Another layer of blackness: theorizing race, ethnicity, and identity in the U.S. black public sphere

Posted in Barack Obama, Dissertations, Media Archive, United States on 2014-10-24 18:13Z by Steven

Another layer of blackness: theorizing race, ethnicity, and identity in the U.S. black public sphere

University of Iowa
2013
277 pages

Patrick B. Oray

A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy degree in American Studies in the Graduate College of The University of Iowa

While many studies of U.S. immigration highlight the diversity within other racial and ethnic groups, scholarly attention to the significance of ethnicity among black people in this country is still sorely underdeveloped. This dissertation project explores how black identities are constructed not only through the prism of race in the U.S. context, but also through other social dynamics that operate “in the shadow of race,” such as differences in class, color, country of origin, and circumstances of migration. Instead of a singular black identity fueled by our political discourses and popular culture, my project treats “blackness” as a floating signifier that is constructed both within the racial organization of the U.S. nation-state and among the peoples of the black diaspora within its borders. In short, blackness is a matter that has become national, international, and transnational in scope.

Ethnicity and its implications for how we think about black identity and group representation in U.S. society is the other “layer of blackness” this dissertation addresses. The formation and reshaping of American identity among various immigrant groups have historically involved complicated relationships between race and ethnicity, two concepts scholars have used to articulate group identities in the U.S. The history of U.S. racial and ethnic relations reveals the complicated processes through which some social groups have been able to establish their place in the American mainstream by adapting to the cultural and institutional norms established by mainstream white society. Non-white immigrant groups have been forced to find their American identities on the margins of U.S. society because of their purported inability or unwillingness to assimilate to established cultural and institutional norms. Sometimes this alienation from the American mainstream takes on a purely racial dimension. At other times, the prejudices of U.S. society are directed at particular ethnic groups.

But in spite of the status ascribed to them, these immigrants have also proven to be empowered agents in their implicit and explicit critiques of the U.S.’s social order. Historically, non-white immigrants in the U.S. have demonstrated the power to question, disrupt, and resist cultural and institutional forms of discrimination even as they are incorporated into them.

My interrogation of black ethnic identity and what it brings to bear on how we define blackness in the U.S. begins by asking what cultural capital black immigrants bring with them in their sojourn to America rather than assuming what is lost in the process of their incorporation into U.S. race relations. Patterns of immigration, return migration and circular migration that have come to characterize the experience of many foreign-born blacks in the U.S., as well as the circulation of ideas, culture, and history between sending and receiving countries are all issues germane to the process of black immigrant incorporation and black ethnic identity in the U.S. As such, the argument I proffer in my dissertation project is this: because of the myriad processes at play in formulating black racial and ethnic identities in America (i.e., historically established structures of race as well as an unprecedented surge in foreign-born black migration this country)-how we define blackness in the U.S. context is more fruitfully theorized as a matter that is at once national, international, and transnational in scope. It is at the nexus of these fronts that the historical and cultural constructions of blackness are currently defined among the diversity of black people in the U.S.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • I. BLACK LIKE WHOM?: AN INTRODUCTION TO RACE, CLASS, AND ETHNICITY IN THE UNITED STATES BLACK PUBLIC SPHERE
    • 1.1 Ethnicity as “Another Layer of Blackness”
    • 1.2 Theorizing the U.S. Black Public Sphere
    • 1.3 Uncovering an Ethnic Layer of Blackness in the U.S. Black Public Sphere
  • II. “NO BOOTBLACK HAITIANS:” BLACK COSMOPOLITAN CONSCIOUSNESS AND THE U.S. OCCUPATION OF HAITI (1915-1934)
    • 2.1 The Roots of Black Cosmopolitan Consciousness in the U.S.: The African-American Press Response to the Occupation
    • 2.2 Cosmopolitanism and the U.S. Black Public Sphere: The Occupation, The New Negro Movement, and the Harlem Renaissance
    • 2.3 The Limits of Cosmopolitanism in the U.S. Black Public Sphere
  • III. SOMEWHERE BETWEEN “BROTHERS” AND “OTHERS” (REPRISE): AFRICAN-AMERICANS, BLACK IMMIGRANTS, AND THE POLITICS OF PLACE
    • 3.1 African Americans and the Transformation of the “Chocolate City” of Oakland, California
    • 3.2 “Challenges to “Umoja” (Unity): The Close Encounters of Black Americans and Black Immigrants in Oakland
    • 3.3 The “Blues City” Finds a New Identity“
  • IV. RACE AND REPRESENTATIONS OF BLACKNESS IN THE ERA OF OBAMA
    • 4.1 Obama’s Presidential Conceit: A “Black Man” Who is Also “Everyman”
    • 4.2 “Articulate, Bright, and Clean”: Barack Obama and the Melodrama of Blackness in Campaign ‘08
    • 4.3 Obama Walks the Tightrope Between “Race” and “Nation”
  • V. CONCLUSION: W(H)ITHER THE BLACK PUBLIC SPHERE?: RACE, ETHNICITY AND IDENTITY IN THE ERA OF OBAMA
  • BIBLIOGRAPHY

