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This chapter explores the transition from the politics of identity to what we define as ’the unfinished politics of race’. It moves on from the substantive accounts of specific types of mobilisations to the broader transformations that characterise the current conjuncture, in which we see a continually shifting relationship between counter publics and alternative public spheres on the one hand and the mainstream institutions of society on the other. An important theme in the chapter is an account of the changing political debates on race and multiculturalism in both the Conservative and Labour Parties. This includes a critical analysis of the arguments put forward under the labels of Red Tory and Blue Labour. We argue that these arguments, although they cover a wide range of social and political issues, have been deeply inflected by continual preoccupations about the articulation of a new form of identity politics framed by concerns about race, immigration, and the positioning of whiteness in the current period.
How did blackness and whiteness figure in the patterns of life and represenation that moved across the eighteenth-century theatrical empire? Performances of blackface characters in colonial environments – in this case of Mungo, the enslaved Black Servant in the comic opera The Padlock – could take the lead in parsing, categorizing and enacting typologies of "darker-skinned" peoples with lasting effects – an embodied form of racial "knowledge" that undergirded the subordination of non-British peoples in the construction of a global laboring class.
Wallace wrote about masculinity throughout his career, from The Broom of the System’s (1987) parodies of neurotic macho posturing to The Pale King’s (2011) encomiums to white-collar workers. It is peculiar, then, that critical attention to Wallace’s treatment of masculinity is still spotty. Part of the reason for this, perhaps, is that Wallace’s gender politics were rather conservative, and therefore anathema to scholarly communities rightly committed to challenging traditional ideas of masculinity. However, there is more nuance, complication and ambiguity in Wallace’s depictions of masculinity than is normally acknowledged, even if his works do remain broadly masculinist in their tenor, and given to portraying a kind of “masculinity in crisis.” This chapter examines these points of interest and dissonance by drawing particular attention to the following overlapping themes: sport and the body, fatherhood, and class, offering grounds from which scholars can investigate this topic in greater detail. Similarly, although Wallace’s texts generally resist being recruited into a progressive gender politics, I argue that their depictions of masculinity are nevertheless worth considering. By paying attention to masculinity in his work, we can further explicate Wallace’s aesthetic innovations, better historicize his relation to patriarchy, and – as the case may be – reaffirm the need to criticize what he has to say about men.
I see feminism as a commitment to the full humanity of all women and all men, and a dismantling of the patriarchal values that inhibit this.
My essay is interested in David Foster Wallace’s complex and evolving relationship with feminism and the feminine, as well as in how this relationship has been figured over time within the literary community. This investigation involves an account of how critical practices surrounding Wallace have transformed over the past decade—from readings that take as universal the “human being” of Wallace’s work, instead of reading it as emblematic of a particular nexus of privileged observer-positions, to intersectional readings that acknowledge Wallace’s embodiment as a white middle-class American male whose work reflects that embodiment in important ways, to, finally, #MeToo-era readings that foreground the actual misogynistic violence inflicted by Wallace in his personal capacity, which, morally and politically, would seem to foreclose the possibility of further reading and set up an existential crisis for the burgeoning field of Wallace Studies.
As I engage with each of these critical approaches in my essay, three central questions emerge. First: How has the history of feminism in America shaped Wallace’s work and its reception? Second: If feminism is “a commitment to the full humanity of all women and all men,” where does Wallace’s empathy expand in this regard and where does it break down, on the page and in the flesh? Third: In our present historical moment, does acknowledging Wallace’s ultimate betrayal of this commitment in the form of his abuse mean a complete disavowal of the author and the man—an end to the conversation, as it were—or is there space for the #MeToo movement within Wallace Studies?
