“The Illogic of American Racial Categories”

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2015-07-26 23:06Z by Steven

“The Illogic of American Racial Categories”

Jefferson’s Blood: Thomas Jefferson, his slave & mistress Sally Hemings, their descendants, and the mysterious power of race.
Frontline
Public Broadcasting Service
2000

Paul R. Spickard, Professor of History
University of California, Santa Barbara

Excerpted from the chapter “The Illogic of American Racial Categories” in Racially Mixed People in America, Maria P. P. Root, ed., (Newbury Park, Calif.: Sage Publications, 1992), 12-23.

In most people’s minds … race is a fundamental organizing principle of human affairs. Everyone has a race, and only one. The races are biologically and characterologically separate one from another, and they are at least potentially in conflict with one another. Race has something to do with blood (today we might say genes), and something to do with skin color, and something to do with the geographical origins of one’s ancestors. According to this way of thinking, people with more than one racial ancestry have a problem, one that can be resolved only by choosing a single racial identity.

It is my contention in this essay, however, that race, while it has some relationship to biology, is not mainly a biological matter. Race is primarily a sociopolitical construct. The sorting of people into this race or that in the modern era has generally been done by powerful groups for the purposes of maintaining and extending their own power. Not only is race something different from what many people have believed it to be, but people of mixed race are not what many people have assumed them to be…

Most systems of categorization divided humankind up into at least red, yellow, black, and white: Native Americans, Asians, Africans, and Europeans. Whether Australian aborigines, Bushmen, and various brown-skinned peoples—Polynesians and Malays, for example—constituted separate races depended on who was doing the categorizing…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Pacific Islander Americans and Multiethnicity: A Vision of America’s Future?

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Media Archive, Social Science, Social Work, United States on 2013-04-20 17:45Z by Steven

Pacific Islander Americans and Multiethnicity: A Vision of America’s Future?

Social Forces
Volume 73, Issue 4 (1995)
pages 1365-1383
DOI: 10.1093/sf/73.4.1365

Paul R. Spickard, Professor of History
University of California, Santa Barbara

Rowena Fong, Ruby Lee Piester Centennial Professor in Services to Children and Families
University of Texas, Austin

Americans are rapidly becoming an ethnically plural people. Not only are there many different peoples in the U.S., but a sharply increasing number of individuals are coming to have and to recognize multiple ethnic strains within themselves. The current literature on ethnicity is inadequate, for it assumes that people have only single ethnic identities when, in fact, many people, like Pacific Islander Americans, have long held multiethnic identities. Drawing on survey data and interviews as well as literary sources, this article analyzes the features of Pacific Islander American multiethnic identity: it is situational; individuals commonly simplify their ethnicity in practical living; and people with multiple ancestries are admitted to group membership on much the same basis as people with single ancestries. The bases of Pacific Islander American ethnicity include ancestry, family, practice, and place.

Read or purchase the article here.

Tags: , , ,

this project is less concerned with ending racism than with responding to the racialization of all people of African descent in the United States as black…

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2012-09-07 17:00Z by Steven

The presence of a biracial race would certainly disrupt popular ideas about race, but as scholars supporting biracial identity root it in biological notions of race “mixture,” it seems unlikely that such a disruption would result in the end of racial classifications. Work on race in the Caribbean and Latin America shows that a racially mixed identity is entirely consistent with a racialized social system. Moreover, recent work interrogating-color blindness has shown that this is the current dominant racial ideology, suggesting that a color-blind society as a goal is more likely to ensure the persistence of racism than its decline. I therefore find especially troubling the claims by Naomi Zack, G. Reginald Daniel, Kathleen Odell Korgen, Paul R. Spickard, Maria P. P. Root, and others discussed below, that the biracial project represents a progressive social movement.” In my view, based both on the popular push for such a reclassification and the scholarship discussed here, this project is less concerned with ending racism than with responding to the racialization of all people of African descent in the United States as black.

