Alejandro Campos-Garcia
Last week, Alejandro Campos-Garcia visited campus to discuss “Metaphors of Racism: Crime and Pathology as Metaphors in International Anti-Racist Discourse.”
Campos-Garcia opened his lecture with stark images related to racism of the early 20th century. He focused on the use of metaphor pathology and crime in intergovernmental relationships at the UN level.

Campos-Garcia asked, “What are the main political and systemic assumptions behind these metaphors and what limitations do these metaphors have in dealing with racism as a public problem?”

Racism as a social pathology is a biological metaphor which society is perceived as an analogy within a biological body, he said. The social body is perceived as “previously uncontaminated and naturally healthy.”

“This is a myth; rather, racism is a consequence of a historical social structure based on class,” said Campos-Garcia. “Racism viewed as a social pathology offers no insights in the persistence of racism and its versatility.”

However, he continued to say that racism as a crime focuses on people not systems, and the legal strategy is the elimination of structural and institutional barriers. The historical context is not relevant in this kind of category of crime.

“Here we are talking about social order rather than a social body,” said Campos-Garcia. “They are saying something very interesting here, racism is a natural condition. History is not part of this discussion. It is viewed as a social phenomenon. Those responsible are people, not historical social structures.”

He argued that these main positions as evasive to the origination of racism. Where the pathology metaphor seeks to eliminate racism, the crime metaphor seeks to control it.

“Crime does not explore the historical conditions on the possible origins of racism. Racism as a crime is not aligned to any particular thing and has no reflection on its creation. It does not address the political economic issues.”

He says metaphors are sometimes useful to provide insight into defining and understanding of racism and the possible paths of action.

In his opinion these “new arrangements” based on public policies trump changing the systems where racism historically derives.

Campos-Garcia is a PhD student currently working on his dissertation under the supervision of Associate Professor Radhika Mongia at York University in Toronto. Prior to studying at York, he was a fine arts student in Cuba and pursued graduate studies in Mexico City.