Race may dominate everyday speech, media headlines and public policy, yet still questions of racialized blackness and whiteness in Shakespeare are resisted. In his compelling new book Ian Smith addresses the influence of systemic whiteness on the interpretation of Shakespeare's plays. This far-reaching study shows that significant parts of Shakespeare's texts have been elided, misconstrued or otherwise rendered invisible by readers who have ignored the presence of race in early modern England. Bringing the Black American intellectual tradition into fruitful dialogue with European thought, this urgent interdisciplinary work offers a deep, revealing and incisive analysis of individual plays, including Othello, The Merchant of Venice and Hamlet. Demonstrating how racial illiteracy inhibits critical practice, Ian Smith provides a necessary anti-racist alternative that will transform the way you read Shakespeare.
This chapter explores the discourses used to construct disability as different in nineteenth-century Britain and its empire. First, I argue that in this period a constellation of figures came to be seen as a class of people distinct from the remainder of the British population. The census and philanthropic literature functioned to crystallise disability as something tangible and other. Conceptualising disabled people in this way required considerable discursive, architectural, administrative, philanthropic and pedagogical work and this work occurred both in the empire overseas and at home in imperial Britain. Secondly, I argue that the status of Britain, throughout the nineteenth century, as the heart of a global empire, was crucial to how ideas about disability came to be formed. My third argument is that whilst empire shaped the way in which disability was constructed, the reverse was also true: thinking about disability moulded the way in which the colonial ‘other’ was imagined. People of colour who may otherwise be considered non-disabled were repeatedly described using language that evoked disablement. My overarching argument is, therefore, that discourses of race and disability, whilst not one and the same, were not simply related discourses but were mutually constituted.
Just like racial difference, whiteness is a social construct. The paradox of race and of whiteness is that white or nonwhite skin color means nothing in itself; rather, what matters is the social meaning that is ascribed to these differences in color. This essay examines the way whiteness has historically been constructed in both law and literature. Exploring the parallel between legal and literary histories, it refers to the literature of naturalism – Frank Norris’s The Octopus and Stephen Crane’s Maggie – as well as to the racial prerequisite cases, in which immigrants had to prove they were white and hence eligible for naturalization. In law as much as in literature, whiteness is far from homogenous, but instead seems to be eclipsed into infinite shades of whiteness. At the same time, in both literature and law, whiteness is not only linked to skin color, but to culture as well. In Crane’s novella, the cultural compatibility of the Irish is seen as dubious at best. Similarly, the Chinese cook in Norris’s novel is portrayed as culturally alien and hence as unassimilable. This essay proposes that the potential whiteness of immigrant groups is being contested in both the court of law and that of literature.
The works of George Saunders and J.D. Vance suggest two paths forward for white American writers in the twenty-first century. While both acknowledge whiteness as foundational to the organization of contemporary society, Vance ignores the privileges that Saunders seeks to interrogate. The elections of both Obama and Trump have profoundly shifted how we talk about race in the United States, and their presidencies have made clear that whiteness can no longer operate as an invisible, presumed position of authority. Amid our often frightening moment of political unrest, we have an opportunity to speak of whiteness as the historical force of domination and exclusion that led to centuries of injustice and which continues to define so much of contemporary American life. Though white writers have not led the way on progressive representations of race in U.S. fiction, they may at last complete the important task of making whiteness visible.
This final chapter uses the shift metaphor to suggest that change might be limited if not explicitly anti-racist. In the absence of this consciousness, a shift can be sidewards rather than forwards. I argue that empirical studies in EU law can only take a shift forwards when the principle and practice of decolonialism is embedded in it. This requires recognition of Europe's colonial past as well as racism in the present. The assumption that all Europeans are White, and all Blacks are migrants has to be debunked – Black European scholars need to be encouraged to take their place in the field and given access to resources to ensure that empirical research in EU law also focuses on experiences important to their lives.
