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KCI등재 학술저널

Whiteness: The Career of a Concept

This article revisits the historiography of whiteness studies. While discussing the dramatic rise and sudden fall of whiteness studies, this article demonstrates that the elusive and protean definition of whiteness was at the heart of the strange career of this concept. With the publication of David R. Roediger’s classic The Wages of Whiteness in 1991, whiteness studies grew dramatically and settled as a subfield in American history. However, since the beginning of the 2000s, the scholarship on whiteness has quickly declined. While tracing the trajectory of whiteness studies, this article borrows Daniel T. Rodgers’s framework for analyzing the scholarship of republicanism. Rodgers interpreted the “republican synthesis” of the 1980s as a “paradigm shift” and claimed that the rise and fall of republicanism studies originated from the lack of a clear definition of republicanism. Similarly, the flexible definition of whiteness made scholars possible to apply the concept freely to a wide range of topics. In so doing, the concept of whiteness became a hollow signifier losing its original meaning.

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