The invisibility of race: intersectional reflections on the liminal space of alterity

Rollock, Nicola. 2012. The invisibility of race: intersectional reflections on the liminal space of alterity. Race Ethnicity & Education, 15(1), pp. 65-84. ISSN 1361-3324 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

It has been argued that racialised Others occupy a liminal space of alterity; a position at the edges of society from which their identities and experiences are constructed. Rather than being regarded as a place of disadvantage and degradation, it has been posited that those excluded from the centre can experience a ‘perspective advantage’ as their experiences and analyses become informed by a panoramic dialectic offering a wider lens than the white majority located in the privileged spaces of the centre are able to deploy. In this article, I invite the reader to glimpse the world from this liminal positioning as I reflect critically on how the intersections between social class, race and gender variously advantage or disadvantage, depending on the context, the ways in which Black middle classes are able to engage with the education system. While I make reference to findings from a recent school-focused ESRC project ‘The Educational Strategies of the Black Middle Classes’ the article takes a wider perspective of the education system, also incorporating an autobiographical analysis of the academy as a site of tension, negotiation and challenge for the few Black middle classes therein. I make use of the Critical Race Theory tool of chronicling (counter-narrative) to help demonstrate the complex, multifaceted and often contradictory ways in which ambitions for race equality often represent lofty organisational ideals within which genuine understanding of racism is lacking.

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Whiteness, marginality, intersectionality, Critical Race Theory, Black middle classes.

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Educational Studies


4 January 2012Published

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Date Deposited:

26 Jun 2018 11:39

Last Modified:

26 Jun 2018 11:39

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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