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Abstract

Until relatively recently the sociology of race and ethnicity, with a few notable exceptions, has been predominantly concerned with ethnic minorities and colour-based forms of racism. However, developments across a range disciplines have seen a new attention given to the question of white ethnicity and the meaning of whiteness. This paper considers three discernable approaches to critical whiteness studies and is focused on developing a productive dialogue between the materialist, deconstructionist and psychoanalytic frameworks identified. The author argues that these repertoires differ in seeking to abolish, deconstruct or rethink the meaning of whiteness and white identities as they currently stand. It is suggested that each of these positions can inspire an interrogation of white identities capable of disturbing the more traditional focus of race enquiry to engender new theory and political practices in the field. The article concludes by pointing to some of the limits of white ethnicities research and argues for more international approaches to offset the parochial possibilities of a ‘white studies’ agenda. It is suggested that new geographies of whiteness can displace the construction of critical whiteness studies as a Western pursuit and open up researchers to a global interpretation and postcolonial understanding of such race markers.