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Priscilla Fortier

This article describes the findings of an undergraduate Ethnography of the University Initiative (EUI) course in which students examined the university's efforts to improve the racial climate of the campus. These institutional efforts are intended to create a more comfortable environment for under-represented minority students who often comprise a significantly smaller group on campus than in their home neighbourhoods and high schools. Many minority group students experience isolation and discomfort connected to a lack of 'ownership' of campus spaces and traditions, which tend to be monopolised by white students. In my EUI class, which was sponsored by the Office of Minority Student Affairs (OMSA) at the University of Illinois (U of I), under-represented minority students focused their ethnographic projects specifically on campus-sponsored programmes intended to facilitate interaction across racial and ethnic groups. Of particular interest to students were programmes related to residence halls and campus social spaces. The findings presented here indicate that campus-sponsored programmes to increase race awareness that depend upon students' voluntary participation may be less effective in bringing students together than required classroom-based programmes and informal interaction through shared extra-curricular passions.

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The White Cotton Robe

Charisma and Clothes in Tibetan Buddhism Today

Magdalena Maria Turek

Contextualized in discussions around charisma as originally conceived by Max Weber, this article examines the case of Tsültrim Tarchin, a charismatic adept from Eastern Tibet whose everyday dress consists of a specialized garment, a white cotton robe. Earned as a mark of virtuosity in the Tantric tummo practice and worn as a sign of an ascetic lifestyle, this robe functions as a key instrument in Tsültrim Tarchin’s charismatic actions. More than a repository of power and beyond insignia that signify privilege or superiority, the religious garment I consider in this article does not merely channel the routinized charisma of the lineage. It also effectively augments the master’s personal power through the performativity of its symbolism, while its real potency lies in structuring all meanings within the master’s network of influence.

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Critical Studies of Whiteness, USA

Origins and Arguments

David R. Roediger

The call-in show on Wisconsin Public Radio in 1995 began with the host skilfully introducing me as an historian who tried to explain how a white identity had come to seem so important to so many working people in the United States. We talked about efforts to understand why such significant numbers of people came to see themselves not as workers, but as white workers; not as women but as white women, and so on. And then to the phones and eager callers: Why do African countries make so little progress? Aren’t African Americans racist too? Isn’t their “reverse racism” the biggest problem? Hasn’t the welfare system enlarged a parasitic, amoral nonwhite underclass? The barrage of such questions, on public radio in a quite liberal city, took virtually the whole hour. The last caller, an African American worker at the University of Wisconsin, initially offered no question but a comment. All of the prior questions, she observed, focused on people of colour. Despite the subject of my work, she continued, and despite the moderator’s unambiguous introduction, no caller had deigned to discuss whiteness at all. If I were an expert on race, the white callers had been certain that my role was to contest or to endorse accusations and generalisations concerning those who were not white. Why was it so hard to discuss whiteness?

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The “Missing Link”

Space, Race, and Transoceanic Ties in the Settler-Colonial Pacific

Frances Steel

The inauguration of a steamship route between Canada and Australia, described as the “missing link,” was envisaged to complete Britain's imperial circuit of the globe. This article examines the early proposals and projects for a service between Vancouver and Sydney, which finally commenced in 1893. The route was more than a means of physically bridging the gulf between Canada and Australia. Serving as a conduit for ideologies and expectations, it became a key element of aspirations to reconfigure the Pacific as a natural domain for the extension of settler-colonial power and influence. In centering the “white” Pacific and relations between white colonies in empire, the route's early history, although one of friction and contestation, offers new insights into settler-colonial mobilities beyond dominant themes of metropole–colony migration.

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Coulthard, Glen Sean. Red Skin, White Masks

Rejecting the Colonial Politics of Recognition

Elaine Coburn

Coulthard, Glen Sean. Red Skin, White Masks: Rejecting the Colonial Politics of Recognition. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2014. ISBN: 978-0-8166-7965-2

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Somy Kim

Dear White People, United States, 2014; Justin Semien (director and writer); 108 minutes; Homegrown Pictures, starring Tyler James Williams, Tessa Thompson, Kyle Gallner, Teyonah Parris, and Brandon Bell.

