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Diana and Beyond

Diana and Beyond: White Femininity, National Identity, and Contemporary Media Culture

Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    Diana and Beyond
    Book Description:

    The death of Princess Diana unleashed an international outpouring of grief, love, and press attention virtually unprecedented in history. Yet the exhaustive effort to link an upper class white British woman with "the people" raises questions. What narrative of white femininity transformed Diana into a simultaneous signifier of a national and global popular? What ideologies did the narrative tap into to transform her into an idealized woman of the millennium? Why would a similar idealization not have appeared around a non-white, non-Western, or immigrant woman? Raka Shome investigates the factors that led to this defining cultural/political moment and unravels just what the Diana phenomenon represented for comprehending the relation between white femininity and the nation in postcolonial Britain and its connection to other white female celebrity figures in the millennium. Digging into the media and cultural artifacts that circulated in the wake of Diana's death, Shome investigates a range of salient theoretical issues surrounding motherhood and the production of national masculinities, global humanitarianism, transnational masculinities, the intersection of fashion and white femininity with each other and national modernity. Her analysis explores how images of white femininity in popular culture intersect with issues of race, gender, class, sexuality, and transnationality. Moving from ideas on the positioning of privileged white women in global neoliberalism to the emergence of new formations of white femininity in the millennium, Diana and Beyond fearlessly explains the late princess's never-ending renaissance and ongoing cultural relevance.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09668-6
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  4. 1. White Femininity in the Nation, the Nation in White Femininity
    (pp. 1-46)

    In 1997 when Princess Diana died I, like the rest of the world, was fascinated by what was happening. I was struck, in particular, by the emotions and sense of familiarity being expressed by the people—British and non-British—toward a white upper-class heterosexual British woman they did not know. I was intrigued by how a media narrative of a white heterosexual upper-class British woman was able to secure so many affective attachments of love and desire from people—white and not white, Western and not Western. I thought to myself then, here was a thoroughly British (and particularly English)...

  5. 2. Racialized Maternalisms: White Motherhood and National Modernity
    (pp. 47-75)

    This chapter focuses on how white motherhood functions as a site through which the nation reproduces its modernity. Perhaps one of the most problematic narrativizations of Princess Diana as a postimperial white female subject in the 1990s—and especially after her death—was the mediated production of her as a modern mother. Although a later chapter discusses the production of Diana (and many other contemporary white female icons) as a global mother, this chapter remains concerned with a particular model of (white upper-/middle-class) motherhood that the Diana phenomenon validated under the guise of a modern national subject. It is a...

  6. 3. Fashioning the Nation: The Citizenly Body, Multiculturalism, and Transnational Designs
    (pp. 76-112)

    Chapter 2 addressed how images of a new kind of (white) mother are often needed by the nation to produce a vision of a modern family. Continuing with the focus on how the body of the white woman functions as a site through which a racialized national modernity is staged, this chapter examines fashion, and the (white) fashionable female body, as being another site through which the nation manages its “newness” and expresses new logics of national belonging. The Diana phenomenon especially lends itself to such a discussion. Diana’s body was overwhelmingly associated with style and glamour—as captured in...

  7. 4. “Global Motherhood”: The Transnational Intimacies of White Femininity
    (pp. 113-149)

    The previous chapter ended with a discussion of the contemporary white female body engaging in a dehistoricized multiculturalism through embracing Indian fashion styles and garments. In this chapter, I want to continue the examination of a problematic cosmopolitanism of the white female body in order to address how it serves as a vehicle through which national modernities in Anglo-dominated nations are frequently written. While much has been written about how the Diana media phenomenon was situated in complex transnational media flows and articulations, there is little that has explicitly addressed how a particular imagination of a “global family” was produced...

  8. 5. White Femininity and Transnational Masculinit(ies): Desire and the “Muslim Man”
    (pp. 150-177)

    Did they really kill her because the establishment would not have a Muslim stepfather to the future king of England? Was MI-6 involved in her killing? Was she really pregnant with his baby, a Muslim baby? Was Mohammed Al Fayed really getting back at the establishment through the Diana-Dodi romance for having been denied citizenship? Did she really have another secret Muslim lover? These are the kinds of questions I have encountered when discussing this project with people. This slice of Diana’s life has probably been the one that has most titillated people. The scenario evoked by the questions certainly...

  9. 6. Cosmopolitan Healing: The Spiritual Fix of White Femininity
    (pp. 178-204)

    This chapter is concerned with a particular kind of borderlessness of white femininity that marks our times, of which Princess Diana, especially later Diana, became one of the original symbols. This borderlessness is organized around a discourse of spirituality, well-being, and healing, and frequently incorporates the ethos of non-Anglo and Asian-inflected therapeutic practices of inner wellness, planetary connectivity, and “finding yourself.” We see this in numerous contemporary new age discourses that are represented through, and embraced by, upper-/middle-class white women who seek inner healing and wellness to fashion seemingly liberatory modes of selfhood. Astrology, tarot card reading, séances, psychic healing,...

  10. Afterword
    (pp. 205-212)

    The main goal of the book has been to highlight how white femininity, as an assemblage of power, is utilized in the production of a national modernity, in a given time and context. I have underscored that white femininity is a formation that continually shapes new contours or rearticulates old ones of the nation. One significant contribution of this book—I hope—has been to illustrate how transnational relations and contexts (even when they are not apparent) are always embedded in the processes through which white femininity and the nation articulate each other. To that extent, not only has this...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 213-226)
  12. References
    (pp. 227-246)
  13. Index
    (pp. 247-256)
  14. Back Mattrer
    (pp. 257-258)