Racial Worldmaking: The Power of Popular Fiction

Racial Worldmaking: The Power of Popular Fiction

by Mark C. Jerng


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When does racial description become racism? Critical race studies has not come up with good answers to this question because it has overemphasized the visuality of race. According to dominant theories of racial formation, we see race on bodies and persons and then link those perceptions to unjust practices of racial inequality. Racial Worldmaking argues that we do not just see race. We are taught when, where, and how to notice race by a set of narrative and interpretive strategies. These strategies are named “racial worldmaking” because they get us to notice race not just at the level of the biological representation of bodies or the social categorization of persons. Rather, they get us to embed race into our expectations for how the world operates. As Mark C. Jerng shows us, these strategies find their most powerful expression in popular genre fiction: science fiction, romance, and fantasy.

Taking up the work of H.G. Wells, Margaret Mitchell, Samuel Delany, Philip K. Dick and others, Racial Worldmaking rethinks racial formation in relation to both African American and Asian American studies, as well as how scholars have addressed the relationships between literary representation and racial ideology. In doing so, it engages questions central to our current moment: In what ways do we participate in racist worlds, and how can we imagine and build one that is anti-racist?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780823277766
Publisher: Fordham University Press
Publication date: 11/07/2017
Series: Comparative Theology: Thinking Across Traditions Series
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

Mark C. Jerng is Associate Professor of English at the University of California, Davis. He is the author of Claiming Others: Transracial Adoption and National Belonging.

Table of Contents


Introduction: Racial Worldmaking

Part I. Yellow Peril Genres

Chapter 1. Worlds of Color

Chapter 2. Futures Past of Asiatic Racialization

Part II. Plantation Romance

Chapter 3. Romance and Racism after the Civil War

Chapter 4. Reconstructing Racial Perception

Part III. Sword and Sorcery

Chapter 5. The “Facts” of Blackness and Anthropological Worlds

Chapter 6. Fantasies of Blackness and Racial Capitalism

Part IV. Alternate History

Chapter 7. Racial Counterfactuals and the Uncertain Event of Emancipation

Chapter 8. World War II and Uncertain Forms of Racial Organization

Conclusion: Towards an Anti-racist Racial Worldmaking



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