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karla fc holloway “Cruel Enough to Stop the Blood” Global Feminisms and the U.S. Body Politic, Or: “They Done Taken My Blues and Gone” In the summer of 2005, the U.S. media’s obsession with the disappearance of white women and girls reached an intensity that provoked a backlash. Where were the ethnic others in these captivating late-night, early-morning, special, and breaking-news news stories? This essay explores a paradox of white racial disappearing as it is reported with vigor in the media and as it is absented from academic feminist study. It situates this paradox in an inquiry about the consequence of this absence at the same moment that U.S. feminist studies goes looking for transnational bodies while local body-politics are underinterrogated, and while science studies focus us on intimate matters of being human that ultimately and deeply implicate race and gender. To illustrate this paradox of positionality, I discuss the adoption of Asian babies by U.S. white women and how the academic attention to the transnational spaces of these adoptions displaces attention to matters of local color and gender. The Transnational Imperative Recent trends within the U.S. feminist studies landscape towards paradigms of transnationalism that are attentive to feminisms across the globe seem a thoughtful, necessary, and informed contemporary address. Although there are critical distinctions between the scholarly imperatives and the globe they [Meridians: feminism, race, transnationalism 2006, vol. 7, no. 1, pp. 1–18] ©2006 by Smith College. All rights reserved. 1 would embrace, I nevertheless respect and appreciate the iteration of the transnational, especially to the extent that cultural studies scholars Caren Kaplan and Inderpal Grewal, for example, signal their investment in models that are attentive to the “diversity, conflict, and multiplicity” within transnational projects (1994, 3). Despite this investment, Kaplan and Grewal have appropriately queried the plural ethic in global feminisms as inherently problematic, acknowledging the ways in which racialized nationalisms in U.S. American and women’s studies leak into the discourse about women outside of the United States. This is especially the case when the study of Third World women within global projects leans toward homogeneity and the arguably desirous attention expressed toward the Other is negotiated through a politics of exoticization that dismisses difference as it reduces a subject’s complexity (Kaplan 1994, 144). I want to consider a dimension of the social space that coheres following the impetus for and result from this turn to the global. I suspect that the attention to the global and the transnational, as much as it is a version of an absorbed interest in the other extending from the body of U.S. feminisms, it additionally manifests a profound and troubling discomfort with the local. The generation of my own relationship to this subject extends in part from two of my own academic spaces—women’s studies and Black studies. Pedagogically, the links between scholars whose academic sites are in African American or Black studies and women’s studies would seem to suggest a coherent overlap of scholarly domains—especially within the paradigms that a transnational feminism would support. However, the historic and sometimes contestatory institutional politics between these locations suggest the ways that the terrain’s historic challenges with the bodies of women of color persist, whether these bodies are objects of study or institutional colleagues. Indeed, that whether/or paradigm itself has been a disciplinary event that signified in the midst of a cultural studies revolution as the objects of study became faculty bodies and populated our classrooms (Holloway 1993). Grewal and Kaplan’s contemporary perspective is particularly helpful in addressing the consequences of this history. These scholars have taken an important step in understanding the politic of the fields of U.S. and women’s studies, and in bringing that political history to their perceptive understanding of the cast that currently populates scholarship on race, color, and gender. The terms of feminism’s objectification of so-called Third World Women as privileged signifiers of difference are appropriately problema- 2 karla fc holloway tized within their articulation of the transnational within feminist inquiry, underscoring the potential intersections as well as disjunctures of scholarship within this more global space. However, at the same time that the precariousness of women of color within these paradigms is noted, “feminism” remains problematically disinvested from a substantive relationship to the imperialism of its categorical imperative. The difference that continues to matter is the one that has historically encouraged feminism’s normative incorporation of the bodies of white women while eliding the subjective nuance, bearing, and privilege within those bodies. Despite significant attention to pluralism in the field, it is my sense that contemporary politics of transnationalism have once again buried the bodies of whiteness, this time within and beneath the language and structures of “global