The Conditions of 'Savages'? Statelessness, Politics, and Race in Hannah Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism
This article explores the ways in which race enters our analyses of statelessness when we build those analyses (partly) on Hannah Arendt’s arguments in ‘Imperialism’. Through close readings of Arendt’s ambivalent use of race in this text, the article demonstrates that critically confronting Arendt’s repeated comparison of stateless people to ‘barbarians’ and ‘savages’ is useful for confronting the connections between statelessness, politics and race in the present. The article argues that such a critical confrontation can yield three things. First, the realisation that thinking through the politics enacted by de jure or de facto stateless people who have been forced to live in the conditions of ‘savages’ requires that we situate this politics within the history of imperialism and post-colonialism. Second, an awareness of the need to consider the connections between the political production of statelessness and the political production of race. And third, the realisation that an effective politics of people who have been forced into de jure or de facto statelessness must include a politics of anti-racism.