Observing 'racial' representations along the Mississippi

Critical Whiteness Studies

For the purpose of our project using critical whiteness studies has two main consequences:

1) We need to draw attention to our own position as (mostly) white well educated students

Positionality & the researching self

Starting Point:

One important aspect of our project was to draw attention to our own positionality and location as researching subjects.


Theoretical Background

authentic? Different/similar?

Key Concepts:

Critical Whiteness Studies

Gender/Queer Studies

Cultural Studies

Research methods:

  1. Participant observation
  2. guidetours/lectures by experts
  3. observation
  4. participation
  5. literature and internet research
  6. interviews 

Key categories:
race, class, gender, sexuality, religion, ethnicity, education

Museums, Memorials, Beale Street in Memphis, Bourbon Street in New Orleans, interpretative Centers, plantations, restaurants, cafes, bars

Research Policies:

Anti-normative, anti-racist, feminist


With postcolonial, poststructualist and feminist theorists, like Judith Butler, Homi Bhabha, Gayatri Spivak a.o. we understand identity as neither fixed in time nor bound to any biological ground. It needs to be understood as constantly fluid and changeable. Although it is strongly influenced or sometimes based on identity-categories like race, class, gender, sexuality or religion, it is never grounded on only one of these categories.

Interpellation/Intersection of different identity categories.


New Orleans

While in New Orleans we got the chance to talk to some residences. One of them was Osa, a 30 year old woman of color, musician and queer activist. Osa among other things writes a blog about her experiences in New Orleans, especially focusing on but not restricted to the southern punk scene.

There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives (Audre Lorde).

From Memphis on our attention was drawn to the category of color.

While traveling we got the impression that the percentage became higher the further south we got.

The same questions need to be asked if we shift the focus on the question of racial segregation. We need to consider that our expectations might have influenced the way and what we saw.


Authors: Maria Katharina Wiedlack, Puneh Rezwan, Anna Steiner (Univ. Wien) and Stefan Eich (Univ. d. Saarlandes)