A Global Look at Mixing: Problems, Pitfalls and Possibilities

A Global Look at Mixing: Problems, Pitfalls and Possibilities

Journal of Intercultural Studies
Volume 35, Issue 6, 2014
pages 677-688
DOI: 10.1080/07256868.2014.968305

Erica Chito Childs, Associate Professor of Sociology
Hunter College, The City University of New York

The importance of studying mixed race in a global perspective is gaining momentum. The global economy, growing rates of immigration, and rapidly advancing information and communication technologies have brought diverse groups in closer contact in more areas of the globe, even those previously regarded as racially and ethnically homogenous. Intermarried couples and mixed race celebrities are often heralded in media reports as examples of a growing phenomenon where race, culture and color are argued to no longer matter, even when that is far from the reality. Amidst these widespread claims of a post-racial or colorblind world, the othering of certain groups and racialized discourse remains, and is often most clear in debates over the possibility or perceived threat of intimacy and sex with racialized Others. Mixing across established boundaries of race, ethnicity, religion or tribe is still dangerous, and these realities need to be studied globally. While countless academic studies and media reports have been devoted to investigating, documenting and/or explaining this phenomenon of mixed identities and relationships, many questions remain unanswered. Who can marry whom? What are attitudes toward “mixing?” How do the children of mixed couples identify? What differences matter? How are these differences articulated and what are the underlying reasons that these perceived differences matter, particularly when it comes to intimate and familial relations? And in an ever-changing globalised world, is there a way to understand the experiences of mixed people and families in a global context, or is there too much difference—different histories, different populations and different contexts to find common ground? Therefore this article will briefly review the current state of “mixed” research, why it is important to study this issue while highlighting the problems with existing approaches and emphasizing the need for a global framework for understanding mixed marriage and mixed identities.

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