The Limits of Diversity: How Publishing Industries Make Race

Anamik Saha, Sandra van Lente


This article is a critical account of how diversity is understood and mobilized within cultural industries, based on an empirical study of the UK publishing industry. Drawing from 113 qualitative interviews, we examine how diversity discourse shapes the acquisition, promotion, and sale of authors of color. We highlight the limitations of the industry’s quantitative approaches to the diversity “problem” and suggest an alternative approach that focuses on how cultural production reflects and reproduces existing racial inequalities. We demonstrate how diversity acts as a form of racial governance that commodifies authors of color while simultaneously devaluing them. Contributing to the project of race-ing media industry research, the article demonstrates how the unraced dominant culture profits the most from the commodification of culture.


diversity, race and racism, cultural industries, publishing, media industry studies, production studies, Whiteness

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