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Race-centrism: a critique and a research agenda

This article reviews some of the most prominent books in the field of race studies in the USA and identifies their shared assumptions: that racial inequality is the primary principle of stratification in the USA; that is has transformed but not lessened since the civil rights era; that it can be explained by the racist inclinations of the white majority, which operates as a collective, strategic actor to preserve its dominance; and finally, that racial domination plays a similarly crucial role around the world. I explore what kind of questions would need to be answered in order to put these assumptions on firmer empirical and theoretical ground and outline a corresponding research agenda. Some empirical evidence is provided to question the assumption that race plays a dominant role around the world and is associated with more political inequality than ethnic divisions.