The Philosophy of Race

Posted in Anthologies, Books, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, Philosophy, Social Science on 2012-11-28 17:05Z by Steven

The Philosophy of Race

1,584 pages
Hardback: 978-0-415-49602-5

Edited by:

Paul Taylor, Associate Professor of Philosophy; African American Studies
Pennsylvania State University

Since at least the early 1990s, philosophical race theory has emerged as a dynamic and fertile area of serious scholarly inquiry, and this new four-volume Major Work from Routledge meets the need for a comprehensive collection to facilitate ready access to the most influential and important foundational and cutting-edge scholarship.

Volume I (‘Philosophy and the History of Race, Race in the History of Philosophy’) brings together the key texts to have shaped the most widely recognized forms of ‘race thinking’. The second and third volumes in the collection, meanwhile, explore the questions that race raises in philosophy’s traditional subfields. Volume II (‘Racial Being and Knowing’) gathers the best and most influential work to unravel the implications of racial practices for metaphysics, ontology, and epistemology. And Volume III (‘Race-ing Beauty, Goodness, and Right’) collects the key scholarship to deal with the consequences of racial practices for aesthetics, ethics, and politics.

The final volume in the collection (‘Intersections and Positions’) assembles the most important work to grapple with the methodological and geographical complications that accompany a commitment to racialism. (Race is an inherently contextual phenomenon and some of the material gathered in this volume—in particular, that exploring racialization in Japan, Brazil, and Norway—provides a refreshing counterweight to the philosophical zeal for abstraction.)

The Philosophy of Race is edited by Paul C. Taylor, a leading scholar in the field. The collection is fully indexed and has a comprehensive introduction, newly written by the editor, which places the material in its intellectual and historic context. It is an essential work of reference and is destined to be valued by scholars and students as a vital one-stop research resource.


