THE PHRASE IDENTITY POLITICS is hard to approach directly because it is often put to use in contradictory ways. One is the really existing identity politics of, for example, the Hillary Clinton campaign. We are encouraged to vote for Clinton simply because she is a woman, as the writer Sydette Harry described in a 2015 essay for the New Inquiry: “The prospect of a woman presidential candidate is depoliticized into an overdue payment . . . something seen in 2008 as a sign of moral weakness in Black voters [i.e., voting for Obama because he is black] is considered a feminist rallying cry in white women voters for 2016.”
The tokenism of white cultural and political organizations is characteristic of this mode of identity politics. People who are not white men are seen as individualized carriers of a biopolitical surplus that has to be constantly washed away in the form of an inclusion that
Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.
Not registered for artforum.com?
SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*
* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.