Re-Orienting Whiteness: A new agenda for the field



Publication Details

Carey, J. L., Boucher, L. and Ellinghaus, K. (2009). Re-Orienting Whiteness: A new agenda for the field. In L. Boucher, J. L. Carey and K. Ellinghaus (Eds.), Re-Orienting Whiteness: Transnational Perspectives on the History of an Identity (pp. 1-14). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

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ISBN: 9780230618855


Since whiteness studies made its dramatic entrance into the U.S. academy in the early 1990s it has generated tremendous scholarly output. Monographs and edited collections have proliferated across and between numerous disciplines. Amongst all this intellectual activiey, howevery, the question of whiteness and colonialism remains a significant and curious absence. As its Saidian-inspired title signals, Re-Orienting Whiteness emerges from our desire to address this gap by pushing "whiteness studies" toward a more sustained engagement with critical postcolonial thought and the history of colonialism. Despite their many obvious synergies, there has been remarkably little cross-fertilization between these approaches to understanding the modalities of race, past and present. There is a clear need for this radical separation to be addressed. This collection offers an explicit challenge both to work on race in the United States (which has tended to elide the foundational significance of its settler-colonial origins), and to historical scholarship on British empire-building (which remains deeply conflicted over the significance of race. Our work is based on the conviction that the consstruction of whiteness and the phenomena of European colonialism are fundamentally interconnected, and that whiteness studies must be "Re-Oriented" to take this into account. Equally, a greater and more rigorous focus on whiteness as a racial category has much to offer to our understandings of the historical operaitons of colonialism and its ongoing effects.

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