Prompted by the discussion surrounding Rachel Dolezal’s NAACP resignation, this series of posts is about how and when we take performativity seriously…, and when it bows to interests in historical or experiential specificity.
Race, as many have pointed out for years, is not biological. This point raises questions about the basis on which it is determined. Is it ancestry, appearance, cultural practice, or something else? That complicated question has come to greater prominence in light of the media circus around Rachel Dolezal and her assertion of an African-American identification. While discussions of Dolezal often focus on the process of self-identification and strategic choices made in relation to that self-identification, I want to focus, instead, on the strategic nature of the act of ascribing identification to someone else. Continue reading “Strategic Ideologies”
Multiple cases of the shooting deaths of unarmed men (who often are African-American) in the streets of the United States at the hands of people who are supposedly working to protect others from violence (and who typically are not African-American) have generated important discussions about institutional racism, hatred, and the militarization of police. In “What White People Can Do About the Killing of Black Men in America,” an editor at the Huffington Post writes,
White Americans like me have to stop channel surfing all the outrageously bad news from around the world and focus on the death that is happening in our own cities to our fellow Americans.
Continue reading “Unspoken Nationalism”
On this Canada Day, we’d like to take moment and ensure that everyone knows the words to the Canadian national anthem — if only to get a free beer, should you ever come across one of these red refrigerators.
The unrivaled success of the modern identifier that goes by the name of nationalism is that it is reproduced and thereby reinforced at countless, intertwined sites — I recently posted briefly on the World Cup as one such site but it’s hardly the only one. Continue reading “Identifying in Unexpected Places”
I was thinking of writing a post on the World Cup as an exercise in unbridled nationalism… Continue reading “Go Team”
Today is Memorial Day in the U.S. — a federal holiday marking a time to remember the past sacrifices of members of the armed forces.
In many cases, of course, “sacrifice” is a euphemism for death.
But it’s also a day that marks blockbuster sales — “half-off tops and shorts!” Continue reading “Business as Usual”
This pic was making the rounds of social media the other day — have you seen it? It depicts the presidents of Brazil, Chile, Argentina today, and, at bottom, during the 1970s.
It speaks for itself. Right? Continue reading “A Woman’s Touch”
Recently, news sites and social media frequently discussed a February 2014 Public Religion Research Institute survey on LGBT issues (see Huffington Post, CNN). Some commentators have highlighted the assertion that some Millennials who identified as unaffiliated with a religion (sometimes described as Nones) reported that they left religious institutions, at least in part, because of the institutional opposition to LGBT equality. In essence, these commentators constructed these respondents as unified groups (according to arbitrary generations like Millennials and their response to one question as unaffiliated) in order to wield them as a weapon in an ideological battle. What particularly intrigued me, though, was how these constructed groups were objects peripheral, in a sense, to the ideological disputes in which they were being wielded as weapons. The central disputes were among people affiliating with religious institutions; those who identified as unaffiliated were, by being unaffiliated, marginal to the arguments. This example, then, becomes another case where constructed groups reflect the interests of those constructing the group identification rather than something inherent in the constructed group. Continue reading “Weapons in Ideological Battles”
George Washington’s Sacred Fire—in which Peter A. Lillback argues that “founding father” George Washington was a Christian and not a deist—garnered a great deal of media attention when first published in 2006. On amazon.com the book currently enjoys 165 user reviews, from readers asserting that the book is “awesome” and “indispencible” [sic] to readers asserting that the book is “illegitimate,” “junk,” and “propaganda.” Why does it matter if George Washington was a deist or a Christian? What’s at stake in the application of one of these two labels onto a figure long dead? Continue reading “The Politics of Choice”
If you’re in North America, at least, you can’t help but know that the Superbowl was last weekend — an annual celebration of football, yes, but also consumerism, since unveiling new and expensive-to-produce commercials has become part of its broadcast tradition.
This year Coke premiered an add in which “America the Beautiful” was sung in a variety of languages, while showing images of people who don’t look like you’re taken-for-granted white-bread citizens, and (predictably?) many who occupy various positions on the political right responded with varying degrees of outrage, demanding, for instance, that the song be sung “in American” — kind’a like saying “if the King James version was good enough for Jesus then it’s good enough for me.” Continue reading “The Last Word”