In the midst of ardent calls for decolonizing and building a more anti-racist archaeology, whiteness has gone largely unacknowledged in the history of disciplinary thought and practice. As a point of departure, this article asks: why are there so many White archaeologists? In addressing this question, I suggest that the development of early archaeological method and thought was deeply affected by White supremacy. In presenting the two case studies of Montroville Dickson and Flinders Petrie, I suggest that a radical new history of archaeology is needed if we are to build a more equitable, anti-racist field in the future. Central to this process to recognizing the role that whiteness has played and continues to play in archaeological practice and pedagogy.
The rich body of literature on the cultural legacies of East Germany has privileged white German perspectives on material culture at the expense of non-white and non-European encounters with socialist things. In shifting the spatial lens to the global South, and to the foreign students and workers who lived for extended periods in East Germany, I trouble the implicit whiteness in the study of GDR cultural memory. Popular identification with GDR goods extended beyond the borders of Germany to newly decolonized countries that were the beneficiaries of the GDR’s solidarity policies. Using the example of Vietnam, I challenge formulations of Ostalgie as a site of white German memory production only, highlighting consumption of East German products by racialized foreign Others. In examining the objects that Vietnamese migrants amassed and transported back to Vietnam, and their subsequent use and circulation through today, I offer a different take on the temporal and spatial relationship between people and commodities, one that assigns value and agency to imported socialist things. In contrast to reunified Germany, where socialist-era goods were deemed disposable and obsolete, in Vietnam, East German products did not lose their utility and associations with modernity. The essay argues for a more inclusive exploration of memory and approach to Ostalgie that takes seriously the alternative logics of time, space, and materiality that informed the circuits of consumption, trade, and meaning of GDR things.
The Afterword addresses the historical dominance of white voices in British nature writing, and the marginality of race, class and gender politics in the genre. This tendency matches continuing inequalities in the social and ethnic composition of British environmentalist movements. Contemporary nature writing also reflects regional inequalities, with many of its leading figures clustering around East Anglia. Nonetheless, Elizabeth-Jane Burnett’s recent book The Grassling exemplifies British nature writing that stands out not only through the unconventional background of its author, but also through its experimental techniques. At the same time, platforms such as The Willowherb Review suggest that the genre and the critical culture around it are gradually changing to allow room for more diverse voices. However, nature writers of colour venturing into rural environments still find themselves contending with the stark racial divide between Britain’s cities and countryside. Similarly, a growing range of LGBTQ* nature writers are becoming increasingly visible in the genre and challenging heteronormative codings of the rural. In the aftermath of Brexit and a global pandemic, Britain’s nature writers confront a nation highly divided and isolated, and a literary heritage permeated by elitist elements which need to be reckoned with.
We explore the inherently racialized premises of colonial–national modernity and of imperial and national archaeologies, juxtaposing them with the contradictions and fluidity inherent in “Greek” and “Israeli” identities. This is followed by a brief critique of the reductionist, and often self-serving, roll-out of ancient DNA studies and of their political co-optation.
Archaeology, Nation, and Race is a must-read book for students of archaeology and adjacent fields. It demonstrates how archaeology and concepts of antiquity have shaped, and have been shaped by colonialism, race, and nationalism. Structured as a lucid and lively dialogue between two leading scholars, the volume compares modern Greece and modern Israel – two prototypical and influential cases – where archaeology sits at the very heart of the modern national imagination. Exchanging views on the foundational myths, moral economies, and racial prejudices in the field of archaeology and beyond, Hamilakis and Greenberg explore topics such as the colonial origins of national archaeologies, the crypto-colonization of the countries and their archaeologies, the role of archaeology as a process of purification, and the racialization and 'whitening' of Greece and Israel and their archaeological and material heritage. They conclude with a call for decolonization and the need to forge alliances with subjugated communities and new political movements.