feminisms” even as the field appropriately queries its relation to women of color. As local feminisms focus their gaze beyond their borders and bodies, they dislocate themselves from inquiry, leaving academic feminism within the United States perilously close to a field without any (white) bodies in question. Whiteness as an embodied and gendered politic is effectively disappeared from the interrogative terrain as feminism’s focus on colored bodies goes global. Why is this noteworthy? Because it replicates the historic pattern in women’s studies’ field-specific failure to embrace the contradictory politics in its own body and because it extends this habit into a transnational terrain. There has certainly been scholarly attention to the field formation of whiteness studies, and feminist scholars have brought some critical interrogation to it. However, even in these interrogations, categorical whiteness remains curiously without gender—as if engaging the epistemology of whiteness elides the distinctiveness of gender. For example, feminist scholar Robyn Wiegman’s otherwise trenchant analysis of “Whiteness Studies and the Paradox of Particularity” exposes the “identificatory mobility of the white subject” as the field’s paradox, that is, a movement that gives “white people the prerogative of individualized, indeed particularized subjectivity” (Wiegman 2002, 286; emphasis added). In feminist pedagogy, “whiteness studies” becomes coterminous with a critique of privilege and power absent the particularities of gender. Wiegman’s critique of whiteness studies determines that the unengaged politic of whiteness studies has been its failure to engage a project of rendering whiteness particular. The next step, it would seem, is for feminist scholars to deny it the coherence of a subject sans gender—to de- “cruel enough to stop the blood” 3 stabilize the “logic of white masculinity as the generic subject of whiteness studies” that Wiegman does acknowledge (Weigman 2002, 301).1 U.S. American studies and women’s studies have both come to share a critical attention to the structure of their institutional and pedagogical relationships to racialized and ethnic others. These “other” bodies constitute a now significant dimension of the intellectual projects in cultural studies— especially as the transnational becomes an interrogative juncture for projects that focus both on the production of knowledge and the relationship of the paradigms that extend from that production to people of color. Color has become a corporatized presence centered in the mix of these academic interests and open to speculation and specularization from both domains. But color that only seems to matter when it is neither white nor local distorts the vision-fields of these disciplines. Academic projects that emerge in the context of this complicated relationship to corporeal pluralism in some way raise the old question of location— are these bodies at the center or the periphery of inquiry? An essay addressing emerging issues for U.S. American studies is helpful. Jan Radway suggests that we consider how our academic interests might intersect in “intricate interdependencies . . . [a] range of radically intertwined relationships that have been brought to the fore in recent attempts to rethink nationalism, race, culture, ethnicity, identity, sex, and gender” as a way to help us avoid this question in the new paradigm of the transnational (Radway 2002, 53). Radway’s web of influences might populate the intellectual agenda of the transnational, global, and diasporic terrains of work in both women’s studies and U.S. American studies. However, the risk in this interest in and embrace of transnational subjects is still the potential structural replication of that early pattern in these (inter)disciplines—displacing some “bodies” as the field acquires new interrogative terrain. One version of this absence is certainly another moment of displacement for U.S. Black women in women’s studies, as the interests shift away from local bodies to those who reside outside of the U.S. nation-state. This contested relationship to U.S. blackness is old terrain for feminist studies. But in emergent transnationalisms, local black bodies are paradoxically not the only bodies left behind. For U.S. feminisms— whether they extend from U.S. American studies or women’s studies models—this turn toward the globe arguably substitutes for a failed politics of a substantive relationship to local whiteness as well as local color. The contemporary global drift repeats the effect of this failure. 