The Making and Unmaking of Whiteness

The Making and Unmaking of Whiteness

Book Pages: 352 Illustrations: Published: September 2001

American Studies, Gender and Sexuality > Feminism and Women’s Studies, Theory and Philosophy > Race and Indigeneity

Bringing together new articles and essays from the controversial Berkeley conference of the same name, The Making and Unmaking of Whiteness presents a fascinating range of inquiry into the nature of whiteness. Representing academics, independent scholars, community organizers, and antiracist activists, the contributors are all leaders in the “second wave” of whiteness studies who collectively aim to combat the historical legacies of white supremacy and to inform those who seek to understand the changing nature of white identity, both in the United States and abroad.
With essays devoted to theories of racial domination, comparative global racisms, and transnational white identity, the geographical reach of the volume is significant and broad. Dalton Conley writes on “How I Learned to Be White.” Allan Bérubé discusses the intersection of gay identity and whiteness, and Mab Segrest describes the spiritual price white people pay for living in a system of white supremacy. Other pieces examine the utility of whiteness as a critical term for social analysis and contextualize different attempts at antiracist activism. In a razor-sharp introduction, the editors not only raise provocative questions about the intellectual, social, and political goals of those interested in the study of whiteness but assess several of the topic’s major recurrent themes: the visibility of whiteness (or the lack thereof); the “emptiness” of whiteness as a category of identification; and conceptions of whiteness as a structural privilege, a harbinger of violence, or an institutionalization of European imperialism.

Contributors. William Aal, Allan Bérubé, Birgit Brander Rasmussen, Dalton Conley, Troy Duster, Ruth Frankenberg, John Hartigan Jr., Eric Klinenberg, Eric Lott, Irene J. Nexica, Michael Omi, Jasbir Kaur Puar, Mab Segrest, Vron Ware, Howard Winant, Matt Wray


“[A] useful introduction to the field . . . . [A]dvancing the understanding of what is meant by ‘whiteness’ is served by this collection.” — Virginia Quarterly Review

“[T]he editors bring together an impressive variety of contributors to pick apart their own life experiences and pour their sociopolitical analysis into eight, thought-provoking essays.” — Silja J. A. Talvi , LiP Book Review

“[U]nique . . . . [T]he anthology is a welcome addition to the scholarship on whiteness. . . . [T]his anthology can assist in moving students from positions of self-indulgence to social action.” — Debbie Storrs , Contemporary Sociology

“Thoughtful, astute and representing a wide range of perspectives, the contributors explore pressing questions of this emerging discipline.” — Publishers Weekly

"[The Making and Unmaking of Whiteness] raises significant methodological questions. . . . Many historians will therefore find this book worth reading and possibly memorable as a document reflecting a particular moment in the development of critical race studies."
— Julian Carter , Journal of American History

"[A]n interesting multidisciplinary, theoretical, politically charged . . . study of whiteness."

— Nancy Gentile Ford , Journal of American Ethnic History

"[M]ake[s] important contributions to the academic field of 'critical whiteness studies.' . . . The Making and Unmaking of Whiteness . . . contain[s] social-science perspectives and research data that can be immensely valuable to literary scholars and other humanists." — Lawrence J. Oliver , Callaloo

“If for no other reason than that the circulation of racialized power has been and is fractured, multi-faceted, contradictory, and continual, then this collection would be valuable in its attention to the accumulation of the political and disciplinary effects of whiteness. The particular strength of this attention is magnified by the combination of work herein that originates in both academic and other than academic sites. And it is brave work; it proceeds without guarantees of its own outcome, without knowing what questions it might settle.” — Wahneema Lubiano, Duke University

“This very powerful volume touches many nerves in contemporary cultural politics. Its collected essays take various perspectives and collectively—and sometimes individually—engage various contradictions. It’s a disturbing, engaging, sometimes frustrating, deeply affecting book.” — Kathleen Stewart, author of A Space on the Side of the Road: Cultural Poetics in an “Other” America


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Birgit Brander Rasmussen is Assistant Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity, Race and Migration at Yale University. She is the co-editor of The Making and Unmaking of Whiteness (Duke, 2001).

Eric Klinenberg is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Northwestern University.

Irene J. Nexica is an independent scholar who studies popular music and culture.

Matt Wray is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Table of Contents Back to Top

Introduction / Birgit Brander Rasmussen, Eric Klinenberg, Irene J. Nexica, and Matt Wray

Universal Freckle, or How I Learned to Be White / Dalton Conley

“The Souls of White Folks” / Mab Segrest

The Mirage of an Unmarked Whiteness / Ruth Frankenberg

White Racial Projects / Howard Winant

The “Morphing” Properties of Whiteness / Troy Duster

“White Devils” Talk Back: What Antiracists Can Learn from Whites in Detroit / John Hartigan Jr.

Transnational Configurations of Desire: The Nation and its White Closets / Jasbir Kaur Puar

Perfidious Albion: Whitenss and the International Imagination / Vron Ware

The New Liberalism in America: Identity Politics in the “Vital Center” / Eric Lott

How Gays Stays White and What Kind of White It Stays / Allan Bérubé

(E)racism: Emerging Practices of Antiracist Organizations / Michael Omi

Moving from Guilt to Action: Antiracist Organizing and the Concept of “Whiteness” for Activism and the Academy / William Aal



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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-2740-0 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-2730-1
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