Minkah Makalani, “Race, Theory, and Scholarship in the Biracial Project,” in Race Struggles edited by Theodore Koditschek, Sundiata Keita Cha-Jua, and Helen A. Neville Champaign, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 2009), 139-140.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Race, Theory, and Scholarship in the Biracial Project

Posted in Books, Chapter, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2012-08-31 18:12Z by Steven

Race, Theory, and Scholarship in the Biracial Project

Chapter in:

Race Struggles
University of Illinois Press
2009
352 pages
6.125 x 9.25 in.; 4 tables
Paper ISBN: 978-0-252-07648-0

Edited by:

Theodore Koditschek, Professor of History
University of Missouri, Columbia

Sundiata Keita Cha-Jua, Associate Professor of History; Associate Professor of African American Studies
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Helen A. Neville, Associate Professor of African American Studies and Educational Psychology
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Chapter Author:

Minkah Makalani, Assistant Professor of African and African Diaspora Studies
University of Texas, Austin

Since the early 1990s, there has emerged in the United States a push to racially reclassify persons with one black and one white parent as biracial. A central feature of what I am calling the biracial project is a cohort of scholars, themselves biracial identity advocates, who argue that such an identity is more appropriate for people of mixed parentage (PMP) than a black one. These scholars maintain that when PMP identify as biracial, they gain a more mentally healthy racial identity, have fewer experiences of alienation, and are able to express their racial and cultural distinction from African Americans. In addition to the presumed personal benefits of such an identity, these scholars suggest that a biracial identity is a positive step in moving society beyond race and toward a color-blind society. What remains troubling about this scholarship, though, is a tendency to conceptualize PMP as a distinct racial group, and the inattention to the potentially negative political impact such a reclassification would have on African Americans.

Historically and currently, white supremacy in the United States has hinged on the oppression of people of African descent. The position of African Americans in the political economy has served as the basis for developing a racialized social system, restructuring that system at different historical moments, and incorporating new social groups into the racial hierarchy as races. Asserting a new racial group premised on a claim to an inherent (biological) whiteness and a rejection of blackness taps into the intricacies, logics, and values of that very system. It is therefore important to remember that the push for a biracial racial category arose and made its greatest strides amid predictions that by the year 2050 whites will be a numerical minority. More than a question of self-identity, the push for a biracial identity concerns substantiating the existence of a new race to be positioned as an intermediary between blacks and whites in a reordered racialized social system. Indeed, in the United States there have always been multiple racial groups situated below whites in the racial hierarchy. Sociologist Eduardo Bonilla-Silva has recently argued that, increasingly, different groups are beginning to hold a position of “honorary whiteness” within that hierarchy. Taking into account the structures of race in Latin America and the Caribbean, I remain unconvinced that an honorary white racial status in the United States would include PMP, as Bonilla-Silva suggests, though I agree with his claim that various racialized groups that were previously denied the privileges of whiteness increasingly enjoy advantages, privileges, and access to centers of power that continue to be denied black people and those whom Bonilla-Silva calls the “collective black.” Far from helping to erase existing color lines or challenging the new racial formations described by Sundiata Keita Cha-Jua and Bonilla-Silva, it would draw yet another color line. And unlike certain Asian and Latino groups, a new biracial race stakes its claim, quite literally, on possessing whiteness.

The biracial project approaches racial identity as racial identification, or the assertion of a racial category. Using identity as a synonym tor race has also entailed inadequate attention to the complexities of identity. Consequently, these works rarely engage the psychological scholarship on black identity formation, not to mention the historical, sociological, and cultural interrogations of blackness that have appeared in Black Studies over the past century. Most troubling is the inattention, if not utter aversion, to the history of PMP considering themselves black and struggling over the meanings of blackness.