4 karla fc holloway I want to be clear that my focus on U.S. academic feminism implicates as well U.S. American studies. Both women’s studies and Black studies have accomplished critical institutional work in their intellectual formation, making apparent and vital their visible presence in the academy. As both disciplines articulate a space outside of the United States—the diasporic foci of Black studies and the transnational of women’s studies—the model of a cultural studies paradigm that American studies represents develops its intellectual terrain in part in a claim of difference from and/or relatedness to these newer fields of study. In the mid- to late twentieth century, scholars in these disciplines began to reflect a plural and diverse constituency. They took up residency in fields where academic histories had already incorporated some form of desire for another body—whether it was through the force of a colonialist legacy or one invested in an investigation of difference. Interest in doing feminist work that reaches cultures outside of the United States is the evolution of an inquiry not unrelated to a history of wishful acclimation or absorption of bodies that are different from its own. This interest recalls theorist Barbara Johnson’s analyses of difference, and the incompatibility that she notes between differences with a history of effects and structures of self-differences. Johnson, recalling her earlier work on the subject, writes that “feminists have found themselves working at the limits of the usefulness of difference as a governing structure” (Johnson 2002, 4). That the structures are no longer quite as useful as they once had been is not unrelated to the changed population of the field. Displacing that old black/white binary onto a diverse global population of women reveals a fundamental dis-ease and discomfort with, as well as a distancing from, the white bodies that originally shaped the field and likely still constitute the majority of the population within U.S. women’s studies academically and U.S. feminisms politically. One ironic consequence, then, of the turn to the global is that both local black and local white women are disappeared as subjects of analysis. The attention to the Other—outside of the United States or within the nation-state but outside of its field domain in the alternative paradigms of ethnic studies—not only articulates the abrupt dismissal of local bodies from the interested discourse in women’s studies but it replicates in deeply disturbing ways the discomforts of these embodied politics as they have been on display in public cultures. “cruel enough to stop the blood” 5 Disappearing Whiteness I wrote this essay in the midst of the mainstream media’s summer 2005 obsession regarding the disappearance of Alabama teenager Natalee Holloway. Like a story from late spring of a “runaway bride” and stories over the recent past, Holloway’s story shared the one characteristic that has come to drive an almost predictable media frenzy—the disappearance of a young white woman or girl. There are predictable dimensions of color in these stories. The young white woman who disappeared on the eve of her wedding eventually reappeared, briefly concocting a story that she later retracted about her abduction by a Latino couple. A story by a distraught white mother includes imaginary black abductors of her children. Holloway, a teenager vacationing in Aruba, has yet to be found and hopes for her survival at this writing are dim. Early in the reporting of her disappearance, CNN, Court TV, and other stations frequently displayed a split screen of the blond and blue-eyed Holloway and the initial suspects in her disappearance, both dark-skinned Aruban youth. These youth were later released and judged not to have been connected to the crime. But the white Dutch youngster who remains, at this writing, a suspect, has not been displayed in the dramatic split screen that characterized the earlier reporting, an absence that, in comparison to the earlier visual, implied that no narrative of the kind which prompted the earlier images might emerge from such a display.2 The individual narratives in each of these stories are compelling and urgent, especially to the families involved. My attention to them is related to the excess media attention each case has received; the ways color has been displayed, manipulated, and coded into these narratives; and the way in which they illustrate the barrage of attention that public cultures give to at least some dimension of disappearing whiteness. The essential contrast for me, in this situation, is the near parallel inattention to white women’s bodies, or the cultural politics evident in these kinds of stories that place youngsters such as Elizabeth Smart, a Utah adolescent whose abduction and subsequent rescue dominated the news, or adults such as Laci Peterson or Natalee Holloway into our national narratives. At the same time that the privilege, protection, and visibility of white women continue to matter greatly in public cultures, U.S. women’s studies has disappeared these bodies and their relationship to their color as academic objects of analysis, turning their attention away from the complex politics of U.S. gendered whiteness. 