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Plausible Prejudice

Everyday Experiences and Social Images of Nation, Culture and Race
Marianne Gullestad

B 2006:3
Oslo: Scandinavian University Press (2006)
ISBN print: 978-82-15-00956-8
Pages: 375

Does a nation have to be imagined in terms of ancestry and descent, or can it be imagined as a community of conversation across overlapping multiplicities of origin and identification? Is racism an issue that was basically solved long ago, or are we witnessing new kinds of more subtle racial practices? Can the ability to practice critical self-reflection become part of national self-understanding and pride? These are some of the questions discussed in Marianne Gullestad’s new book. In contrast to most studies of minority-majority relations, she does not focus on minority groups, but on the conventional wisdom of the politically dominant majority population. The essays cover a range of themes, from individualized identification and the struggle to obtain a ‘sustainable self-image’ to national belonging and ‘race thinking’. The author argues that social actors construct racial and national boundaries by drawing on everyday-life experiences. This is how racial prejudice can become ‘plausible prejudice’. Marianne Gullestad offers her analyses to a wider English-speaking public, hoping that her readers will find them useful for understanding the intellectual and political challenges of the present times. There are both similarities and differences throughout Europe, and this book contributes new material and new theoretical perspectives for comparative studies. For Norwegian readers, the examination in a foreign language of ideas and practices that appear to be self-evident may provide a liberating distance and create a wider and richer public space for reflection and analysis.The essays in Plausible Prejudice are written over the last ten years.Table of contentsPrefaceAcknowledgements1. Introduction: the social production of conventional wisdom2. Individualization: from obedience to negotiation in families and workplaces 3. Everyday practices and social imaginaries: home, local community and nation4. Boundaries of belonging: children's everyday lives and national identification 5. Mainstream and alternative models of family life 6. Invisible fences: reinventing sameness and difference 7. A public dispute about a racial term 8. Anthropologists debating `culture' and `race' 9. Tales of descent and consent: young people struggling for a sustainable self image 10. "Mohammed Atta and I": discrimination and the formation of `sleepers' 11. Imagined kinship and the rearticulation of political ethno nationalism 12. The dignity of the scholarPostscript: Decolonizing anthropological knowledgeAppendix: List of publications on which the chapters are based Bibliography