Research Discussion: Civility in Uncivil Times: Framing the Racial Pyramid and Comparative Racialization
220 Townsend Hall
Columbia, MO 65203
Contact Email: MizzouEdDiversity@missouri.edu
Phone Number: (573) 882-0511
Civility in Uncivil Times: Framing the Racial Pyramid and Comparative Racialization by Dr. Lynn Itagaki (she/her)
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Civility has been much on the minds of pundits in local and national political discussions since the 1990s. Periods of civil unrest or irreconcilable divisions in governance intensify concerns about civility. While its more archaic definitions refer to citizenry and civilization, civility is often promoted as the foundation or goal of deliberative democracies. However, less acknowledged is its disciplinary, repressive effects in maintaining or deepening racial, gendered, heteronormative, and ableist hierarchies that distinguish some populations for full citizenship and others for partial rights and protections. Comparative racialization identifies how race is constructed through interracial comparison, hierarchization, and triangulation – for example, how the category of “Asian American” depends on constructions of Black, Indigenous, Latinx and White despite its heterogeneity. I posit the “racial pyramid” as a strategy for recognizing the missing parts of our conversations about interracial injury and inequality.
Lynn Mie Itagaki is an award-winning educator and writer who researches and speaks about interracial relations. As an Associate Professor of English and Women’s & Gender Studies at the University of Missouri, she is a nationally recognized expert on interracial civility and conflict who has been interviewed by NPR, PBS, Time, and other local and national podcasts and radio shows. She regularly speaks about Asian American history, law, and politics to academic and popular audiences. Her research and teaching interests include interracial ethics and twentieth- and twenty-first-century U.S. literature by writers of color, and her 2016 book, Civil Racism: The 1992 Los Angeles Rebellion and the Crisis of Racial Burnout, examines the post–civil rights era in terms of the 1992 Los Angeles interracial conflict. Professor Itagaki’s next book projects examine the aesthetics and politics of the media bystander in the post-9/11 era and race and economics in literature after the Great Recession. Recently, she has published on multiculturalism and “racial laundering” in the 2013 Supreme Court voting rights case Shelby County v. Holder. Her forthcoming analysis of intersectionality’s benefits and drawbacks for Asian American experiences will appear in Jennifer Nash and Samantha Pinto’s Routledge Companion to Intersectionality. Professor Itagaki was a 2018-2021 Visiting Fellow at Northumbria University, England, and a 2019 Visiting Professor at Saarland University, Germany. She serves as the series Co-Editor for Since 1970: Studies in Contemporary America at the University of Georgia Press. After growing up in southern California, Professor Itagaki has lived and taught across the United States: the East Coast, New South, Rocky Mountain West, and Midwest.