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Cyberspace, Whiteness, and Vegan Rhetoric…

My Master’s thesis about manifestations of whiteness, via a vegan forum, is now available as an e-book for $5.99 (Well, I gotta payback those Dartmouth and Harvard loans somehow!).

Got the Dean’s award for it, so I think it’s a good purchase for those interested in this stuff!

Abstract: Cyberspace can be a central site for excavating the invisibility of covert whiteness (a tacit form of racialized consciousness), which does not manifest itself at the surface level in the same overt manner that extreme white cyber hate “imagined communities” do. Through the application of Critical Race Theory and Black Feminist methodology-based discursive analysis, this thesis investigates performances of whiteness in a vegan/animalrights- oriented website called As a progressive forum associated with social justice, provides a radically different environment in which to examine white supremacist ideologies; ideologies typically found in more overtly-racist, “extremist” online dialogues already examined by critical research. Discourse analysis of a specific forum topic revealed three major themes in the computer-mediated discussion: (1) discursive patrolling of epistemic borders to “protect” Standard English and colorblind expressions (whiteness) of veganism/animal rights from non-Standard English and non-white racialized expressions; (2) the use of blackface cyber-minstrelsy to reinforce the “superiority” of Standard English (whiteness) over the “inferiority” of speakers of Black English and Ebonics; (3) the premise among several white-identified participants that a vegan- and animal-rights ideology is “colorblind” thus making invisible the current socio-historical implications of power structures created around white skin color. Though this thesis focuses on one discussion within a forum, the analysis of this event offers insight relevant to understanding whiteness as a system, an ideology, and a structure. Specifically, by employing certain theoretical components of critical race studies (racialized consciousness, social ontology of whiteness, and racial mapping), my analysis reveals how the World Wide Web can be an effective site for cyber-ethnographers focusing on “decoding” whiteness within progressive social justice movements.

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