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Sandrina de Finney, Patricia Krueger-Henney and Lena Palacios

We are deeply honored to have been given the opportunity to edit this special issue of Girlhood Studies, given that it is dedicated to rethinking girlhood in the context of the adaptive, always-evolving conditions of white settler regimes. The contributions to this issue address the need to theorize girlhood—and critiques of girlhood—across the shifting forces of subjecthood, community, land, nation, and borders in the Western settler states of North America. As white settler states, Canada and the United States are predicated on the ongoing spatial colonial occupation of Indigenous homelands. In settler states, as Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang remind us, “the settler never left” (2012: 20) and colonial domination is reasserted every day of active occupation. White settler colonialism functions through the continued control of land, resources, and racialized bodies, and is amalgamated through a historical commitment to slavery, genocide, and the extermination of Indigenous nationhood and worldviews. Under settler colonial regimes, criminal justice, education, immigration, and child welfare systems represent overlapping sites of transcarceral power that amplify intersecting racialized, gendered, sexualized, and what Tanja Aho and colleagues call “carceral ableist” violence (2017: 291). This transcarceral power is enacted through institutional and bureaucratic warfare such as, for example, the Indian Act, the school-to-prison pipeline, and the child welfare system to deny, strategically, Indigenous claims to land and the citizenship of racial others.

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By the shores of white waters

The Altai and its place in the spiritual geopolitics of Nicholas Roerich

John McCannon

The artist Nicholas Roerich, famous for his expeditions (1925-1928 and 1934-1936) to Central Asia and the Himalayas, was deeply fascinated by the Altai Mountains, which he visited in 1926 (even though he had emigrated from Soviet Russia in 1918). His interest in the region had partly to do with his scholarly theories about the origin of Eurasian cultures. Even more important were Roerich's occult beliefs. Ostensibly artistic and academic in nature, Roerich's expeditions were part of a larger effort to create a pan-Buddhist state that was to include southern Siberia, Mongolia, and Tibet. In the Altai, Roerich aimed to locate the legendary land of White Waters (Belovod'e) and build his capital there. Support for this 'Great Plan' came from American followers of Roerich's mystical teachings. In addition, by representing himself to Soviet authorities as someone who might foster anti-British resentment and pro-Russian feelings among the populations of Central Asia and Tibet, Roerich briefly piqued their interest. The Great Plan was never realised, but Roerich continued to believe in the Altai's magical properties.

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Williams Rollins

“White, everything white.” White was the color of the Weimar

Republic, or at least so it seemed to cultural critic J. E. Hammann

writing in the journal Die Form in 1930. In his article Hammann did

not just note the trend toward white in interior design, but rather he

was determined to understand the greater significance in his fellow

Germans’ overwhelming color preference. White, Hammann surmised,

was a “characteristic mark of the way in which we grasp our

age,” a “chief indicator of the times,” and a powerful evocation of

the “new spirit” behind Weimar’s “modern weltanschauung” (121f.).

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Fabricating the Color Line in a White Democracy

From Slave Catchers to Petty Sovereigns

Ben Brucato

Though states are founded in and dependent on successfully claiming a monopoly on the use of violent force and the certification of citizenship, these means suggest particular ends: the production of the social order. Police have the primary mandate to produce order and administer poverty. From a new abolitionist perspective, the particular social order of the U.S. is unique. The white race was founded through the production and maintenance of the color line and performed through a cross-class alliance of whites. Policing is deeply implicated in these processes. A historical account of police during the Herrenvolk era is provided. Finally, the persistence of racist policing is explained in light of a now officially color-blind political order, with officers functioning as petty sovereigns in a neoliberal era.