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Britton, R. (2017). Internal Racism: A Psychoanalytic Approach to Race and Difference by M. Fakhry Davids Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, 2011; 253 pp; £23.99. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 98(2):543-545.

(2017). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 98(2):543-545

Book and Journal Reviews

Internal Racism: A Psychoanalytic Approach to Race and Difference by M. Fakhry Davids Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, 2011; 253 pp; £23.99

Review by:
Ronald Britton

This book is a carefully crafted survey of psychological theories and social behaviour whilst at the same time being a bold, creative attempt to bring psychoanalytic understanding to bear on well-observed phenomena and personal experience. Fahkry Davids is of Asian descent and grew up in apartheid South Africa, before experiencing what it is to be an immigrant with a coloured skin in the United Kingdom.

The title introduces the two components central to his theory and invites two questions: what is meant by internal? and what is meant by racism? As used currently, the -ism ending to words denotes attitudes, which are either regarded as prejudicial or favourable. Feminism is felt by many to be a good thing; the term racism is regarded, by those who apply it, to be a bad thing. As a widely used epithet it is relatively recent; the Oxford English Dictionary of the 1970s does not include an entry for racism. Race is defined as a tribe, nation, or people regarded as of common stock. Now definitions of racism abound; perhaps the most salient is also from the OED: “Prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one's own race is superior.” The United Nations convention makes no distinction between the terms racial and ethnic discrimination. And yet ‘racist’ is one of the most condemning words in the Western world. For this reason Davids uses racism to describe the attribution of inferior and unfavourable characteristics to any specified group regarded as biologically or ethnically distinct.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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