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Race and Representation Leah Wild.. The Nature and History of Racism Essentialism The tendency to discursively reduce a whole group of people to a number.

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Presentation on theme: "Race and Representation Leah Wild.. The Nature and History of Racism Essentialism The tendency to discursively reduce a whole group of people to a number."— Presentation transcript:

1 Race and Representation Leah Wild.

2 The Nature and History of Racism Essentialism The tendency to discursively reduce a whole group of people to a number of essential characteristics (negative) which are then taken to explain that groups behaviour, values, attitudes, cultural practices and material circumstances. Debate around old and new racism

3 New and Old racisms Old racism rooted in assumptions about biological difference and racial hierarchy. (Barker 1981) New Racism about Cultural difference -supposedly bereft of notions of superiority and inferiority Pathologising of the culture of the other in new racist discourse. Is New racism really that different?

4 Victorian trade Cards Ching Collection- 400 cards.has over four hundred trade cards produced mostly in the United States contain racist depictions of Chinese and Chinese Americans. provide a glimpse into the history of racism toward the Chinese in America. Chinese people depicted eating dogs, rats and mice.

5 Benevolence, Paternalism and Attraction. Gates (1986) rejects the notion race as a stable, coherent category. Points to benevolence, paternalism and sexual attraction in history of attitudes towards the other BUT benevolence, attraction and romanticisation of the other are often part of the same complex racist symbolism Hottentot Venus an Example

6 Sara Baartman- The Hottentot Venus. (1810)

7 Racism and Ambivalence 1 Wright et al (1998) young black men are positioned ambivalently by white teachers and male peers Jenkins (1986) white managers hold posyive and negative stereotypes of Asian job applicants Troyna and Hatcher (1991) many white children who perpetuate racism also have ambivalent attitudes.

8 Ten Little Niggers a children's poem, that celebrates the deaths of ten Black children, The Three Golliwogs was reprinted as recently as 1968, and it still contained the above passage. Ten Little Niggers (1939) Agatha Christie cover showed a Golliwog lynched, hanging from a noose. During World War II the word wog was used by the British Army in North Africa, mainly as a slur against dark-skinned Arabs. British regiment- Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, wore a Robertson's golly brooch for each Arab they had killed.

9 Racism and Ambivalence 2 benevolence and malevolence can co-exist other is often simultaneously revered and reviled Harris (2003) in Coloured Pictures notes that Even the Bible, if read literally, treats black skin with disdain Solomon's song (Song of Songs 1:5), "I am black, but comely," a statement that indicates a beauty that conflicts with being black. Racism in Childrens books


11 Embodied Racism Racism profoundly embodied. Exoticisation, infantilisation, ascription of hyper-sexual identities. Fears around smell, dirt, and contagion. Anxiety around the difference of the body of the other- manifested in disgust and desire. Fears around strange foods, different eating habits

12 Racism and the Enlightenment Enlightenment project attempts to categorise and rank human groups part of the project of ordering, describing, defining, cataloguing and ultimately manipulating and controlling the natural and social worlds. Drew on pseudo-scientific theories to hierarchically rank human beings Link to imperialist project.

13 The White Mans Burden First appeared in McClure's Magazine (1899). Text reads Pears soap is a potent factor in brightening the dark corners of the earth as civilisation advances while among the cultured of all nations it holds the highest place…

14 Racism and Dualism Individual bodies symbolise membership of the social body or body politic racist discourse saturated with dichotomous and dualistic separations between black/white, self /other, good/bad, human/animal, master/slave, purity/ pollution, civilised/primitive, cultured/ barbaric, enlightened/backward, good/evil;


16 Constructions of Whiteness. Neglected issue in sociological thought bell hooks (1990) We need a discourse on race that interrogates whiteness' (Frankenburg 1997 ) examines constructions of whiteness from both inside and outside the white subject position- Whiteness has no static meaning embedded in socioeconomic, sociocultural, and psychic interrelations'

17 Whiteness and envy Roediger white invention of black stereotypes in the 19th century envy for perceived as the corporeal, carefree life of the black man. Rapid industrialisation and mechanization creates nostalgia for the less civilised times of agrarian country life. Ignoring the oppressive, humiliating daily lives of black slaves, white workers saw their own imagined past. White working-classes see black people as 'embodying the preindustrial, erotic, careless style of life the white worker hated and longed for' (Roediger, quoted in Cantwell 1996:57). Lott (1993) hatred of the other linked to hatred of ones own excess

18 Imagined Communities Whiteness an 'invented tradition' (Hobsbawm and Ranger 1983) imagined community (Benedict Anderson) narratives of a continuous and homogeneous white history constructed in order to create a false sense of collective identity in times of great social and economic upheaval 'Whiteness is everywhere but it is very hard to see' (Lipsitz 1995) It is a blank slate against which difference and Otherness are constructed (Harris 2003).