6 karla fc holloway Public cultures, however, would have our attention focused on the peril implicit in a certain kind of white femininity, one that reifies a traditional panic about white women and vulnerability in U.S. history. I wish to bring to my interrogative regarding this new “disappearing” a meta-context of concern that forces me back into a local body-politic. Two areas of inattention are particularly noteworthy and arguably linked. First, public cultures focus our attention on certain visible perils of white women and girls even as the academic field of women’s studies neglects an interrogative of the cultural panic evident in this selective media attention on these bodies. Second, a vigorous research within science studies implicates even less visible, but nonetheless critical, issues of race and gender as the biological minutiae of human life are grafted onto old and familiar landscapes of social identity. The link between whiteness-gone-missing and these newera science studies excavates matters of the social constructions of race and identity. Both are issues mediated by a public gaze, and both have the potential of instantiating certain norms around whiteness that are problematic. Despite these dangers, neither of these spaces is central enough to the current trends and discussions in any of the fields to give me confidence that we are ready to leave any bodies behind, even with the importance of the transnational shaping the scholarly landscapes. Certainly the historic patterns that emerge as a media culture focuses its audiences on a particularly compelling construction of vulnerable white women are worthy of some critical attention and analysis. There are additionally urgent and substantive matters that emerge in contemporary science studies. In my view, none of the interdisciplines I have discussed here, despite their established histories of intimate foci on (some)body politics, can afford to place the gendered ethical and social implications of current science studies outside of their fields of interests. And to know these, we must engage the science. For women’s studies and ethnic studies, disciplines that have wrestled with the essentialisms and exclusions at the very core of identity politics, it seems particularly problematic to let others have at the scientific and medical ethics, politics, and social constructions of body, sex, and gender without our participation. Historically, academic feminism and ethnic studies have strained mightily against biological determinisms and related science studies. Elizabeth A. Wilson considers this history in women’s studies, noting that even with feminist theorists’ interest in nineteenth-century versions of hysteria and the implications that lay in those studies between the social and the biological, “cruel enough to stop the blood” 7 there was “a foreclosure on the biology of conversion hysteria in most feminist expositions” (conversion hysteria being that associated with the physical symptomatology of the event) (Wilson 2004, 4). Wilson’s contention that “the question of the body has yet to be posed as comprehensively as it could be” is an argument that extends to contemporary feminist study of body and biology (Wilson 2004, 5). Although there has been serious and sustained theorizing of the body that has been located in gender, culture, and the transformations in technology, Wilson writes persuasively that the reluctance to “engage with biological data” and the embrace of social construction “in defiance” of biological models forecast a diminished theoretical engagement. 3 In ethnic studies, the parallel reluctance is borne of the insidious histories in geneticism and its propositional confluence of race, ability, and propensity to its interests. Contemporary versions of antibiologism (or, at the least, silence towards biologism) in feminist and ethnic studies happen at a critical juncture in science studies, especially as projects surrounding genomics make tremendous gains and capture public attention with tales of cloning and cures. Nevertheless, the academic analyses that might come from U.S., women’s, or Black studies are largely absent around these issues, even though there are grave ethical, legal, and political implications of genomics and medicine where these interdisciplines might and ought to share a critical discursive space. The inattention of these fields to science studies can seem one-sided. In my recent class on “Bioethics and Narrative,” for example, we spent a good amount of time concerned with the ways in which the idea of narrative has been uncritically sucked into the field of bioethics, oftentimes without much shape, resonance, or intellectual history. Nevertheless, there is an incredibly vigorous interest in the field of bioethics (as illustrated in the papers at the annual meetings of the American Society of Bioethics and Humanities) to figure out and claim some relationship they might have to text despite the (sometimes) frankly thin considerations that pass for narrative in bioethics. The effort bioethicists make to consider narrative matters from paradigms that originate outside of the field is as interesting in its vigorous engagement there as is the silence in the fieldwork of the disciplines that are the focus of this essay to venture outside of the humanities and interpretive social sciences and into these fields that are deeply significant for gender and race studies. My response, then, to the transnational imperative and its displacement of local whiteness for global color is significantly mediated by my con- 8 karla fc holloway sideration of what any effort of displacement might mean at the same moment that biologies of the body and blood gain an incredibly robust presence in U.S. national science and medical research and while the very academic bodies who have the most at stake in this research fail to engage the science-laden