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This paper draws from the writings of Michel Foucault and his recently reconsidered provocations on race and racialization. Using Foucault’s de!nition of ‘internal racism,’ race is understood as a complex set of correlations that are employed for the purpose of establishing (ab)normality and exercising various forms of expul- sion. Racialization is then seen as the circulation of knowledge that makes racial categorization evident as scienti!c truth, linked to themes of science, developmentality, and the governing of popula- tion. To illustrate its subjective materialization, I analyze childhood memories of school told by undergraduates of color at one large public university in New York City. In what follows, I present three narratives that exemplify the production of di"erence and abnorm- ality, as a biopolitical strategy with racial signi!cance, arguing that positivist school reforms and developmental theories in education cannot be thought of as separate from the mobilization of racial identity and experience. At its end, I argue that we must unravel our familiar ways of thinking about race and push against the con- structs of normality that can have detrimental e"ects on everyday economic, political and social life.


This work was originally published in Critical Studies in Education, available at

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