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The comforts and discomforts of race

Soo Ah Kwon

Keywords: ASIAN AMERICAN YOUTH; CULTURE; ETHNIC STUDIES; IDENTITY; RACE; RACIAL SEGREGATION

Drawing on existing literature and student ethnographic projects, this article examines Asian American undergraduates' overwhelming focus on individual racial identity and practices of racial segregation in their ethnographic research about the University of Illinois. The author examines how such racial segregation is described and analysed as a matter of personal 'choice' and 'comfort' rather than as the result of racial inequality, racism and the marginalisation and racialisation of minority groups. This lack of structural racial analysis in the examination of Asian American students' experiences points to the depoliticisation and institutionalisation of race in higher education today. Race is understood and more readily analysed as a politically neutral concept that invokes celebration of racial diversity and 'culture' and not as a concept marked by power and inequities as it once may have been.

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