Read the entire dissertation here.

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Black, White, or Mixed: Identity Formation and Choice Among Black-White Biracial Individuals

Posted in Dissertations, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2014-08-18 20:32Z by Steven

Black, White, or Mixed: Identity Formation and Choice Among Black-White Biracial Individuals

Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama
2014-08-02
82 pages

Madison Alayne Hinton

A thesis submitted to the Graduate Faculty of Auburn University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts

Identity is a term that is difficult to define, yet every human being has one. It is a strong indicator of how people will act and defines them in an important way and is a reflection of one’s self and self-understanding. Identity is an important aspect for all humans, but it is an especially interesting trait when describing biracial individuals due to their multiracial background. The biracial demographic is growing quickly from that of the past, so it is important that their unique situation be researched. This study explores the family influence on biracial identity choice by gathering data using both a questionnaire and a focus group. The findings concluded family does have a significant, yet indirect, impact on the racial identity choice of their biracial children by encouraging individuality and allowing the person to choose their racial category themselves.

Read the entire thesis here.

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Intervening in the racial imaginary: ‘mixed race’ and resistance in contemporary Australian Literature

Posted in Dissertations, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Oceania on 2014-08-18 18:37Z by Steven

Intervening in the racial imaginary: ‘mixed race’ and resistance in contemporary Australian Literature

University of Sydney
2014
243 pages

Lyn Sue Dickens

A thesis submitted in fulfilment of requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

This thesis examines the extent to which three contemporary Australian novels can be regarded as interventions in “the modern racial imaginary” (Mignolo 2011a, p. 277). In order to analyse the novels as interventions, this thesis looks in particular at depictions and conceptualisations of mixed race subjectivity and experience in the texts. The novels, The World Waiting to be Made by Simone Lazaroo (1994), Shanghai Dancing by Brian Castro (2003) and The Lost Dog by Michelle de Kretser (2007) all explore mixed subjectivities and experiences in the Asia-Pacific region. Throughout this thesis I examine the complexity and disruptive potential of the concept of ‘mixed race’. I argue that through the depiction of people of mixed race and their traumatic experiences of racialisation, the novels critique, resist and disrupt concepts of race and colonial worldviews.

I further explore the ways in which the novels both promote and exemplify alternative ways of perceiving and interacting with other human beings that do not rely on racial categories or the humanitas/anthropos divide (Mignolo 2011b, p. 90). In order to do this I draw on Walter Mignolo’s concepts of border thinking/sensing and delinking, and Édouard Glissant’s work in The Poetics of Relation. I argue that critical examination of mixed race subjectivity and representation, in conjunction with transcultural concepts such as Relation and border thinking, provide a means of both challenging traditional concepts of race and essentialised cultures, and thinking beyond their boundaries. Furthermore, the novels themselves open up a transcultural space with transformative potential, which encourages the imagination of alternative, more equal worlds of Relation.

Read the entire thesis here.

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Who cares about mixed race? Care experiences of young people in an inner city borough

Posted in Dissertations, Media Archive, Social Science, Social Work, United Kingdom on 2014-08-18 17:33Z by Steven

Who cares about mixed race? Care experiences of young people in an inner city borough

Goldsmiths, University of London
April 2010
280 pages

Fiona Virginia Peters

A thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of PhD Sociology Goldsmiths, University of London

This thesis is an engagement with the care experiences of mixed young people, to produce knowledge of how care processes, mediated though the private foster family, impact on their lives. It begins with an examination of the relationship between the mixed classification and care, and continues through a discussion of race, race mixing and the family. The study then examines methodologically how the mixed classification operates in social work through a discussion of racialisation and its impact on the care trajectory of young people. Further, it engages with long-standing debates over why young people with a mixed classification are more likely to be significantly represented in care. The empirical chapters are comprised of the narrative accounts and visual representations of the young people and their experiences in care.

