ABSTRACT

As illustrated by Italian and Irish immigrants and the Roma people, intersections between whiteness and ethnicity signify the complex and variable effects of differentiation as expressed by Brah and Phoenix (2004). Race is not merely a social position of difference from normative whiteness, it is an effect of differentiation that involves economic, cultural, and subjective processes. Differentiation depends on its context. As Dhamoon (2008, 2011) and others have urged, the question of how intersectionality reflects the exercise of power is more important than the content of any particular intersection. We have also seen how dominant positionality and whiteness are neglected but nonetheless implied in intersectionality theory since it assumes a robust relationality between oppression and domination. In an effort to parse the intersections more carefully, we have considered how intersections can be reinforcing and contradictory. Recall Anthias’ (2005) remark that locations of social difference can reinforce domination and subordination producing inequalities. They may also contradict such patterns depending on a complex web of social positions and the way that human subjects position themselves in different conditions. In power relations, class and ethnicity reinforce each other in some circumstances while they contradict each other in different circumstances. This approach can account for the complexities of whiteness as it intersects with ethnicity. Exploring these dynamics specific facilitates a movement away from categories of difference toward an analysis of the processes and structural arrangements in which difference has come to matter.