How the Critical Race Wars Threaten Radical Antiracism 

Alana Lentin (Institute for Culture and Society / Western Sydney University)

July 20, 2022, 18h00

Salão Brazil (Coimbra)


The war on critical race theory fanning out from the United States across the global north has very little to with the CRT itself. Instead, an object referred to as ‘CRT’ has been made a cipher for a range of ideological constructs which the right is determined to attack. The attacks on the teaching of race and those on transgender people as well as the dismantling of reproductive rights are, as Black scholars have repeatedly shown, articulated with each other. Our interpretations of the current conjuncture must circumnavigate any appeal to ‘liberal values’ and be rooted in a Black and decolonial analytics than helps us unravel the racial-colonial roots of what makes an appearance as (just another) moral panic.

This talk is derived from research in progress into the meaning for antiracism of the war on CRT. I focus on one pressing problem: how to teach race amidst and against these attacks. It is based autoethnographically on my own experiences in the classroom. I explore the questions that arise while teaching race, taking inspiration from Stuart Hall’s 1980 insistence that race is ‘not a topic where an academic or intellectual neutrality is of much value.’ I consider teaching race as a dangerous practice that conflicts with the hegemonic characterisation of the study of race as a threat to whiteness. Far from engaging in white appeasement, I want to reflect on whether the classroom within the neoliberal university, where decolonising and indigenising discourses are abstractly co-opted shielding the university’s deep investment in racial-colonial practices, can ever undermine racial capitalism and white power.

Bio note

Teacher and writer, Alana Lentin is a Jewish European woman who is a settler on Gadigal-Wangal land (Sydney, Australia). She works on the critical theorization of race, racism and antiracism. Her latest book is Why Race Still Matters (Polity 2020) and she previously published The Crises of Multiculturalism: Racism in a neoliberal age with Gavan Titley (Zed, 2011). She co-edits the Rowman & Littlefield ‘Challenging Migration Studies’ books series and the ‘Decolonization and Social Worlds’ series at Bristol University Press. She is an editorial board member of Ethnic and Racial Studies and Identities among other journals. Her academic and media articles as well as videos, podcasts, and teaching materials are free to be used and available at www.alanalentin.net


This is an open to the public event and part of the Summer School 'Endangered Theories: Standing by Critical Race Theory in the Age of Ultra-Violence'. It is sponsered by the Summer School's partners UNpacking POPulism: Comparing the Formation of Emotion Narratives and Their Effects on Political Behaviour (UNPOP; PTDC/CPO-CPO/3850/2020); Inter-Thematic Group on Migration (ITM); Doctoral Programme 'Democracy in the Twenty-first Century' (CES-UC); Holocausto em português: um repositório dinâmico de recursos educativos (FACC 21/7/9); and Il Razzismo é Una Brutta Storia.