Racial WorldmakingThe Power of Popular Fiction

Racial WorldmakingThe Power of Popular Fiction

Mark C. Jerng

Print publication date: 2019

ISBN: 9780823277759

Publisher: Fordham University Press


When does racial description become racism? Critical race studies has not come up with good answers to this question because it has overemphasized the visuality of race. According to dominant theories of racial formation, we see race on bodies and persons and then link those perceptions to unjust practices of racial inequality. Racial Worldmaking argues that we do not just see race. We are taught when, where, and how to notice race by a set of narrative and interpretive strategies. These strategies are named “racial worldmaking” because they get us to notice race not just at the level of the biological representation of bodies or the social categorization of persons. Rather, they get us to embed race into our expectations for how the world operates. These strategies find their most powerful expression in popular genre fiction: science fiction, romance, and fantasy. This book thus rethinks both racial formation in relation to African American and Asian American studies, as well as how scholars have addressed the relationships between literary representation and racial ideology. It analyzes how genre and race build worlds. In doing so, it engages questions central to our current moment: in what ways do we participate in racist worlds? How can we imagine and build an anti-racist world?