Whiteness in Question: the Anatomy of a Taxonomy Across Transnational Contexts
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The idea of whiteness has been used in the Anglo-American, middle-class, liberal settings to denote an essential group appurtenance on phenotypical and cultural terms and to code such appurtenance as a universal marker of privilege that cuts across any other differentiating axes that allocate societal advantages and disadvantages. The assumption that racialized skin colour and low social status are inferiorizing attributes of racialization, while white skin colour and high social class are privileged attributes of whiteness, has constructed the idea of whiteness as one that encompasses and supersedes the idea of class. Immigrants to Anglo-American multicultural societies have always been relegated to the margins of their host societies, and their economic exclusion, in particular, has been theorized as resulting from their racialization. This paper, however, compares and contrasts the marginalization of two migrant populations—namely, high-skilled immigrants to Canada, and Eastern European low-skilled immigrants to the UK—to problematize the assumption that whiteness has an essential sameness that universally cuts across other stratifying axes in society, and to show that an essentialist understanding of whiteness disregards class-based explanations for the economic exclusion of migrants, explanations which are often bound with the global circulation of capital and the dominant economic position of the rich nations from the Global North.
Published Version: Bejan, R. (2022). Whiteness in Question: the Anatomy of a Taxonomy Across Transnational Contexts. Dialectical Anthropology, 46(3), 347-372. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10624-022-09665-6