Special Issue "Genealogies of Racial and Ethnic Representation"

A special issue of Genealogy (ISSN 2313-5778).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2021).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Peter J. Aspinall
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Centre for Health Services Studies, University of Kent, Canterbury CT2 7NF, UK
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
Dr. Chamion Caballero
E-Mail
Guest Editor
Weeks Centre for Social and Policy Research, London South Bank University, London SE1 0AA, UK
Interests: social history of mixed race; representations of race and ethnicity; global mixed race; qualitative research; family studies

Special Issue Information

Dear colleagues,

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.

References

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
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Genealogy is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • racial representations
  • cultural representations
  • terminology
  • census
  • advertisements
  • films
  • novels
  • policy contexts

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

Article
Social Representations of Art in Public Places: A Study of Everyday Explanations of the Statue of ‘A Real Birmingham Family’
Genealogy 2021, 5(3), 59; https://doi.org/10.3390/genealogy5030059 - 22 Jun 2021
Viewed by 688
Abstract
This article focuses on the social/cultural representations of the statue of A Real Birmingham Family cast in bronze and unveiled in Britain’s second city in October 2014. It reveals a family comprising two local mixed-race sisters, both single mothers, and their sons, unanimously [...] Read more.
This article focuses on the social/cultural representations of the statue of A Real Birmingham Family cast in bronze and unveiled in Britain’s second city in October 2014. It reveals a family comprising two local mixed-race sisters, both single mothers, and their sons, unanimously chosen from 372 families. Three of the four families shortlisted for the statue were ‘mixed-race’ families. The artwork came about through a partnership between the sculptress, Gillian Wearing, and the city’s Ikon Gallery. A number of different lay representations of the artwork have been identified, notably, that it is a ‘normal family with no fathers’ and that it is not a ‘typical family’. These are at variance with a representation based on an interpretation of the artwork and materials associated with its creation: that a nuclear family is one reality amongst many and that what constitutes a family should not be fixed. This representation destabilizes our notion of the family and redefines it as empirical, experiential, and first-hand, families being brought into recognition by those in the wider society who choose to nominate themselves as such. The work of Ian Hacking, Richard Jenkins, and others is drawn upon to contest the concept of ‘normality’. Further, statistical data are presented that show that there is now a plurality of family types with no one type dominating or meriting the title of ‘normal’. Finally, Wearing’s statues of families in Trentino and Copenhagen comprise an evolving body of cross-national public art that provides further context and meaning for this representation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genealogies of Racial and Ethnic Representation)
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Article
‘I’m Not Swedish Swedish’: Self-Appraised National and Ethnic Identification among Migrant-Descendants in Sweden
Genealogy 2021, 5(2), 56; https://doi.org/10.3390/genealogy5020056 - 07 Jun 2021
Viewed by 656
Abstract
As a country of high migration, Sweden presents an interesting case for the study of belongingness. For the children of migrants, ethnic and national identification, as well as ascriptive identity, can pose challenges to feelings of belongingness, which is an essential element for [...] Read more.
As a country of high migration, Sweden presents an interesting case for the study of belongingness. For the children of migrants, ethnic and national identification, as well as ascriptive identity, can pose challenges to feelings of belongingness, which is an essential element for positive mental health. In this article, survey data were collected from 626 Swedes whose parents were born in the following countries: Somalia, Poland, Vietnam, and Turkey. The results show that Poles significantly felt they received more reflective appraisals of ascription than any other group. However, despite not feeling as if they were being ascribed as Swedish, most group members (regardless of ethnic origin) had high feelings of belongingness to Sweden. Overall, individuals who felt that being Swedish was important for their identity indicated the highest feelings of belongingness. Further, individuals across groups showed a positive correlation between their national identification and ethnic identification, indicating a feeling of membership to both. These results mirror previous research in Sweden where individuals’ ethnic and national identities were positively correlated. The ability to inhabit multiple identities as a member of different groups is the choice of an individual within a pluralistic society. Multiple memberships between groups need not be contradictory but rather an expression of different spheres of inhabitance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genealogies of Racial and Ethnic Representation)
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Article
Tracing Genealogies of Mixedness: Social Representations and Definitions of “Eurasian” in Singapore
Genealogy 2021, 5(2), 50; https://doi.org/10.3390/genealogy5020050 - 17 May 2021
Viewed by 487
Abstract
Social representations theory provides a key lens through which to approach mixed racial and ethnic identities. The concept and contextual histories of “mixedness” highlight how meanings are ascribed and constructed, and social representations of mixed identities shape and are shaped by what it [...] Read more.
Social representations theory provides a key lens through which to approach mixed racial and ethnic identities. The concept and contextual histories of “mixedness” highlight how meanings are ascribed and constructed, and social representations of mixed identities shape and are shaped by what it means to be mixed. This paper explores mixedness in Singapore from a social representations perspective, drawing out and comparing the state representations of the Eurasian community, and social experiences of mixedness. Utilizing data from 30 interviews with participants who self-describe as Eurasian, the paper explores the interactions between historical and contemporary state representations of mixedness and popular representations of Eurasians as a mixed racial/ethnic group in the diverse and racialized context of Singapore. By tracing the genealogy of Eurasian identity (and mixedness) in this context, it contributes to the theoretical development around social representations of mixedness, and how the constructed realities of singular and/or mixed identities interact and develop. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genealogies of Racial and Ethnic Representation)
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Article
Comparing Preferences towards Multiracial Advertising in Sweden and the US-Exploration through Eye-Tracking
Genealogy 2020, 4(4), 109; https://doi.org/10.3390/genealogy4040109 - 18 Nov 2020
Viewed by 726
Abstract