  • Volume I: HISTORY
    • Part 1: Philosophical Historiography
      • 1. Cornel West, ‘A Genealogy of Modern Racism’, Prophesy Deliverance! Towards an Afro-American Revolutionary Christianity (Westminster Press, 1982), pp. 47–68.
      • 2. Robert Bernasconi, ‘Race, Culture, History’ (plenary lecture at Sodertorn University, 28 May 2009), pp. 11–46.
      • 3. David Theo Goldberg, ‘The End(s) of Race’, Postcolonial Studies, 2004, 7, 2, 211–30.
    • Part 2: Early Figures and Moments
      • 4. Harry Bracken, ‘Philosophy and Racism’, Philosophia, 1978, 8, 2–3, 241–60.
      • 5. Richard Popkin, ‘Hume’s Racism Reconsidered’, The Third Force in Seventeenth-Century Thought (Brill, 1992), pp. 64–75.
      • 6. Meg Armstrong, ‘”The Effects of Blackness”: Gender, Race, and the Sublime in Aesthetic Theories of Burke and Kant’, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 1996, 54, 3, 213–36.
      • 7. Bernard Boxill and Thomas E. Hill, ‘Kant and Race’, in Bernard Boxill (ed.), Race and Racism (Oxford University Press, 2003), pp. 448–71.
      • 8. Patricia Purtschert, ‘On the Limit of Spirit: Hegel’s Racism Revisited’, Philosophy & Social Criticism, 2010, 36, 9, 1039–51.
      • 9. Tom Jeannot, ‘Marx, Capitalism, and Race’, in Harry Van der Linden (ed.), Democracy, Racism, and Prisons (Philosophy Documentation Center, 2007), pp. 69–92.
    • Part 3: Late Modern Race Theory in/and the Canon
      • 10. Berel Lang, ‘Heidegger and the Jewish Question: Metaphysical Racism in Silence and Word’, in Julie K. Ward and Tommy L. Lott (eds.), Philosophers on Race: Critical Essays (Blackwell, 2002), pp. 205–21.
      • 11. Kathryn Gines, ‘Race Thinking and Racism in Hannah Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism’, in Dan Stone and Richard King (eds.), Imperialism, Slavery, Race, and Genocide: The Legacy of Hannah Arendt (Berghahn, 2007), pp. 38–53.
      • 12. Jonathan Judaken, ‘Sartre on Racism: From Existential Phenomenology to Globalization and “the New Racism”’, in Jonathan Judaken (ed.), Race After Sartre (SUNY Press, 2008), pp. 23–54.
    • Part 4: Critical Race Theory and the New Canon
      • 13. Diego von Vacano, ‘Race and Political Theory: Lessons from Latin America’, in Jorge Gracia (ed.), Race or Ethnicity? On Black and Latino Identity (Cornell University Press, 2007), pp. 248–66.
      • 14. Howard McGary, ‘Douglass on Racial Assimilation and Racial Institutions’, in Bill E. Lawson and Frank Kirkland (eds.), Frederick Douglass: A Critical Reader (Blackwell Publishing, 1999), pp. 50–63.
      • 15. Nancy Fraser, ‘Another Pragmatism: Alain Locke, Critical “Race” Theory, and the Politics of Culture’, in Morris Dickstein (ed.), The Revival of Pragmatism (Duke University Press, 1998), pp. 157–75.
      • 16. Vivian M. May, ‘Thinking from the Margins, Acting at the Intersections: Anna Julia Cooper’s A Voice from the South’, Hypatia, 2004, 19, 2, 74–91.
      • 17. K. A. Appiah, ‘The Uncompleted Argument: DuBois and the Illusion of Race’, Critical Inquiry, 1985, 12, 1, 21–37.
      • 18. W. E. B. Du Bois, Dusk of Dawn: An Essay Toward an Autobiography of a Race Concept [1940] (Transaction Publishers, 1992), pp. 97–103, 114–17, 129–33, 137–40.
      • 19. Frantz Fanon, ‘The Lived Experience of the Black’, Black Skin, White Masks, trans. R. Philcox [1952] (Grove Press, 1967), pp. 78–99.
      • 20. Lewis R. Gordon, ‘Racism, Colonialism, and Anonymity: Social Theory and Embodied Agency’, Fanon and the Crisis of European Man: A Essay on Philosophy and the Human Sciences (Routledge, 1995), pp. 37–67.
  • Volume II: Racial Being and Knowing
    • Part 5: What Races Are, What ‘Race’ Means
      • 21. Charles W. Mills, ‘”But What Are You Really?” The Metaphysics of Race’, Blackness Visible: Essays on Philosophy and Race (Cornell University Press, 1998), pp. 41–66.
      • 22. Lucius Outlaw, ‘Conserve Races? In Defense of W. E. B. Du Bois’, Critical Social Theory in the Interests of Black Folks (Rowman and Littlefield, 2005), pp. 139–62.