There is much research on race and schooling focused on punitive discipline, but little attention is paid to how teachers and administrators use minor policies to coerce students to “willingly” adopt hegemonic ideologies, particularly the ones that correspond to Whiteness. In this work, Whiteness is conceptualized as a social concept in which forms of knowledge, skills, and behavioral traits are cultivated for the sake of maintaining White supremacy as the dominant ideology in the social organization of structures and people. My work explores how teachers and administrators use school dress code policies, specifically the policies regarding hairstyles, to indoctrinate Black students into Whiteness. I argue that schools are sites intended to racialize Black students into White society. I argue that dress codes that regulate hairstyles are a form of White hegemony. I ground my work in Antonio Gramsci and John Gaventa’s theoretical views of hegemony to conceptualize how administrators and teachers invoke forms of domination and coercion to force Black students to transform their appearance for the sake of upholding White ideals of professionalism. I offer a critical race conceptual model that articulates how power is enacted upon Black students to further a White aesthetic. The conceptual model highlights how teachers and administrators assign racialized social meanings to different hairstyles and unconsciously or consciously reinforce the idea that Black hairstyles hinder Black students’ performance in the classroom and reduce their future employment opportunities. Contemporary examples of Black students’ experiences in school are cases that validate this model. I argue that dress code policies about hair that incur minor infractions are destructive to Black students’ sense of identity and reinforce Whiteness as the normative frame of civil society.
The introduction explains the subject and purpose of this study, placing it in its historiographical contexts, which includes the history of the racial identity of the Italians, the history of the continuities of fascist and colonial racism in post-fascist and post-colonial Italy, and the history of Black Italy. I illustrate the specificities of the story of the Italian “brown babies” within the larger framework of post-World War II Europe, foregrounding the persistence of racial ideology in post-fascist Italy and the continuing racial subtext of Italian national identity, in spite of the emergence of ant-iracist sensibilities. The introduction also provides an overview of the book chapters.
Celebrities live their lives in constant dialogue with stories about them. But when these stories are shaped by durable racist myths, they wield undue power to ruin lives and obliterate communities. Black Legend is the haunting story of an Afro-Argentine, Raúl Grigera ('el negro Raúl'), who in the early 1900s audaciously fashioned himself into an alluring Black icon of Buenos Aires' bohemian nightlife, only to have defamatory storytellers unmake him. In this gripping history, Paulina Alberto exposes the destructive power of racial storytelling and narrates a new history of Black Argentina and Argentine Blackness across two centuries. With the extraordinary Raúl Grigera at its center, Black Legend opens new windows into lived experiences of Blackness in a 'white' nation, and illuminates how Raúl's experience of celebrity was not far removed from more ordinary experiences of racial stories in the flesh.
I introduce readers to Raúl Grigera, to master narratives of race (Whiteness and Blackness) in Argentina, and to the hundreds of defamatory stories by which Raúl came to be known and remembered. I use this corpus to sketch the composite story of his life that the book goes on to debunk and rewrite: his supposedly unknowable or inexplicable origins, his early orphandom and wayward youth, his spurious fame as a buffoon of the city’s elite, his oft-anticipated decline and death. Engaging with literature in psychology, critical race studies, literary theory, and other fields to explore narrative’s singularly persuasive power, the introduction develops the concept of “racial stories” and makes the case for the urgency of crafting new, critical counter-stories. It goes on to explore the problem of Black celebrity in a White nation where that idea was almost a contradiction in terms. Finally, it considers my own role as one more narrator of Raúl’s tale – yet another racial storyteller – and provides an overview of the book’s arguments and structure.
Since antiquity, poets have described their experience of versification as one of constraint. The introduction examines examples of this trope, and introduces the book’s central claim: that voluntary submission to formal constraints effaces the poetries and experiences of those who are actually in bondage. It discusses the way poets and critics have aligned the imposition or radical overthrow of formal constraints with conservative or revolutionary politics, and offers some working definitions of lyric. Close readings of a sonnet by Keats, and a discussion of J. S. Mill’s essay ‘What is Poetry’, establish the book’s historicist perspective on the ‘liberal lyric’ in relation to the histories of slavery. The introduction also explains the methodology, and situates my own critical practice in relation to whiteness as a kind of enclosure.