Travelling Ideologies: A Story of Whiteness

Open access

Abstract

Prompted by the observations of a European scholar in African-American studies living in South-East Asia, this article addresses the ideological value of whiteness with a view to understanding its apparently global aesthetic fascination and societal power. To this purpose, the article traces the European, American and Asian conceptualization and employment of the signs of whiteness. The first section investigates the correlated philosophical and scientific construction of whiteness as a racial signifier in Europe. The second section focuses on social and cultural practices of white vs. black identification and the critique thereof in the United States. The third section highlights the appeal of whiteness as a status signifier in Asia. Whiteness is commonly employed as a sign of superiority, assumed by the self or assigned to the other (within): the article suggests that such power derives from a common mystical symbolism, upheld by philosophy, sanctioned by science, implemented by social policy and marketed by corporations.

Appiah, Anthony. “The Uncompleted Argument: Du Bois and the Illusion of Race.” “Race” Writing and Difference. Ed. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. 21-37. Chicago and London: U. of Chicago P., 1985. Print.

Ashikari, Mikiko. “Cultivating Japanese Whiteness: The “Whitening” Cosmetics Boom and Japanese Identity.” Journal of Material Culture 10 (Mar. 2005): 73-91. Print.

Baldwin, James. Notes of a Native Son. New York: Dial Press, 1963. Print.

Berge, Pierre van den, and Peter Frost. “Skin Color Preference, Sexual Dimorphism, and Sexual Selection: A Case of Gene Culture Co-evolution?” Ethnic and Racial Studies 9 (1986): 87-113. Print.

Blumenbach, Johann Friedrich. De generis humani varietate nativa, 3rd edn. (1795), qtd. in Susanne Zantop, “The Beautiful, the Ugly, and the German: Race, Gender and Nationality in Eighteenth-Century Anthropological Discourse.” Gender and Germanness: Cultural Productions of Nation. Ed. Patricia Herminghouse and Magda Mueller. 21-36. Oxford: Berghahn, 1998. Print.

Bonilla-Silva, Eduardo. “The Invisible Weight of Whiteness: the Racial Grammar of Everyday Life in Contemporary America.” Ethnic and Racial Studies, 35.2 (2012): 173-194. Print.

Bourdieu, Pierre. Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP., 1984. Print.

Broek, Roelof van den, and Wouter J. Hanegraaff. Gnosis and Hermeticism from Antiquity to Modern Times. New York: State U. of New York P., 1998. Print.

Burckhardt, Titus. Alchemy: Science of the Cosmos – Science of the Soul. Trans. William Stoddart, Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1967. Print.

Burgin, Say. “Locating Douglass Fitch: The Roots of Color and Activist Traditions of United States Critical Whiteness Studies.” Critical Race and Whiteness Studies, 9.1 (2013): 1-19. Print.

Castro, Nestor. “Asia’s Obsession with White Skin Leaves a Black Mark.” Asian Pacific Post, 5 Nov. 2006. Web. 13 Jun. 2015.

Chada, Rhada and Paul Husband. The Cult of the Luxury Brand: Inside Asia’s Love Affair with Luxury. Boston: Nicholas Brealey Publishing, 2007. Print.

Cross, William E., Jr. Shades of Black: Diversity in African-American Identity. Philadelphia: Temple UP., 1991. Print.

DuBois, William Edward Burghard. The Conservation of Races and the Negro. 1897. A Penn State University Electronic Classics Series Publication. earlwright2.com (2007). Web. 13 Jun. 2015.

Dyer, Richard. White. London: Routledge, 1997. Print.

Dyson, Michael Eric. Reflecting Black: African-American Cultural Criticism. Minneapolis: U. of Minnesota P., 1993. Print.

Eagleton, Terry. “Nationalism: Irony and Commitment.” 1988. Nationalism, Colonialism and Literature. 23-40. Minneapolis: U. of Minnesota P., 1990. Print.

Fanon, Frantz. Black Skin, White Masks. Trans. Charles Lam Markmann. New York: Grove Press, 1967. Print.

Fuller, Thomas. “A Vision of Pale Beauty Carries Risks for Asia’s Women.” New York Times, 14 May 2006. Print.

Goon, Patricia, and Allison Craven. “Whose Debt? Globalization and Whitefacing in Asia.” Intersections: Gender, History and Culture in the Asian Context, 9 (Aug. 2003). murdoch.edu.au. Web. 13 Jun. 2015.

Grubow, Liz. “Marketing Matters: Chinese Culture and its Effect on Skin Care Trends in China.” GCIMagazine.com, 5 Sep. 2008. Web. 12 Jun. 2015.

Hall, Roland E. “The Bleaching Syndrome: African Americans’ Response to Cultural Domination Vis-à-vis Skin Color.” Journal of Black Studies, 26.2 (1995): 172-84. Print.