      • 23. Ron Mallon, ‘Passing, Traveling, and Reality: Social Construction and the Metaphysics of Race’, Nous, 2004, 38, 644–73.
      • 24. Robin O. Andreasen, ‘A New Perspective on the Race Debate’, British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 1998, XLIX, 2, 199–225.
      • 25. Philip Kitcher, ‘Does “Race” have a Future?’, Philosophy and Public Affairs, 2007, 35, 4, 293–317.
      • 26. David Theo Goldberg, Racist Culture (Blackwell, 1993), pp. 80–9.
      • 27. S. Haslanger, ‘Language, Politics and “the Folk”: Looking for “the Meaning” of “Race”’, The Monist, 2010, 93, 2, 169–87.
      • 28. Joshua Glasgow, Julie L. Shulman, and Enrique G. Covarrubias, ‘The Ordinary Conception of Race in the United States and its Relation to Racial Attitudes: A New Approach’, Journal of Cognition and Culture, 2009, 9, 1–2, 15–38.
    • Part 6: What Racial Identities Are
      • 29. Linda Martín-Alcoff, ‘Philosophy and Racial Identity’, Philosophy Today, 1997, 41, 1, 67–76.
      • 30. K. Anthony Appiah, ‘Synthesis: For Racial Identities’, Color Conscious (Princeton University Press, 1996), pp. 75–105.
      • 31. Judith Butler, ‘Passing, Queering: Nella Larsen’s Psychoanalytic Challenge’, Bodies That Matter (Routledge, 1993), pp. 167–86.
      • 32. Paul C. Taylor, Race: A Philosophical Introduction (Polity, 2004), pp. 84–7, 112–15.
    • Part 7: Power, Knowledge, Self-Knowledge, and Experience
      • 33. Charles Mills, ‘White Ignorance’, in Shannon Sullivan and Nancy Tuana (eds.), Race and Epistemologies of Ignorance (SUNY Press, 2007), pp. 11–38.
      • 34. Anika Maaza Mann, ‘Race and Feminist Standpoint Theory’, in Kathryn Gines, Donna Dale-Marcano, and Maria del Guadelupe Davidson, Convergences: Black Feminism and Continental Philosophy (SUNY Press, 2010), pp. 105–20.
      • 35. Shannon Sullivan, ‘Ignorance and Habit’, Revealing Whiteness (University of Indiana Press, 2006), pp. 17–44.
      • 36. Ned Block, ‘How Heritability Misleads About Race’, Boston Review, 1996, 20, 6, 30–35.
      • 37. Michael Root, ‘The Problem of Race in Medicine’, Philosophy of the Social Sciences, 2001, 31, 1, 20–39.
      • 38. Ronald Sundstrom, ‘Race and Place: Social Space in the Production of Human Kinds’, Philosophy and Geography, 2003, 6, 1, 83–95.
  • Volume III: Race-ing Beauty, Goodness, and Right
    • Part 8: Racism
      • 39. Kwame Anthony Appiah, ‘Racisms’, in D. T. Goldberg (ed.), Anatomy of Racism (University of Minnesota Press, 1990), pp. 3–17.
      • 40. Lewis R. Gordon, ‘Racialism, Racism, Racialists, Racists’, Bad Faith and Anti-Black Racism (Humanity Books, 1999), pp. 67–77.
      • 41. J. L. A. Garcia, ‘The Heart of Racism’, Journal of Social Philosophy, 1996, 2, 5–45.
      • 42. Tommie Shelby, ‘Is Racism in the Heart?’, Journal of Social Philosophy, 2002, 33, 411–20.
      • 43. L. Faucher and E. Machery, ‘Racism: Against Jorge Garcia’s Moral and Psychological Monism’, Philosophy of the Social Sciences, 2009, 39, 1, 41–62.
      • 44. Robert Bernasconi, ‘The Policing of Race Mixing: The Place of Biopower within the History of Racisms’, Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, 2010, 7, 2, 205–16.
    • Part 9: Race, the Right, and the Good
      • 45. Charles W. Mills, The Racial Contract (Cornell University Press, 1997), pp. 1–19.
      • 46. Anna Stubblefield, ‘Races as Families’, Journal of Social Philosophy, 2001, 32, 1, 99–112.
      • 47. L. Blum, ‘Three Kinds of Race-Related Solidarity’, Journal of Social Philosophy, 2007, 38, 53–72.
      • 48. Linda Martín Alcoff, ‘Latino/as, Asian Americans, and the Black-White Binary’, Journal of Ethics, 2003, 7, 1, 5–27.
      • 49. Howard McGary, ‘Psychological Violence, Physical Violence, and Racial Oppression’, in Lewis R. Gordon (ed.), Existence in Black: An Anthology of Black Existential Philosophy (Routledge, 1996), pp. 263–72.
      • 50. Samantha Vice, ‘How Do I Live in This Strange Place?’, Journal of Social Philosophy, 2010, 41, 3, 323–42.
    • Part 10: Selected Issues in Racial Politics
