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Waste of a White Skin

Waste of a White Skin: The Carnegie Corporation and the Racial Logic of White Vulnerability

Tiffany Willoughby-Herard
Copyright Date: 2015
Edition: 1
Pages: 328
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt13x1h6c
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  • Book Info
    Waste of a White Skin
    Book Description:

    A pathbreaking history of the development of scientific racism, white nationalism, and segregationist philanthropy in the U.S. and South Africa in the early twentieth century,Waste of a White Skinfocuses on the American Carnegie Corporation's study of race in South Africa, thePoor White Study, and its influence on the creation of apartheid.This book demonstrates the ways in which U.S. elites supported apartheid and Afrikaner Nationalism in the critical period prior to 1948 through philanthropic interventions and shaping scholarly knowledge production. Rather than comparing racial democracies and their engagement with scientific racism, Willoughby-Herard outlines the ways in which a racial regime of global whiteness constitutes domestic racial policies and in part animates black consciousness in seemingly disparate and discontinuous racial democracies. This book uses key paradigms in black political thought-black feminism, black internationalism, and the black radical tradition-to provide a rich account of poverty and work. Much of the scholarship on whiteness in South Africa overlooks the complex politics of white poverty and what they mean for the making of black political action and black people's presence in the economic system.Ideal for students, scholars, and interested readers in areas related to U.S. History, African History, World History, Diaspora Studies, Race and Ethnicity, Sociology, Anthropology, and Political Science.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95997-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Preface: POSSESSIONS, BELONGING, COMPANIONSHIP, OR DON’T MIND THE GAP
    (pp. xiii-xviii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-23)

    Critiques of whiteness studies have warned that attention to white identities displaces examination of the roles that black people have been made to play in the making of the modern world.¹ In the tradition of C.L.R. James’s “small whites”² and W.E.B. Du Bois’s “transubstantiation of the poor white”³ and foundational to my response to these critiques, I argue that construction of the abject black other and the construction of white poverty are inextricably bound together but not the same. Keeping these critiques in mind, this book is not an ethnography of poor whites. Rather, I focus on the champions of...

  6. CHAPTER 1 Forgeries of History: The Poor White Study
    (pp. 24-39)

    According to the U.S.-trained South African educator Ernest Gideon Malherbe (1895–1982), thePoor White Studyhad its origins in his youthful musings. But, as I investigate here the Carnegie Corporation created Malherbe and the other members of the cadre of “race relations technicians”— a mobile community of race relations scholars who endorsed segregation in the United States and South Africa and many other settler colonies in which international philanthropies conducted race relations research. I consider Malherbe’s several attempts to establish himself in the annals of intellectual history. Though his research writings were littered with discussion of his exploits, his...

  7. CHAPTER 2 The Visual Culture of White Poverty as the History of South Africa and the United States: Repetition, Rediscovery, Playing with Whiteness
    (pp. 40-78)

    When we examine the racial logic of representations of white vulnerability, we find poor whites constructed as a cultural anomaly that is rediscovered and unearthed time and again. I am concerned with howrediscoveries of white misery and playing with whitenessoperated in visual culture as Afrikaner Nationalists of different stripes used such images and symbols to compete for political legitimacy.¹ This visual culture was extended by forces invested in white nationalism far beyond South Africa. The CarnegiePoor White Studyillustrates how such forces operated through knowledge production, both social scientific and visual cultural. As such, it constructed spaces,...

  8. CHAPTER 3 The White Primitive: Whiteness Studies, Embodiment, Invisibility, Property
    (pp. 79-96)

    In 1960 the Carnegie Corporation continued its investments in scientific racist research in South Africa with the Mobile Testing Laboratory for Research on Mentality. The mobile testing unit was equipped with several long trucks with brightly lit laboratories and staffed by research scientists.¹ The April 1960 correspondence between Johannesburg’s National Institute for Personnel Research and Carnegie staffer S.H. Stackpole featured black-and-white photographs and slides of the mobile labs traveling South African roads and two photographs of scientists. In one image a male scientist displays his instruments on a desk; in the other a female scientist administers a test to a...

  9. CHAPTER 4 The Roots of White Poverty: Cheap, Lazy, Inefficient . . . Black
    (pp. 97-115)

    In 1931 Carnegie Corporation Overseas Visitor Grant recipient, C.S. Richards of the University of Witwatersrand, reported that South African productivity could be transformed if its entrepreneurial culture changed from one based on charisma to one based on U.S. models of scientific management. He added that such scientific management would free South Africa from the “soft cushion of African labour.”¹ Richards suggested that African labor was inefficient and African laborers themselves were incapable of industrial work, but white labor and machines could develop South Africa along more internationally recognizable lines. Richards’s reasoning sought to guarantee the job security of a white...

  10. CHAPTER 5 Origin Stories about Segregationist Philanthropy
    (pp. 116-129)

    Scholars have debated¹ whether Carnegie Corporation philanthropy in South Africa is an example of imported American Jim Crow social science² or whether it was an example of an exceptional South African form of segregationism.³ Such “origin stories” have been critical for many white nationalisms and their ability to repair fragile “racial regimes.”⁴ This pivot around the question of the origins of segregationism prompts us to ask the wrong question. The Carnegie Corporation intervened in South African intellectual life and parliamentary politics in order to suppress black radical viewpoints and legitimate white nationalism.⁵ Trying to locate the origins of segregationism and...

  11. CHAPTER 6 Carnegie in Africa and the Knowledge Politics of Apartheid: Research Agendas not Taken
    (pp. 130-142)

    In 1947¹ Carnegie Corporation of New York president Devereux Josephs invited Cornelis De Kiewiet (1902–86) to investigate “how Carnegie might profitably renew its support of undertakings in South Africa.”² De Kiewiet returned with a research proposal on the impact of proletarianization on black people in the year immediately preceding the Afrikaner Nationalist takeover of government.³ Noting that there were mounting social and racial problems there,⁴ he argued that the CCNY could be as helpful as they had been in the 1930s. CCNY staffer Whitney Shepardson shelved De Kiewiet’s proposal allegedly because the philanthropy sought to avoid involvement in South...

  12. CHAPTER 7 “I’ll Give You Something to Cry About”: The Intraracial Violence of Uplift Feminism in the Carnegie Poor White Study Volume, The Mother and Daughter of the Poor Family
    (pp. 143-166)

    A new knowledge politics about poor whites has emerged from feminist criticism of women’s roles as agents of apartheid. The postapartheid concern among South African feminist literary critics about the politics of guilt, innocence, and culpability among white women, in particular, can be viewed as a new iteration of this examination of poor whites, albeit with a decided investment in the postcolonial feminist political project. This new way of thinking about the meanings of whiteness has important implications for the examination of the racial group poor whites and the making of gendered power relations. A central figure in the debates...

  13. Conclusion: Race Makes Nation
    (pp. 167-172)

    A racial attack on black people sits at the heart of global affairs and the emergence of social science; this attack has used analytics that disavow racial suffering and allegedly provide analytics for understanding its costs. While radical black activists sought to produce a world in which black peoples’ lives could be made livable in the face of wholesale genocide, lynch law, incarceration and forced labor, the horrors of enduring forms of enslavement, dispossession of land and forced migration, and transformation of whole communities into citizenship-less plantations for humans made chattel, this U.S. foundation found a home in social research...

  14. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 173-176)
  15. Appendixes
    (pp. 177-182)
  16. Notes
    (pp. 183-272)
  17. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 273-292)
  18. Index
    (pp. 293-304)