This article examined and compared the US-born and Swedish-born college students’ preferences towards monoracial or multiracial advertisement. We showed four fashion advertisements, tracked their eye movements with a stationary eye-tracker, and asked questions through survey and debriefing to understand how students see and [...] Read more.
This article examined and compared the US-born and Swedish-born college students’ preferences towards monoracial or multiracial advertisement. We showed four fashion advertisements, tracked their eye movements with a stationary eye-tracker, and asked questions through survey and debriefing to understand how students see and perceive advertisements with and without racial diversity. We found that both Swedish and American students exhibited higher preference in monoracial advertisements. We also found that Swedish and American students’ preferences towards advertisements were quite similar, but there were some variations in the reported level of attractiveness of the advertisements, reaction times, and dwell time between the Swedish and American students. Even though we did not find any statistically significant results from the eye-tracking data due to the limited sample size, the results point to interesting trends and tendencies that need to be addressed in further studies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genealogies of Racial and Ethnic Representation)
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Article
Who Is Marketised in Colour-Blind Sweden? Racial and Ethnic Representation in Swedish Commercials 2008–2017
Genealogy 2020, 4(4), 100; https://doi.org/10.3390/genealogy4040100 - 10 Oct 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1374
Abstract
From a social equality representation perspective, advertising should ideally mirror the multicultural composition at the national market, because mass-mediated identity representations may act as cultural resources for those with marginalised identities. To investigate the observance to such an ideal in a context where [...] Read more.
From a social equality representation perspective, advertising should ideally mirror the multicultural composition at the national market, because mass-mediated identity representations may act as cultural resources for those with marginalised identities. To investigate the observance to such an ideal in a context where the ethnic and racial composition of the population saw a rapid change, this article examines 676 Swedish TV commercials in over the period 2008–2017, and analyses the representation of non-White persons of colour (POC). Through this quantitative and qualitative examination, we find that POC are indeed visible in the commercials, but predominantly in the background or playing minor roles. With the, at times, unproportionally high representation of racial and ethnic diversity in Swedish advertising, we find significant tokenism, or in other words, the structurally ineffectual approach common in market-based multiculturalism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genealogies of Racial and Ethnic Representation)
Article
Ethnic/Racial Terminology as a Form of Representation: A Critical Review of the Lexicon of Collective and Specific Terms in Use in Britain
Genealogy 2020, 4(3), 87; https://doi.org/10.3390/genealogy4030087 - 20 Aug 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2161
Abstract
All ethnic/racial terminology may be seen as a form of representation, whereby meanings are generated by a range of social categorizers in settings of popular culture, political discourse, and statistical governmentality. This paper investigates these representations through a critical review of the lexicon [...] Read more.
All ethnic/racial terminology may be seen as a form of representation, whereby meanings are generated by a range of social categorizers in settings of popular culture, political discourse, and statistical governmentality. This paper investigates these representations through a critical review of the lexicon of collective and specific ethnic/racial terms in use in Britain. Relevant studies and documents were identified through structured searches on databases of peer-reviewed literature and the websites of government census agencies. The full-text corpus of the UK Parliament was used to delineate the genealogies or etymologies of this terminology. The derivation of specific ethnic/racial terms through census processes tends to conform with the theoretical model of mutual entailment of social categories and group identities. This relationship breaks down in the case of the broad and somewhat abstract categories of race/ethnicity originating in the modern bureaucratic processes of government and advocacy by anti-racist organizations, opening up a space for representations that are characterized by their exteriority. Commonly used acronyms are little understood in the wider society, are confusing, and of limited acceptability to those they describe, while other collective terms are offensive and ethnocentric. Accurate description is recommended to delineate ethnic minority populations in terms of their constituent groups. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genealogies of Racial and Ethnic Representation)
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Article
What Do We Mean by “Ethnicity” and “Race”? A Consensual Qualitative Research Investigation of Colloquial Understandings
Genealogy 2020, 4(3), 81; https://doi.org/10.3390/genealogy4030081 - 01 Aug 2020
Viewed by 1331
Abstract
Lack of clarity and questionable congruence between researcher and participant understandings of ethnicity and race challenge the validity and impact of research utilizing these concepts. We aimed to both elucidate the multiple meanings that research participants in the United States might bring to [...] Read more.
Lack of clarity and questionable congruence between researcher and participant understandings of ethnicity and race challenge the validity and impact of research utilizing these concepts. We aimed to both elucidate the multiple meanings that research participants in the United States might bring to questions about ethnicity and race and examine their relation to formal conceptualizations of these variables. We used consensual qualitative research-modified analyses to conduct thematic content analysis of 151 responses to open-ended survey questions about meanings of ethnicity and race. Participants included a racially diverse sample of 53 males, 87 females, and 11 unidentified gender with a mean age of 28.71 years. Results indicated that the most frequent colloquial meanings of ethnicity included origin, culture, ancestry, related or similar to race, social similarity, religion, and identity. The most frequent colloquial meanings of race included physical characteristics, ethnicity, origin, social grouping, ancestry, and imposed categorization. Results also illustrated how participants approached defining ethnicity and race. Results support the acknowledged and critiqued colloquial confounding of ethnicity and race and indicate a lack of agreed upon meaning between lay representations/meanings and formal meanings used by social scientists. This incongruence threatens valid operationalizations for research and challenges our ability to use these concepts in interventions to promote social justice and psychological health. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Genealogies of Racial and Ethnic Representation)
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