On Whiteness

Edited by Nicky Falkof and Oliver Cashman-Brown
ISBN: 978-1-84888-105-1
File type: eBook: pdf

The essays in this book cover an astonishing range of subject matter, from mental health and plastic surgery to literature, music, political philosophy, performance, popular culture and history. They interrogate the dominance of whiteness as far afield as Turkey, South Africa and Cuba, exposing the underpinnings of white privilege and considering its global consequences.


Stemming from the first Whiteness: Exploring Critical Issues conference, held in July 2011, this collection of essays brings together an impressive range of academic work on issues surrounding whiteness in culture, politics, identification and experience. In an area of criticism that has hitherto been largely focused on the UK and US, these writings expand the remit of critical whiteness studies into Scandinavia, South Africa, Turkey, Cuba and beyond. They take in areas as diverse as birdwatching, Asian women’s cosmetic surgery choices, Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado and the experience of white ‘car guards’ in Durban, South Africa, alongside analyses of literature, cinema, theory, history, performance and politics. The work contained in this volume interrogates both the ubiquitous invisibility of whiteness and the critical tendency to over-emphasise that invisibility, examining the structures of effect of white privilege as well as the conceptual and ideological content of the idea of ‘whiteness’ itself.

Table of Contents

Nicky Falkof and Oliver Cashman-Brown

PART 1: Colonialism, Imperialism and Globalisation

‘White Sugar’ against ‘Yellow Peril’: Consuming for National Identity and Racial Purity
Stefanie Affeldt

Uncanny Ghosts: Writing Whiteness in Marie NDiaye
Clarissa Behar

Black Invasion and White Nemesis: Racialised Pirate Images and the Meaning of Changed Skin Colou
Sonja Schillings

Writing Whiteness in an Australian Context: The Subversion of Race, Civilisation and Savagery in Richard Flanagan’s Historical Novels Gould’s Book of Fish and Wanting
Nina Liewald

The White Man’s Microphone: Hugh Tracey, Types of Whiteness and African Music
Paulette Coetzee

A Transnational Whiteness? New Middle Classes, Globalism and Non-European ‘Whiteness’
Sedef Arat-Koç

The Social Construction of Whiteness and Blackness in Contemporary Cuba: A Note on Social Sovereignty and the Order of Othernes
Siv Elin Ånestad

PART 2: Gendered Whitenesses

Performing Southern Female Whiteness: Women’s Groups in Massive Resistance
Rebecca Brückmann

‘What’s Best For My Child’: Whiteness and Motherhood
Maja Lilja

Entering the Ninja: New Cultural Strategies of the White South African Male
Nicky Falkof

The (In)Visible Whiteness of Beauty
Alice Yeow

Kurdish Migrant Women and the Re-Conceptions of Race within Forms of Feminism
Toni Wright

The Gendered Hyper-Visibility of Whiteness in Whiteout and 30 Days of Night
Hannah Hamad

PART 3: Cultures of White and Non-White

Selling Finnishness - National Constructions of Whiteness in Finnish TV Advertisements
Miia Rantala

Pakeha Identity and Whiteness: The Case of Pakeha Workers at Māori Television
Sue Abel

Neoliberalising White Supremacy: Arizona 2010
Brandy L. Jensen

Birds of a Feather: The Whiteness of Birding
Oliver Cashman-Brown

‘A Japanese Young Man’: British Aesthetes Turning Japanese in Gilbert’s Libretto forThe Mikado
Anne Babson

Autism, Rhetoric, and Whiteness
Paul Heilker

PART 4: Performing/Passing/Enacting

Untying the Ties That Bind Her: Re-Negotiating Personal and Collective Ideologies of Gendered Whiteness in Fin-De-Siècle and Post-Apartheid South Africa
Leora Farber

Passing before the White Gaze: Performances of Whiteness in Jessie Redmon Fauset’s Comedy: American Style
Lise Sorensen

De-Reifying Representations of White Male Identity in Post-Apartheid Popular Performance Practices: Jack Parow
Sonja Smit

Pleasantville and the Meaning of Colour
Ewan Kirkland

Kopano Matlwa’s Coconut and the Dialectics of Race in South Africa: Interrogating Images of Whiteness and Blackness in Black Literature and Culture
Aretha Phiri

PART 5: Strategies of Managing Whiteness

Troubling White Englishness in South Africa
Anthea Garman

Trans-Racial Adoption: The Fantasy of the Global Family
James Arvanitakis and Tobias Hübinette

‘The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House’: Frantz Fanon on Whiteness in Hegemonic Social Philosophy
Vanessa Eileen Thompson

Multiculturalism and Culture as a Technique of Whiteness
Deirdre Howard-Wagner

Man in Mirror: ‘Whiteness’ as Perceived by Lower Class White South Africans
Lydia Carol Dekker

Reading The Secret River: Whiteness, Nation, Belonging
Jane Durie

PART 6: White Hope, White Fear

‘Colour-Blind Childhood’?: Living Racialised Ethnicities in a Primary School Setting in Oslo, Norway
Mari Rysst

The Racial Institutionalisation of Whiteness in Contemporary Canadian Public Policy
Delores V. Mullings

Emotions of White Racism
Lisa B. Spanierman

White Melancholia and Swedish Whiteness: The Mourning of the Loss of ‘Old Sweden’ and the Passing of ‘Good Sweden’
Tobias Hübinette and Catrin Lundström

I Once Was Lost But Now I’m Found: Exploring the White Feminist Confessional
Emily R. M. Lind

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About the Authors/Editors

Nicky Falkof is a white Jewish South African who lives and works in South Africa and the UK. She is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at the Centre for Visual Identities in Art and Design, University of Johannesburg. She has a PhD in Humanities and Cultural Studies from the London Consortium, University of London, and is a former Teaching Fellow at Birkbeck College. Her primary research interest is South African whiteness, particularly the effects of the collapse of apartheid on white people and culture in the late 1980s and early 1990s. She also writes on whiteness and masculinity in mass popular culture, including Conan the Barbarian, Avatar, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the films of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Oliver Cashman-Brown is a PhD student at the Warner School of Education at the University of Rochester. His research interests include anti-hegemonic social studies curricula, whiteness and heteronormativity in teaching and teacher education, neo-liberalism and nonviolence. He serves as the Education Coordinator of the LGBTQ SIG and as a university supervisor. He has taught college-level courses at Warner and SUNY Brockport. Prior to coming to Warner, he was a social studies teacher in Aptos, California and Ithaca, New York. He is the secretary of the New York State Council for the Social Studies. He is also an accomplished rock’n’roll ukulele player.

Key Words

Whiteness, race, culture, politics, multiculturalism, racism

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