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Race in the 21st Century

Ethnographic Approaches

Second Edition

John Hartigan, Jr.

Publication Date - 28 July 2014

ISBN: 9780199374373

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

In Stock

Takes an explicitly ethnographic approach to the study of race, while also guiding students through ongoing debates about genetics and 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, Second Edition, John Hartigan, Jr., takes an anthropological look at such questions by introducing students to the study of race through qualitative methods. 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 U.S., motivating students to think through essential questions about race in relation to their own lives. In contrast with many texts, Race in the 21st Century focuses not on essential differences between racial or ethnic groups, but rather on the commonalities. Hartigan concentrates on the particular contexts in which people actively engage and respond to racial meanings and identities. In this way, he encourages readers to think critically about the meaning of race.

The second edition of Race in the 21st Century features a new chapter, "Postracial America," which examines contentious arguments about whether or how race still matters in the U.S. today. It engages students fully in the important question of what "postracial America" might mean or look like.

New to this Edition

  • A new chapter on "Postracial America" examines contentious arguments about whether or how race still matters in the U.S. today

About the Author(s)

John Hartigan, Jr. is Professor of Anthropology at The University of Texas at Austin and the Director of the Américo Paredes Center for Cultural Studies. He is the author of What Can You Say? America's National Conversation on Race (2010), Odd Tribes: Towards a Cultural Analysis of White People (2005), and Racial Situations: Class Predicaments of Whiteness in Detroit (1999).

Previous Publication Date(s)

November 2009


"This well-organized and engaging text consistently pushes my students to reconsider deeply held convictions about how race and racism are performed as lived experience, and how they can yield to critical, ethnographic inquiry. Hartigan does an excellent job of locating race as one of the foundations of cultural interpretation and performance and of framing questions relevant to student experience and contexts."--John Bodinger de Uriarte, Susquehanna University

"Hartigan's work in this book is unique as he fully reviews contemporary ethnographic literatures on race--I know of no other text that does this. He also strikes a nice balance in tone and register. His writing is sophisticated but he uses language that is accessible to most undergraduates. It is an excellent resource for teaching critical thinking skills and deconstructionist perspectives on race."--Miranda Hallett, Otterbein University

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

    Chapter 8: Post-Racial America
    What Is Changing with Race Today?
    Fracturing Whiteness
    What Remains the Same?
    Coloring Risk
    Recent Ethnographies

    Appendix A: Taking It to the Field: Analyzing Race in a Cultural Framework

    Appendix B: Prompts for Ethnographic Research


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