Perfidious albion whiteness and the international imagination and my mother used to dance
Perfidious Albion: Whiteness and the International Imagination & My Mother Used to Dance
Perfidious Albion Perfidious : adj. treachery through the betrayal of trust Albion : n. Britain or Old England; often used poetically Source: www.dictionary.com
<ul><li>Ware opens with a significant quote that sets the tone for the rest of the article: “There were Africans in Britain before the English came here.” – Peter Fryer </li></ul><ul><li>approaches whiteness as pollution; image is suitable because it is a product of the destructive and exploitative nature of industrial capitalism </li></ul><ul><li>asks the question: how important is it that we recognize the parallels and differences between discourses of white supremacy produced in different countries? </li></ul>
<ul><li>it causes us to think about whiteness on many different scales; whiteness needs to be understood as an interconnected global system </li></ul><ul><li>states that ideologies of “race,” ethnicity, and belonging are fundamentally bound up with the histories of the nation </li></ul><ul><li>states that his intention is to show that the struggle to define new local, national, and regional identities appropriate for the 21st century can serve as a paradigm for those dedicated to comprehending and subverting the mechanisms of whiteness on an international scale </li></ul>
<ul><li>not a simple matter to delineate clearly between geography, ethnicity, territory, power, and national identity in any part of the world </li></ul><ul><li>speaks within the context of the United Kingdom </li></ul><ul><li>U.K. has to be seen as a “composite nation” and the job of the national culture is to produce a “sense of belongingness” that might unify the different elements </li></ul>
<ul><li>uses example/analogy of sport; the international arena provided by sport demonstrates the pleasures and dangers, the significance and the irrelevance, of the strongly held feeling that one belongs to a nation </li></ul><ul><li>predictably nationalist behaviour of some English fans abroad during international soccer games invariably provokes a frenzy of self-examination in the media that provides interesting reading on questions of the national character and consciousness </li></ul><ul><li>Ware asks: so where does all the empty pride and false patriotism come from? </li></ul>
<ul><li>Ware answers: from England’s own right wing press, from the posh end of the Euro-hating Telegraph, to the xenophobia of the Mail, right down to the flagrant loathing of foreigners in the Sun </li></ul><ul><li>does not answer the question: why have the English been so peculiarly receptive to this propaganda, and why other nations have not had the same opportunity to be inflamed by cynical newspaper magnates; Ware, however, decides to leave these questions aside for a moment </li></ul>
Prophylactic: adj. acting to defend against or protect something Source: www.dictionary.com Prophylactic Identities
<ul><li>many debates have occurred regarding what constitutes an English identity, and why the English need a strong sense of national identity </li></ul><ul><li>provoked by a backlash against doctrines and practices of multiculturalism and a sense that everyone else except the English are expected to feel some pride in their ethnicity and national culture </li></ul><ul><li>the destructive anger of these disempowered and resentful young people are seen by some as an inevitable consequence of misguided antiracist policies </li></ul>
<ul><li>Anne Leslie (a journalist) states that if it is necessary to build the self-esteem of young blacks (which it is), that should not be at the expense of the self-esteem of young whites; however, Leslie conflates white with English which replicates the common-sense view that Englishness is deeply imbued with the characteristics of light skin and the nuances of “race” that float around the category </li></ul><ul><li>Richard Dyer updates discussion of white as a skin colour that works as a category that is internally variable and unclear at the edges </li></ul><ul><li>certain historians have challenged the making of whiteness as an economic, political, and social category in the U.S.; however, in Britain, an approach is required that examines the fluidity of its naturalizing power in relation to internal differences of class rather than “race” </li></ul>
<ul><li>notions of whiteness ascribed to the body and to the nation according to gender as well as class </li></ul><ul><li>the inability to define important ingredients of Englishness is a significant problem </li></ul><ul><li>uses example of the British Nationalist Party: their sense of Englishness came largely from definitive ideas of what they were not, rather than what they were </li></ul>
<ul><li>Ware poses question: if whiteness is synonymous with Englishness, functioning as a hidden normative code that determines who is in or out on the basis of birth and complexion, what of children of settlers who are born in England, but not light skinned? </li></ul><ul><li>states he would like to consider aspects of contemporary debate on the content of this broader category of Britishness </li></ul>
Rebranding Britain <ul><li>Ware speaks of “branding” a country as if it were a product competing on an open market entirely new. E.g. on a local level “Toronto Unlimited” </li></ul><ul><li>Tony Blair spoke of the need to “rebrand” Britain in order to shift its image away from a fading imperial power into becoming a younger country </li></ul><ul><li>many believe that all modern nations manage their identities today through logos, festivals, etc... </li></ul>
<ul><li>cites historical example of </li></ul><ul><li>exhibitions as integral part of </li></ul><ul><li>molding national and nationalist </li></ul><ul><li>identity before the power of the </li></ul><ul><li>logo was invented </li></ul><ul><li>this un-natural portrayal of reality (i.e. through the idea of the exhibitions, Disneyland, etc...) contributes to a false sense of reality, or a “hyperfamiliarity” to a country’s identity </li></ul>
Colonialism: n. a policy by which a nation maintains or extends its control over foreign dependencies Post-Colonialism: suggests an end to colonial rule and that the country will return to their traditional norms before colonization had taken place. Source: www.dictionary.com Devil on the Cross by Ngugi Neo-Colonialism: colonialism only changed but did not end.
