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After Whiteness

Unmaking an American Majority

Mike Hill

Publication Year: 2004

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Read the Introduction.

"Beautifully written and rigorously argued, After Whiteness is the most important theoretical statement on white racial formation since 'whiteness studies' began its current academic sojourn. By reading debates about multiculturalism, ethnicity, and the desire for difference as part of the material practices of the U.S. university system, it engages questions of race, humanistic inquiry, intellectual labor, and the democratic function of critical thought. The result is a critically nuanced analysis that promises to solidify Mike Hill's reputation as one of the finest thinkers of his generation."
—Robyn Wiegman, Duke University

"Mike Hill's After Whiteness is an important, provocative and timely book."
Against the Current

"A lucid, fiercely argued, brilliantly conceived, richly provocative work in an emergent and growing area of cultural studies. After Whiteness sets new directions in American literary and cultural studies, and will become a landmark in the field."
—Sacvan Bercovitch, Harvard University

"Americanists across the disciplines will find Hill's analysis insightful and brilliant. A must for any scholar who wishes to, in Ralph Ellison's words, 'go to the territory.'"
—Sharon Holland, University of Illinois at Chicago

As each new census bears out, the rise of multiracialism in the United States will inevitably result in a white minority. In spite of the recent proliferation of academic studies and popular discourse on whiteness, however, there has been little discussion of the future: what comes after whiteness? On the brink of what many are now imagining as a post-white American future, it remains a matter of both popular and academic uncertainty as to what will emerge in its place.

After Whiteness aims to address just that, exploring the remnants of white identity to ask how an emergent post-white national imaginary figure into public policy issues, into the habits of sexual intimacy, and into changes within public higher education. Through discussions of the 2000 census and debates over multiracial identity, the volatile psychic investments that white heterosexual men have in men of color—as illustrated by the Christian men's group the Promise Keepers and the neo-fascist organization the National Alliance—and the rise of identity studies and diversity within the contemporary public research university, Mike Hill surveys race among the ruins of white America. At this crucial moment, when white racial change has made its ambivalent cultural debut, Hill demonstrates that the prospect of an end to whiteness haunts progressive scholarship on race as much as it haunts the paranoid visions of racists.

Published by: NYU Press


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

My first debt of thanks is to friends and family who buoyed my commitment to the writing of this book while I struggled under the usual, and not so usual, kinds of pressures. With unending support David and Sandra Hill watched me tiptoe—sometimes stumble—through the academic minefield they saw smoking from afar. Many other intimates and comrades hovered close by...

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Introduction: After Whiteness Eve

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pp. 1-18

The antiseptic setting of the Hyatt Dulles hotel must have reassured the suits and ties that, whatever else would be said, they were gathered in a gentlemanly way on behalf of “white genetic solidarity.” That archaic-sounding phrase summed up the American Renaissance (hereafter AR) conference held in Herndon, Virginia, one oddly mild February weekend in 2002. With nearly...

Part I: Incalculable Community: Multiracialism, U.S. Census 2000, and the Crisis of the Liberal State

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1.1: Labor Formalism

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pp. 21-26

The epigraph above from Du Bois, which I leave deliberately incomplete, is perhaps one of the most oft repeated aphorisms ever cited in contemporary scholarship on race. In that sense, to those familiar with such work, the phrase may sound a little worn. But then again, how else to begin to think about color and categorization, which of course includes thinking about whiteness,...

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1.2: Dissensus 2000

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pp. 27-42

In Langston Hughes’s short story “Census,” taken from the collection Simple’s Uncle Sam, Jesse B. Semple describes his encounter with a Harlem census taker a decade before the civil rights movement. Semple’s response to the enumerator is as minimal, at least at first, as it is uncooperative. “I am here,” he says, “in spite of all.” “All of what?” the census taker then responds. “Give me...

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1.3: The Will to Category

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pp. 43-54

No, the quote from Mayor Giuliani cited above was not given in response to the terrorist attacks on New York City on September 11. More than a year before that, the mayor addressed a relatively minor health-related issue, something more akin to human services than the Patriot Act. But what about the obligation to belong? In the Giuliani quote, identity and rights take on an...

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1.4: Rebirth of a Nation?

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pp. 55-66

The various endorsements of cultural miscegenation outlined above proclaim a new and more fully democratic moment in the history of U.S. race relations. That work, I have suggested, is a thinly veiled extension of the multiracial movement’s argument for public policy changes on how races should be counted, and how race should count.1 My point in connecting the...

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1.6: America, Not Counting Class

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pp. 67-72

Part One of this book began with a certain reluctance to repeat Du Bois’s famous maxim that “the problem of the twentieth century is . . .” et cetera. By way of introduction, my intention in leaving out the key term “color line” was to signal my sense of the overuse of this phrase. There has been no more repeated line in race scholarship over the last twenty years than that one,...

