Chapter

Cinematicus Ethnographicus: Race and Class in an Ethnographic Land of Make-Believe

in Harlemworld

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2001 | ISBN: 9780226389981
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226390000 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226390000.003.0007
Cinematicus Ethnographicus: Race and Class in an Ethnographic Land of Make-Believe

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This chapter examines the multiple claims on race and class articulated in the mass media, specifically film. Recent Hollywood depictions of Harlem show that the mass media also offer up performative and practice-based notions of race, class, and their intersection—notions that often privilege a kind of fairytale voluntarism where interracial differences are easily transcended by classed behaviors. These cinematic models start from the same premises in folk theories about race but are restricted to a stubbornly make-believe reading of the social world where classed behavior is decidedly more powerful social glue than a still-extant racial difference, and acting authentically black means being specifically classed. This is a perceptual schema wherein the same old-fashioned racial and ethnic hierarchies are simply hidden behind class proxies.

Keywords: class; race; ethnographic; racial difference; ethnic hierarchies

Chapter.  13817 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Anthropology

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