It is hardly coincidental that these scholars presume certain antiracist attributes to inhere in a biracial identity. In asserting the subversive character of a biracial identity, Maria P. P. Root maintains that it “may force us to reexamine our construction of race and the hierarchical social order it supports.” Naomi Zack and G. Reginald Daniel more plainly argue that a biracial identity hastens the end of racial categories altogether by challenging popular notions of race. For Zack in particular, a biracial identity serves as the basis for “ultimately disabus(ing) Americans of their false beliefs in the biological reality of race,” thus leading society away from racial classifications and hastening racisms demise. Still, the progressive qualities of a biracial identity are more apparent than real, largely asserted with little research substantiating the claims of its proponents.

The presence of a biracial race would certainly disrupt popular ideas about race, but as scholars supporting biracial identity root it in biological notions of race “mixture,” it seems unlikely that such a disruption would result in the end of racial classifications. Work on race in the Caribbean and Latin America shows that a racially mixed identity is entirely consistent with a racialized social system. Moreover, recent work interrogating-color blindness has shown that this is the current dominant racial ideology, suggesting that a color-blind society as a goal is more likely to ensure the persistence of racism than its decline. I therefore find especially troubling the claims by Naomi Zack, G. Reginald Daniel, Kathleen Odell Korgen, Paul R. Spickard, Maria P. P. Root, and others discussed below, that the biracial project represents a progressive social movement.” In my view, based both on the popular push for such a reclassification and the scholarship discussed here, this project is less concerned with ending racism than with responding to the racialization of all people of African descent in the United States as black.

Situating the discussion of biracial identity in the context of race and racial oppression as structural relationships, I provide a detailed review of the theoretical and prescriptive literature advocating a biracial identity. Specifically, I am concerned with this racial projects theoretical basis for a biracial identity, how it conceptualizes race and racism, the place of the one-drop rule in this conceptualization, and the defense of biracial identity as an antiracist tool…

Read the chapter here.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Amalgamation Schemes: Antiblackness and the Critique of Multiracialism [Review: Spickard]

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2011-05-10 03:04Z by Steven

Amalgamation Schemes: Antiblackness and the Critique of Multiracialism [Review: Spickard]

American Studies
Volume 50, No. 1/2: Spring/Summer 2009
pages 125-127

Paul Spickard, Professor of History
University of California, Santa Barbara

Amalgamation Schemes: Antiblackness and the Critique of Multiracialism. Jared Sexton. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 2008.

One of the major developments in ethnic studies over the past two decades has been the idea (and sometimes the advocacy) of multiraciality. From a theoretical perspective, this has stemmed from a post-structuralist attempt to deconstruct the categories created by the European Enlightenment and its colonial enterprise around the world. From a personal perspective, it has been driven by the life experiences in the last half-century of a growing number of people who have and acknowledge mixed parentage. The leading figures in this scholarly movement are probably Maria Root and G. Reginald Daniel, but the writers are many and include figures as eminent as Gary Nash and Randall Kennedy.

A small but dedicated group of writers has resisted this trend: chiefly Rainier Spencer, Jon Michael Spencer, and Lewis Gordon. They have raised no controversy, perhaps because their books are not well written, and perhaps because their arguments do not make a great deal of sense. It is not that there is nothing wrong with the literature and the people movement surrounding multiraciality. Some writers and social activists do tend to wax rhapsodic about the glories of intermarriage and multiracial identity as social panacea. A couple of not-very-thoughtful activists (Charles Byrd and Susan Graham) have been co-opted by the Gingrichian right (to be fair, one must point out that most multiracialists are on the left). And, most importantly, there is a tension between some Black intellectuals and the multiracial idea over the lingering fear that, for some people, adopting a multiracial identity is a dodge to avoid being Black. If so, that might tend to sap the strength of a monoracially-defined movement for Black community empowerment.

