This volume collects interdisciplinary essays that examine the crucial intersection between whiteness as a privileged racial category and the various material practices (social, cultural, political, and economic) that undergird white ideological influence in America. In truth, the need to examine whiteness as a problem has rarely been grasped outside academic circles. The ubiquity of whiteness-its pervasive quality as an ideal that is at once omnipresent and invisible-makes it the very epitome of the mainstream in America. And yet the undeniable relationship between whiteness and inequality in this country necessitates a thorough interrogation of its formation, its representation, and its reproduction. Essays here seek to do just that work. Editors and contributors interrogate whiteness as a social construct, revealing the underpinnings of narratives that foster white skin as an ideal of beauty, intelligence, and power.
Contributors examine whiteness from several disciplinary perspectives, including history, communication, law, sociology, and literature. Its breadth and depth makes The Construction of Whiteness a refined introduction to the critical study of race for a new generation of scholars, undergraduates, and graduate students. Moreover, the interdisciplinary approach of the collection will appeal to scholars in African and African American studies, ethnic studies, cultural studies, legal studies, and more. This collection delivers an important contribution to the field of whiteness studies in its multifaceted impact on American history and culture.
Stephen Middleton, Starkville, Mississippi, is professor of history and director of African American studies at Mississippi State University. He is the author of The Black Laws: Race and the Legal Process in Ohio, 1787-1860. David R. Roediger, Lawrence, Kansas, is foundation professor of American studies and history at University of Kansas. He is the author of Seizing Freedom: Slave Emancipation and Liberty for All. Donald M. Shaffer, Starkville, Mississippi, is associate professor of African American studies and English at Mississippi State University. His work has appeared in the Southern Literary Journal and the Western Journal of Black Studies.