A highly participatory research methodology paid critical attention to the narratives of mixed young people in care between the ages of 12-20 years, as research participants, in order to engage and elicit rich detail about their care experiences. An innovative mixedmethod approach emerged in part from their specific circumstances and led to new ways to research with and understand young people who live in circumstances of instability often characterised by crisis.

This thesis engages with the care experiences of the participants to reveal how the discursive repertoires of mixedness and their application through care processes impacts on lives. Each empirical chapter is presented as an individual case study that examines the experiences of a single participant in order to interrogate care practices in relation to mixedness. The themes to emerge centre around family, relationality, professional intervention, classification and identification, race and mixedness, sex, gender, class, culture and ethnicity, all within the crisis of the care system. This thesis argues that placing the care experiences of mixed young people in the centre of debates about how to conceptualise mixedness could influence care planning.

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The Lived Experience of Mixed-Race Identity

Posted in Dissertations, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2014-08-10 23:59Z by Steven

The Lived Experience of Mixed-Race Identity

University of Edinburgh
2013

Jessica Pons

This study shows a phenomenological account of the mixed-race lived experience. Previous research focused on mixed-race White/Black individuals and mainly consisted of American studies. For this study, six British young adults were interviewed. The participants self identified as mixed-race, all had one Black parent and one White or Indian. Transcripts were analysed using the qualitative method of Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Four master themes emerged, Wholeness: more than just the parts; Neither Black nor White; Appearances: a mixed-blessing; and Journeying identity. The mixed-race experience was found to be highly heterogeneous although all had reached a mixed-race identity. Contextual factors such as upbringing, the presence of Black others and the ability to deconstruct race affected how they identified. Some participants felt strongly that they did not fit into a monoracial world. This was due to other people’s perceptions, others had no such issue. Multiple identities were held and identities were fluid, supporting past research. These findings deepen our understanding of the dynamic nature of mixed-race racial identity and the diverse factors that influence such identities, providing a sound base for further research.

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A phenomenological study of racial identity development of black-white mixed-race children in the United States

Posted in Dissertations, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2014-08-10 22:22Z by Steven

A phenomenological study of racial identity development of black-white mixed-race children in the United States

Texas Woman’s University, Denton, Texas
2013
142 pages
ISBN: 9781303661433
ProQuest Document ID: 1496772753

Cherly Gary-Furdge, Ph.D

This study examines how black-white mixed-race children develop their racial identity and how black-white parents of mixed-race children help their children with developing their racial identity. For this study, racial identity development is the process by which one selects or identifies his/her racial category. Three research questions are explored: (1) How do black-white interracial couples assist their children with developing their racial identities? (2) How do children born to black-white parents develop their racial identities? (3) What are some of the challenges faced by black-white mixed-race children?

This study included 36 participants: 12 biracial children who were raised by their biological parents and 12 black-white interracial couples who conceived a child together. In-depth interviews were conducted to collect data about how the parents assisted the children with developing their racial identity, how the children developed their racial identity, and what challenges are encountered by these children.

The data collected for this study provide answers to all of the three research questions. The parent participants used four strategies to assist their children with their racial identity development: educating them about their culture, the “one drop rule”, using their race to benefit them, and “see no race and hear no race.” The adult children in this study chose either black or biracial as their racial identities because of their experiences, but none of them chose white as their racial identity. The adult children participants also reported challenges they experienced, including being rejected by family members, the object of prejudiced in school, and being made to feel invisible.

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‘Black Atlantic’ Cultural Politics as Reflected in Panamanian Literature

Posted in Caribbean/Latin America, Dissertations, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive on 2014-05-28 15:47Z by Steven

‘Black Atlantic’ Cultural Politics as Reflected in Panamanian Literature

University of Tennesee, Knoxville
August 2005
256 pages

Sonja Stephenson Watson

A Dissertation Presented for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree

The diaspora experience is characterized by hybridity, diversity and above all, difference. The nature of the diaspora experience therefore precludes an exclusive articulation of identity. Black identity in Panama is one characterized by this same multiplicity. My dissertation examines race, culture, and ethnicity in the development of Panamanian national identity and is informed by the critical theories of Paul Gilroy, Stuart Hall, and Frantz Fanon. The articulation of Afro-Panamanian identity is both intriguing and complex because there are two groups of blacks on the Isthmus: Spanish speaking blacks who arrived as a result of slavery (15th -18th centuries) and English speaking blacks who migrated from the West Indies to construct the Trans-isthmian Railroad (1850-1855) and Panama Canal (1904-1914).

