Racing Research, Researching Race
EPUB EBook by Karl Ittmann
EBook DescriptionI read this book to prepare myself for a research project I'm involved in on issues of racial justice. Racing Research, Researching Race EPUB EBookI figured, if I'm going to be a researcher, I better know what the hell I'm doing and went about compiling a list of must- EPUBreads about researching race.This collection of critical essays was the first one in that pile.
The following review of the book sums up what I found when I read it -
"A remarkable collection of essays interrogating the political, methodological and ethical dilemmas of conducting research in racially stratified societies. These theoretically astute and ethnographically rich case studies compellingly demonstrate how the production of knowledge is framed and mediated by the racialized subject positions held by social scientists. Racing Research, Researching Race will no doubt incite a critical and long overdue discussion of the racial politics of ethnographic fieldwork."
-Steven Gregory, author of Black Corona, and Professor of Africana and American Studies at New York University
The thing is, I'm not really in a position to engage in the "critical and long overdue discussion" referenced in the review, and most of what I read seemed like common sense to me, perhaps because this is the kind of academic inquiry that influences work in the field of racial justice advocacy, my chosen field. Regardless, I found it interesting, but not that interesting.Mostly, I got into the stories.The methodologies part of the read was less compelling to me.
By the end of the book, however (and yes, I did read it cover to cover, bibliography and all), I realized that as common sensical as the methodological tips contained in the book seemed to be to me, I am one of a very small number of people in the world who have careers dedicated almost entirely to racial justice.For the rest of us, I'm guessing this would be big news, mainly because of the way in which it challenges us to examine the way our identities affect our perspectives, and how those perspectives, in turn, shape our understandings of ourselves and our real and potential impact on the world.
In my experience, most people never consider their identities until one of two things happens.One, that one's identity makes one a target for oppression, or, two, that one's identity-based entitlements feel like they are being threatened.So, one suddenly starts to think carefully about what it means to be, let's say, Native Hawaiian when white folks come along and inform you that their whiteness entitles them to take over your kingdom.Similarly, one starts to consider the entitlements of whiteness when one perceives that s/he has been denied a job because of affirmative action.
The challenge this book presents us with is summed up in the forward by Troy Duster.In it, Mr. Duster recalls "the unfortunate tendency" he's witnessed among his white colleagues in sociology to characterize the research of students of color studying their own ethnic groups as "mere autobiographical sociology," while not lodging the same criticism against white students studying white people. Mr. Duster offers as the example of a colleague who reacted negatively to an Indian student's interest in studying a community in India as "autobiographical sociology."Mr Duster points out that India has more than 930 million people, more than three times the size of the U.S.
The essays in the book cover a lot of ground, including the difficulties of researching within one's own ethnic group and across ethnic groups for people of color and white people, the eroticization of difference, the impact of age and gender on one's research, and a couple of interesting bits about the impact of a research subject's political beliefs as in one essay by a white person studying white power groups.In the course of it all, ethical and political issues are raised, and the reader is challenged to consider how identity plays a role in shaping knowledge.
For all that it covers and what it implies, I say this is a good read.Everyone in the social change and progressive public policy fields should at least give it a skim, especially, but not exclusively, white people. Like this book? Read online this: White People Kissing in the Rain, Researching Sustainability.
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