Still the Tragic Mulatto? Manufacturing Multiraciality in Magazine Media, 1961-2011

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 15:03
Location: Hörsaal 31 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Matthew HUGHEY, University of Connecticut, USA
On the heels of the 2000 US Census allowance of multiracial categorization, coupled with rising mainstream discussion of political, media, and sports figures’ multiracial heritage (e.g. Barack Obama, Halle Berry, and Derek Jeter), questions over the meanings of multiracialism are quite prevalent.  Scholars have highlighted how mainstream-oriented and black-oriented media—whether print, televisual, or digital—structure (multi)racial conflicts, concepts, and categories.  However, sociological analysis has not: quantified media representations of multiraciality across a significant time period; examined qualitative differences and nuance among various forms of media that includes mainstream-oriented, black-oriented, and multiracial-oriented media sources, and; has not specified the precise qualitative themes, frames, and discourse of that representation across time and media format.  In addressing these gaps, a content analysis of articles from mainstream-, black-, and multiracial-oriented magazines published from 1961 to 2011 traces the rise, fall, and style of representations of multiraciality.  The analysis demonstrates how varied media sources differently drew upon, resisted, and reproduced distinct understandings of multiracialism.  The implications for this study illuminate the import of multiracial self-esteem, the return of biological essentialism and the medicalization of race, the intersection of conservative political movements and black interest groups in the fight for and against a multiracial movement, and the paradoxical role of anti-black stereotypes in multiracial representations.