Publication DateSkip to Main Content
The analytical category of “whiteness” is useful for probing numerous facets of American culture and politics as they intersect with transnational and global concerns, from historical and contemporary interactions among different communities within the United States, to political engagement between the United States and other nations. As an ideologically laden category that has defined the limits of citizenship and national belonging, attention to ideas about and performances of whiteness helps to explain the complicated ways in which American subjectivity is inextricably tied to racial formation. Important concepts within American nationalistic discourse—including democracy, modernity, and freedom—have developed in tandem with ideas about whiteness and racial difference. Seemingly straightforward, the term nonetheless has multifarious connotations, its definition further complicated by the way its meaning has changed over time. The historical development of American culture and society has led to shifts in the meaning of whiteness from the founding of the United States through the present day. Since the beginning of the twenty-first century, ideas about whiteness have continued to change, demonstrating its capacity to conform to and redefine new ideas about identity, belonging, and difference at both the local and global levels.
Citation in APA 7th Edition
Dees, S. (2016). Whiteness. In E. J. Blum (Ed.), America in the World, 1776 to the Present: A Supplement to the Dictionary of American History (Vol. 2, pp. 1092-1097). Charles Scribner's Sons.