Image: Processed version of the work of art Impossible triangle, 1934 with special permission © Oscar Reutersvärd / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2018, Design: NODE Berlin Oslo, Detail
Reflecting on his and Wallerstein’s book in the hindsight of the last thirty years, Étienne Balibar proposes a single general problematic in which the three categories (race, nation, and class) posed in the original work become strictly interdependent. This will grant a certain methodological primacy to the question of “race” and its metamorphoses as well as a more exacting inclusion of the concepts of gender and religion given their role in social formations which was, to some extent, not explicit in the former work. The profound changes that have taken place in the configuration of the capitalist world-system and its constitutive “social formations” make a revision of the understanding of the classical categories necessary. In trying to map the current landscape in this manner, Balibar’s intention is not to “close” a circle that was opened 30 years ago but rather to demonstrate how open the issues remain, and how much they call for a confrontation of different, if not antithetic points of view.