      • 51. Richard Wasserstrom, ‘Preferential Treatment, Color-Blindness, and the Evils of Racism and Racial Discrimination’, Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association, 1987, 61, 1, 27–42.
      • 52. Howard McGary, ‘Achieving Democratic Equality: Forgiveness, Reconciliation, and Reparations’, Journal of Ethics, 2003, 7, 1, 93–113.
      • 53. Angela Y. Davis, ‘Racialized Punishment and Prison Abolition’, in Tommy L. Lott (ed.), A Companion to African-American Philosophy (Blackwell Publishing, 2003), pp. 360–9.
      • 54. Glen Coulthard, ‘Subjects of Empire: Indigenous Peoples and the “Politics of Recognition”’, Contemporary Political Theory, 2007, 6, 4, 437–60.
    • Part 11: Aesthetics
      • 55. Monique Roelofs, ‘Racialization as an Aesthetic Production: What Does the Aesthetic Do for Whiteness and Blackness and Vice Versa?’, in George Yancy (ed.), White on White/Black on Black (Rowman and Littlefield, 2005), pp. 83–124.
      • 56. Dan Flory, ‘Spike Lee and the Sympathetic Racist’, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 2006, 64, 1, 67–79.
      • 57. Mariana Ortega, ‘Othering the Other: The Spectacle of Katrina for our Racial Entertainment Pleasure’, Contemporary Aesthetics, 2009, 2.
      • 58. Robert Gooding-Williams, ‘Aesthetics and Receptivity: Kant, Nietzsche, Cavell, Astaire’, Look, a Negro! Philosophical Essays on Race, Culture and Politics (Routledge, 2006), pp. 43–68.
      • 59. Falguni A. Sheth, ‘The Hijab and the Sari: The Strange and the Sexy Between Colonialism and Global Capitalism’, Contemporary Aesthetics, 2009, 2.
  • Volume IV: Intersections and Positions
    • Part 12: Intersectionality
      • 60. Nira Yuval-Davis, ‘Intersectionality, Citizenship and Contemporary Politics of Belonging’, Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, 2007, 10, 4, 561–74.
      • 61. Patricia Hill Collins, ‘It’s All in the Family: Intersections of Gender, Race, and Nation’, Hypatia, 1998, 13, 3, 62–82.
      • 62. Jorge J. E. Gracia, ‘The Nature of Ethnicity with Special Reference to Hispanic/Latino Identity’, Public Affairs Quarterly, 1999, 13, 1, 25–42.
      • 63. Ladelle McWhorter, ‘Sex, Race, and Biopower: A Foucauldian Genealogy’, Hypatia, 2004, 19, 3, 38–62.
      • 64. Stuart Hall, ‘Race, Articulation and Societies Structured in Dominance’, Sociological Theories: Race and Colonialism (UNESCO, 1980), pp. 305–45.
      • 65. Étienne Balibar, ‘Uprisings in the Banlieues’, Constellations: An International Journal of Critical and Democratic Theory, 2007, 14, 1, 47–71.
    • Part 13: Mapping Racial Imaginaries: Inventing the Other
      • 66. Edward Said, ‘Introduction to Orientalism’, in Moustafa Bayoumi and Andrew Rubin (eds.), The Edward Said Reader (Vintage, 2000), pp. 67–74, 78–81, 90–3.
      • 67. David Haekwon Kim, ‘Orientalism and America Enlarged’, Newsletter on Asian and Asian-American Philosophers and Philosophies, 2003, 2, 2, 30–4.
      • 68. V. Y. Mudimbe, ‘Discourse of Power and Knowledge of Otherness’, The Invention of Africa (Indiana University Press, 1988), pp. 1–23.
      • 69. Mahmood Mamdani, When Victims Become Killers (Princeton University Press, 2001), pp. 41, 56–9, 73–5, 80–90, 98–102.
      • 70. David Theo. Goldberg, ‘Racial Europeanization’, Ethnic & Racial Studies, 2006, 29, 2, 331–64.
      • 71. Nadia Abu El-Haj, ‘Racial Palestinianization and the Janus-Faced Nature of the Israeli State’, Patterns of Prejudice, 2010, 44, 1, 27–41.
    • Part 14: Positioning Critical Identities: Inventing Self and Community
      • 72. Sonia Sikka, ‘In What Sense are Dalits Black?’ (presentation to ‘Beyond the White–Black Binary’, conference held at Pennsylvania State University, 12 November 2010).
      • 73. Linda Martín Alcoff, ‘Mestizo Identity’, in Naomi Zack (ed.), American Mixed Race: The Culture of Microdiversity (Rowman and Littlefield, 1995), pp. 257–78.
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CLS 413: Comparative Studies in Theme: Generation, Degeneration, Miscegenation