The country’s cultural and linguistic heterogeneity not only enriches the study of Panama and illustrates that it is a nation characterized by multiplicity, but it also captures the complexity of the African Diaspora in the Americas. This plurality is evidenced in Afro-Panamanian literary discourse from its inception in the late nineteenth century to the present. This study analyzes the representation of Afro-Hispanics and Afro-Antilleans during different time periods in Panamanian literature, the literature written by Afro-Hispanics, and the literature written by Afro-Antilleans which emerged during the latter half of the twentieth century. Finally, I address how the discourse of both groups of blacks converge and diverge.

Panamanian literature has been grossly understudied. While its history, geography, and political ties to the United States have been examined extensively by intellectuals from the United States and Latin America, with the exception of a few studies, its literature has been virtually ignored by the Hispanic literary canon. Within the field of Afro-Hispanic literature, black Panamanian literature has also been understudied. With the exception of works published about Gaspar Octavio Hernández, Carlos Guillermo Wilson, and Gerardo Maloney, Afro-Panamanian literature has not been examined comprehensively. My dissertation seeks to fill this void in the field of Afro-Hispanic literature and, hopefully, it will enrich the field of Latin and Central American literature and literary criticism.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Chapter one: The Rhetoric of Nation and the Invisibility of Blackness in the New Republic of Panama
  • Chapter two: The Black Image in Early Twentieth-Century Panamanian Literature
  • Chapter three: The Social Protest Novels of Joaquín Beleño Cedeño: A Study of the Inherent Conflicts and Contradictions of Anti-imperialism and Negritude in the Canal Zone
  • Chapter four: The Afro-Caribbean Works of Carlos “Cubena” Guillermo Wilson and his (Re) Vision of Panamanian History
  • Chapter five: Race, Language, and Nation in the Works of Three Contemporary Panamanian West Indian Writers: Gerardo Maloney, Melva Lowe de Goodin, and Carlos E. Russell
  • Conclusion: Afro-Panamanian Discourse: From Invisibility to Visibility
  • List of References
  • Vita

Read the entire dissertation here.

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Learning from the Collusions, Collisions, and Contentions with White Privilege Experienced in the United States by White Mothers of Sons and Daughters whose Race is not White

Posted in Dissertations, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, Social Work, United States, Women on 2014-05-15 16:05Z by Steven

Learning from the Collusions, Collisions, and Contentions with White Privilege Experienced in the United States by White Mothers of Sons and Daughters whose Race is not White

Cardinal Stritch University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
2014
405 pages
ATI Number: 3614469

Jennifer Lee Slye Chandler

The purpose of this study was to collect and examine stories from women who identify as White in the United States who are mothers whose sons and daughters they do not identify as White. The stories collected are about their interactions as White women (who are mothers of daughters and sons who are not White) with family, friends, strangers, doctors, daycare providers, teachers, and principals. Their stories are also about their thoughts, feelings, decisions, and actions regarding themselves as White and as mothers. The research question was: How is White privilege manifested in the lives of White women who are mothers of daughters and sons who they do not identify as White?

Based on interviews with thirty White mothers whose sons and daughters they do not identify as White living in twenty-four locations across the United States interviewed over an eight month period, three manifestations of White privilege were identified and analyzed: collusions, collisions, and contentions. These three social processes were incorporated into Harro’s (2013) cycle of socialization. The findings from the current study were correlated with findings from prior studies of White privilege with White mothers of daughters and sons who they do not identify as White and also with the findings from studies with White teachers. The conclusions from this study support recommendations in three areas of theory: (1) updating theories on White privilege; (2) updating one of the tenets of Critical Race Theory; and (3) updating theories on motherhood. The conclusions from this study support also recommendations in three areas of research: (1) research on White privilege; (2) research on teacher preparation; and (3) research on motherhood.

