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Abstract

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.

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