Date of Completion


Thesis Type

College of Arts and Science Honors



First Advisor

Dr. Eleanor Miller


Race, government sanctioned violence, discrimination, nation-state


This is a study about what David Theo Goldberg (2002) describes as “the racial state”: a modern nation-state where rule and constructions of race are deeply intertwined (2002: 7). Racial difference, he posits, is one of the easiest and most potent ways a governing body in modern times can establish power, social order, and dominance (130). Racial projects are a robust form of establishing state formation and legitimacy as they create two intertwined identities: a national, racial state identity and personal identities who depend on the very racial narratives governing bodies create. Yet, such narratives do not gain support without arduous application. This study is also about coercion, symbolic and literal, and how governing bodies deploy violence as to enforce racial narratives and further establish legitimate governance. As Goldberg (2002) states, “Power is to the state and the state to power as blood is to the human body” (9).

Guided by Goldberg’s (2002) theory, I set out to explore how the racial nation-state materializes across three distinct countries: China, Chile, and Myanmar. While highly distinct in many aspects, governing bodies in all are persecuting an indigenous, religious, or ethnic minority group and then are implementing racial narratives and government coercion to justify such suppression. Executing a secondary source, comparative analysis, I have focused on four themes I’ve made chapters—racial narratives, symbolic and real peripheries, rhetoric of terrorism, and methods of oppression—to argue that governing bodies in each of these three countries are coercively enforcing racial narratives as to achieve government legitimacy. I argue that type of government affects how racial narratives and government coercion manifest as well as threat of minority group separatism, but that ultimately, racial narratives are how governing bodies retain authority across all three countries. I conclude by predicting that a globally racist society is emerging in which methods of oppression and racial narratives are converging globally.