Indeed, as Judith Butler has argued, to call "race a construction or an attribution in no
way deprives it of its force in life; on the contrary, it becomes precisely a presiding and
indispensable force within politically saturated discourses in which the term must be
continually resignified against its racist usages." Bodies That Matter (New York: Routledge,
1993), pp. 247-248.
Welcome to the Jungle (New York: Routledge, 1994), p. 202.
Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination (New York: Random House,
1993), p. 59·
4 In The Black Atlantic, Paul Gilroy provides an argument that complements this one, ex-
ploring the fundamental contributions that the culture of the African diaspora, in col-
lision with the dominant cultures of Europe and the Americas, has made to Western
modernity. Gilroy contends that "tracing the racial signs from which the discourse of cul-
tural value was constructed and their conditions of existence in relation to European aes-
thetics and philosophy as well as European science can contribute much to an ethnohis-
torical reading of the aspirations of Western modernity as a whole and to the critique of
Enlightenment assumptions in particular." The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Con-
sciousness (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1993), p. 8. In particular, Gilroy
emphasizes the dependency of white culture upon meanings that are racialized in spe-
cific historical ways for its unarticulated self-definition: "Notions of the primitive and the
civilised which had been integral to a pre-modern understanding of 'ethnic' differences
became fundamental cognitive and aesthetic markers in the processes which generated
a constellation of subject pOSitions in which Englishness, Christianity, and other ethniC
and racialised attributes would finally give way to the dislocating dazzle of 'whiteness'"
(9). Considering the case of the United States, Gilroy traces the effects of the "double
consciousness" that Ou Bois ascribes to African Americans upon the general culture of
5 James Snead, White Screens, Black Images (New York: Routledge, 1994), p. 5. On the tactic
of "marking" he has this to say: "As if the blackness of black skin were not enough, we
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