Vanessa Díaz received her PhD from the Department of Anthropology in 2015.

"Raciontologies: Rethinking Anthropological Accounts of Institutional Racism and Enactments of White Supremacy in the United States"

Published in American Anthropologist


This article presents a theory of raciontologies—the fundamentally racialized grounding of various states of being—that sheds light on complex forms of institutional racism and white supremacy. We are interested in exploring not only how institutional contexts and processes function as sites or vehicles for the reproduction of white supremacy but more specifically how institutions become endowed with the capacity to act in their own right. This approach represents a raciontological perspective that attends to the central role that race plays in constituting modern subjects and objects in relation to particular states of being. Raciolontologies powerfully shape how entities become endowed with the capacity to engage in particular acts, while also conditioning perceptions, experiences, and material groundings of reality. Our theorization of raciontologies combines anthropological analyses of institutional racism and ontologies beyond the human. These analyses point to the role of institutions in the reproduction of white supremacy and reimagine the range of entities capable of action, respectively. The broader goal is to suggest how new ways of understanding the raciontological nature of institutional enactments of white supremacy can inform antiracist theories of change. [race, ontology, institutional racism, white supremacy]