Part II: A Fascism of Benevolence: God and Family in the Father-Shaped Void

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2.1: Of Communism and Castration

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pp. 75-82

Like any good epigraph, the one cited above is meant to invite further reading. Its job is to reach out to readers by signaling some ostensibly common interest, while perhaps defamiliarizing that something at the same time. Indeed, as these things go, sometimes the better the outreach, the more intense the estrangement. Epigraphs draw attention to a topic about which some general...

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2.2: Muscular Multiculturalism

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pp. 83-93

Of the most visible features of the Promise Keepers’ dubious rise to glory, surely the desire to garner public visibility has itself been one of the more remarkable. Founded in 1990 by former University of Colorado football coach Bill McCartney, PK claims to have “reached nearly 5,000,000 men in 10 years of conference outreach.”1 These numbers beckon attention, as do other aspects of...

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2.3: When Color is the Father

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pp. 94-106

In this introductory phrase borrowed from Fanon, the word “system” is crucial. It designates the family’s role in producing and regulating what he calls the “psycho-existential complex” of colonial black/white race relations. And this complex, not incidentally, is something Fanon wishes rightly to “de- stroy.”1 Without launching into a full-scale analysis of Fanon’s apt critique of...

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2.4: A Certain Gesture of Virility

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pp. 107-120

Of the ample scholarship on evangelical Christianity’s rise to prominence in the 1990s, Paul Apostolidis’s Stations of the Cross: Adorno and Christian Right Radio is without doubt one of the most analytically nimble.1 Apostolidis is duly “suspicious” of retrograde mobilizations of masculine affect, such as those Adorno censures in the epigraph cited above. However, in contrast to...

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2.5: The Eros of Warfare

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pp. 121-133

Particularity above the general. Partial truths and half-lies over universal understanding. Objects proximate to identity. Subjects negated by their never fully adequated opposites. The strained desire for, and repudiation of, difference in the “father-shaped void.” And now, “fascism . . . against the multiplicity of living.” These concepts may read like a grocery list of postmodern...

Part III: Race Among Ruins: Whiteness, Work, and Writing in the New University

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3.1: Between Jobs and Work

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pp. 137-147

Writing in the university is work. To those fortunate enough to be em- ployed securely in that way, this fact is something we may register or not. But to the multitude of unemployed Ph.D.’s, to disgruntled part-timers, to graduate students whose prospects for tenure-track jobs are increasingly unwinnable, academic life now shares a discomfiting closeness with the harsh travails...

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3.2: The Multiversity's Diversity

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pp. 148-172

In the humanities, why worry? Or, a more apposite question, why is worry such a widespread part of the “beaten,” the “trivial,” and the “publicly debased” humanities? There is surely more going on in the epigraph from Gilman than the standard report on academic debasement as offered by another academo-star.1 Indeed, it is as if membership among the diminishing ranks of the...

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3.3: After Whiteness Studies

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pp. 173-184

After a smattering of years in the fickle academic spotlight, increasing numbers of scholars are claiming that the laudable goals once promised by the critical study of whiteness have become all but completely perverted. Its egalitarian intentions, which gained their highest regard in American labor history, are being reread by some in a new and ungenerous way. The sheer volume...

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3.4: Multitude or Culturalism?

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pp. 185-204

At the apogee of the U.S. Cultural Studies boom in the mid-1990s, some ten thousand researched articles, collections, and books could be found on Madonna (and these just in English).1 Such numbers beckon various conclusions about how to conceive of the legacy of Cultural Studies, its interest in popular, mass, and/or commercial culture, its ability to find political nuance in...

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3.5: How Color Saved the Canon

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pp. 205-216

Class, death, and the canon—could there be a more apposite combination of items with which to conclude this long argument about the importance of generative absence to the work of writing in the ruined university? Give Harold Bloom this much, at least: literary studies has become the official phantasmatic discipline of the humanities. CSers and anti-CSers, theorists and traditional...


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pp. 217-261


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pp. 263-268

About the Author

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p. 269

E-ISBN-13: 9780814744598
E-ISBN-10: 0814744591
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814735428
Print-ISBN-10: 0814735428

Page Count: 336
Publication Year: 2004

OCLC Number: 57361550
MUSE Marc Record: Download for After Whiteness

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Heterosexual men -- United States -- Psychology.
  • Education, Higher -- Political aspects -- United States.
  • Education, Higher -- Social aspects -- United States.
  • Whites -- Race identity -- United States.
  • United States -- Race relations.
  • Men, White -- United States -- Psychology.
  • National characteristics, American.
  • United States -- Census, 2000.
  • Multiculturalism -- United States.
  • Group identity -- Political aspects -- United States.
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