Whiteness, Colonisation and Racist Legislation

February 18th 2015 COMS 324  

Sarah Ahmed speaks of whiteness not as an object but as a phenomenological issue. How is whiteness constructed through the corporeal? How is it constructed through the tactile, kinesthetic, vestibular and visual characteristics of objects and subjects in space, which are stored in our memory and comprise our habitual knowledge? She states that phenomenology can show us how whiteness is an effect of racialization, which in turn shapes what bodies are able to do. Ahmed takes the way many people are accustomed to thinking about race – as a set of of racial signifiers that are inherited as traits within a familial framework, to formulate a new concept that uses inheritance to explain race as an effect of space and bodies throughout time. Drawing from Frantz Fanon, she talks about how bodies are shaped by histories of Colonialism, which makes the world ‘white’.  This is a world ‘ready’ for white bodies, a world predisposed to allow the actions of these bodies to go unchallenged and unhindered. Race is what we receive from others as an inheritance of this history, the way we accumulate what is ‘left behind’.   

If bodies are about what they do, might also shape what they can or cannot do. This perception or attitude is a “spatiality-position” one would adopt. Pamela George’s aggressors had to leave their white predominant middle class cities to be able to alter their own behaviour. Spaces of university, arenas and suburban households are space of civility. The surfaces of social space are already internalized by the meaning of such space into bodies. In order to affirm their ‘superiority’ they had to cross the line between respectability and degeneracy: they had to move from their respectable place to a degenerative one. When they landed on the Stroll (which is described as the dark side of the city and a dangerous world of racial Others) with their White orientation, they knew they were strangers on a mission: A mission they would accomplish before heading back to the world they embodied.

In the article by Anna Mehler Paperny, she talks about Canada’s tactiques for weeding out the unwanted immigrants. Canada comes off as being a welcoming haven for persecuted individuals, yet, persons are frequently paid to leave the country or find themselves jailed without purpose. In the case of the Roma refugee claimants, canadian minister Jason Kenney actually travelled to Hungary in an attempt to discourage  any refugees from coming to Canada to file claims. That is one example of a measure put in place, at some point Canada even refused health care to claimants whose status was undetermined; however, this was overturned by court as it was found to be cruel. Canada has made decisions that led to deaths of people that could have been prevented, in addition to paying an extraordinary sum yearly to people to get them to leave. More specifically, over  3,600 people have been paid money to leave adding up to a sum of $7.5 million in the recent two years.  


In what cases could it be right make decisions and create legislation centered around gender and racial bias ?  
How would the phenomenon of ‘colonization’ apply to the Pamela George case study?


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