Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Dialogues on Whiteness, Leisure and (Anti)Racism

Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Dialogues on Whiteness, Leisure and (Anti)Racism

Article excerpt

Recent interdisciplinary scholarship within ethnic studies, communication studies, cultural studies, critical legal studies and gender/women's studies (among others) has generated increased scholarly interest in interrogating the workings of whiteness in a variety of sites including sport and leisure. Originally presented as the George Butler Lecture in the Leisure Research Symposium at the 2008 National Recreation and Park Association Congress and Convention, this article highlights existing interdisciplinary cultural studies, critical race theory, and feminist scholarship. The goal of such engagement is to generate wider and more sustained dialogues about both the problems and possibilities of wrestling with whiteness. In that spirit, the ideas offered here were first presented at the Leisure Research Symposium in Baltimore, MD. At that time three colleagues - Nina Roberts, Kimberly Shinew and Corey Johnson - responded to and critiqued the points also made here.

This exchange can additionally be understood as an attempt to answer recent calls (Hylton, 2005; Kivel, 2005; Shinew, Stodolska, Floyd, Hibbler, Allison, Johnson, & Santos, 2006; Floyd, 2007; Floyd, Bocarro & Thompson, 2008) for leisure studies scholars to better incorporate race into their analyses, and expand theoretical and methodological boundaries to more adequately address the salience of race within 21st- century leisure contexts. Indeed Floyd, Bocarro and Thompson's (2008) recent review of the scholarship on race and ethnicity within five leisure studies journals - Leisure Sdence, Leisure Studiesjoumal of Leisure Research, Journal of Park and Recreation Administration, and Loisir et Société - found that between the journals' inceptions and 2005, a mere 4.5 % (150 of 3,369) of the articles featured race or ethnicity as a central focus. Compared to broader disciplinary trends, within these five journals "research on race and ethnicity in leisure remains limited relative to the literature as a whole" (Floyd, Bocarro & Thompson, 2008, p. 2). Floyd (2007) additionally suggests that there also appears to be a shift away from analyses that center race and racism toward less controversial studies that focus on ethnicity and cultural differences within leisure and recreational settings. This shift is in contrast to the scholarship on sport, which has pursued a much more "race-centered agenda" (Floyd, 2007, p. 250).

Suffice it to say, despite evidence of under-representation and critiques of existing scholarship, there is, of course, a body of scholarship that does interrogate the significance of race within leisure and recreational settings, and especially when leisure is understood in its broadest sense (Freysinger & Harris, 2006). Several useful overviews document the contributions of this scholarship (Floyd, 1998; Freysinger & Harris, 2006; Shinew, Stodolska, Floyd, Hibbler, Allison, Johnson, & Santos, 2006; Floyd, 2007; Floyd, Boccarro & Thompson, 2008). These overviews include Freysinger and Harris' (2006) trajectory of how race and ethnicity have been historically conceived and realized in leisure scholarship as representing four specific and yet overlapping foci. These themes move from the early invisibility of race in leisure research to specific scholarship that focuses on racial differences as constraining within leisure settings to writings which conceive of leisure as sites of opportunity and expressiveness - including opportunities for people of color to resist, challenge and transform the existing racial order. The final theme represents the "perceptions of racial difference/distinctiveness as a form of leisure" (p. 261) suggesting that race often serves as fodder for fantasy, pleasure and also discontent. Pleasure is often experienced via identifications with those similarly raced; however, people of color are psychologically and materially adversely affected when repeatedly confronted with demeaning and stereotypical racial representations. …

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