<ul><li>color bar – racialized barrier that keeps people separated, found in institutions that maintain hegemony of white discourse > excludes, marginalizes, segregates (ex. labor union and housing market) </li></ul><ul><li>migrant workers had misconceptions that white equates privlege and power, and vice versa </li></ul><ul><li>“ race thinking” not exclusive of white and black skin color, but are historical processes of imperialist and colonialist raciology. It is thinking and behaving, thus it can be changed. (pg 5) </li></ul>Encountering the Color Bar
<ul><li>fear of the unknown </li></ul><ul><li>white supremacist ideologies created intense hatred that erupted in violence in which the Teddy Bear Gang terrorized black people. Influx of new people created identity crisis of Englishness and whiteness. Many white people showed solidarity with black community and identified with their struggles. </li></ul><ul><li>racism dehumanizes both black and white people which can lead to critical self reflection and a “mutual process of learning and unlearning” of cultures (Ware, 206). Victim and perpetrator of racism are both victims of dominant white culture. </li></ul>
Entering Another Country > If one enters an unfamiliar area and cannot identify him/herself with people of his/her own culture, one feels as though they are in a foreign land. > “Instead of choosing whiteness by assimilation, the British were presented with daily opportunities to make different kinds of moral choices about the kind of people they thought they were.”(p. 208) > A Black British author, Mike Phillips, gives his account of his realization of the feeling of being at home in England after travelling around the country. (p. 208)
> Phillips describes how he encounters people of different origins when he travels through London, and this is a normal trait of London. > He moves on to tour Scotland, and also confesses how he fears that being a Black man can lead to being attacked or killed because of the colour of his skin. (p. 208) > He next visits Newcastle, where he realises that he had not spotted a black or Asian person for half an hour. He felt that he had stepped into a foreign land.
> Phillips described how no one made him feel uncomfortable despite the fact that he was distinct. The only discomfort he felt was with unfamiliarity with a place that he thought he knew. > Ware concludes: “instead of searching for notions of national distinctiveness among people defined by the anachronism of race and its surrogate, colour, it would be far more productive and healthy to open out the definition of Englishness to include the views of relative newcomers who have realized that England is where they feel most at home.” (p. 211)
My Mother Used to Dance <ul><li>dancing convey sense of expression, of being free but her mother stopped dancing </li></ul><ul><li>“ gradual freezing”, “where did the fire go?” </li></ul><ul><li>“ each word, each comment diminished her capacity to speak-she moved slower and slower” (38) </li></ul>
<ul><li>image of enclosure vs. disclosure/inside vs. outside </li></ul><ul><li>“ We do not speak about what was said to us. We do not recognize them. We cannot give them more power. My anger grows. My mother’s spirit staggers.”(39) </li></ul><ul><li>“ How can they make judgement to native people without knowing or caring to understand them?”(40) </li></ul>
<ul><li>stereotyping - an often oversimplified or biased mental picture held to characterize the typical individual of a group </li></ul><ul><li>discrimination - unfair treatment of a person or group on the basis of prejudice </li></ul><ul><li>prejudice - Irrational suspicion or hatred of a particular group, race, or religion. </li></ul>
<ul><li>anger fuelled from hurt “it was a power I knew instinctively would eat my spirit and leave me empty”(40) </li></ul><ul><li>fire image : her anger, wants to walk pass it </li></ul><ul><li>spirit: The part of a human associated with the mind, will, and feelings: </li></ul><ul><li>nurtured from family, acknowledgement of her identity </li></ul><ul><li>is fire and spirit the same? “fuel for the fire or energy for the spirit. I did not know which.” (41) </li></ul>
<ul><li>teacher’s college-perfected exclusion; inside what? </li></ul><ul><li>In group vs. out group </li></ul><ul><li>norm : A standard, model, or pattern regarded as typical </li></ul><ul><li>car incident: struggle with existence, wants to go out where her identity is, not the identity that is contained, the identity that she has adopted as a teacher </li></ul>
<ul><li>Identity : The collective aspect of the set of characteristics by which a thing is definitively recognizable or known </li></ul><ul><li>“ My mother told me not to be afraid. I passed through the fire.” (42) </li></ul><ul><li>rejects education system that assaults the spirit </li></ul><ul><li>acknowledges anger to be herself so she can dance </li></ul>
My Mother Used to Dance in connection with Perfidious Albion <ul><li>“ The contingencies of imperialism brought under British jurisdiction, many different ethnic groups who continue to retain an affinity with the country, either through direct settlement here or through structures such as commonwealth-but this does not automatically permit them to identify as ‘English’ even if they are born and brought up in the country.” </li></ul><ul><li>In Mother: common themes of victimization, patronization, that eventually lead to courage </li></ul>
<ul><li>Social Status : working class had to abide by stricter rules </li></ul><ul><li>Out of Anger and education of the system and how it works it produces hope to better the future </li></ul>
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