Mixed-Race, Post-Race: Gender, New Ethnicities, and Cultural Practices

Mixed-Race, Post-Race: Gender, New Ethnicities, and Cultural Practices

Mixed-Race, Post-Race: Gender, New Ethnicities, and Cultural Practices

Mixed-Race, Post-Race: Gender, New Ethnicities, and Cultural Practices

Synopsis

Social scientists claim that we now live in a 'post-race' society, where 'race' has been replaced by 'ethnicity'. Yet racism is endemic to British society and people often think in terms of 'black' and 'white'. With a marked rise in the number of children from mixed parentage, there is an urgent need to challenge simplistic understandings of 'race', nation and culture, and interrogate what it means to grow up in Britain and claim a 'mixed' identity.Focusing on mixed-race and inter-ethnic families, this book not only explores current understandings of 'race', but it shows, using innovative research techniques with children, how we come to 'read' race. What influence do photographs and television have on children's ideas about 'race'? How do children use memories and stories to talk about racial differences within their own families? How important is the home and domestic culture in achieving a sense of belonging? Ali also considers, through data gathered from teachers and parents, broader issues relating to the effectiveness of anti-racist and multicultural teaching in schools, and parental concerns over the social mobility and social acceptability of their children.Rigorously researched, this book is the first to combine children's accounts on 'race' and identity with contemporary cultural theory. Using fascinating case studies, it fills a major gap in this area and provides an original approach to writing on race.

Excerpt

It is not individuals who have experiences, but subjects who are constituted through experience.

j. Scott ‘Experience’, emphasis added

Researching the ways in which children (aged 8–11) make meaning from discursive repertoires of ‘race’ and ethnicity presented a particularly difficult set of methodological issues. In the first chapter, I showed how terminology relating to these issues is opaque and often used interchangeably. In addition, the relationships between what can be said about multiplicities is often a list of additive descriptors which brings us no nearer to understanding the experiences of mixedness, hi order to try to counteract the potential limitations of verbal accounts provided by interviews alone, I drew upon a range of methods for understanding children and families, including the use of visual methods. In this chapter I will outline the development of these epistemological and practical difficulties and how they affected the methods of research, particularly with children.

One of the most critical aspects of the research process was my own position within it and how it informed what I did. This and an awareness of my own representational power over the children (and parents and teachers) were the main elements of what I would loosely term ethical dilemmas. The research processes developed with a constant concern for the most sensitive way to access children's use of the discourses of ‘race’, ethnicity and culture as they worked them with and through their gendered, classed identifications. In the following sections I will show how accessing both schools and children in order to explore understandings and discussions of racialisation and identity was inflected by a range of theoretical issues. I will start by introducing the schools in which the research was carried out. Exploring meanings of ‘identity’ in young children meant encouraging them to speak for themselves. In order to achieve that I needed to develop a level of trust that facilitated open dialogue, yet I had a limited amount of time because of obvious pragmatic reasons.

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