1 The defining features of culture are subject to constant interrogation in a process
of continual reevaluation that has followed this key concept throughout its long
career. For current overviews of the stakes in defining culture, see Bonnell and
Hunt (1999); Cli√ord (1988); Dirks (1998); R. Fox and King (2002); R. Fox and
Lears (1993); Kuper (1999); Ortner (1999).
2 I am interested in the process by which complex cultural phenomena or dy-
namics are rendered as objects of analysis, either in academic or popular pro-
cesses. The touchstone for my use of objectification is drawn from Berger and
Luckman (1966); Cetina (1999); Haraway (1997).
3 The field of whiteness studies is burgeoning rapidly and is di≈cult to delineate
with a few citations. Key works that survey this field include the symposium
‘‘Whither Whiteness?’’ published in a special edition of Souls: A Critical Jour-
nal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society titled ‘‘Seeing Through the Whiteout’’
(2002) as well as Brander et al. (2001) and Delgado and Stefancic (1997).
4 ‘‘A monolithically normative and therefore invisible Whiteness—e√ectively as-
sumed even by those critiquing it—overlooks the highly diverse range of degrees
of agency, autonomy, status, and social power within White society, and hence
assumes, for those residing at its lowest stratum, a degree of implicit benefits
from being a member of the dominant race that many underclass individuals
have in all likelihood never enjoyed, nor are ever likely to enjoy; concomitantly, it
imposes upon them more responsibility for the evil consequent on that same
dominance’’ (J. Wilson 2002, 398).
5 On the enduring but complicated relevance of ‘‘tribe,’’ see Strong and Van
Winkle (1993), who also discuss a certain leveling e√ect achieved by applying this
vestige of ethnocentricism onto whites.
6 In attempting to navigate ‘‘between the Scylla of ‘race as illusion’ and the
Charybdis of racial objectivism,’’ Howard Winant (1994, 18) o√ers the following