politics of the era. Materialized through Science Critical Bioculturalism One of the most provocative images in In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens was Alice Walker’s consideration of what it meant, in our grandmothers’ times, for a black woman to be an artist. She wrote, “it is a question with an answer cruel enough to stop the blood” (Walker 1983, 233). Walker’s garden landscape seems innocuous in the space of my imaginary around this evocative phrase. But the figure that accompanied that landscape is, nevertheless, an appropriate location to ground my specific consideration of one way that matters of blood and body developed a complicated relationship to the discourse and practice—academic, political, and public—that have come to dominate the science and public sense of gender, race, and sexuality. The convergence of public health, public infrastructures, genomics, and medicine has had a significant impact on the ways that we imagine twentiethand twenty-first-century subjectivity. If we follow the paths of these intersections and consider the potential of genetic manipulation to have an impact on the very categories, if not the subjects, of our academic inquiry, then we need also consider the ways in which those categories of bodies are reconstructed as subjects within the conjunction of genetically distinctive scientific imperialisms. To the degree to which race is socially employed to acknowledge and mark bodies that are not white, there are intriguing parallels between the developing science of genomics and the extant social spaces of racial categories that revive the bodies of U.S. white women as a site of inquiry. It is, in my judgment, a correspondence “cruel enough to stop the blood.” Academic feminism has appropriately focused on issues of assisted reproduction, and biotechnologies will continue to impact women’s bodies, especially as information from genomic sciences is applied to prenatal and presymptomatic genetic diagnosis, fertility management, and genetic intervention. But attention to whiteness as a subject and site of critique within the social spaces of reproductive genetics has received comparatively less critical “cruel enough to stop the blood” 9 attention in feminist studies. Instead, feminism as a domain of inquiry holds white bodies hostage to the presumptive integrity of its category—failing to release the specificity of whiteness to interrogation in its attention to the social construction of gender. In other words, feminism has incorporated white normativity in ways that protect it from critical analysis. In Killing the Black Body, Dorothy Roberts notes that feminist critique of new reproductive technologies has been effectively limited to exploration of “male domination” in the “oppressive use of reproductive technologies.” Roberts, who writes persuasively of the subsequent ways that “these technologies reinforce a racist standard for procreation,” focuses on black women’s bodies (Roberts 1998, 250). Her identification of feminism’s emphasis on males reveals the absent spaces of feminist attention to whiteness as a correlate in gender sociopolitics. In an analysis that effectively echoes Roberts’s implicit critique of the way that feminism constructs only certain bodies for its academic focus, Lynn Morgan and Meredith Michaels’s Fetal Subjects, Feminist Positions explores how fetal bodies are “materialized through science” (Morgan and Michaels 1999, 58). Morgan follows Judith Butler’s interrogation of the constructedness of materiality, specifically Butler’s notion that matter “has a history . . . in part negotiated through sexual difference” (Butler 1993, 29). Morgan then uses this perspective to consider the “materialization” of fetal bodies within a specific history of a research laboratory (the Clapp Laboratories at Mount Holyoke College), writing of how the public images of these bodies invigorate reproductive debates (Morgan and Michaels 1999, 43). I want to borrow this perspective of social fabrication to focus a consideration of the material representation of the ways that bodies are produced that neither escapes the historical nor the scientific. Such a perspective—one I would identify as “biocultural”—would be especially intriguing in this age of genomics, where matters of body and blood materialize within new social and cultural spaces and cohere around critical bioethical principles and legal issues of property, identity, and society. As feminism locates transnational spaces where it might find new subject positions, new subjects to position, and new locations to interrogate, the allure of transnational imperatives tempts certain kinds of visibility at the same time that science materializes a dimension of gender that promises to be far reaching. 