Ambivalence, the external gaze and negotiation: exploring mixed race identity

  • Author / Creator
    Paragg, Jillian E.
  • Between fall 2009 and fall 2010 I conducted semi-structured in-depth interviews with 19 young-adult women and men of mixed race in Edmonton, Alberta. A prominent theme that emerged was being asked the question ‘what are you?’. I position the ‘moment’ of being questioned as a manifestation of the external gaze. People of mixed race are subject to questioning because they do not fit within dominant racial binaries: they exceed the limited horizon of possible narratives of racial discourse and are socially identified as ambivalent (Anzaldua 1987). Within the literature on the ‘racial gaze,’ it is often positioned as
    something that fixes (Fanon 1967). However, the very ambivalence people of mixed race pose to the gaze allows them to negotiate it. The narratives of my respondents demonstrate that the inability of the social gaze to ‘fix’ them opens up the possibility of making identity through negotiating the gaze in multiple ways.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2011
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Kaler, Amy (Sociology)
    • Abu-Laban, Yasmeen (Political Science)