With Amalgamation Schemes, Jared Sexton is trying to stir up some controversy. He presents a facile, sophisticated, and theoretically informed intelligence, and he picks a fight from the start. His title suggests that the study of multiraciality is some kind of plot, or at the very least an illegitimate enterprise. His tone is angry and accusatory on every page. It is difficult to get to the grounds of his argument, because the cloud of invective is so thick, and because his writing is abstract, referential, and at key points vague…

Login to read the review here.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Hapa Japan Conference

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Live Events, Media Archive, United States on 2011-03-06 04:41Z by Steven

Hapa Japan Conference

Center for Japanese Studies
Institute of East Asian Studies
University of California, Berkeley
2011-04-08 through 2011-04-09

Introduction

Hapa is a Hawaiian term that is now widely used to describe someone of mixed racial or ethnic heritage. A New York Times article cites that just within the United States, one in seven marriages are now between people from different racial/ethnic backgrounds.

The Center for Japanese Studies, along with the Hapa Japan Database Project and All Nippon Airways, will host the Hapa Japan Conference on April 8th and 9th, featuring specialists in the study of mixed-race Japanese history, identity, and representation. Topics range from the history of mixed-race Japanese in the 1500s, part-Japanese communities in Australia, to the exploration of identity and representation through story-telling, films, and a photo-exhibit. For more information, please reference the conference agenda or contact cjs-events@berkeley.edu.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Mixed Blood: Intermarriage and Ethnic Identity in Twentieth-Century America [Review: Pascoe]

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, United States on 2011-03-06 03:41Z by Steven

Mixed Blood: Intermarriage and Ethnic Identity in Twentieth-Century America [Review: Pascoe]

Journal of Social History
Volume 25, Number 1 (Autumn, 1991)
pages 174-176

Peggy Pascoe (1954-2010), Beekman Professor of Northwest and Pacific History
University of Oregon

Mixed Blood: Intermarriage and Ethnic Identity in Twentieth-Century America. By Paul R. Spickard (Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 1989. xii plus 532 pp.).

Intermarriage must surely rank as one of the most neglected topics in American social history. Only a handful of historians have attempted to study it, some of  whom focused on the enactment of laws that prohihited interracial marriages while others traced changes in the social patterns of intermarriage over time. Whichever route they chose, historians relied heavily on the statistical data and theoretical constructs put forth by social scientists. This alliance between historians and social scientists, a sort of intermarriage of its own, has been something of a love-hate relationship: dependent on social scientists for both data and theories, historians tend to use their insight into change over time to challenge the very theories they borrow.

The most recent—and surely the most ambitious—historical study of intermarriage in the United States, Paul Spickard’s Mixed Blood: Intermarriage and Ethnic Identity in Twentieth-Century America, is a case in point. Spickard focuses on intermarriage in three different ethnic groups over the entire twentieth century. The unprecedented range of his study puts him in an ideal position to criticize social science theories, which, he argues, are flawed because they concentrate too much on social structure and not enough on culture. In an attempt to redress the balance, he adds the “cultural factors” of “a group’s own perception of its relative social status, the general society’s toleration of intergroup relationships, and different ethnic groups images of each other” to the analysis (pp. 343—44). Mixing data from statistical studies with cultural images from oral history interviews, popular journals, and movies, Spickard tests the validity of a wide range of social science theories about intermarriage and ethnic identity.

Mixed Blood is organized into four separate sections, one each on Japanese Americans, Jewish Americans, and Black Americans, and an additional one on Japanese women who married American soldiers. Within each section, Spickard considers a melange of topics. The most innovative are those Spickard considers “cultural” topics, including the “images” mainstream and ethnic groups held of each other, the “hierarchy of preference” each group showed in choosing marriage partners, and (a particularly useful choice) the interethnic divisions usually invisible to dominant groups. The rest are topics far more familiar, including such old chestnuts as the “success” of intermarriages and the ethnic identity of the children. On several issues Spickards determination to explore the attitudes of ethnic groups as well as those of the dominant society pays off impressively. He demonstrates, for example, that some ethnic groups, like Japanese Americans, held their own notions of racial superiority so strongly that they were even less likely than Anglo Americans to welcome the children of intermarriages into their communities. On others, his findings are too narrow to be of much help. In trying to measure the “success” of intermarriages, for example, Spickard compares the divorce rate of intermarriages with the divorce rate of marriages within each ethnic group; curiously, he never compares them with the divorce rate in American society as a whole.

