“Outside Extremists”, “White East Enders”, “Passive Bengalis”: Tracking Constructions, Mobilizations and Contestions of Racial Categories in Media Discourses

Article


Wemyss, G. 2006. “Outside Extremists”, “White East Enders”, “Passive Bengalis”: Tracking Constructions, Mobilizations and Contestions of Racial Categories in Media Discourses. SAGE Race Relations Abstracts. 31 (4), pp. 21-47. https://doi.org/10.1177/0307920106068641
AuthorsWemyss, G.
Abstract

The essay investigates the dynamic processes whereby racial categories are constructed, mobilized and contested in local and national media discourses. Data from participant observation of two events, a vigil for the victim of racist violence that became a “riot” and an anti-racist demonstration, is contrasted with dominant television and newspaper discourses about those events. The analysis of unfolding events and associated discourses exposes contradictions between how they are experienced by participants and how they are represented. Keywords (“outsiders”, “extremists”, “violence”) fixed “racial” categories (“Islanders”, “Cockneys”, “East Enders”, “Asians”, “Bengalis”) and discursive absences (White violence, multicultural histories) are identified in the dominant discourse and their mobilizations explored. Contesting discourses associated with White and Bengali participants in those events are analysed in relation to those keywords and the dominant constructions of “racial” categories. The essay argues that processes whereby dominant media discourses work to construct a White East End through the omission of histories of Empire, racism, immigration and heterogeneous settlement are central to dominant discourses about Britishness and belonging. The essay demonstrates that while the events investigated occurred in the very specific context of 1993 east London, the processes of construction, mobilization and contestation of racial and associated categories in dominant discourses continue to be relevant.

JournalSAGE Race Relations Abstracts
Journal citation31 (4), pp. 21-47
ISSN0307-9201
Year2006
PublisherSAGE Publications
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1177/0307920106068641
Publication dates
PrintNov 2006
Publication process dates
Deposited23 Jan 2024
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