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Applying the Black Radical Tradition: Class, Race, and a New Foundation for Studies of Development

Rethinking Class and Social Difference

ISBN: 978-1-83982-021-2, eISBN: 978-1-83982-020-5

Publication date: 30 September 2020


In recent decades, it has become clear that the major economic, political, and social problems in the world require contemporary development research to examine intersections of race and class in the global economy. Theorists in the Black Radical Tradition (BRT) were the first to develop and advance a powerful research agenda that integrated race–class analyses of capitalist development. However, over time, progressive waves of research streams in development studies have successively stripped these concepts from their analyses. Post-1950s, class analyses of development overlapped with some important features of the BRT, but removed race. Post-1990s, ethnicity-based analyses of development excised both race and class. In this chapter, I discuss what we learn about capitalist development using the integrated race–class analyses of the BRT, and how jettisoning these concepts weakens our understanding of the political economy of development. To remedy our current knowledge gaps, I call for applying insights of the BRT to our analyses of the development trajectories of nations.




I am thankful to Kara Cebulko, Orly Clergé, Cedric de Leon, Ricarda Hammer, Kristin Plys, Robbie Shilliam, Meghan Tinsley, Trina Vithayathil, and Trish Ward for their helpful feedback. Many thanks also to the PPST editor, guest editors Michael McCarthy and Barry Eidlin, and the anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments.


Edwards, Z. (2020), "Applying the Black Radical Tradition: Class, Race, and a New Foundation for Studies of Development", Eidlin, B. and McCarthy, M.A. (Ed.) Rethinking Class and Social Difference (Political Power and Social Theory, Vol. 37), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 155-183.



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