From the export of the Chicago Police Department’s interrogation experts to Iraq after 2003, to casual references of the US-Indian Wars by US soldiers...

From the export of the Chicago Police Department’s interrogation experts to Iraq after 2003, to casual references of the US-Indian Wars by US soldiers in Vietnam, Race and America’s Long War (University of California Press, 2017) highlights how the policies and cultural norms of war have become deeply intertwined with, and often dependent on, the architecture of racial difference inside and outside the United States. Blurring the lines between domestic and international affairs, configurations of war represent subtle and direct continuities of US imperialism, colonialism, and structural racism, sometimes across centuries and other times within the same Presidential administration.

This book is a collection of essays by Nikhil Pal Singh in which he traces the racialized narratives of security in the United States from the settler colonial wars to acquire Indigenous land, through several centuries of slavery and the period of Reconstruction that followed, through the Civil Rights era and Black Freedom struggles to the Vietnam and Iraq Wars among many other periods and movements, and finally in the context of the more amorphous Wars on Drugs and Terror.

Singh draws out one of the core paradoxes of contemporary liberalism, long posited as a remedy to perpetual war, in highlighting that while, “racial exclusion and inclusion have arisen in tandem, so have colorblindness and multiculturalism.” Published in a year of political transition often depicted as a grave departure from the country’s structural and moral past, Singh alternatively frames the current political crisis in terms of five hundred years of continuous inner- and outer-wars, suggesting alternatively that this political transition is a period to confront the long held norms of public life that produced it.

Nikhil Pal Singh is Associate Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis and History. He is author of Black is a Country: Race and the Unfinished Struggle for Democracy.


Anna Levy is an independent researcher and policy analyst with interests in critical political economy, historical memory, histories and philosophies of normalization, accountability politics, science and technology, and structural inequality. She is based in Brooklyn, NY.

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