Posted in Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Course Offerings, Gay & Lesbian, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, United States on 2011-11-18 04:15Z by Steven

CLS 413: Comparative Studies in Theme: Generation, Degeneration, Miscegenation

Northwestern University
Winter 2012

César Braga-Pinto, Associate Professor of Brazilian Studies

In this seminar we will discuss how and why late 19th-century and early 20th-century fiction often represented a crisis in models of biological reproduction. We will investigate how anxieties regarding miscegenation and degeneration impacted this three-part pattern:

(1) the “family romance” in Latin America (and elsewhere); (2) the  so-called generative crisis in the turn of the century; (3) the homosocial, “horizontal” forms of association or affiliation that were evoked to compensate the crisis in the generative model. We will also consider the meanings of the term “generation” as a form of “affiliation” in multi-racial societies such as Brazil.

Although we will focus primarily on Brazilian fiction, the approach will be comparative (hemispheric and/or transatlantic), and final papers may focus on U.S., Latin American, European, African or other post-colonial literatures (primarily from the period 1850’s-1930’s).

Class Materials:


Secondary sources may include works by Doris Sommer, Edward Said, Franz Fanon, Eve Sedgwick, Judith Butler, Roberto Schwarz, Silviano Santiago and Jacques Derrida.

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Post-race? Nation, Inheritance and the Contradictory Performativity of Race in Barack Obama’s ‘A More Perfect Union’ Speech

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2011-07-31 04:23Z by Steven

Post-race? Nation, Inheritance and the Contradictory Performativity of Race in Barack Obama’s ‘A More Perfect Union’ Speech

thirdspace: a journal of feminist theory & culture
Volume 10, Number 1 (2011)
18 pages

Bridget Byrne, Senior Lecturer in Social Sciences
University of Manchester

This article takes the speech that Barack Obama made in his campaign for democratic nomination in 2008 as a moment in the performativity of race. It argues that Obama was unable to sustain an attempt to be ‘post race’, but is also asks the extent to which Obama was able to re-write the way in which race is positioned within the US, particularly with reference to the place of African-Americans within the national narrative.


[S]ome people have a hard time taking me at face value. When people who don’t know me well, black or white, discover my background (and it usually is a discovery, for I ceased to advertise my mother’s race at the age of 12 or 13, when I began to suspect that by doing so I was ingratiating myself to whites), I see the split-second adjustment they have to make, the searching of my eyes for some tell-tale sign. They no longer know who I am.
(Obama, Dreams from my Father xv).

It’s not likely that there are too many people left who do not know who Barack Obama is, or that he is the product of a ‘brief union’ as he puts it, between ‘a black man and a white woman, an African and an American’ (Obama, Dreams from my Father xv). Nonetheless, Obama’s racial identity remains a source of fascination. The website hosted a discussion thread in March 2008 prompted by the question ‘What ethnicity is Obama’. The original questioner was interested in exploring ‘his white half’s ethnicity’. One of the respondents to this thread provides links to a website publishing Obama’s family tree and writes ‘it is amazing to see just how ‘white’ his mother and grandparents are’. The same respondent also provides a picture from Obama’s mother’s high school yearbook to demonstrate her ‘amazing’ whiteness as well as one of Obama with his white grandparents. The thread continues with a string of photos of different members of his family (including his half-Indonesian sister’s ‘Oriental husband who came from Canada’). This is just one example of the fascination that Obama’s racial positioning prompts in supporters and detractors alike and suggests that for many, it takes more than a ‘split-second’ adjustment to reconcile themselves to complex ideas of family, heritage and racialized identities.

