Tilting at Windmills: The Paradox of Researching Mixed-Race

Tilting at Windmills: The Paradox of Researching Mixed-Race

Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (New Orleans, LA,  2000-04-24 through 2000-04-28)

Kristen A. Renn, Associate Professor
Michigan State University

This paper addresses the growing interest among social scientists in studying the experiences of so-called mixed-race (or multiracial, biracial, or mixed heritage) individuals, when the study of multiraciality risks reinforcing the notion of fixed races.  Distinguishing mixed-race people as a category assumes that there are pure races to begin with and that there are people who are not mixed-race.  The paper begins with a brief review of the history of the study of multiraciality, then it poses questions raised by the study of the experiences of mixed-race people.  It presents five alternative philosophical approaches to addressing this question, and it suggests how the study of multiraciality might be done without further reinforcing the notion of static racial categories. The paper maintains throughout that race does not exist except as a social construction. (Contains 69 references.)

Read the entire paper here.

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