Getting Talked into (and out of) Whiteness


for Members

Getting Talked into (and out of) Whiteness

Monday, October 23, 2017

Wenner Gren Foundation, 470 Park Ave South, 8th Floor, New York

Presented By

The Anthropology Section


It has long been recognized by social scientists that race is a socially, culturally, and politically constructed system for producing and reproducing inequality (Goodman, Moses, & Jones 2012; Harrison 1995; Omi & Winant 1994). Crucially, the racial system is sustained in large part through language (Bonilla-Silva 2003; Domingúez 1986; Hill 2008; Rosa forthcoming) by creating marked social categories that can then be targeted for material and ideological control. At the center of the process of racialization is whiteness, which constitutes the foundation of the entire racial system precisely because it is the often invisible and unmarked hegemonic norm as well as the apex of the racial hierarchy (Harris 1995; Lipsitz 1998; Twine & Gallagher 2008). In recent decades the growing political power of racialized groups has unsettled the hegemonic position of whiteness, leading to the linguistic repositioning of whiteness—as visible and vulnerable rather than unmarked and dominant—as a strategy for maintaining racial privilege (Bucholtz 2011).

This presentation examines the linguistic strategies that uphold whiteness as the linchpin of the racial system as well as the counterstrategies that work to undo this system of power. The analysis considers two forms of racializing language: talk about race, or racially referential language, and talk that enacts race, or racially indexical language. Focusing on the uneasy racial positioning of white youth in California both in the 1990s and in the present day, I argue that a political critique of the language of whiteness must be at the center of any effort to challenge white supremacy.

Time of Lectures: Buffet dinner at 5:45 PM. ($20 contribution for dinner guests/free for students).

Lectures begin at 6:30 PM and are free and open to the public.


Wenner-Gren Foundation
470 Park Avenue South, 8th Floor
New York, NY 10016

Preregistration through the New York Academy of Sciences website, or by phone (212-298-8640 or 212-298-8600) is strongly recommended since seating is limited.


Nonmember Student, Undergrad, Grad, Fellow
Member Student, Post-Doc, Fellow


Getting Talked into (and out of) Whiteness
Angela Reyes, Professor and Deputy Chair, English Department, Hunter College, CUNY and member of doctoral faculty in Anthropology, CUNY Graduate Center