims: the need to take back sovereign control over the nation’s borders, and to regain Britain’s economic and legal autonomy by withdrawing from the EU and institutions such as the European Court of Human Rights and the European Court of Justice. Despite the fact that Britain has the capacity to opt out of certain aspects of EU immigration and refugee law, the Leave campaign conjured an image of foreigners (be they Syrian refugees or Polish workers) flooding into the nation, taking the jobs of real and deserving British subjects and draining what remains of the social welfare state (after several years of austerity at the hands of the Tories no less). 22

The anti-immigrant discourse both recalled and echoed earlier racist discourses against immigration in the aftermath of decolonization, and at the same time, has attempted to recuperate a version of Empire that never came to pass, now being unofficially referred to as “Empire 2.0.” 23 In the lead-up to the referendum, the rhetoric of Farage was eerily similar to Enoch Powell’s infamous “Rivers of Blood” speech. While the target of the anti-immigration rhetoric was largely Eastern Europeans, who lost any existing status as properly “white” subjects, the nature of the xenophobia recalled the racism directed at migrants of color that is constitutive of British nationalism.

At the same time, the Commonwealth came to be posited as the panacea for potential labor shortages and trading partners. In rejecting Europe, Britain was to turn back towards that familiar (if now post-) colonial entity that could reliably restore favorable trading conditions, migrant workers, and the immaterial and psychic entitlements attached to their imperial past – namely, the belief in the superiority of their language, cultural habits, parliament, and legal institutions, and their right to rule over others. Virdee and McGeever put this well: 

We contend that the allure of this “Global Britain” [Prime Minister Theresa May used this term seventeen times in the course of her first speech following the referendum] acquires resonance among large swathes of the Eurosceptic population in part because of its association with Empire 1.0. That is, to speak of a Global Britain is not only to suggest how great Britain can be in the future, but also to invoke warm collective memories of a now lost world where Britain was the global hegemon of the capitalist world economy. It is to remind that population of those glory days of economic, political and cultural superiority, where everything from ships to spoons were marked with a Made in Britain stamp.” 24

In leaving the EU, the accumulation of wealth and entitlements during the colonial era would be restored in a new era of coöperation with Commonwealth nations, now as independent but presumably subservient partners to Great Britain. Hailed as delusional thinking by more than one journalist, the reality of trade in much of the Commonwealth is of course much more complex than such a vision would allow. 25

The branding of Empire 2.0 appeared most risibly in a speech given by Andrea Leadsom at the annual Tory party conference in November 2016, where she claimed that Britain now exports “coffee to Brazil, sparkling wine to France, and naan to India.” Recalling Anne McClintock’s Imperial Leather, these references to Britain (allegedly) exporting the very commodities that symbolize the national identity of those states to them is intended as a demonstration of British power, having the capacity and ingenuity to literally stuff their own food down their throats, or perhaps in a more genteel vain, to beat them at their own game. 26

The strong sense of entitlement that lies at the basis of possessive nationalism pervades the fantasies of a return to an imagined past, associated with particular modes of production. For Trump, this is a circa-1950s Fordist universe in which the factory workers were white and had the means to be owners themselves. The continual bluster and threats of war directed at states that were once Cold War enemies reflects a desire for a return to a prior moment, before imperial violence donned the mask of humanitarian intervention. The strong man-brand who will defend American interests abroad and fortify its borders from outsiders constitutes its own form of imperial nostalgia. For the Tory government in Britain, this fantasy is connected to a time of mercantilism, when trade was on British terms and workers had the psychological wage of being part of an imperial power. The current political moment, when grasped through the property logics discussed above, requires us to consider how ideologies of ownership, including expectations to secure privileges and entitlements are enwrapped within xenophobic, racist, and gendered discourses of sovereignty and nationalism. National brands derive their power from a propertied lifeworld in which individuals and communities make emotional investments in the fantasies of a return to a more simple, secure time of plenitude.

How can the propertied subjects of ownership and accumulation be deposed and depropriated? 27 It may be that the political challenges of this moment require a recalibration and indeed, a re-centering of how we understand ownership and its relationship to race, class, and nationalism, while we heed the urgent call to abandon what Richard Wright once called “the fever of possession.” 28 Eva Mackey confronts one of the hallmarks of ownership in the settler colonial context, expectation, with an argument for the need to unsettle expectations of certainty, stability, and prosperity that have been built on the dispossession of First Nations. In attempting to depose and depropriate contemporary subjects of ownership who remain embedded in imperial circuits of accumulation, the challenge before us becomes nothing less than a radical unsettling of a social contract based on appropriation and a desire to possess. The creation of types of commoning that break with the legal forms of property as know them, and the dismantling of sovereign forms of power and subjectivities within their orbit, leads us to recall Brecht’s speech to the First International Congress of Writers for the Defence of Culture in Paris, 1935, where he enjoined his comrades to “reflect on the roots of evil”: “Comrades! Let us talk of property relations!” 29

References   [ + ]