Harper, Douglas. Online Etymology Dictionary (2001), Web. 12 Jun. 2015.

Henderson, Carol E. Scarring the Black Body: Race and Representation in African American Literature. Columbia: U. of Missouri P., 2002. Print.

Hoetink, Harry. The Two Variants in Caribbean Race Relations. London: Oxford UP., 1967. Print.

hooks bell. “Postmodern Blackness.” Postmodern Culture 1.1 (Sep. 1990). africa.upenn.edu. Web. 19 Apr. 1994.

hooks, bell. Black Looks: Race and Representation. Boston: South End, 1992. Print.

hooks, bell. Yearning: Race, Gender and Cultural Politics. New York: Vintage, 1989. Print.

Humes, Karen, Nicholas A. Jones, and Roberto R. Ramirez. “Overview of Race and Hispanic Origin: 2010.” 2010 Census Briefs. Mar. 2011. Web. 12 Jun. 2015.

Jockey, Philippe. Le Mythe de la Grèce Blanche. Histoire d’un rêve occidental. Paris: Belin, 2013. Print.

Leistikow, Nicole. “Indian Women Criticize ‘Fair and Lovely’ Ideal.” Women’s eNews 28 Apr. 2003. Web. 11 Jun. 2015.

Leonardo, Zeus. “The Color of Supremacy: Beyond the Discourse of ‘White Privilege’.” Educational Philosophy and Theory 36.2 (2004): 137-152. Print.

Li, Eric P. H., Hyun Jeong Min, Russell W. Belk, Junko Kimura, and Shalini Bahl. “Skin Lightening and Beauty in Four Asian Cultures.” Advances in Consumer Research 35 (2008): 444-449. Print.

Locke, Alain. “The Negro in American Culture.” Black Voices. Ed. Abraham Chapman. 532-58. New York: New American Library, 1968. Print.

Lorde, Audre. “Age, Race, Class, and Sex: Women Redefining Difference.” Race, Class, and Gender: An Anthology. Ed. Margaret Andersen and Patricia Hill Collins. 495-502. Belmont: Wadsworth, 1992. Print.

McLaren, Peter. “White Terror and Oppositional Agency: Towards a Critical Multiculturalism.” Multiculturalism. A Critical Reader. Ed. David Theo Goldberg. 46-73. Oxford: Blackwell, 1995.

Miller, Laura. Beauty Up: Exploring Contemporary Japanese Body Aesthetics. Berkeley: U. of California P., 2006. Print.

Morrison, Toni. Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination. New York: Vintage Books, 1993. Print.

Nayak, Anoop. “Critical Whiteness Studies.” Sociology Compass 1.2 (2007): 737-55. Print.

Nelson, Dana. Word in Black and White: Reading “Race” in American Literature, 1638-1867. New York: Oxford UP., 1993. Print.

Painter, Nell Irvin. “Why White People are Called ‘Caucasian’?” Collective Degradation: Slavery and the Construction of Race. Proceedings of the Fifth Annual Gilder Lehrman Center International Conference at Yale University. 2003. Yale.edu. Web. 14 Jun. 2015.

Pan, Elysia. Beautiful White: An Illumination of Asian Skin-Whitening Culture. PhD Diss. Duke U., Apr. 2013. Print.

Roediger, David. Towards the Abolition of Whiteness. Essays on Race, Politics and Working Class History. London: Verso, 1994. Print.

Russell, Kathy, Midge Wilson, and Ronald E. Hall. The Color Complex: The Politics of Skin Color among African Americans. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1992. Print.

Rutherford, Jonathan. “A Place Called Home: Identity and Cultural Politics of Difference.” Identity: Community, Culture, Difference. Ed. Jonathan Rutherford. 9-27. London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1990. Print.

Saraswati, L. Ayu. “Cosmopolitan Whiteness: The Effects and Affects of Skin-Whitening Advertisements in a Transnational Women’s Magazine in Indonesia.” Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism 10.2 (2010): 15-41. Print.

Snowden, Frank M. Before Color Prejudice. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP., 1983. Print.

Steyn, Melissa and Daniel Conway. “Introduction: Intersecting Whiteness, Interdisciplinary Debates.” Ethnicities 10.3 (2010): 283-291. Print.

Tungate, Mark, Branded Beauty: How Marketing Changed the Way We Look. Philadelphia: Kogan Page, 2011. Print.

Turner, Bryan and Zheng Yangwen. The Body in Asia. Oxford: Berghahn, 2009. Print.

Wagatsuma, Hiroshi. “The Social Perception of Skin Color in Japan.” Daedalus, 96.2 (1967): 407-43. Print.

West, Cornel. “The New Cultural Politics of Difference”. October 53 (1990): 93-109. Print.

Linguaculture

The Journal of Linguaculture Centre for (Inter)cultural and (Inter)lingual Research, Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iasi

Journal Information

Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 214 214 21
PDF Downloads 208 208 13