"'New World' people of the British, French, Dutch, and Spanish colonized Americas created the conditions for modern humanism, despite the disavowal of these conditions in the liberal political philosophy on which it is largely based. Colonial racial classifications and an international division of labor emerged coterminously as parts of a genealogy that were not exceptional to, but were constitutive of, that humanism. Freedom was constituted through a narrative dialectic that rested simultaneously on a spatialization of the unfree as exteriority and a temporal subsuming of enslavement as internal difference or contradiction. The 'overcoming' of internal contradiction resolves in freedom within the modern Western political sphere through displacement and elision of the coeval conditions of slavery and indentureship in the Americas. In this sense modern humanism is a formalism that translates the world through an economy of affirmation and forgetting within a regime of desiring freedom. The affirmation of the desire for freedom is so inhabited by the forgetting of its conditions of possibility, that every narrative articulation of freedom is haunted by its burial, by the violence of forgetting. What we know as 'race' or 'gender' are the traces of this modern humanist forgetting. They reside within, and are constitutive of, the modern narrative of freedom but are neither fully determined by nor exhausted by its ends. They are the remainders of the formalism of affirmation and forgetting."
Lisa Lowe, "The Intimacies of Four Continents" Haunted by Empire: Geographies of Intimacy in North American History