White Women, Race Matters
Led by Helena Reckitt
The September meeting of the Feminist Duration Reading Group focuses on the generative work of US-based, UK-born sociologist Ruth Frankenberg on the construction of whiteness and femininity. For White Women, Race Matters: The Social Construction of Whiteness (1993) Frankenberg conducted life history interviews with white American women from a range of backgrounds. These personal narratives highlight how race structures the lives of white as well as Black subjects, shaping daily experiences along with the sense of cultural identity and belonging.
Resonating with the criticism levelled by women of colour at white feminism’s universalising tendencies, Frankenberg defamiliarizes the unmarked categories of white womanhood, making visible the constructed nature of racialized identity and experience, dominance and privilege. Foregrounding the ways in which her subjects articulate racial difference, Frankenberg concludes that racial and cultural identities are not binary or essential, but dynamic and transformable.
"Attention to the construction of white 'experience' is important, both to transforming the meaning of whiteness and to transforming the relations of race in general. This is crucial in a social context in which the racial order is normalized and rationalized rather than upheld by coercion alone. Analyzing the connections between white daily lives and discursive orders may help make visible the processes by which the stability of whiteness – as location of privilege, as culturally normative space, and as standpoint – is secured and reproduced."
Together we will read Chapter 7, 'Questions of Culture and Belonging', together with the 'Epilogue.' Readings can be found here, together with one review and the Appendix for reference. https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1KkR0m6yOCnFRYavMcbzscHpW5wocv3a7?usp=sharing
No advance reading is required, texts are read aloud during the meeting.
The meeting will take place in the home of a friend of the Feminist Duration Reading Group in Wapping, Tower Hamlets, east London. We will cook and share a vegan meal, as well as read and talk.
Please email feministduration@gmail if you can attend to receive details of the address along with what you can bring to contribute to the vegan meal.