Special Issue "Genealogies of Racial and Ethnic Representation"
A special issue of Genealogy (ISSN 2313-5778).
Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2021).
Interests: ethnic/racial terminology, categorization, and classifications; the social history of mixed race; global mixed race; the role of the census in measuring race/ethnicity, ethnicity and health; racial/ethnic inequalities/disparities; public/population health
Interests: social history of mixed race; representations of race and ethnicity; global mixed race; qualitative research; family studies
Social representations have been defined as “lay conceptions of complex phenomena that are important, relevant, and attention grabbing for society as a whole or for specific groups or communities within society” (Lorenzi-Cioldi and Clémence, 2010). Such phenomena, including those that frequently attract twenty-first century attention (such as race, gender, climate change, addiction) frequently have sophisticated, technical, scientific properties, and explanations that can render public communication and understanding challenging. This challenge is met by social representations. The study of social representations, therefore, “is the study of how everyday explanations arise and are sustained in society” (Lorenzi-Cioldi and Clémence 2010). The social psychologist Willem Doise has described the theory of social representations as a general approach to understanding how collective processes affect the way people think.
The concept of “cultural representations”, a sub-genre, was developed by Stuart Hall within the discipline of cultural studies that originated in 1960s Britain. Hall has substantially contributed to this field, particularly with respect to cultural representations of race, ethnicity, and gender, describing such representations as “an essential part of the process by which meaning is produced and exchanged between members of a culture” (Hall 1997). According to Hall, there is room in a culture and associated social practices for both ascribing meaning and constructing meaning, which in turn shapes human identity.
This Special Issue on “Genealogies of Racial and Ethnic Representation” invites contributions in any area of such representations. These may be located at different scholarly sites, such as the visual and the textual. Contributions may explore specific representations in their own right or the relationship between representations and lived experiences. They may focus on how other identity categories, such as gender, class, and sexuality, intersect with and structure these representations. The following may help illustrate the scope of the Special Issue but are not intended to limit the choice of topic:
Terminology: this topic may encompass terms applied in the process of self-identification, community identification, and officialdom; the effect of the long genealogical record vs. the recent past on identity; how terminology becomes racialized and how its repeated usage, as in censuses, can reify group identities; the changing positioning over time of racial and ethnic groups and their terminologies in a country’s governance and the issue of recognition; how terminology changes in response to the activities of political movements and advocacy groups; who decides official labels and categories, including the role of community representatives; issues of societal acceptability of terminology; the different conceptual bases in which terminology is grounded and the historical, social, and political underpinnings of such choices; the drivers of broad racial/ethnic groupings vs. granular categories; etc.
Advertisements in newspapers, TV commercials, and other media as racial group representations: genealogies/chronologies of these representations for particular racial/ethnic groups and how these trends reflect changes in the visibility, support, and media coverage of such groups; the dialectics of such representations (what they seek to portray and the validity of these narratives), etc.
Racial/ethnic group representations in novels, memoirs, non-fiction, popular periodicals, and other literary genres: types of literary representations and their limitations; racial/ethnic groups, public figures, and celebrities as subjects of such portrayals; comparisons with lived experience and other counternarratives; the framing of these racial/ethnic representations and how they may reflect the race/ethnicity/gender of the authors of these representations (so-called “insider accounts”, for example).
Racial/ethnic group representations in television shows, reality TV, and films and the limitations of these representations: how these media portray racial/ethnic groups; the location of these representations in niche and other market types; comparisons with lived experience and other counternarratives.
Popular lay representations of racial/ethnic groups: conceptualisations/formulations such as “model minorities”, “white majorities”, “mixed race exceptionalism”, “the black–white divide”, etc., and the genealogies of such representations (their saliency over time); why some racial/ethnic identities are celebrated by wider society at particular points in time; lay perceptions of broader collectivities such as “people of a migration background”, “people of colour”, etc.; racial/ethnic stereotypes as lay representations and how such stereotypes are used.
Representations of racial/ethnic groups in science: concepts of hybrid vigour (heterosis) and hybrid degeneration and their deployment over time; story-making—the fabrication of meaning for racial/ethnic group data—in recreational DNA ancestry testing; races as “carriers of disease”; how race/ethnicity is conceptualised in genomics, etc.
Representations of racial/ethnic groups as role providers: e.g., as bridges between different racial/ethnic groups or as heralding an ostensible post-racial era; coalitions and intergroup allegiances, e.g., in anti-racist campaigns.
Representations of racial/ethnic groups in terms of their size, growth rates, etc.: tendency to overestimate the size of some groups or their prominence in the social landscape at times of celebration or high visibility or ideas of ever-increasing numbers; size as portrayed by community groups versus official estimates and relationship to recognition and resource allocation issues; other counting issues.
Representations of race/ethnicity in specific policy contexts: there are diverse ways in which race/ethnicity is socially represented in policy settings, e.g., the way race/ethnicity is articulated and constructed in would-be parents’ and clinic-mediated choices of gamete donors in assisted reproductive technology/IVF settings.
Hall, Stuart. 1997. The work of representation. In Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices, Edited by Stuart Hall. London: Sage Publications Inc.
Lorenzi-Cioldi, Fabio, Alain Clémence. 2010. Social representations. In Encyclopedia of Group Processes and Intergroup Relations. Edited by John M. Levine and Michael A. Hogg. London: Sage Publications, Inc.
Authors submitting to this special issue, the journal would not charge the APCs.
Prof. Peter J. Aspinall
Dr Chamion Caballero
Manuscript Submission Information
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- racial representations
- cultural representations
- policy contexts