We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more

Race in the 21st Century

Ethnographic Approaches

John Hartigan, Jr.

Publication Date - November 2009

ISBN: 9780195375602

240 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

In Stock

Retail Price to Students: $34.95

The first text to take an explicitly ethnographic approach to the study of race


What is the state of race relations in the U.S.? Are we making progress toward ending racial discrimination and prejudice? What, exactly, does "race" mean?

In Race in the 21st Century: Ethnographic Approaches, John Hartigan takes an anthropological look at questions such as these by introducing students to the study of race through qualitative approaches. In the first text to take an explicitly ethnographic approach, Hartigan summarizes and explains the current state of social science knowledge on race in the United States. In the process of surveying this research, Hartigan guides readers to think through basic important questions about race in relation to their own circumstances. Unlike many texts, however, this one focuses not on essential differences between racial or ethnic groups, but rather on the commonalities. The author concentrates on the particular contexts where people actively engage and respond to racial meanings and identities. In this way, he encourages readers to think critically about the meaning of race.

Ideal for undergraduate courses in race and ethnicity, the anthropology of race, and cultural/human diversity, Race in the 21st Century seamlessly brings together classic and contemporary studies in one accessible volume.

The author is also hosting a companion website http://www.raceinthe21stcentury.com/ that features useful web links, sample assignments, and reviews of ethnographies not covered in the text.


  • A brief and accessible look at the current state of social science knowledge on race in the U.S.
  • Introduces students to the study of race through ethnographic approaches.
  • Key concepts include cultural processes such as racial formation, racialization, and colorblind racism; the tools to perform cultural analysis in order to understand cultural dynamics; and the controversies surrounding racial identity as it relates to human diversity.
  • Ethnographic vignettes include both classic and contemporary studies such as Powdermaker's After Freedom and Moffatt's Coming of Age in New Jersey.
  • The text focuses on commonalities instead of differences between racial or ethnic groups.
  • The author encourages readers throughout to think critically about race as it applies to their own lives.
  • Two appendixes provide readers with guidance about understanding ethnographic research and preparing to undertake their own.

About the Author(s)

John Hartigan is Associate Professor of Anthropology at University of Texas at Austin and the Director of the Americo Paredes Center for Cultural Studies. He is the author of Odd Tribes: Towards a Cultural Analysis of White People (Duke University Press, 2005) and Racial Situations: Class Predicaments of Whiteness in Detroit (Prince University Press, 1999).

Table of Contents

    Chapter 1: Recognizing Race
    Questioning Race
    The Facts of Racial Inequality
    The Changing Role of Racism
    The Cultural Domain
    Race in Relation to Culture
    Cultural Analysis
    Ethnographic Examples
    Chapter 2: Race, Culture, and Ethnography
    Fundamental Features of Racial Analysis
    Ethnographic Perspectives on Race
    Cultural Dynamics of Race
    American Culture in Three Words
    Antiracism and Ethnography
    Ethnography of Antiracist Workshops
    Another View from Detroit
    How to Listen to "White Talk"
    Combining an Attention to Race and Culture
    Chapter 3: Race and Nature: Culture, Biology, and Genetics
    What is Nature?
    Totemic Identities
    Racial Classification
    (Mis)Uses of Biology
    Race and Disease
    Racial Health Disparities
    Understanding Genetics and Culture
    The Controversy over Genes and Race
    Genes and Culture: A Resolution
    Chapter 4: Understanding Whiteness
    Objectifying White People
    What is Whiteness?
    Whiteness and Discourse
    Whiteness as a Subject of Study
    Studying White People in Everyday Life
    Locating Whites in the Social Landscape
    Class and Race: Bringing Greater Specificity to Whiteness
    Chapter 5: Understanding Blackness
    Objectifying Black People
    What is Blackness?
    Blackness and Discourse
    Blackness as a Subject of Study
    Studying Black People in Everyday Life
    Locating Blacks in the Social Landscape
    Class and Race: Bringing Greater Specificity to Blackness
    Chapter 6: Beyond Black and White
    Racial Groups?
    Ethnicity and Race
    Racialization of Latinos and Asian Americans
    Ethnographic Perspectives on Latinos
    Ethnographic Perspectives on Asian Americans
    Chapter 7: Ethnography of Race
    What Do We Know About Race, Based on Ethnographic Research?
    Cultural Analysis of Race
    Appendix A: Taking It to the Field: Analyzing Race in a Cultural Framework
    Appendix B: Prompts for Ethnographic Research