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ANTH 351: CROSS CULTURAL DYNAMICS APRIL 2 ND, 2015 “Racial Formation”: The Cultural Interaction of Racism, Space, and Language Omi, Michael and Howard.

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Presentation on theme: "ANTH 351: CROSS CULTURAL DYNAMICS APRIL 2 ND, 2015 “Racial Formation”: The Cultural Interaction of Racism, Space, and Language Omi, Michael and Howard."— Presentation transcript:

1 ANTH 351: CROSS CULTURAL DYNAMICS APRIL 2 ND, 2015 “Racial Formation”: The Cultural Interaction of Racism, Space, and Language Omi, Michael and Howard Winant Racial Formation in the United States. 2 nd Ed. New York: Routledge. From: Prof. Ralina Joseph at U of Washington 1

2 Race: A human population category whose boundaries allegedly correspond to distinct sets of biological attributes Racialism: Belief in the existence of biologically distinct races 2 Ethnicity and Race

3 Race as hierarchy: Racism Racism: A system of oppression by which one socially defined “race” is systematically and disproportionally advantaged over another (or other) socially defined “race” (or races).  (Often justified by reference to supposed biological or cultural superiority) 3

4 Race Race is a social construction which alters over the course of time due to historical and social pressures. Race is an organizing principle Race isn’t essence, it’s “an unstable and ‘decentered’ complex of social meanings constantly being transformed by political struggle” (Omi & Winant, 68) 4

5 Race Omi and Winant's definition of race throws out ideas that race is 1) a biological fact and 2) an illusion. Instead: race very real social classification that both has cultural ramifications and enforces a definite social order (54-55).  Examples of Ozawa vs. United States (1923) & United States vs. Thind (1923)  Ramifications 5

6 Racial Formation Racial formation is the process by which socio- historical designations of race are created and manipulated. Racial formation explains the definition and redefinition of specific race identities. Two levels of racial formation: macro (social structure and political projects launched both by and in opposition to the racial state, such as a court decision) and micro (every day experiences, including language-use) 6

7 Racial Formation & Racialization The notion of Racial Formation “emphasizes the social nature of race, the absence of any essential racial characteristics, the historical flexibility of racial meanings and categories, the conflictual character of race at both the ‘micro’ and ‘macro-social’ levels, and the irreducible political aspect of racial dynamics” (4) Racial Formation is the “process by which social, economic and political forces determine the content and importance of racial categories, and by which they are in turn shaped by racial meanings” (61) Racialization (the process of racial formation) means “the extension of racial meaning to a previously racially unclassified relationship, social practice or group” – an ideological and historically specific project where racial ideology comes from pre- existing conceptual elements 7

8 Cultural Practices: Language Use & Racial Formation Implications of “racial formation” approach for an understanding of cultural-practices like language- use:  “race” (and one could say gender, class, etc.) are partially constructed people’s own uses of speech in order to construct their own identities  but also through people’s (and institutions’) uses of speech/language to construct the identities of others.  This is key. None of us can fully determine our own “race” or “gender” or “class” or “ethnic” identity.  Language constitutes not just social interaction but also social groups through the linguistic practices of social interaction (i.e., cultural practices) 8

9 Language as a Cultural Resource 9 So, how does language work in culture? Through signs—things that can be interpreted as having a meaning Sign: Signifier and Signified (deSaussure) or Sign, Object, and Interpretant (Peirce) Three kinds of signs (Peirce):  Symbol: arbitrary relationship between signifier & signified  Icon: relationship of resemblance between signifier & signified  Index: existential relationship—spatial, contextual, etc.— between signifier & signified (cultural context v. imp here) Hill is talking about indexes (or indices?)

10 Clips and sites for references in Hill article SNL skit with Jimmy Smits as Antionio Mendoza—clip (Season 16, Episode 2): SNL skit with Jimmy Smits—transcript: Terminator 2: “No Problemo” & “Hasta La Vista Baby”: Final “Hasta La Vista, Baby”: Final “Goodbye”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMnWNtRGo2k or fuller https://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v= , from 00:50-4:35.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMnWNtRGo2khttps://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=

11 Reclaiming a Language 11 Can a marginalized group reclaim a language and subvert existing power structures through language? in-use/cockney/ in-use/cockney/


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