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Racial Imperatives


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<P>Nadine Ehlers examines the constructions of blackness and whiteness cultivated in the U.S. imaginary and asks, how do individuals become racial subjects? She analyzes anti-miscegenation law, statutory definitions of race, and the rhetoric surrounding the phenomenon of racial passing to provide critical accounts of racial categorization and norms, the policing of racial behavior, and the regulation of racial bodies as they are underpinned by demarcations of sexuality, gender, and class. Ehlers places the work of Michel Foucault, Judith Butler’s account of performativity, and theories of race into conversation to show how race is a form of discipline, that race is performative, and that all racial identity can be seen as performative racial passing. She tests these claims through an excavation of the 1925 "racial fraud" case of Rhinelander v. Rhinelander and concludes by considering the possibilities for racial agency, extending Foucault’s later work on ethics and "technologies of the self" to explore the potential for racial transformation.</P>
<P>Introduction<BR>1. Racial Disciplinarity<BR>2. Racial Knowledges: Securing the Body in Law<BR>3. Passing through Racial Performatives<BR>4. Domesticating Liminality: Somatic Defiance in Rhinelander v. Rhinelander<BR>5. Passing Phantasms: Rhinelander and Ontological Insecurity<BR>6. Imagining Racial Agency<BR>7. Practicing Problematization: Resignifying Race<BR>Bibliography<BR>Index</P>



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Published 18 May 2012
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EAN13 9780253005366
Language English

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© 2012 by Nadine Ehlers
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Ehlers, Nadine. Racial imperatives : discipline, performativity, and struggles against subjection / Nadine Ehlers. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-0-253-35656-7 (cloth : alk. paper) ISBN 978-0-253-22336-4 (paper : alk. paper) ISBN 978-0-253-00536-6 (e-book) 1. United States—Race relations. 2. African Americans—Race identity. 3. Whites—Race identity. 4. Racism—United States. 5. Race discrimination—Law and legislation—United States. 6. Race—Philosophy. 7. Discipline—Philosophy. 8. Performative (Philosophy) 9. Jones, Alice Beatrice—Trials, litigation, etc. 10. Passing (Identity)—United States—Case studies. I. Title. E184.A1E37 2011 305.800973—dc23 2011030457
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In memory of my mother, Maria Ehlers
1 Racial Disciplinarity
2 Racial Knowledges: Securing the Body in Law
3 Passing through Racial Performatives
4 Domesticating Liminality: Somatic Defiance inRhinelander v. Rhinelander
5 Passing Phantasms:Rhinelanderand Ontological Insecurity
6 Imagining Racial Agency
7 Practicing Problematization: Resignifying Race
Notes Bibliography Index
This bookwould not have been possible without the support, friendship, and guidance of Joseph Pugliese (Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia). I am extremely grateful for his unwavering encouragement and his political commitment to the urgency of academic writing, which has always challenged and inspired me. For their reading of drafts of an earlier incarnation of this project, and their extensive and invaluable criticism, I would like to thank Elin Diamond (Rutgers University), Dwight McBride (Northwestern University), and Moya Lloyd (then at Queen Mary, University of London and now at Loughborough University). The Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality, in the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University provided me with the opportunity to continue working on this project as a Visiting Scholar, and to teach material from the book in a summer course. Don Kulick, the then director of the Center, and Philip Brian Harper who was then director of the Department of Social and Cultural Analysis generously supported my work. I would also like to thank my colleagues in the Women’s and Gender Studies Program at Georgetown University—particularly Leslie Byers, Pamela Fox, Dana Luciano, You-Me Park, and Elizabeth Velez—for the community they provide and their advocacy on my behalf. I would like to thank Robert Sloan, Editorial Director at Indiana University Press, for his enthusiasm for this project. I also thank Sarah Wyatt Swanson, assistant sponsoring editor, for her dedication to detail, and Frank B. Wilderson III and an anonymous reader for the press, who productively engaged the project in ways that helped me to clarify my arguments. My deepest gratitude goes to the friends who sustain me: Kirsty Nowlan, my rock and my academic interlocutor; Donette Francis, an intellectual ally, and a steadfast and enabling support; and Shiloh Krupar, who has given me a new energy for academic inquiry. Together they have read more drafts of this project than a friendship deserves, and their encouragement and critical engagement with the book (and its surrounding questions) strengthened its outcome. Clare Armitage and Nikolai Haddad have provided crucial sustenance over our years of friendship and they have helped me craft this project in unanticipated ways. Four previously published essays of mine have lent materials to this book. Parts of them —in various rearrangements—appear in the book with the kind permission of the publishers. “Retroactive Phantasies: Discourse, Discipline, and the Production of Race,” Social Identities: Journal for the Study of Race, Nation, and Culture(2008): 333–347; “ 3 ‘Black Is’ and ‘Black Ain’t’: Performative Revisions of Racial ‘Crisis’,”Culture, Theory and Critiqueno. 2 (2006): 149–163; and “Hidden in Plain Sight: Defying Juridical 47, Racialization inRhinelander v. Rhinelander,”Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies1, no. 4 (2004): 313–334, have each been reproduced with the permission of Taylor and Francis Group and are available through the individual journals’ websites at http://www.informaworld.com. “Passing Phantasms/Sanctioning Performatives: (Re)Reading White Masculinity inRhinelander v. Rhinelander,”Studies in Law, Politics, and Society(2003): 63–91 is under the copyright of Elsevier and has been reproduced with 27 their permission. My family has lived with this project for many years and I thank them—Hans Ehlers, Duncan Ehlers, Domna Daciw, and Imogen Ehlers—for their endless and unconditional love. Most especially, I owe this book to the strength, courage, persistence, and resolute belief of my mother, Maria, who passed away before she could see the completion of this project. The book is dedicated to her.