In the end, only two theories about intermarriage survive Spickard’s scrutiny: the general proposition that the extent of intermarriage has increased over the twentieth century and the assertion that the larger the ethnic community is, the lower the rate of intermarriage will be. Several others, including the theory that an unbalanced sex ratio leads to intermarriage, that intermarriages fall into a “triple melting pot” pattern, and that barriers of race are harder to breach than barriers of religion or national origin, fail to survive because they cannot account for all of the widely disparate groups Spickard has chosen for his study. Still others, including nearly every theory about gender and class in intermarriage, fail for more fundamental reasons. Theories about ethnic identity fare no better: Spickard discards the notion that children of mixed marriages invariably fit into subordinate groups, raises doubts about whether intermarriage is a reliable indicator of assimilation, and finds tremendous variation in the extent to which intcrmarriers maintain ethnic ties and ethnic identity.

Well-documentcd as they are, these results should scarcely come as a surprise, for historians have plenty of reason to be suspicious of social scientists’ transhistorical explanations for social patterns. More surprising is the extent to which Spickard’s critique of social science theories itself remains embedded in transhistorical categories. Spickard is adept at using his comparative data to disprove the theories of social scientists. Yet, like the social scientists he ultimately rejects, Spickard takes for granted that two of the fundamental axes of intermarriage—race and gender—are fixed, immutable categories, the “givens” of historical analysis. As a result, he overlooks the possibility that his data point not only to comparative variability in ethnic identity but also to significant historical reformulations of the notions of race and gender. To take one striking example: because Spickard discovered that there were more similarities between the intermarriage patterns of Japanese Americans and Jewish Americans than between those of Japanese Americans and Black Americans, he concludes that perhaps, race is not so fundamental a category of social relationships in America as has often been supposed” (p. 343). The more reasonable point, 1 suspect, is that over the time period which Spickard covers, there were significant shifts in the social construction of the idea of race, shifts that might help make interpretive sense of Spickard’s own finding that over the course of the century, Japanese Americans, once labeled by dominant Americans as “Black,” later came to be considered “White” (p. 347). Scholars interested in these questions should consult anthropologist Virginia Dominguez’s White by Definition: Social Classification in Creole Louisiana, a recent social science study of intermarriage that pays unusually close attention to the social construction of race/ A similar attempt to map shifts in the social construction of gender would seem to be in order as well, for as Spickards critiques of existing theories show, gender is perhaps the least understood aspect of interracial marriage.

In the future, more attention to the social construction of race and gender may lead studies of intermarriage in a different direction. For the moment, though, one thing is certain: for its sheer ambition, for its unsurpassed range of data, for its painstaking critiques of social scientific theories, Mixed Blood is indispensable reading for historians interested in the study of intermarriage.

Tags: , , ,

Mixed Blood: Intermarriage and Ethnic Identity in Twentieth-Century America [Review: Diner]

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, United States on 2011-03-05 23:40Z by Steven

Mixed Blood: Intermarriage and Ethnic Identity in Twentieth-Century America [Review: Diner]

American Historical Review
Volume 96, Number 2 (April 1991)
pages 624-625

Hasia R. Diner, Paul S. and Sylvia Steinberg Professor of American Jewish History; Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies
New York University

Paul R. Spickard. Mixed Blood: Intermarriage and Ethnic Identity in Twentieth-Century America. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press. 1989. Pp. xii, 532 pages.

Paul R. Spickard has performed a tremendous service to historians and other students of ethnicity in writing this study of the historic patterns and changing meaning of out-group marriage. In focusing on the experiences of those Japanese Americans, American Jews, and African Americans who chose to wed nongroup members, and conversely on the experiences of white, Christian Americans as they took spouses from these three minority groups, the author seeks to link social structure and cultural constructs as explanations for particular patterns.

