Alexandria Digital Research Library

The Master's Colorblind Tools: Hegemonic Racial Discourse and the Decolonial Imaginaries of Contemporary Afro-Panamanian, Black South African, and Chicana/o Literatures

Milazzo, Marzia
Degree Grantor:
University of California, Santa Barbara. Comparative Literature
Degree Supervisor:
Carl Gutierrez Jones and George Lipsitz
Place of Publication:
[Santa Barbara, Calif.]
University of California, Santa Barbara
Creation Date:
Issued Date:
Hispanic American Studies, Literature, African, Literature, Latin American, Black Studies, Literature, Comparative, American Studies, and Literature, American
Panamanian Literature
South African Literature
Racial Theory
Chicana/o Literature
Dissertations, Academic and Online resources
Ph.D.--University of California, Santa Barbara, 2013

A comparative study of the relation between the poetics and the politics of racial disavowal and antiracism across national borders and literary traditions, this dissertation examines the rhetorical contours of colorblindness and their implications for contemporary Afro-Panamanian, Black South African, and Chicana/o literatures, and for the production of knowledge. I consider colorblindness as an ideology and discourse, as well as a metaphor for the global attempt to invisibilize "the colorline,---the relation of the darker races to the lighter races of men in Asia and Africa, in America and the islands of the sea" that W.E.B. Du Bois in The Souls of Black Folk (1903) identified as the "problem of the twentieth century." While the colorline persists, colorblindness poses a crucial obstacle to its removal in the twenty-first century.

While much contemporary racial theory posits the novelty of the current racial order and the hegemonic discourse that sustains it, this study examines overlaps and continuities between colonial, overt white supremacist, and colorblindness discourse, as well as unforeseen affinities between particular colonial and decolonial imaginaries. In the process, it uncovers the rhetorical manifestations of what I call an epistemology of disavowal, and shows that colorblindness is not a new discourse. I argue that maintaining the centrality of the conceptual category colonialism is itself necessary if we are to understand the rhetorical contours of colorblindness and their far-reaching implications in the twenty-first century. Just as the current racial order displays striking continuities with the colonial past, entanglement also defines colorblindness, a pan-white discourse whose reproduction, as this dissertation demonstrates, transcends historical, national, linguistic, literary, disciplinary, and racial boundaries.

Anchored in colonial relations, the rhetorics and logics that structure colorblindness form part of the archive and repertoire of white knowledge, which I define as a discursive formation and literary tradition shaping, and shaped by, the white supremacist canon. I also conceptualize white knowledge as racial consciousness. Tracing colorblindness from the Americas to South Africa, the study concurrently illustrates the transportability of the discourse across time and space, its contextual and geographical particularity, and its inextricability from deeply entrenched colonial epistemologies and ontologies.

Physical Description:
1 online resource (393 pages)
UCSB electronic theses and dissertations
Catalog System Number:
Inc.icon only.dark In Copyright
Copyright Holder:
Marzia Milazzo
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