Traveling Whiteness: Interchanges in the Study of Whiteness

Keynote Sessions:

Friday, October 18, 10:15-12:00: Dr. Mike Hill (University at Albany-SUNY): "'Whiteness' at War: Human Terrain Systems, Neuro-militarism, and the Politics of Fluid Demography" 

Abstract: This talk examines the intersection between the US Army's Human Terrain Systems program and emerging military applications of neuroscience in order to describe a series of new dynamics related to "whiteness."  Gone are the days where white identity is presumed to be a normative and invisible opponent of whatever marked racial category might be defined against it.  Instead, traditional notions of racial identity are being supplanted by a fluid, local, and mutable dynamics of collective identification whose "cleavages" can be worked according to the contours of asymmetrical war.  On the macrocosmic scale of population, racial norms are being re-worked and exploited according to the "cultural turn" in counter-insurgency doctrine, for example, as espoused by the mapping of so-called "white Afghans."  On the microcosmic scale of the neurological cell, a similar politics of fluid demography is found in the exploration of "white matter" as an additional area of military operation, now focused on the highly diversified architectures of the human brain.
Bio: Mike Hill is an Associate Professor at the University at Albany, SUNY, where he recently stepped down as department Chair. His books are: The Other Adam Smith:  Popular Contention, Commercial Society, and the Birth of Necro-politics (Stanford:  2014); After Whiteness: Unmaking an American Majority (NYU: 2004); Masses, Classes, and the Public Sphere (Verso: 2000) (contrib. ed.); and Whiteness:  A Critical Reader (NYU: 1997); (contrib. ed.).  He is currently finishing a book called Ecologies of War:  Racial Complexity in an Age of Failed States for the University of Minnesota Press.
Saturday, October 19, 14:30-16:15: Dr. Philomena Essed (Antioch University): “Entitlement, Racism and the Quest for Dignity”


Abstract: In the New millennium there is an increase in, what I have called, entitlement racism, where freedom of expression, often seen as the right to offend, is used to legitimize racism. Entitlement racism serves to humiliate the racial or ethnic Other. Humiliation is a relational phenomenon. While it can have the impact of repressing resistance and undermining self-respect of the Other it also compromises the dignity of those who humiliate. 


Bio: Dr. Philomena Essed is Professor of Critical Race, Gender and Leadership studies at the Antioch University (USA), PhD in Leadership and Change Program and affiliated researcher at the Utrecht University (The Netherlands) Graduate Gender Program. She is well-known for her research on everyday racism and gendered racism and has published extensively on these and related subjects. Her major publications include: Everyday Racism (Hunter House: 1990); Understanding Everyday Racism (SAGE: 1991); and Race Critical Theories : Text and Context (Blackwell: 2002; co-edited with David Theo Goldberg). See


The ”Traveling Whiteness” conference, organized at the University of Turku on 18-19 October 2013, will be the first conference on the study of whiteness in the Nordic countries. The study of Whiteness emerged in the United States as a field of inquiry into the historical, social, and cultural aspects of Whiteness as a source of identity formation and socio-historical power relations. During the past three decades, the notion of Whiteness has been studied from a number of inter/disciplinary, theoretical, and geographic perspectives. As the study of Whiteness has traveled across geographic locations and scholarly contexts, it has become a subject of heated debates regarding its epistemological conceptualization, theoretical delineation, and methodological applicability.

“Traveling Whiteness” calls attention to the various geographic, socio-historical, and cultural contexts within which the study of Whiteness emerges. In particular, we are will explore the following questions: Where does the study of Whiteness appear? How does the notion of Whiteness transform in its multiple locations? How does it shape our understanding of race/racism? What epistemological, theoretical, and methodological challenges does traveling bring with it? How does Whiteness transform within specific inter/national, socio-historical, and political contexts? What possibilities and prospects does traveling entail?

For further information on the conference and to register for workshops, please visit the conference website at:

For general inquiries, please contact the Conference Coordinator Aleksi Huhta, email:

The Organizing Committee at the University of Turku:

Dr. Benita Heiskanen (Turku Institute for Advanced Studies and Cultural History)

Ph.D. Candidate Aleksi Huhta (General History)
Dr. Suvi Keskinen (Sociology)

Dr. Lotta Kähkönen (Gender Studies)
Dr. Johanna Leinonen (Turku Institute for Advanced Studies and General History).

20014 Turun yliopisto, Finland
Puhelinvaihde: 029 450 5000


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