Methodological Whiteness

‘Methodological whiteness’, Bhambra argues, is a way of reflecting on the world that fails to acknowledge the role played by race in the very structuring of that world, and of the ways in which knowledge is constructed and legitimated within it. It fails to recognise the dominance of ‘whiteness’ as anything other than the standard state of affairs and treats a limited perspective – that deriving from white experience – as a universal perspective. At the same time, it treats other perspectives as forms of identity politics explicable within its own universal (but parochial and lesser than its own supposedly universal) understandings.


In effect, ‘methodological whiteness’ entails a denial of its own politics of identity and constitutes the standard social scientific discussion of race – which tends to understand it primarily in terms of issues of identity or inequality applying to the situation of non-white others. In contrast, Bhambra want us to understand both the ways in which race, as a structural process, has organised the modern world and the impact that this has had on our ways of knowing the world.


This extract is taken from: Bhambra, Gurminder K. 2017. ‘Why are the white working classes still being held responsible for Brexit and Trump?‘ LSE Brexit Blog


Essential Reading
Bhambra, Gurminder K. 2017. Brexit, Trump and ‘methodological whiteness’: on the misrecognition of race and class’, British Journal of Sociology. 68 (S1): S214–S232
Bhambra, Gurminder K 2016. ‘Postcolonial Reflections on Sociology,’ Sociology Special Issue: Bringing it ‘Home’? Sociological Practice and the Practice of Sociology, 50 (5): 960–966


Further Reading
Allen, D. 2005 ‘Invisible Citizens: On Exclusion and Domination in Ralph Ellison and Hannah Arendt’ in M. Williams and S. Macedo (eds) Nomos XLVI: Political Exclusion and DominationNew York: New York University Press.
Katznelson, I. 2017 ‘Making Affirmative Action White Again’, The New York Times Sunday Review, 12 August.
Roediger, D. 2017 ‘Who’s Afraid of the White Working Class?’, Los Angeles Review of Books, 17 May.


Why is it important to address race as more than an issue of identity or inequality?
How does race come to structure the world within which we live?
How does ‘methodological whiteness’ structure the very shape of academic disciplines?


Submitted by Gurminder K Bhambra 

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3 thoughts on “Transnationalism”

  • As a recent recipient of the graduate school certificate in African studies at ASU, my final drew from or focused in part on the settler narrative movement of the antebellum era. Despite the discovery of over 100 burials from this era that came to light recently, it was all treated in a quite troubing manner. Settler Colonial mentality was pervasive. It is clear, the slave labor narrative must be preserved at all cost. Local professional organizations and offices were disrespected and ignored as if the descended community did not exist. People wear the continuance of mixed relationships from this history and it is only now that they are finding their voice and their heritage in some cases. Global social theory is spot on.

  • I’m interested in colonialism,settler colonialism and decolonisation as it speaks to the original ownership of the land/country[?].
    I was interested to read ‘the tendency among some scholars of settler colonialism to treat settlement as inevitable, simultaneously relieving settler societies and states of the burden of reconciling with indigenous peoples, and placing the burden of accommodating settler sovereignty onto those same indigenous peoples'[above]
    I have been tentatively searching for references to the morality/legality of colonialisation,which could possibly have huge ramifications,and they are scarce.

  • Interesting. Could you please add Maria Lugones’s work in the further reading section please? She not only engaged with Quijano’s concept but revised it significantly to demonstrate the coloniality of gender. Thank you.

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