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White socio-spatial epistemology

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Recent work by geographers concerned with the enduring presence of racism has called for an interrogation of the privileges and contingencies of whiteness. Central to this project of denaturalizing White Identity has been the disclosure of its co-constitution with a host of social practices. Building on the work of critical theorists in the humanities and social sciences concerned with masculinist and post-colonial epistemologies, this paper outlines a socio-spatial epistemology of whiteness. Whiteness's central tenets are an essentialist and non-relational construction of space and identity that underwrite its claims to be realized independent of an Other. Spatially, this refusal manifests itself in the deployment of discursive categories associated with scales, boundaries and extensivity in ways that reify space into discrete, unrelated parcels. We discuss some of the implications of this non-relational construction of space and identity in the context of residential segregation and spatial mobility. The paper concludes by noting that historically and geographically specific forms of whiteness have drawn upon a common socio-spatial framing and that further study in this field will benefit anti-racist activism by disclosing the workings of racialization in numerous human geographic contexts.


Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Geography, Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis, Indianapolis, IN 46202, USA 2: Department of Geography, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40506-0027, USA

Publication date: 2000-12-01

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