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In Britain, as in many other Western postcolonial nations, the contemporary politics of difference and anti-racism have tended to privilege the nation-state as the condition and the container of difference and the guarantor of rights, based on entitlements of citizenship. This book resists this preoccupation by casting a transnational and transhistorical lens on the often hidden entanglements between global processes, the governing strategies of nation-states and the vernacular practices of ordinary people; between Western multicultural nations and their histories of empire; between ‘civilizing’ missions and emancipatory projects; and between ‘the woman question’ and ‘the race question’. These longstanding relations—frequently viewed by the Western nations as over, defunct and forgettable—continue and persist, albeit in altered forms. They therefore require new analysis and renewed critiques to understand their novel articulations with the changing identities, political and social grammars and practices of the present; a present that has been variously characterized as postcolonial, postracial, postfeminist and neoliberal.
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