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Improving Anti-Racist Education for Multiracial Students

Posted in Dissertations, Media Archive, Teaching Resources, United States on 2014-04-16 19:43Z by Steven

Improving Anti-Racist Education for Multiracial Students

University of Massachusetts, Amherst
May 2014
479 pages

Eric Hamako

Submitted to the Graduate School of the University of Massachusetts Amherst in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Education

This dissertation explores how anti‐racist education might be improved, so that it more effectively teaches Multiracial students about racism. A brief history of anti‐racist education and a theory of monoracism–the systematic oppression of Multiracial people–provide context for the study. Anti‐racist education in communities and colleges has supported U.S. social movements for racial justice. However, most anti‐racist education programs are not designed by or for students who identify with two or more races. Nor have such programs generally sought to address Multiraciality or monoracism. Since the 1980s, Multiraciality has become more salient in popular U.S. racial discourses. The number of people identifying as Multiracial, Mixed Race, or related terms has also increased, particularly among school‐age youth. Further, the size and number of Multiracial people’s organizations have also grown. Anti‐racist education may pose unintended challenges for Multiracial students and their organizations. This study asked twenty‐five educators involved in Multiracial organizations to discuss anti‐racist education: what it should teach Multiracial students; what is working; what is not working; and how it might be improved. Qualitative data were gathered via five focus group interviews in three West Coast cities. Participants proposed learning goals for Multiracial students. Goals included learning about privilege and oppression; social constructionism; historical and contemporary contexts of racism; and impacts of racism and monoracism on Multiracial people. Participants also called for education that develops interpersonal relationships, self‐reflection, and activism. Participants also discussed aspects of anti‐racist education that may help or hinder Multiracial students’ learning, as well as possible improvements. Participants problematized the exclusion of Multiraciality, the use of Black/White binary racial paradigms, linear racial identity development models, and the use of racial caucus groups or affinity spaces. Participants also challenged educators’ monoracist attitudes and behaviors, particularly the treatment of questions as pathological “resistance.” Suggestions included addressing Multiraciality and monoracism, accounting for intersectionality and the social construction of race, validating self‐identification, and teacher education about monoracism. The study then critically analyzes participants’ responses by drawing on literature about anti‐racist education, social justice education, multicultural education, transgender oppression (cissexism), and monoracism. Based on that synthesis, alternate recommendations for research and practice are provided.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
  • ABSTRACT
  • 1. INTRODUCTION
    • Significance of the problem
    • Goals and intended audiences
    • Locating myself as a researcher
    • Research questions
    • Organization of the study
  • 2. FOUR CRITIQUES OF COMMUNITY‐BASED ANTI‐RACIST EDUCATION
    • A brief overview of CBARE
    • Two brief histories of CBARE
    • Anti‐intersectional praxes
    • Binary racial paradigms
    • Racial essentialism
    • Pathologizing “resistance”
    • Toward new anti‐racist praxes: Accounting for monoracism
  • 3. THEORIZING MONORACISM
    • Theorizing monoracism
    • Addressing challenges to a theory of monoracism
    • Benefits of theorizing monoracism
    • Summary
  • 4. METHODOLOGY
    • Focus group interview methodology
    • Participants
    • Focus groups: Number, size, and locations
    • Pre‐focus group data collection: Surveys, curricula sharing, and curricula analysis
    • Focus group data collection
    • Data analysis
  • 5. LEARNING GOALS FOR MULTIRACIAL STUDENTS
    • Representational knowledge: Learn about racism and monoracism
    • Representational knowledge: Hierarchies that trouble Multiracial organizing
    • Relational knowledge: Learn to connect with other people
    • Reflective knowledge: Learn about oneself
    • Summary
  • 6. DISCUSSION OF LEARNING GOALS FOR MULTIRACIAL STUDENTS
    • Representational knowledge: Learn about racism and monoracism
    • Representational knowledge: Hierarchies that trouble Multiracial organizing
    • Relational knowledge: Learn to connect with other people
    • Reflective knowledge: Learn about oneself
    • Summary
  • 7. ANTI‐RACIST EDUCATION: WHAT IS WORKING AND NOT WORKING FOR MULTIRACIAL STUDENTS
    • Monoracism in anti‐racist educational theories, curricula, and pedagogies
    • Monoracism in educators’ attitudes and behaviors
    • Summary
  • 8. DISCUSSION OF ANTI‐RACIST EDUCATION: WHAT IS WORKING AND NOT WORKING FOR MULTIRACIAL STUDENTS
    • Monoracism in anti‐racist educational theories, curricula, and pedagogies
    • Monoracism in educators’ attitudes and behaviors
    • Summary
  • 9. CONCLUSION
  • APPENDICES
    • A. RECRUITING SCRIPT
    • B. PARTICIPATION CONFIRMATION EMAIL
    • C. HUMAN SUBJECTS WRITTEN INFORMED CONSENT FORM
    • D. SURVEY 1: PARTICIPANT INTAKE SURVEY
    • E. PHONE/EMAIL REMINDER SCRIPT
    • F. SURVEY 2: CURRICULA EVALUATIONS
    • G. SURVEY 3: FOCUS GROUP PARTICIPANT WORKSHEET
    • H. FOCUS GROUP INTERVIEW PROTOCOL
    • I. MULTIRACIAL TIMELINE CURRICULUM
    • J. DESIGN A MONORACIST INSTITUTION CURRICULUM
    • K. RACIALBREAD COOKIE CURRICULUM
    • L. MULTIRACIAL POWER SHUFFLE CURRICULUM
  • BIBLIOGRAPHY

