The field of whiteness studies is relatively young compared to other well-established disciplines, including critical race theory. On its trajectory to carve out a new academic niche, whiteness studies is challenged with, and must therefore negotiate, a wide range of criticisms intended to dismantle the enterprise. This synthesis paper inspects the literature on whiteness as an analytical concept and showcases a catalogue of critiques against the field. Despite various complaints that cast doubt upon the legitimacy of the subject, whiteness studies does make a substantial contribution to the study of contemporary racism and the processes of racialization, albeit usually from a white person’s perspective. The paper concludes with a discussion on the relevance of whiteness studies in today’s context and future prospects for racial equality. I suggest that whiteness studies offers a distinctive epistemological standpoint to explore racism, which provides the potential for this field to contribute to our understanding of racial justice in ways that warrant its emergence.
Chen, J. M. (2017). The Contentious Field of Whiteness Studies. Journal for Social Thought, 2(1). Retrieved from https://ir.lib.uwo.ca/jst/vol2/iss1/3