Bryan’s Question Corner #1: Reiteration and Rearticulation

Two semesters ago, I took a class with Professor Vigil where we had to post 1-2 discussion questions related to the reading before the start of each class. I found writing those questions really helpful, so I’m going to try to do something similar with this blog. Here is my question for Section 3 of Racial Formation

For Omi and Winant, is reiteration the same thing as rearticulation? I’m having trouble grasping the distinction between these two closely related terms.

  1. Reiterability, as Jack Balkin defines it, is the capacity of signs, structures, and language to be repeated endlessly in new contexts (http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/jbalkin/articles/deconessay.pdf). As language reiterates, it’s meaning stretches and morphs. Professor Drabinski provided at least one example of this ‘stretching’ on Friday: the name of his field of study changes between African American Studies, Afro American Studies, Black Studies because terms like African American, Afro American, and Black take on different racist and anti-racist connotations as people use them. For Omi and Winant, “colorblind language,” which was once a meaningful way for anti-racist activists like Martin Luther King Jr. to press back against the racial state, is now far more useful for neo-liberals who wish to justify the crippling structural inequalities that persist.
  2. Rearticulation, in Racial Formation, “produces new subjectivity by making use of information and knowledge already present in the subject’s mind.” Rearticulation seems to be a form of reiteration, and like reiteration, it can be used for both racist and anti-racist racial projects. Are there forms of reiteration that aren’t also rearticulations? Are there other reasons why this term might be fruitful for Omi and Winant?
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