10 karla fc holloway Modeled minorities A biocultural critique relevant to these questions of body and blood, gender and race that also comments implicitly on the arguable coherence of feminism’s focus on transnational might give a different perspective on, for example, the adoptions of Chinese and Korean babies by U.S. white women. This burgeoning phenomenon has been discussed in feminist studies in ways that attend to the development and acclimation of these baby girls and/ or the social and human rights politics in China (Grice 2005; Greenhalgh and Li 1995). An interrogation of the impact of these adoptions on the (re)constructions of U.S. whiteness, although clearly a salient feature of the phenomenon, has not been a focus in feminist studies. As a concluding illustration to my argument about blood, biology, and local color, I offer the following analysis as a case study of how the absence of attention to a critical moment of local and transnational intersection indicates the disappeared or absent interrogative surrounding local whiteness. Following the trend of studies that neglect the local for the global, the transnational bodies that are the commerce within this adoptive practice nearly erase white parents from sustained critical attention except for questions that focus on the child’s adaptation to their whiteness. However, an important consequence of these adoptions that might interest U.S. feminist studies’ transnational projects is the way in which these adoptions result in at least a theoretical incorporation of transnational bodies into local bodies and local bloodlines.4 One consequence of these adoptions is that selected dimensions of Asianness are incorporated into the social fabric of U.S. whiteness. This impact on the nation’s family matters is not insignificant, especially as it regards the social and biological constructions of what constitutes family and how that constitution signifies in a larger body politic. The bodies that are the transnational and specular subjects of U.S. feminisms abroad become local bodies at home. Asian adoption projects incorporate histories of practice and habit around matters of blood and body to U.S. whiteness in ways that are critically significant to gendered constructions of race and family in the United States. The social dimensions of stereotype hypotheses and the cultural impermeability of “model minorities” that have been inscribed so powerfully within U.S. populations operate both within and outside of ethnic groups. David L. Eng makes apparent how these complex locations refigure the Asian American “into model minorities and exemplary citizens—as the continuing gene- “cruel enough to stop the blood” 11 alogy and disavowed trace of an institutional history of Asian American exploitation and exclusion” (Eng 2001, 170). But the notion of a model does more than release the state from its exploitative history. It suggests as well that a normative whiteness, ordinarily unattainable by the ethnic other, might indeed be accessible to some. Gary Y. Okihiro suggests how this might be accomplished in noting the “porousness” of U.S. ethnicities in his book, Common Ground. Okihiro writes that “although representations might distinguish and distance oneself from one’s other and thereby empower one’s self and disempower the other, they might also reveal one’s own inadequacies and indeterminacies projected onto the other” (Okihiro 2001,133). The perverse logic of ethnicity and citizenship is apparent here, as access to familial whiteness accomplishes what the state has been unable to do— shifting the Asian immigrant from “unassimilable to assimilable” (Eng 2001, 144). We have seen the backlash that the perceived inadequacies release in the often hysterical response to affirmative action, especially as it has coincided with Asian Americans surpassing white U.S. youth in standardized tests and securing places in the elite universities that whites had seen as their own privileged and otherwise secure locations. The felicity in the fetish of Asian excellence is so seductive that some desire for this relationship to excellence seems not unreasonable to consider in how the adoptions of Asian girls into U.S. white families speak, at the very least subliminally and consequentially, to a familiar cultural panic around a vulnerable white privilege and station as well as to a cultural desire for the other’s body. This longing for the other’s body—or at the least the privilege attached to that body—results in a consequent responsive effort to incorporate that stereotype and to reclaim its “model” white norms of superior privilege. When the stereotype hypotheses around Asianness are coupled with the surge in adoptions of Asian baby girls into white families, the exotic and capable mythologies that have become the resident legend of Asian biologies are in play. One uncontestable factor in these adoptions is that they effectively alter the potential and character of white family genealogies and their public terrain. If whites have increasingly been unsuccessful competitors with the social and political constructions and consequences of U.S. Asianness—especially in terms of a certain generation of Asian youth—their adoptive desires for Asian children seem at least historically consistent. These adoptions shift the reproductive potential and terrains within these families. They disrupt the genealogy of U.S. whiteness 12 karla fc holloway as it claims as its own project, or at least as its own eventual biological line, the Asian bodies of these children. The urge and desire for biology and blood here are powerful and, when race is a dimension of desire, even disconcerting. Consider, as an example, an image that