Read the entire dissertation here.

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Betwixt, Between and Beyond: Racial formation and “mixed race” identities in New Zealand and Singapore

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Dissertations, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Oceania, Social Science on 2014-03-08 06:13Z by Steven

Betwixt, Between and Beyond: Racial formation and “mixed race” identities in New Zealand and Singapore

National University of Singapore
2013
345 pages

Zarine Lia Rocha

A THESIS SUBMITTED FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY DEPARTMENT OF SOCIOLOGY

“Mixed race” identities are increasingly important for academics and policy makers around the world. In many multicultural societies, individuals of mixed ancestry are identifying outside of traditional racial categories, posing a challenge to systems of racial classification, and to sociological understandings of race. Singapore and New Zealand illustrate the complex relationship between state categorization and individual identities. Both countries are diverse, with high rates of intermarriage, and a legacy of colonial racial organization. However, New Zealand’s emphasis on voluntary, fluid ethnic identity and Singapore’s fixed four-race framework provide key points of contrast. Each represents the opposite end of the spectrum in addressing “mixed race”: multiple ethnic options have been recognized in New Zealand for several decades, while symbolic recognition is now being implemented in Singapore.

This research explores histories of racial formation in New Zealand and Singapore, focusing on narratives of racial formation. The project examines two simultaneous processes: how individuals of mixed heritage negotiate identities within a racially structured framework, and why—how racial classification has affected this over time. Using a narrative lens, state-level narratives of racial formation are juxtaposed with individual narratives of identity. “Mixedness” is then approached from a different angle, moving away from classifications of identity, towards a characterization of narratives of reinforcement, accommodation, transcendence and subversion.

Drawing on a series of 40 interviews, this research found similarities and differences across the two contexts. In Singapore, against a racialized framework with significant material consequences, top-down changes sought to symbolically acknowledge mixedness, without upsetting the multiracial balance. In New Zealand, state efforts to remove “race” from public discourse allow ethnicity to be understood more flexibly, yet this has not always translated easily to everyday life. For individuals in Singapore, narratives were shaped by a racialized background, as they located themselves within pervasive racial structures. In New Zealand, stories were positioned against a dual narrative of fluidity and racialization, reflected in narratives that embraced ambiguity while referring back to racialized categories.

The four narrative characterizations illustrated the diversity of stories within each context, yet highlighted certain patterns. Narratives of transcendence were present in both countries, illustrating how historical racialization can be rejected. Narratives of accommodation were more common in New Zealand, as the dissonance between public and private understandings of mixedness was less stark. Narratives of reinforcement were more frequently seen in Singapore, mirroring colonial/post-colonial projects of racial formation in which personal stories were located. Narratives of subversion were present in both countries, but were more common in New Zealand, where subversion required less conscious effort.

Overall, this research drew out how identity can diverge from official classification, as individuals worked to navigate difference at an everyday level. State acknowledgements of mixedness served to highlight the continued dissonance between fluid identities and fixed racial categories, as well as the unique balance of racialized choice and constraint in Singapore and in New Zealand. Personal narratives revealed the creative ways in which people crossed boundaries, and the everyday negotiations between classification, heritage, and experience in living mixed identities.

Read the entire dissertation here.

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