Attaining Whiteness : A Sociological Study of Race and Racialization in Russia

University dissertation from Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis

Abstract: Attaining Whiteness is the first book-length sociological study of how ideas about race resonate in post-Soviet Russia. The book charts how tropes of self, hybridity, and maturity constitute important symbolic vehicles for applying the idea of race to the drawing of differences. A new theoretical framework is developed that casts light on fields of study that have not yet received sufficient attention in Western European and American research concerning racial issues. This study of racialization takes a step towards providing a better understanding of how the discourses of race are extended and transformed through the production of social knowledge and social relations. This volume addresses the resilience of genetic criteria for defining cultures and behaviors in both the sciences and humanities in Russia, and also examines the ongoing and pervasive policy of racialized exclusion. The study argues that the concepts and practices of race, whiteness, and Russianness operate ambivalently insofar as they both hold the social fabric together, organizing the perception of the “Other”, but also undermine the unity of society. Racialization thus fosters, first, the sense that Russia belongs to the core of civilization as opposed to the Third World; second, the formulation of policies towards the internal peripheries that support social control informed by the notion of human material; and, finally, the promotion of exclusionary ethnic self-identifications that employ the discourse of hybridity.

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