19 Dominant forms of representation. Hall (1995) Media produces and reproduces ideologies Media and cultural and symbolic myths Link to Durkheim on myth and ritual- Myth & Ritual allow people to vent their emotions in a fairly safe and controlled manner Myths galvanise otherwise heterogeneous groups by providing a sense of collective identity. Bogle (1973), in a study of representations of Black people in American cinema, suggested that there are five dominant African-American stereotypes

20 The Uncle Tom Humiliatingly subservient. Loyal but stupid. Childlike, unthinking and fearful. The good servant In some African American communities "Uncle Tom" is a slur used to disparage a Black person who is humiliatingly subservient or deferential to White people.

21 The Coon Caricature Derived from raccoon. 3 types- pure coon, pickaninny and uncle remus Most derogatory stereotype. Black men depicted as lazy man-child. To blame for own position.

22 The Pickaninny caricature. Infantilisation of black men and women. Pickaninnies portryed with bulging eyes, wild hair, red lips, and wide mouths into which they stuffed huge slices of watermelon. routinely shown on postcards, posters, and matchboxes being chased or eaten. portrayed as buffoons often running from alligators and toward fried chicken.

23 Uncle Remus harmless, friendly stereotype, given to 'quaint, naive and comic philosophising'

24 The tragic Mulatto Mostly women. Ashamed of own blackness Attempting, hopelessly, to pass as white. Often a seductress whose beauty drove White men to rape her Would be deserted when her true racial origins were discovered.

25 The Mammy Aunt Chloe (uncle Toms cabin) - nurturing and protective of "her" white family Neglects own children. self-sacrificing, fat, asexual, good- humored, a loyal cook and housekeeper

26 The Brute caricature Portrays Black men as innately savage, animalistic, destructive, and criminal The brute is a fiend and a sociopath, Black men are depicted as hideous, terrifying predators who target helpless victims, White women potential victims "A bad negro is the most horrible creature upon the earth, the most brutal and merciless." (Charles Smith 1897)

27 these types of stereotypical images are deeply ambivalent - they are both comforting and threatening to the white observer (Hall 1997). they provide a series of convenient roles for the white representation of black people. All of them play into white fantasies of moral, spiritual and mental superiority Harris (2003). These stereotypes repicated in contemporary contexts

28 Modern racist Images The black dope fiend The Muslim fanatic. Ganster rapper. The other represented as dangerous, violent and deviant. New racism or Old racism? How much has changed?

29 Eroticisation Black men are consistently portrayed in the white media in a sexualized, primitivist manner super-masculine images appeal to white audiences, who simultaneously fear them and are fascinated by them' (hooks 1990) Black Women as promiscuous, sexually insatiable, exotic, wild, alluring and morally corrupt. David Pilgrim (2003) Jezebel stereotype used during slavery as a rationalisation for sexual relations between White men and Black women, especially sexual unions involving slavers and slaves.

30 The Jezebel Promiscous and predatory. seductive, alluring, worldly, beguiling, tempting, and lewd. used during slavery as a rationalisation for sexual relations between White slave owners and Black female slaves.

31 1973

32 Impact of representation Hall (1995) Black men often adopt what he calls a caricature in reverse a kind of exaggerated hyper ethnicity which appears to conform to many of these stereotypes Eg Black macho of Blaxploitation cinema, gangsta rap

33 Impact of representation 2 Julien and Mercer Certain myths about Black male sexuality are maintained not by the imposition of force from "above," but by the very people who are dominated by them however the hegemonic repertoire of images of Black masculinity, from docile "Uncle Tom" to "Superspade" heroes like Shaft, have been forged in and through the histories of slavery, colonialism and imperialism. macho" or "toughness" used as a means of survival to cope with the repressive, violent and destructive power West- machismo and toughness are necessary tools for survival in a hostile and violent white culture.

34 Conformity, subversion and resistance. Apparent conformity Subtle subversion of images Rascist stereotypes turned upside down Appropriation of ascribed labels Not passive acquiescence those that are ascribed an other identity are active in subverting meanings and appropriating symbolic constructs.

35 Conclusion. Debates around representation are complex. Images highly ambivalent. Processes and practices of representation have to be situated in an historical context. Not just about hatred but Power. Dominant images have their roots in our colonial history Racist representation involves what Hall calls fetishism and Disavowal Fetishism involves the substitution of an object for some dangerous hidden force. Disavowal is a strategy by means of which a powerful fascination or desire is simultaneously indulged and denied. Not enough just to replace negative images with postive ones.

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