Charismatic History: Pros and Cons
This comment on the whole agrees with Eric Arnesen's critique of the whiteness historical scholarship. It suggests, however, that Arnesen insufficiently credits David R. Roediger's The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class (New York, 1991) for its achievement as a kind of charismatic history and insufficiently distinguishes between Roediger's book and the work of his emulators. The latter are the source of the multiple meanings of whiteness that Arnesen rightly criticizes, and likewise for the hardening of Roediger's suggestive notions about âbecoming whiteâ into a new dogma of American immigration history. This comment concludes by noting that in his book Roediger neglected the language of whiteness and suggests that by attending to that question he would find a response to Arnesen's pessimism over the usefulness of whiteness as an analytical concept.