MIT 2200 Lecture: Race and Representation
MIT 2200 Lecture: Race and Representation

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Western University
Media, Information and Technoculture
Media, Information and Technoculture 2200F/G
Kane Faucher

MIT 2200 Lecture November 21, 2011 Race and Representation *For exam you can bring one page of notes (double-sided, typed or written) Traditional Views of Race - Theories of descent - race/ethnicity are primordial (inherited, natural, essential) elements of identity rooted in body. - passed on through blood connections and biology - immutable and unchanging - Theories of consent - race/ethnicity is defined by self ascription and subjective belief - constituted by shared social, cultural values and experiences - not a biological attribute Cornell West -- Natal Alienation - African American ‘identity’ was born in slavery - Institutionalized exclusion and cultural degradation - robbed of cultural traditions, meanings, communal ties - viewed as commodities - treated like animals - African Americans didn’t inherit their race, they’ve been shaped by history which has constructed their identity - They were subsequently born into an alienated position Institutionalized Racism/Racial Project - Resources are distributed along racial lines - Cultural meanings and representations are deployed and fixed to support certain interests (maintain White domination) - People are born into a systematic structural domination sanctioned by State and ISAs are rendered invisible and silenced - They struggle to define themselves Critical Conceptions of Race - “Race is a concept which signifies and symbolizes social conflicts and interests by referring to different types of human bodies” - Michael Omi and Howard Winart Race Vs. Gender - Like gender, race attributes social and cultural meanings to different kinds of bodies - But race, unlike gender, doesn’t refer to biological differences - Racial differences are even more arbitrary than those of gender - “The sanction of biology contained in sexual difference, can not obtain when one is speaking of racial difference” Franz Fanon - Born in Martinique in 1925, middle class - Trained as psychiatrist in France - Moved to Algeria in 1953 - Resigned to join Algerian War for independence; advocated armed struggle - What happens to ‘self’ when it encounters aggressive other? - Remember the mirror phase: - We develop a sense of coherent “I” through an illusion “the look from the place of the other” - We require presence of imagined gaze of the other to form our identity - Identity is preconscious and never complete - Seeing difference is always ambivalent: part of us wants to consume them, but part of us is afraid of their difference. - This produces stereotypes - Racism interrupts the mirror stage because the White other refuses to mirror the Black subjects humanity back to him - “Look mom, a negro!” -- a form of negative interpellation -- ‘negro’ identity is a product of a history of dehumanization - Simultaneously confirming
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