Feb 20

Exploring the Dynamics of Race and Racialization

Guest Lecturer: Jemima Pierre, Woodson Predoctoral Fellow

Jemima Pierre is a Ph.D. Candidate in the African Diaspora Program in Anthropology at the University of Texas, Austin. Currently, she is in residence here at UVA as a Predoctoral Research Fellow at the Carter G. Woodson Institute working on her dissertation which is entitled: "African Immigrants in the U.S. and the Dynamics and Politics of Racialization."


ABSTRACT:

What does it mean to say that the U.S. is a racialized society? How do we understand the historical reality that the racial category "Black" was engraved upon people whose "pre-slavery" identities were specifically Ibo, Yoruba, Fulani, etc.? In short, what does it mean to be Black in the U. S.? In this section, we will explore more generally, the construction of contemporary racial identities, and more specifically, the notion of "Black" identity. To do this, we will discuss the idea of racialization and investigate the various historical and social processes by which it occurs. Racialization is perhaps the most significant process of racial identity creation and maintenance in the U. S. More importantly, racialization shows us that race (and racial identity) is not only a social construction, but also a historical one. This section will first chart the historical forces at play in the construction of contemporary racial identity and then use the experiences of various immigrant groups of African descent to highlight the specific processes that allow people to become racialized.

OUTLINE/GUIDE FOR STUDENTS

I. Defining race

II. Understanding racial formation theory
    a. Understanding race within racial formation theory
        1. Race as the organizing principle of social relationships in the U.S.
        2. Race as a phenomenon whose meaning is constantly in flux and constested throughout social life.
        3. Race as socially and historically constructed
        4. Interpreting the meaning of race not in terms of definition, but in terms of racial formation processes
    b. Defining racial formation theory: what is racial formation and how does it work?
        1. Racialization (the construction of racial identities) is chief among the processes of racial formation
        2. Two levels of racialization i. set of representations ii. relationship to power
        3. Other processes where racial meanings are given and identities assigned
        4. Applying racial formation theory to contexts outside of U.S.

III. Historical manifestations of racialization (examples from the U.S.: slavery, immigration)

IV. Ethnographic interpretations of racialization of some immigrant groups of African descent

V. Understanding racial and diasporic identity formations
    a. defining an African diaspora
    b. linking African diaspora theory to racial formation theory