Martin Lund and Sean Guynes

The MIT Press Essential Knowledge Series
The MIT Press, under contract

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. What Whiteness Is (and Isn’t)

3. White Words

4. Keeping Things White

5. Popular Whiteness

6. Don’t Call Me White!

7. Toward Abolishing Whiteness


Whiteness provides a needed, accessible, and affordable introduction to one of the most pervasive and damaging global cultural forces of modernity, and aims to make visible a racial structure that thrives on remaining implicit, unnamed, unseen. By looking at the origins, expressions, maintenance, and discontents of whiteness, the book seeks to expand the critical range and vocabulary of the ongoing discourse about race by adding a central, but to date largely absent piece of the puzzle.

Being able to see and understand whiteness is crucial in a political climate wherein white supremacists are more active in the public sphere and white supremacist ideologies more acceptable, present everywhere from presidential campaigns to popular movements against diversity in media fan cultures, like the so-called “GamerGate,” “Sad Puppies,” and “ComicsGate.” The current moment did not spring fully formed out of the minds of a vocal minority; it has been in the making for centuries, not just in the explicit hatred of avowed racists, but in the systemic abuses of many Western governments and (settler-)colonial powers and, importantly, in the silence, acquiescence, and willful ignorance of the overwhelming majority of white people.

This book draws on the authors’ work in American cultural history and popular culture studies to bridge the gap between the public sphere and scholars’ developing knowledge of whiteness’s history and manifestations. We aim to make the most of the increased public awareness and attention to the language, effects, and violences of whiteness by helping to broaden and deepen the conversation. Whiteness ultimately provides a lexicon around which conversations about anti-racist action and organizing can productively converge.