Racial categories matter because racial hierarchies matter: a commentary

Abstract

New racial categories emerge with the progress of history, as new names
reinterpret the existence and chronicle the insertion of demographic
subgroups into a population. The analysis of categorical change is hardly
unimportant work. However, we as researchers would be lax in our analy-
ses if we did not understand that as racial categories change, so do racial
hierarchies. To know what a group calls itself is only part of the story.
Knowing the cultural, sociological and political meaning of the name, and
how the category fits into a racialized – that is to say hierarchical – social
structure, is just as important, if not more so.

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