Neither impugning nor disavowing whiteness does a viable politics make: The limits of identity politics

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


When you purchase. your ticket to the 1993 Whitney Biennial Exhibition, you are given a button on which is printed one or several of the words in the statement: “i can’t imagine ever wanting to be white.” I had no idea that I had been given the button that reads “white” as I automatically attached it to my shirt pocket, assuming that it bore the museum logo. Engrossed in the show, I did not notice what was on the buttons that the other patrons wore until I spotted an acquaintance wearing the button with the word “imagine.” I immediately thought of John Lennon and wondered about the connection between 1960s and 1970s counterculture and the identity-politics feel of the exhibition. Was it, I imagined, a way of suggesting that the source of the counterculture, as Michele Wallace has argued, was in the challenges to the mainstream culture by “others ” especially people of color? 1 It was only when I added my button to the others in the box at the exit that I grasped the statement in its entirety and realized that it was part of the show. This canny installation, Museum Tags: Second Movement (Overture) or Overture con Claque—Overture with Hired Audience Members, by Daniel J. Martinez, forced me to reflect on the statement and everything I had just seen.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAfter Political Correctness
Subtitle of host publicationThe Humanities and Society in the 1990s
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages31
ISBN (Electronic)9780429971020
ISBN (Print)9780813323367
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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