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Lecture 6

Lecture 6 - What is Race? What is Ethnicity?

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Linda Mc Nenly

The Cool Culture Soul Machine: The Anthropology of Everyday Life Lecture 5 – May 22, 2013 What is Race? What is Ethnicity? Readings for todays lecture: - Neofotistos, Vasiliki (2008). “The Muslim, the Jew, and the African American: America and the production of alterity in Borat.” Anthropology News 24(4): 13- 17. - Russell, John (2013). “Don’t It Make my Black Face Blue: Race, Avatars, Albescence and the Transnational Imaginary.” Journal of Popular Culture, 46(1): 192-217 REVIEW of what we have learnt so far: - How do humans produce meaning? o We looked at the reduction of meaning through signs and symbols, through discourse, participation strategies, performance, and imitation - In terms of what meanings are produced, we took a look at Canadian Identity, the appropriation of First Nations in Canadian Identity, production of Native Americans, and how “others” are produced - We looked at semiotic strategies, anthropological concepts, and many definitions Outline of todays Lecture: 1) How are race and ethnicity produced in film? - What are the stereotypes? - How are they produced? (Invisibility/absence, albescence, reassignment, through allegory, the grotesque, and more!) 2) Can popular culture offer a critique on stereotypes of race and ethnicity? 3) Are we breaking away from the stereotypes, or re-instilling the same old stereotypes in new and subtle (or overt) ways? - Examples in readings: District 9, Avatar, Borat - Film: Mickey Mouse Monopoloy Think about “Race” - Ideology: the beliefs and values of a society that are a product of socio- cultural and political processes, which masks this historical process, resulting in the seemingly natural and unchangeable nature of these beliefs and values o Now because it happens though social processes and political processes, the things that we do and experience are masked through time o Therefore appears normal (because they seem familiar and occurred through time) o In fact, they are not natural or commonplace, there are the result of these process through time. The Cool Culture Soul Machine: The Anthropology of Everyday Life Lecture 5 – May 22, 2013 Quotes from the Russell article to start off: - “Speculative fiction… should by definition provide a canvas to give free rein to the imagination, to boldly go where no trop has gone before” (Russell 2013: 192) o So he is saying that through speculative fiction, sci-fi, this imaginative genre, by its very nature, its should permit us the idea to move beyond the imaginative and our understanding of the world and diversity o You should see ethnicity and race representing in non-stereotypical ways. But in fact he finds that it produces commonplace about ideologies about race based on what already exists in popular culture o And that is because popular culture is a product of humans, is also in meshed in historical context, social processes and political processes through time o Hence the representations are basically mirroring the ideologies in our society - This genre of movie has “… consistently failed (or refused) to imagine blacks in ways that seriously challenge existing stereotypes of blackness and that subvert the imaginative and assumptive architecture of contemporary racial discourse” (Russell 2013:192) o These representations are subtle (not really in your face), and that they work through subtly o It is cemented by our discourse Images and Ideologies of Blackness: Invisibility and Concealment - Because blackness is invisivile and concealed, the audience doesn’t realize the prevalence of them Avatarism and Buffonary - Avatarism: “black” physically absent, represented as something else - Star Wars and Transformers “… utilize burlesque to ethnically and racially
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