1. In the United States, this was typified by reference to a time before the debt to China had spiralled out of control, while in the UK, this was nothing other than Empire itself. I consider the peculiar revival of appeals to the “Commonwealth” below.
2. Caroline Davies, “How Do We Know David Cameron Has Slave Owners in His Family Background?The Guardian, September 29, 2015.
3. Analyzing theories of ownership as postulated by Locke, C. B. Macpherson explores how the emergence in the 17th century of a market society inaugurated a concept of the subject who was defined primarily through his self-possession, defined by his capacity to alienate his labor in the marketplace, and his ostensible freedom from reliance on others. See C.B. MacPherson, The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism: Hobbes to Locke (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1962), 264.
4. Tony Blair’s infamous attempts to re-brand the nation as “Cool Britannia” is one example of how branding became a central fixture in marketing strategies utilized by politicians. Wally Olins explains how and why countries develop national brands: “The ways that countries have sought to do this have been much mocked and misunderstood. They are not building their national brands so that middle-aged politicians can look cool, but rather to help them compete not only for power and influence, but in the new battles for exports, inward investment and tourism. Each nation now seeks to promote its individual personality, culture, history and values, projecting what might be an idealized but immediately recognizable idea of itself. These pressures drive nations to adopt the marketing and branding techniques used successfully by so many global companies for a long time.” Wally Olins, Trading Identities: Why Corporations and Countries are Becoming More Alike (London: The Foreign Policy Exchange, 1999).
5. See Satnam Virdee and Brendan McGeever, “Racism, Crisis, Brexit,” Ethic and Racial Studies 40 (2017): 13; and see Vron Ware, “Towards a Sociology of Resentment: A Debate on Class and Whiteness” in Sociological Research Online 13.5 (September 2008.
6. Ware, “Towards a Sociology of Resentment: A Debate on Class and Whiteness,” at 2.7.
7. Virdee and McGeever, “Racism, Crisis, Brexit,” 13.
8. Omar Khan and Faiza Shaheen, eds., Minority Report: Race and Class in Post-Brexit Britain (London: Runnymede Trust, 2017).
9. Frank Mols and Jolanda Jetten, “Why Trump and Brexit are Not Working-Class Revolts,” ABC Religion and Ethics, November 15, 2016.
10. Danny Dorling, Ben Stuart, and Joshua Stubbs, “Brexit, inequality and the demographic divide,” LSE British Politics and Policy Blog, December 22, 2016.
11. Mols and Jetten, “Why Trump and Brexit are Not Working-Class Revolts.”
12. Frank Cunningham, “Could Canada Turn Into Bosnia?” in Cultural Identity and the Nation-State, eds. Carol C. Gould and Pasquale Pasquino (Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2001), 36–37.
13. Cheryl Harris, “Whiteness as Property,” Harvard Law Review 106, no. 8 (1993): 1710–91.
14. Athena Athanasiou and Judith Butler, Dispossession: The Performative in the Political (London: Polity Press, 2013), 9.
15. Eva Mackey, Unsettled Expectations: Uncertainty, Land and Settler Decolonisation (Halifax: Fernwood Press, 2016), 88.
16. David Cay Johnston, The Making of Donald Trump (Brooklyn: Melville House, 2016), 79.
17. Adam Arvidsson, “Brands: A Critical Perspective,” Journal of Consumer Culture 5 (2005): 239.
18. Rob Shields, The Virtual (London: Routledge, 2003).
19. See Celia Lury, Brands: The Logos of the Global Economy (London: Routledge, 2004), 1.
20. Kevin Lane Keller, A Blueprint for Customer Based Brand Equity (Marketing Science Institute, 2001), 3.
21. See Étienne Balibar, Equaliberty (Durham: Duke University Press, 2014), 69–70.
22. See Shelley Phelps, “Reality Check: Who Sets the UK’s Immigration Policy,” BBC News, June 9, 2016.
23. James Blitz, “Post-Brexit Delusions about Empire 2.0,” Financial Times, March 7, 2017. See also the discussion in Virdee and McGeever, “Racism, Crisis, Brexit.”
24. Virdee and McGeever, 4.
25. Ishaan Tharoor, “Brexit and Britain’s delusions of Empire,” The Washington Post, March 31, 2017.
26. Anne McClintock, Imperial Leather: Race, Gender and Sexuality in the Colonial Conquest (New York: Routledge, 1995).
27. Balibar, Equaliberty, 70–72.
28. Richard Wright, 12 Million Black Voices (New York: Thunder’s Mouth Press, 2002), 25. See expanded discussion of these themes in Brenna Bhandar, Colonial Lives of Property: Law, Land and Racial Regimes of Ownership (Durham: Duke University Press, 2018),
29. Reprinted in Franco Fortini, A Test of Powers, trans. Alberto Toscano (Kolkata: Seagull Press, 2016).

Author of the article

is Senior Lecturer in the School of Law at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, and the author of Colonial Lives of Property: Law, Land, and Racial Regimes of Ownership (forthcoming, Duke University Press).