Being White and being Black: cross cultural understandings of identity for degree students in the UK and Australia

Bhopal, K. and Henry-Waring, M. (2009) Being White and being Black: cross cultural understandings of identity for degree students in the UK and Australia At British Sociological Association Annual Conference 2009. 16 - 18 Apr 2009.


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The focus on whiteness as a subject of inquiry and analysis in its own right has recently become a popular theme within academic understandings of identity and Otherness. However, such research has primarily focused on the US, this study aims to examine specifically, the social construction and maintenance of Whiteness within tertiary educational settings within Australia and the UK. Little research has explored students' understanding of these issues within the educational context.

Although different in terms of historical and other contexts, Australia, like the UK has a complex relationship and understanding of 'race'. There is little research which takes a comparative perspective in focusing on understandings of Whiteness and its meanings in different cultural environments. The paper will examine such understandings by focusing on degree student’s understandings of whiteness and blackness. Leonardo (2002:31) argues that Whiteness is a racial discourse, whereas the category white people represent is a socially constructed identity. To understand whiteness, however there is also a need to understand blackness or otherness. Bonnett has indicated, Whiteness has developed into a taken-for-granted experience structured upon a varying set of supremacist assumptions (sometimes cultural, sometimes biological, sometimes moral, sometimes all three). Non-White identities, by contrast, have been denied the privileges of normativity, and are marked within the West as marginal and inferior (1997: 188).

This paper will examine the experiences of students' understandings of identity and otherness in relation to Whiteness and Blackness.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Venue - Dates: British Sociological Association Annual Conference 2009, 2009-04-16 - 2009-04-18
Related URLs:
Keywords: identity, black, white, degree students
ePrint ID: 66013
Date :
Date Event
16 April 2009Published
Date Deposited: 20 Apr 2009
Last Modified: 18 Apr 2017 21:45
Further Information:Google Scholar

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