This paper will explore a particular moment in the racialized positioning of Obama and his own self-positioning as an example of the performativity of race or possibly of ‘post-race’. The paper will take a key instance when Obama put his own racial positioning on the stage, in response to a particular set of political events. Through an examination of his ‘A more perfect union’ speech in Philadelphia during his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination (18th March 2008), I want to consider the extent to which we can ‘trouble race’ in the same way that Judith Butler has argued for the troubling of gender. The campaign election of Barack Obama has inserted the concept of ‘post-race’ into popular discourse in a forceful way. This article will question what the theoretical literature, which might regard race to be ‘under-erasure’ rather than ‘overcome,’ can offer to an analysis of the positioning of Obama. This is important because, despite longstanding academic and activist insistence that ‘race’ is a social construction devoid of any inherent or essential meaning, the ontological status of ‘race’ remains in question. As the reaction to Barack Obama shows, race is something that we still appear to need to ‘know’ about each other (and perhaps particularly about those who are not ‘white’). Yet, as I will argue, the racialized performativity offered by Obama is far from clear-cut and suggests that a more complex analysis is required. This paper will first explore the ideas of being ‘beyond’ or ‘post’ race and then consider how the notion of gender performativity might be productively extended to race peformativity. Then it will return to the speech given by Barack Obama in the course of his nomination campaign to explore both the impossibility for some figures to step outside of race, but also the potential scope to re-fashion concepts of race and inheritance, and particularly their relation to the nation…

Read the entire article here.

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Retroactive phantasies: discourse, discipline, and the production of race

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Philosophy, United States on 2011-05-29 20:58Z by Steven

Retroactive phantasies: discourse, discipline, and the production of race

Social Identities: Journal for the Study of Race, Nation and Culture
Volume 14, Issue 3 (2008)
Pages 333-347
DOI: 10.1080/13504630802088219

Nadine Ehlers, Assistant Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies
Georgetown University

The present inquiry considers how the practice and notion of race can be figured as a type of discipline that functions to achieve the subjection of the individual—to form the individual as a racial subject. Focusing on the constructions of blackness and whiteness within US racial rhetoric, and engaging the work of Michel Foucault and Judith Butler, I propose that racial identity is a retroactive phantasy that is always conditional on the subject enacting the very power that marks them: the formation and maintenance of subjectivity is premised on the individual being formed and forming themselves in relation to a normalized identity site and is, thus, always an action. Precisely due to this necessity to act, and to the incoherence of power, innovative acts of anti-discipline re-negotiate the ways in which racial subjectivity is lived and realized.

Read or purchase the article here.

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Racial Imperatives: Discipline, Performativity, & Struggles against Subjection

Posted in Books, Law, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, Passing, Philosophy, United States on 2011-05-29 01:44Z by Steven

Racial Imperatives: Discipline, Performativity, & Struggles against Subjection

Indiana University Press
236 pages
Paper 6 x 9
ISBN: 978-0-253-22336-4

Nadine Ehlers, Professor
Department of Sociology and Social Policy
University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia

Nadine Ehlers examines the constructions of blackness and whiteness cultivated in the U.S. imaginary and asks, how do individuals become racial subjects? She analyses anti-miscegenation law, statutory definitions of race, and the rhetoric surrounding the phenomenon of racial passing to provide critical accounts of racial categorization and norms, the policing of racial behavior, and the regulation of racial bodies as they are underpinned by demarcations of sexuality, gender, and class. Ehlers places the work of Michel Foucault, Judith Butler’s account of performativity, and theories of race into conversation to show how race is a form of discipline, that race is performative, and that all racial identity can be seen as performative racial passing. She tests these claims through an excavation of the 1925 “racial fraud” case of Rhinelander v. Rhinelander and concludes by considering the possibilities for racial agency, extending Foucault’s later work on ethics and “technologies of the self” to explore the potential for racial transformation.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • 1. Racial Disciplinarity
  • 2. Racial Knowledges: Securing the Body in Law
  • 3. Passing through Racial Performatives
  • 4. Domesticating Liminality: Somatic Defiance in Rhinelander v. Rhinelander
  • 5. Passing Phantasms: Rhinelander and Ontological Insecurity
  • 6. Imagining Racial Agency
  • 7. Practicing Problematization: Resignifying Race
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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Passing and the Fictions of Identity

