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12: Categories of Difference

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Courtney Thomas

on 25 April 2018

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Transcript of 12: Categories of Difference

Nations and Nationalities
Lecture 13

Race and Ethnicity
Social Construction of Class
The differences between 1st wave European immigrants and their 2nd and 3rd wave counterparts became defined in terms of class
Class is a category that readily becomes a technique of exclusion
Accents, education level, income, and background become the markers of class distinction

Sex, Gender, Sexuality, Beauty
What is sex? What is gender?
What is sexuality?
What is beauty?

These are ALL social constructions
Modernist Categories
Sexual Orientation

Grounded in binary oppositions in which one is privileged or superior to the other and there are no shades of gray

Categories are based on phenotypic characteristics, geographic ancestry, and physical appearance
The color of skin

Racial categories vary widely from culture to culture
US 1850: White, Black, Mulatto
US 1870: added “Chinese” (all Asians) and American Indian
US 1930: added “Mexican”
US1940: “Mexican” became “White”

Brazil: more than 500 racial categories that change throughout the year

The problem of hypodescent

Racial Categories
Subjective Features of Ethnicity
Ethnicity includes differences grounded in subjective features that refer to groups of individuals who believe they are communally related on the basis of tribe, “home country,” religion, language, or cultural traditions
Catholic-American (religion as ethnicity)
German-American (country of origin as ethnicity)
Arab-American (language as ethnicity)
African-American (culture as ethnicity)

Ethnicity includes differences grounded in objective features
That refer to groups of individuals
Who are grouped together on the basis of physical markers
Often described in “racial” terms
Objective Features of Ethnicity
The Notion of "Hispanic"
“Hispanic” has become a legal and ethnic category in U.S. society
BUT “Hispanic” as a term is a socially constructed bureaucratic term that rejects the Latin influences of African culture
“Latino” and “Latina” represent broader and more culturally comprehensive categories that are more inclusive of, not only Spanish influences, but of Portuguese, African, and Native cultures as well
"Hispanic" As Ethnic Lumping
The term “Hispanic” represents a tendency in cultural construction toward “ethnic lumping” and the racialization of ethnicity
Ethnic lumping represents a systematic oversimplification of ethnic variation and complexity
For example, the term “Hispanic-American” indicates that all who share the material marker of “brown” skin share the same history, culture, and group identity

The Problem in Postville, I A
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