Shades of Difference: Why Skin Color Matters

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Shades of Difference addresses the widespread but little studied phenomenon of colorism—the preference for lighter skin and the ranking of individual worth according to skin tone. Examining the social and cultural significance of skin color in a broad range of societies and historical periods, this insightful collection looks at how skin color affects people's opportunities in Latin America, Asia, Africa, and North America.

Is skin color bias distinct from racial bias? How does skin color preference relate to gender, given the association of lightness with desirability and beauty in women? The authors of this volume explore these and other questions as they take a closer look at the role Western-dominated culture and media have played in disseminating the ideal of light skin globally. With its comparative, international focus, this enlightening book will provide innovative insights and expand the dialogue around race and gender in the social sciences, ethnic studies, African American studies, and gender and women's studies.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"[T]his is an excellent collection with new findings, important ideas, and moving quotations and illustrations. I recommend it highly."—Jennifer L. Hochschild, Journal of American Ethnic History

"If you think that there is nothing left to write or read about skin color and human societies, Shades of Difference will change your mind and shake you up."—Nina G. Jablonski, Journal of Anthropological Research

"Shades of Difference is a distinguished collection that broadens the new area of colorism scholarship to include the national and international class dynamics of why skin color matters. Evelyn Nakano Glenn has brought together diverse authors to capture a range of identities shaped by the national and international politics and economics of skin color. A must read for all concerned with critical race studies." —Mary Romero, Arizona State University

"Skin color and race are often used synonymously in the US. From historical accounts of black beauty pageants to social meanings of color in Brazil to global marketing of skin lightening products, Nakano Glenn presents an array of research from different countries of the world to analyze the meanings and hierarchies of skin-color. The result is a very thought-provoking book that will reshape how scholars think about skin color and race in the contemporary world." —Bandana Purkayastha, University of Connecticut

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780804759991
  • Publisher: Stanford University Press
  • Publication date: 1/23/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 312
  • Sales rank: 1,505,365
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Evelyn Nakano Glenn is Professor of Ethnic Studies and Gender and Women's Studies and Founding Director of the Center for Race and Gender at the University of California, Berkeley. She currently holds the position of president-elect of the American Sociological Association and will assume the presidency of the association in 2009.

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Table of Contents

Contributors vii

Introduction: Economies of Color Angela P. Harris 1

Part I The Significance of Skin Color: Transnational Divergences and Convergences 7

1 The Social Consequences of Skin Color in Brazil Edward Telles 9

2 A Colorstruck World: Skin Tone, Achievement, and Self-Esteem Among African American Women Verna M. Keith 25

3 The Latin Americanization of U.S. Race Relations: A New Pigmentocracy Eduardo Bonilla-Silva David R. Dietrich 40

Part II Meanings of Skin Color: Race, Gender, Ethnic Class, and National Identity 61

4 Filipinos and the Color Complex: Ideal Asian Beauty Joanne L. Rondilla 63

5 The Color of an Ideal Negro Beauty Queen: Miss Bronze 1961-1968 Maxine Leeds Craig 81

6 Caucasian, Coolie, Black, or White? Color and Race in the Indo-Caribbean Diaspora Arisha Khan 95

7 The Dynamics of Color: Mestizaje, Racism, and Blackness in Veracruz, Mexico Christina A. Sue 114

Part III Consuming Lightness: Modernity, Transnationalism, and Commodification 129

8 Skin Tone and the Persistence of Biological Race in Egg Donation for Assisted Reproduction Charis Thompson 131

9 Fair Enough? Color and the Commodification of Self in Indian Matrimonials Jyotsna Vaid 148

10 Consuming Lightness: Segmented Markets and Global Capital in the Skin-Whitening Trade Evelyn Nakano Glenn 166

11 Skin Lighteners in South Africa: Transnational Entanglements and Technologies of the Self Lynn M. Thomas 188

Part IV Countering Colorism: Legal Approaches 211

12 Multilayered Racism: Courts' Continued Resistance to Colorism Claims Taunya Lovell Banks 213

13 The Case for Legal Recognition of Colorism Claims Trina Jones 223

14Latinos at Work: When Color Discrimination Involves More Than Color Tanya Katerí Hernández 236

Acknowledgments 247

Notes 249

Index 291

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