Book Review: Spencer, R. (1999). Spurious Issues: Race and Multiracial Identity Politics in the United States: Boulder, CO: Westview. Spencer, R. (2006). Challenging Multiracial ldentity. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2009-11-27 19:15Z by Steven

Book Review: Spencer, R. (1999). Spurious Issues: Race and Multiracial Identity Politics in the United States: Boulder, CO: Westview. Spencer, R. (2006). Challenging Multiracial ldentity. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner

Journal of Black Studies
Volume 38, Number 4 (March 2008)
pages 679-683
DOI: 10.1177/0021934706296761

Lewis R. Gordon, Laura H. Carnell Professor of Philosophy, Director of the Institute for the Study of Race and Social Thought and Director of the Center for Afro-Jewish Studies
Temple University

Rainier Spencer(1999). Spurious Issues: Race and Multiracial Identity Politics in the United States.
Boulder, CO: Westview.

Rainier Spencer (2006). Challenging Multiracial ldentity.
Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner.

These two books have achieved for Rainier Spencer an iconoclastic place in mixed-race studies, which is a wonderful development for a genuine specialist in critical mixedness studies. His argument, in a nutshell, is that mixedrace and multiracial studies suffer from a contradictory set of aims. On one hand, they challenge the tenability of race and its impact on American society. On the other, they present a case for their inclusion in the American racial order. Spencer argues that the projects are not compatible, but even if they were so, there are other contradictions at the heart of the multiracial formulations of mixture offered by many scholars in the field. He points out, as I too have pointed out in my book Her Majesty‚Äôs Other Children (1997), that discussions that examine Black-White mixture often fail to acknowledge the already mixed dimension of African American people. As Spencer correctly points out in Challenging Multiracial Identity, by posing mixture against Black Americans, such advocates are in fact posing multiraciality against multiraciality.¬† In effect, they would have to create a conception of ‚Äúpurity‚ÄĚ that erases mixture within one group as the basis of determining mixture for a preferred group. There are also logical problems of descent, which make in effect an offspring genetically connected to a parent in which she or he is considered ontologically different from. Spencer offers historically informed theoretical challenges to the field by exemplifying consistency in his constructivism through his constantly reminding the reader that just as social identities come into being, they can also go out of being. What, in other words, will be the organization of human identities in the future will be a function of the kinds of critical questions and social and political conditions that come to bear on their meaning and being. In this sense, he is building upon what Frantz Fanon¬†[other bio], in Black Skin, White Masks (1967) called sociogenesis; that is, about how the social world produces identities…

Read the entire review here.

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