Spickard ought to be credited for authoring the first serious historical hook on the subject and for taking this extremely important topic out of the sole domain of sociologists, who are eager to build models and are therefore oblivious to subtleties of time and place. Indeed, the sociological generalizations about who has intermarried and why provides Spickard with the departure point for this analysis. He ultimately tests the extant models and asks which ones work under which circumstances. No historian before has tackled this issue, and, where they have attempted to address it, they have subsumed it under the rubric of a study of one group without any benefit of comparative analysis. The fact, for example, that intermarriage rates and patterns for Americans of Japanese ancestry and Jews resemble one another discounts, according to Spickard, the importance attributable to color and physical appearance as a barrier to romance across group lines. On the other hand, among African Americans and Jews the dominant pattern of minority-group men marrying majority-group women—rather than conversely—indicates that out-group marriage patterns can, under certain circumstances, be linked to social and economic mobility.

This study also takes the issue of intermarriage out of the hands of group activists, leaders, and apologists who are concerned about the implications of intermarriage rates for group solidarity. By offering a dispassionate and comparative study of the topic, analyzed historically and oriented toward looking for change over time, Spickard adds a note of clearheaded rationality to an otherwise intensely emotional subject. He convincingly proves that marriage outside the group does not always mean a loss to the group or a severing of the bonds between the out-marner and the community of his or her birth. Intermarriage, according to Spickard, has different meanings under varying circumstances. Spickard in no place denigrates the passionate feelings of group members worried about intermarriage or its implications for ethnic cohesion; he offers instead an alternative, cooler way of looking at the issues.

In several other ways, this book ought to be commended and recommended. For one, he treats the issue in its complexity rather than simplicity. To really study intermarriage, the scholar must recognize that members of two groups are involved, and the behavior and attitudes of both are crucial to a thorough analysis. Second, marriage involves both genders, and a study that does not take cognizance of differences in attitude, expectations, and social positions of men and women would not adequately cover the problem. But Spickard addresses these issues and provides historians of ethnicity, gender, and race with a thoroughly researched, sophisticated analysis that should displace the usual sociologically based, model-oriented generalizations that have dominated the field.

Tags: , , , ,

Mixed Blood: Intermarriage and Ethnic Identity in Twentieth-Century America [Review: Daniel]

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2011-02-24 05:13Z by Steven

Mixed Blood: Intermarriage and Ethnic Identity in Twentieth-Century America [Review: Daniel]

Contemporary Sociology
Volume 22, Number 3 (May 1993)
pages 381-382

Mixed Blood: Intermarriage and Ethnic Identity in Twentieth-Century America, by Paul R. Spickard. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1991. 532 pp. cloth ISBN: 0-299-12110-0. paper ISBN: 0-299-12114-3.

G. Reginald Daniel, Professor of Sociology
University of California at Santa Barbara

As an ethnohistory conversant with sociological discourse, Paul Spickard’s Mixed Blood is not only a valuable resource for both historians and sociologists specializing in race and ethnic relations but also a welcome change from traditional social science litera- ture on this topic. These previous studies, by seeking to construct generalizable models from quantitative data, unfortunately have not taken into account the nuances of personal experience and subtleties of space and time. In Spickard’s study, however, intermarriage emerges as a multivariate historical process of attitudes and behavior which are derivative of not only intergroup, but also interpersonal, dynamics, as illustrated by the author’s rich anecdotal sources.

The main portion of Mixed Blood is devoted to a comparative study of the intermarriage patterns of Jewish, Japanese, and African Americans. This choice allows Spickard to highlight important contemporary variations in the strength of pluralism and integration, that is, the persistence and permeability of boundaries of gender, race, culture, ethnicity, and class as they relate to the pretwentieth century history of each of the three groups. Spickard’s analysis of the intergenerational increase in out-marriage by Jewish Americans, for example, clearly indicates that the boundary which formerly might have marked an intermarriage is less distinct than it had been among European- Americans from different ethnocultural backgrounds…

Read or purchase the review here.

