Critical Whiteness Studies

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Critical Whiteness Studies responds to the invisible and normative nature of whiteness in predominantly white societies, criticizing racial and ethnic attribution of non-white subjects who have to grapple with their deviation from the set norm, and opening the discussion on white privilege that results from being the unmarked norm (Kerner: 278). As Conway and Steyn elaborate, Critical Whiteness Studies aims to “redirect[...] the scholarly gaze from the margins to the centre” (283) and, more specifically, to interrogat[e][...] the centre of power and privilege from which racialization emanates but which operates more or less invisibly as it constructs itself as both the norm and ideal of what it means to be human. (ibid.) Thus, Critical Whiteness…show more content…
W.E.B. DuBois, one of the pioneers in Critical Whiteness Studies, emphasizes the interrelation between “the relative invisibility of whiteness” (ibid.) and the maintenance of white supremacy, which underlines the political nature of Critical Whiteness Studies insofar as its premise is to question and challenge existing societal structures. According to Frankenberg, whiteness is a construction or an identity that is inseparable from racialized dominance (ibid.: 9). White therefore refers to a position in racism as a system for categorizing racialized groups and for the identity formation of the subject positions within racism…show more content…
This framework emphasizes the importance of regarding white subjects in relation to the racialized others, as “white identities are both externally and internally constituted [...]” (ibid.), meaning that they are not only constructed within themselves but always in relation to and to distinguish themselves from non-white subject positions. The interrelation between the external and the internal constitution of white identities are examined in an attempt to understand “race anxieties, guilt, terror [...] [and the] repetition [of certain behavioral patterns]” in white subjects (ibid.: 746). In the psychoanalytic framework of Critical Whiteness Studies, it is assumed that “race as a fiction is seated in deep-rooted white anxieties” (Nayak: 748) and that it “is the tortured result of splintered fantasies projected onto an imaginary Other.” (Seshadri-Crooks, qtd. in Nayak: 748) According to Fanon, white fantasies of blackness in their doubling of fear and desire are prevalent in white subject formation (Nayak: 748, Fanon: 225) Thus, by attributing Blacks as being “violent, hypersexual, athletic and so on” (Nayak: 748), whites in contrast
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