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Race and becoming: the emergent materialities of race in everyday multiculture

Swanton, Daniel James (2007) Race and becoming: the emergent materialities of race in everyday multiculture. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis draws on ethnographic fieldwork in Keighley, West Yorkshire, to interrogate the turbulent sociality of everyday multicultures and the temporary, but recursive fixings of race on the ground in interaction. Arguing that the routine framing of race as a social construct in the social sciences has had a 'deadening effect' on our academic talk about race, this study takes a line of flight from social constructionist and abolitionist arguments by addressing the underside of intercultural relations in Keighley through questions of experimentation. Repeatedly questioning what race does and how race functions, this research develops a non-determinist, non-essentialist conception of race that continuously takes form through heterogeneous processes of differentiation in moments of intercultural encounter. The thesis develops an ontology of race that grasps how race is simultaneously fluid and fixing, as it momentarily takes form through arrangement bodies, things and spaces. Coupling this conception of race with theorisatdons of thinking as a layered, practical and distributed activity, I assemble a conception of race thinking as thought-in action. Here race thinking is an outcome of, and distributed across, an entanglement with the world and opens up the half-second delay as a space of prejudice during which the push of race sorts bodies, things and spaces, and coordinates thinking and action. Three empirical chapters each take a different materiality as a point of entry into the dynamic socialities of intercultural relations. A chapter on bodies examines the tendencies and distributions of differently raced bodies on the ground in Keighley. This chapter argues that bodies do not have race, but they become raced as the heterogeneous elements that constitute bodies emerge as sites of intensive difference in interaction. A chapter on the car questions how race rides on the car to examine the force of things in race thinking, and track how suspicion and innuendo stick to, and circulate through, particular objects. The final empirical chapter constructs a topographical approach to urban multiculture to evoke the life, passion and intensities of living with difference. The momentum accumulated through these perspectives works towards a distinct understanding how race is done in Keighley. Through the cumulative force of these chapters I begin to reconstruct understandings of urban multiculture from below, emphasising how urban multiculture in Keighley is practised, visceral and felt.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Date:2007
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:08 Sep 2011 18:31

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