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What is “postcolonial sociology”? While the study of postcoloniality has taken on the form of “postcolonial theory” in the humanities, sociology's approach to postcolonial…
What is “postcolonial sociology”? While the study of postcoloniality has taken on the form of “postcolonial theory” in the humanities, sociology's approach to postcolonial issues has been comparably muted. This essay considers postcolonial theory in the humanities and its potential utility for reorienting sociological theory and research. After sketching the historical background and context of postcolonial studies, three broad areas of contribution to sociology are highlighted: reconsiderations of agency, the injunction to overcome analytic bifurcations, and a recognition of sociology's imperial standpoint.
This essay uses the sociology of race in the United States (as it pertains to the study of African Americans) as point of entry into the larger problem of what…
This essay uses the sociology of race in the United States (as it pertains to the study of African Americans) as point of entry into the larger problem of what implications and impact the body of theory known as “postcolonialism” has for American sociology. It assesses how American sociology has historically dealt with what the discipline (in its less enlightened moments) called the “Negro Problem” and in its more “enlightened moments” called “the sociology of race relations.” The first half of the essay provides a sociological analysis of a hegemonic colonial institution – education – as a means of providing a partial history of how, why, and when American sociology shifted from a more “global” stance which placed the “Negro Problem” within the lager rubric of global difference and empire to a parochial sociology of “race relations” which expunged the history of colonialism from the discipline. The second half of the essay applies postcolonial literary theory to a series of texts written by the founder of the Chicago school of race relations, Robert Ezra Park, in order to document Park's shift from analyzing Black Americans within a colonial framework which saw the “Negro Problem” in America as an “aspect or phase” of the “Native Problem” in Africa to an immigration/assimilation paradigm that tenaciously avoided engaging with the fact that Black resistance to conflict in America might be articulated in global terms.
Taking an intersectional approach, this chapter makes a theoretical and empirical contribution to the study of mothers’ movements in the context of social welfare cutbacks…
Taking an intersectional approach, this chapter makes a theoretical and empirical contribution to the study of mothers’ movements in the context of social welfare cutbacks in Israel. I argue that the political use of the maternal identity provides an important cultural resource to women’s social movements, yet all women cannot access this advantage equally. By adding an intersectional perspective to the literature on women’s movements and media debates, this empirical study shows that the ability of different groups of women to politically mobilize their maternal identity in the news is impacted by their class and racial backgrounds. I focus on Israel as an ambiguous case that reflects both the political relevance of maternal identity as mobilized by different political actors, as well as the intersectional dynamics of marginalization of women’s movements within contentious media debates about austerity policies. Using critical discourse analysis, I analyzed 268 newspaper articles that discuss the Israeli Single Mothers’ Movement, a welfare rights movement of low-income women of color (Mizrahi). I find two competing frames converging across the newspapers analyzed: the first draws on a nationalist discourse of the “mother of the nation” to present a positive image of a heroic “mothers’ movement”; the second draws on racist and sexist images to negatively frame activists as a “Mizrahi movement” of undeserving poor mothers. I show how the contested construction of the Single Mothers’ Movement in the news media is directly connected to hegemonic Israeli discourse on motherhood and ethnicity, and demonstrate how this shapes the movement’s public image and its political and feminist value.