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Race, Power, and Terror in Hannah Arendt’s thought

Arthur Guezengar


Hannah Arendt's early work focused on the relationship between political violence, race, and nation. Arendt is one of the first thinkers to have emphasized the link between imperialism and totalitarianism. As soon as the Origins of Totalitarianism appeared, it underscored the connection between colonial imperialism and totalitarianism. The concepts of race and bureaucracy, which are at the heart of the totalitarian process, emerge from the colonial experience. In the same way the tools of the domination of the Western peoples over the colonized peoples, were the matrix from which the totalitarian domination could be concretized. Moreover, Hannah Arendt theorizes an opposition between power, violence, and terror, based on the instrumental nature of violence, which allows her to think about the originality of totalitarian domination. The objective of this intervention is to understand Hannah's opposition theorized between violence and terror, in order to see how this opposition proves fruitful to think about the colonial phenomenon and the development of racism. This intervention will focus on the functioning of slavery societies to show how they are already based on the "iron circle" described by Arendt to designate the totalitarian terror. The challenge then is to see how the arendtian conception of violence allows us to understand the role played by race in the construction of the modern state and its persistence in contemporary society.


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halshs-02349908 , version 1 (05-11-2019)


  • HAL Id : halshs-02349908 , version 1


Arthur Guezengar. Race, Power, and Terror in Hannah Arendt’s thought. Gender Studies 2019 Conference: On Violence, Oct 2019, Helsinski, Finland. ⟨halshs-02349908⟩


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