powerfully inscribes the symbology of incorporation in Emily Prager’s Wuhu Diary. Prager writes of dramatizing the act of birth with her adopted daughter who would lie on her stomach, her body between her mother’s legs enacting the physiology of delivery. Prager writes, “then I pretended to suckle her at my breast” (Prager 2001, 27). Although this is not an act with ethnic intent, it is, nevertheless, an act that signifies beyond the private moment. I want to note that the politic I write of here is not the public and probably not even the private impetus of these adoptions. These are clearly women and families in want of children who have turned to adoption as an opportunity to fulfill that desire. Nevertheless, their want is clearly circumscribed and open to this kind of analysis at least in part because the insurgent interest in Asian and other non-U.S. adoptions happens at the same time that U.S. foster children, infants as well as toddlers, go wanting—if they have black or brown bodies.5 The color construction and the bristling archetypes of stereotype unhappily signify here. The imagery as well as the conduct is familiar to American literary and cultural histories and the social and global formularies that attach to them are notable. In The Anarchy of Empire, Amy Kaplan warns about the “convulsive” reach of empire across the globe, reminding us of W. E. B. DuBois’s prescient understanding of how we might reconstruct empire. Kaplan recalls the conclusion of DuBois’s tome Darkwater, in which a poem, “The Comet,” queries, “what new social formations could arise from the destruction of the world?” She notes that [t]he reassertion of white supremacy through the threat of lynching raises dire questions about the future in the figure of a black child. Jim is joyfully reunited with his silent black wife, but they embrace across their baby’s corpse. . . . [a moment that] hearkens back to DuBois’s elegy for his son in Souls of Black Folk. (2005, 209) Kaplan points out that here DuBois’s image looks forward to his novel Dark Princess, writing, “in it, a boy is born to a Southeast Asian woman and an African American man, who . . . constitute a new family” (210). The difference in the twenty-first century with this vision is that the “new family” is constructed “cruel enough to stop the blood” 13 absent the Asian mother and the African American father. The threat of white supremacy that asserts itself through the potential of lynching in the DuBois vignette reappears, but lynching is not its trope. Instead, the desired bodies are acquired through adoption where one family’s bloodlines are interrupted and another’s are revised and reshaped through the bodies of adopted Asian girls who are destined to bear the white family’s future generations.6 The intellectual landscape of U.S. women’s studies symbolically repeats this move as it makes a transcendent (or at least transnational) leap away from local bodies. And the DuBoisian imagery still obtains within the wellcirculated imagery of the veil. What finally attenuates the transnational interrogative is the same absence that haunts foreign adoptions and veils from our view the bodies left behind. When poet Langston Hughes’s melancholic lament punctuated his verse back in the 1920s that “they done taken my blues and gone,” his point was that the tones and contours of blackness that had made Harlem arts so specific and so seductive were now in the hands of a corporatist culture that would displace these tones of blackness onto whatever capitalist project might be catapulted ahead by the provocative intonation of the blues. In other words, the trace of race is preserved, but the bodies are left behind. Although race matters and evidence of ethnicity seem to occupy our academic and political projects, Black folk themselves disappear from view and white folk are protected from analysis. Local U.S. bodies of Black folk seem at least as visible, as apparent and likely more intimate than the burqaobscured bodies of Middle Eastern women who have been a focus of recent feminist scholarship and attention (Nafisi 2003)—and whose wrap of garments ironically recalls the DuBoisian veil. It seems to me that the obscurity of the burqa might stand in for another dimension of a blues space: the paradox of a Black and white hypervisibility that no one notices. In transnational paradigms, local bodies seem not to interest U.S. women’s studies. Perhaps they are too visible. They are not clothed in the exotic, their figures are not draped in a burqa, their images are not historically shrouded from the intimate specularity of academic interest. Instead, their bodies may seem too familiar as bodies whose history of gaze, specularity, and availability are haunting and unpleasant reminders of the gendered historic complicity within racialized U.S. politics. At the beginning of this essay, I noted the disappearing white women and girls whose bodies have preoccupied the U.S. media at the cost of similar no- 14 karla fc holloway tice to brown and black people who have also disappeared from their communities. What characteristics are there that make our public interest so caught up by these family tragedies, and what insularity is it that makes us not publicly