Tags: , , ,

We Are a People: Narrative and Multiplicity in Constructing Ethnic Identity

Posted in Anthologies, Anthropology, Asian Diaspora, Books, Brazil, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science on 2010-10-05 01:54Z by Steven

We Are a People: Narrative and Multiplicity in Constructing Ethnic Identity

Temple University Press
January 2000
304 pages
7×10
5 tables 5 figures
Paper EAN: 978-1-56639-723-0; ISBN: 1-56639-723-5

edited by Paul Spickard, Professor of History
University of California, Santa Barbara

and W. Jeffrey Burroughs, Dean of Math and Sciences and Professor of Psychology
Brigham Young University, Hawaii

As the twentieth century closes, ethnicity stands out as a powerful force for binding people together in a sense of shared origins and worldview. But this emphasis on a people’s uniqueness can also develop into a distorted rationale for insularity, inter-ethnic animosity, or, as we have seen in this century, armed conflict. Ethnic identity clearly holds very real consequences for individuals and peoples, yet there is not much agreement on what exactly it is or how it is formed.

The growing recognition that ethnicity is not fixed and inherent, but elastic and constructed, fuels the essays in this collection. Regarding identity as a dynamic, on-going, formative and transformative process, We Are a People considers narrative—the creation and maintenance of a common story—as the keystone in building a sense of peoplehood. Myths of origin, triumph over adversity, migration, and so forth, chart a group’s history, while continual additions to the larger narrative stress moving into the future as a people.

Still, there is more to our stories as individuals and groups. Most of us are aware that we take on different roles and project different aspects of ourselves depending on the situation. Some individuals who have inherited multiple group affiliations from their families view themselves not as this or that but all at once. So too with ethnic groups. The so-called hyphenated Americans are not the only people in the world to recognize or embrace their plurality. This relatively recent acknowledgment of multiplicity has potentially wide implications, destabilizing the limited (and limiting) categories inscribed in, for example, public policy and discourse on race relations.

We Are a People is a path-breaking volume, boldly illustrating how ethnic identity works in the real world.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
1. We are a People – Paul Spickard and W. Jeffrey Burroughs

Part I: The Indeterminacy of Ethnic Categories: The Problem and A Solution
2. Multiple Ethnicities and Identity Choices in the United States – Mary C. Waters
3. That’s the Story of Our Life – Stephen Cornell

Part II: Construction of Ethnic Narratives: Migrant Ethnicities
4. Black Immigrants in the United States – Violet M. Johnson
5. The Children of Samoan Migrants in New Zealand – Cluny Macpherson and La’avasa Macpherson

Part III: Ethnicities of Dominated Indigenous Peoples
6. Narrating to the Center of Power in the Marshall Islands – Phillip H. McArthur
7. Discovered Identities and American-Indian Supratribalism – Stephen Cornell
8. Racialist Responses to Black Athletic Achievement – Patrick B. Miller
9. I’m Not a Chileno! Rapa Nui Identity – Max E. Stanton and AndrĂ©s Edmunds P.

Part IV: Emerging Multiethnic Narratives
10. Multiracial Identity in Brazil and the U.S. – G. Reginald Daniel
11. Mixed Laughter – Darby Li Po Price
12. Punjabi Mexican American Experiences of Multiethnicity –  Darby Li Po Price

Part V: Theoretical Reflections
13. Rethinking Racial Identity Development – Maria P. P. Root
14. The Continuing Significance of Race – Lori Pierce
15. What Are the Functions of Ethnic Identity? – Cookie White Stephan and Walter G. Stephan
16. Ethnicity, Multiplicity, and Narrative – W. Jeffrey Burroughs and Paul Spickard

Read an excerpt of chapter 1 here.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,