Routledge Handbook of Critical Whiteness Studies
Editors: Shona Hunter and Christi van der Westhuizen
Manuscript in progress for submission May 2021. Scheduled publication 1st quarter 2022
The debate on whiteness as a racial formation and social identification is burgeoning internationally and across popular platforms. This phenomenon is reflected in a rapidly growing, interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary body of work driven by the recognition that there can be no racial justice without attention to white supremacy and to the contributions of white people to its historical and current structures of domination. Notable titles appearing since 2015 including Kindinger and Schmitt (2019), DiAngelo (2018) Eddo Lodge (2018), Lundstrom and Teitelbaum (2017), van der Westhuizen (2017), Wekker (2016), Matias (2016), Hunter (2015), Alcoff (2015), Willoughby-Herard (2015), and Sullivan (2014). These interdisciplinary contributions coalesce around critical interrogations of privilege; intersectionality; global and national racial regimes; the collusion of white respectability and good intentions in racist reproduction via institutionalised whiteness; white denial and ignorance; and the pervasiveness and codification of whiteness in everyday practices. Whiteness thus forms the material, ideological, cultural and affective centre of the unequal power structure of racism, which has proven to be not only remarkably adaptable to changing contexts but also resistant to dismantlement. Hierarchies have been organised with devastating results around whiteness for the past four centuries, despite it being a phantasm construed from false attributions of human value on the basis of phenotype. Grasping the nettle of whiteness becomes all the more urgent given the politics of the moment, as racial populisms of all hues rise at global and national levels. This pursuit has an activist dimension, as part of the overall intellectual project of anti-racism, shared with Critical Race Theory and Black Feminist Theory.
In response to an invitation from Routledge, editors Shona Hunter and Christi van der Westhuizen have developed a vision for a Handbook that situates Critical Whiteness Studies as a core intellectual pillar in a broadly-based project for racial and social justice while extending the parameters of the field. It brings together, in one place, literatures from across diverse national and disciplinary contexts and creates a conversation between differently positioned contributions, written by established and emerging authors.
We are delighted that the following contributors have joined us in making the Handbook a reality:
We are developing a Handbook that will serve as a guide to the key debates in this relatively new field over the last 30 or so years, by critically linking Critical Whiteness Studies to iterations of the anti-racist intellectual tradition in black, feminist, postcolonial and decolonial scholarship. With these goals in mind, scholarship will be included which is not necessarily considered ‘whiteness studies’. One of the criticisms of Critical Whiteness Studies is that it tends to be dominated by white scholars coming from global Northern contexts. To produce an original take on the field’s primary questions which takes account of this, this Handbook project is organised to challenge that dominance by including a wide range of contributions originating from outside of the global North: From the Americas and the Caribbean, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Asia, as well as parts of Europe which have been underrepresented in this literature. The inclusion of differently located scholarship in relation to global coloniality re-historicises and re-spatialises the debates in order to understand whiteness as a global colonial formation. Black scholarship is crucial to the field, and our project is rooted in this recognition.
All writing projects develop and change as they move through the drafting iterations and no doubt this project will continue to develop as a collective integrated endeavour. Nevertheless our working structure engages seven main themes with separate sections for each theme. Sections consist of sub-topics that unpack the theme in question. Given the complexity and variedness of Critical Whiteness Studies as an inter- and transdisciplinary field, a comprehensive approach is followed, but with a focus on unpicking its many strands. The handbook is therefore organised conceptually to get at areas of intellectual praxes that highlight the contribution of Critical Whiteness Studies to thinking through contemporary political, social and economic trials and tendencies, continued racialisation of subject positions, and theoretical and political ways out of the quagmire of race.
We are very much hoping that the volume will continue to spark engagement between contributors to the volume itself, through the writing process as well as beyond. We also look forward to the conversations and engagements that this will spark with other readers, writers and editors across the diverse range of fields touched on in the volume.
As the project progresses we will enjoy updating on related events, activity and news. Please be in touch with the editors for more information in the meantime.