Posted in Anthologies, Books, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, Slavery, United States on 2010-05-09 04:50Z by Steven

Passing and the Fictions of Identity

Duke University Press
312 pages
6 illustrations
Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-1755-5
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8223-1764-7

Edited by

Elaine K. Ginsberg, Professor of English (Retired)
West Virginia University

Passing refers to the process whereby a person of one race, gender, nationality, or sexual orientation adopts the guise of another. Historically, this has often involved black slaves passing as white in order to gain their freedom. More generally, it has served as a way for women and people of color to access male or white privilege. In their examination of this practice of crossing boundaries, the contributors to this volume offer a unique perspective for studying the construction and meaning of personal and cultural identities.

These essays consider a wide range of texts and moments from colonial times to the present that raise significant questions about the political motivations inherent in the origins and maintenance of identity categories and boundaries. Through discussions of such literary works as Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom, The Autobiography of an Ex–Coloured Man, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, The Hidden Hand, Black Like Me, and Giovanni’s Room, the authors examine issues of power and privilege and ways in which passing might challenge the often rigid structures of identity politics. Their interrogation of the semiotics of behavior, dress, language, and the body itself contributes significantly to an understanding of national, racial, gender, and sexual identity in American literature and culture.

Contextualizing and building on the theoretical work of such scholars as Judith Butler, Diana Fuss, Marjorie Garber, and Henry Louis Gates Jr., Passing and the Fictions of Identity will be of value to students and scholars working in the areas of race, gender, and identity theory, as well as U.S. history and literature.

Contributors. Martha Cutter, Katharine Nicholson Ings, Samira Kawash, Adrian Piper, Valerie Rohy, Marion Rust, Julia Stern, Gayle Wald, Ellen M. Weinauer, Elizabeth Young

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Mixed-Race Identity Politics in Nella Larsen and Winnifred Eaton (Onoto Watanna)

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Dissertations, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, Social Science, Women on 2009-10-29 16:30Z by Steven

Mixed-Race Identity Politics in Nella Larsen and Winnifred Eaton (Onoto Watanna)

Ohio University
English (Arts and Sciences) Department
November 2001
217 pages
Advisor: David Dean McWilliams

Sachi Nakachi

A dissertation presented to the faculty of the College of Arts and Sciences of Ohio University In partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Doctor of Philosophy.

The dissertation examines how two women authors of mixed-race, Nella Larsen and Winnifred Eaton (Onoto Watanna), resisted American identity politics in their works.  The ideological complexities of mixed-race identity, which is “in-between” races, are the focus of my argument. To discuss what Judith Butler calls “the performativity of identity” in the interracial context, “passing,” “masquerading” and “mimicking” are used as key strategies. I examine whether the space of hybridity, in which the incompatible notions of difference and sameness exist together, opens up the horizon of transformation of significations . In Chapter One, I discuss how Larsen used her “mulatto” heroines to criticize the essentialist notion of identity. I probe how crossing boundaries (passing, geographical crossing and transgressing sexual norms) functions in her novels. In Chapter Two, I examine the works of Winnifred Eaton, who passed as Japanese in her authorship. By crossing the “authentic” ethnic boundaries and placing herself in a fictional identity, Eaton challenged racism and sexism. The dynamics of Orientalism, race and gender in Eaton’s works are examined in this chapter. Postmodern feminist theories and postcolonial theories are used in tandem to support my argument, which tries to discuss how the system of racial oppression operates in multi-racial/multi-ethnic women’s literature.

Read the entire dissertation here.

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