What is Racism?


  • Ramon Grosfoguel Department of Ethnic Studies University of California at Berkeley




This article provides a definition of racism inspired in the work of Frantz Fanon, Boaventura de Sousa Santos and contemporary Caribbean Fanonian Philosophers. It discusses racism in relation to zone of being and zone of non-being. Racism is discussed as a dehumanization related to the materiality of domination used by the world-system in the zone of non-being (violence and dispossession) as opposed to the materiality of domination in the zone of being (regulation and emancipation). The approach shows how intersectionality of oppressions work differently for oppressed people in the zone of being as opposed to oppressed people in the zone of non-being. While in the zone of being oppressions are mitigated by racial privilege, in the zone of non-being oppressions are aggravated by racial oppression.

Author Biography

Ramon Grosfoguel, Department of Ethnic Studies University of California at Berkeley

Ramon Grosfoguel is Associate Professor in the Deparment of Ethnic Studies at UC-Berkeley. He has published extensively on Decolonizing Knowledge and Power, Political-Economy of the World-System and International Migration.


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How to Cite

Grosfoguel, R. (2016). What is Racism?. Journal of World-Systems Research, 22(1), 9–15. https://doi.org/10.5195/jwsr.2016.609



Symposium: Race in the Capitalist World-System