long for those colored others who have gone missing from their families? There are deeply troubling matters that the public attention and inattention both reveal—issues that point unerringly to the salience of racial politics in the twenty-first century, the privilege of certain images of whiteness, the vulnerability of women’s bodies especially, and the value of certain bodies over others. Given these public and lay expressions of value, how can we overlook the parallel developments in science studies that focus us on bodies as well—whether it is to determine genetic maps or to assess and assign genetic potentials? A public attention and inattention in one matter is not unrelated to the public’s perception of significance and value regarding the next. We get a good and realistic sense of what judgments and biases we will bring to the matters of science and law that will preoccupy the local governance of all of our bodies by the way in which some bodies are displayed and other bodies are erased as they traffic through our public cultures. As long as the transnationalist impulse is accompanied by a dismissal of local bodies, while, at the same time, a lay public is bombarded with every possible signal that indicates how whiteness matters—even to the extent of incorporating Asian bodies into the bloodlines of white families—the body politics of local color that are inscribed with a gendered legal, medical, and scientific immediacy and consequence cry out for an engaged and dynamic humanist critique. This is especially true in an era where matters of identity politics are rooted in physical, even cellular, differences at the very moment that the conservative right has an authoritative and likely prevailing notion of which bodies will matter, and how. As long as these critically gendered events occur without the humanist engagement and analysis that have distinguished the work of U.S. feminisms, there is local work to do. Failure to engage these issues of difference is indeed a silence cruel enough to stop the blood. notes Sincere thanks to David L. Edmonds, Esq., L. Kelechi Ezie of Princeton University, and Meridians’ anonymous reviewers for their thoughtful attention, valuable feedback and generous engagement with the ideas and focus of this essay. 1. Wiegman’s attention to white “people” is consistent with much of the literature of whiteness studies. Even when whiteness is occasionally gendered in this field, in analyses that most often look to constructions of racial power, not surprisingly, “cruel enough to stop the blood” 15 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. men are most often the focus. See, for example, Nelson 1998. See Richard Delgado and Jean Stephancic’s 1997 anthology for a review of the critical terrain of whiteness studies. An exception to the trend of absent or male centered gender analysis was Ware 1992, an early analysis that connects racism and feminism and that stands, more than a decade later, as nearly singular in the field of whiteness studies and women. Indeed, he was often shown in a trio—embracing the other two youth, of mixed ancestry, as if offering the protection of his whiteness to them—or, perhaps, embracing them in its complicity. Certainly the critical work of, for example, Hammonds and Longino et al. (1996) and Donna Haraway’s (1991) gifted and provocative conceptions of a cybernetic organism are significant contributions to the histories and interpretive paradigms of feminist science studies. They are, however, the exception and do not mitigate against the nearly absent engagement with contemporary issues of genomics and the questions that extend from its potential biological determinisms that are currently so pressing. Although Evelyn Fox Keller’s The Century of the Gene (2002) is a stellar contribution to the contemporary landscape of science studies, it is not a text with a particular focus on gender. My interest is in forcing a contemporary discussion that brings humanist interrogation to the intersections of science, race, and gender. According to the U.S. Department of State, 22,884 visas were issued for international adoptions in 2004. Over one-third of those were for adoptions of infants from China (7,044) and Korea (1,716) and the great majority of these were baby girls. See also Grice 2005. Although the paparazzi-infused interest in actress Angelina Jolie would probably exist without her recent adoption of a brown-skinned baby from Somalia, it seems apparent that the interest in this baby girl and her mother would not be quite the same if she had adopted a child from a European country. It is the visual politic of the Jolie adoption that appeals and the spectacular difference from the norm it makes apparent. (The pop-star) Manonna’s recent adoption of a child from Malawi repeats this pattern. I appreciate the way in which this discussion invites a more focused consideration of the processes of Asian racialization within the historical context of U.S. black/ white racial paradigms. Although that particular discussion is not the focus of my argument, it is certainly related to my consideration here of the underinterrogated hegemonies of local gendered whiteness. 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