I'm currently re-reading this with my students in Religion and Anthropology. After the theory I made them read they're sinking their teeth into EP's e...moreI'm currently re-reading this with my students in Religion and Anthropology. After the theory I made them read they're sinking their teeth into EP's ethnographic treatment of Zande reasoning about witchcraft and defense against it. When first published, this text confronted colonial era assumptions about the intellectual capacities of colonized people. (less)
Provocative and refreshing, laced with mini-manifestos that lead somewhat towards an anthropology of anarchism but more towards an anarchist anthropol...moreProvocative and refreshing, laced with mini-manifestos that lead somewhat towards an anthropology of anarchism but more towards an anarchist anthropology. A good companion to Solnit's A Paradise Built in Hell, and for theorizing utopia broadly. (less)
A good teaching text for introductory course (anthropology or religion). Makes sense of a current popular phenomenon via rubrics of religion, spiritua...moreA good teaching text for introductory course (anthropology or religion). Makes sense of a current popular phenomenon via rubrics of religion, spirituality, community and ritual. Relies heavily on Victor Turner's ritual analysis, which is certainly appropriate but the author could have used the opportunity to engage with, challenge or build on Turner's (and others') ideas rather than merely apply them.(less)
Adventures in the perils of secular modernity. Makes a good companion to Nostalgia for the Modern by Esra Ozyurek, also about the anthropology of publ...moreAdventures in the perils of secular modernity. Makes a good companion to Nostalgia for the Modern by Esra Ozyurek, also about the anthropology of public reasoning firmly situated in a "modern, secular, republic."(less)
Very tight analysis linking kinship, ideology and oral narrative. An excellent introduction to ethnographic writing for undergrads and forms part of t...moreVery tight analysis linking kinship, ideology and oral narrative. An excellent introduction to ethnographic writing for undergrads and forms part of the conversations on the ethnography of speaking, or text, texture and context of oral narrative.(less)
In an accessible yet learned style, Jackson delves into the interpersonal emotional life of race in an attempt to identify the impasse in the glacial...moreIn an accessible yet learned style, Jackson delves into the interpersonal emotional life of race in an attempt to identify the impasse in the glacial progress of race relations in the US. Someone at ColorLines wrote a dismissive review, criticizing Jackson for not writing the book she would like to read about the structural elements of racial discrimination: elements which Jackson takes pains to acknowledge. Despite the clarity achieved through ideological inflexibility, those who focus on institutional racism alone have not provided a satisfactory account of what Fanon long ago identified as racism's covert bunker. I think that every anti-racist needs to grapple with the systematicity and persistence of racial discrimination in all of those situations that are neither conscious, nor mandated, nor unproblematically attributable to media representation.
I think that Jackson is on the right track in pointing to political correctness as a mode in which saying the right thing (or more often, not saying the wrong thing, and to be on the safe side, not saying anything) takes the place of doing the right thing. The ColorLines staffer also claims that Jackson equates white racial paranoia to black racial paranoia. Jackson makes no such claim but he does fail to explicitly analyze the asymmetry of black and white subject positions in US society, which lays him open to the criticism.
My first critique is not of Jackson's emphasis on the internalized and interpersonal aspects of race but rather his approach. For an anthropologist presenting a study based on ethnographic attention (as Jackson promises in the intro., there is rather little ethnographic data presented relative to Jackson's careful parsing of media representation, the actions of famous people, and the texts and history of hip-hop. A focus on what Jackson calls de cardio or heart racism could benefit from more attention to embodied experience. I would have liked to learn more about the sensations and affective states of this deeply embedded experience of race.
My second critique regards framing. Jackson presents black-white racial relations not just as the focus of his book, an entirely reasonable choice, but by presenting the book as being about "race in America," he implies that black-white experience is the paradigm of all other racial formations. While unpacking the nuances of the US racial landscape is not his project, an acknowledgment that racial fault lines split in different ways for different people in different places would have been in order.
My third critique is that Jackson, while courageous enough to champion the need for creating ordinary spaces of interracial sociability as a step to overcoming racial paranoia, doesn't provide much analysis of what this would look like and how it might work. Paul Gilroy has written eloquently about emergent interracial solidarities, the everyday multiculture, the political implications of conviviality, and the impact of anti-racist organizing in Britain (Postcolonial Melancholia (2005). Jackson is brilliantly theoretical at other times (see his 2005 article, A Little Black Magic, in South Atlantic Quarterly) and could have injected more of that brilliance into Racial Paranoia. All that said, I'm assigning my students to read Jackson's conclusion, as I think it (with other readings) will help them think through their own racial position in the US today.