The fancy dance of racializing discourse

  • Farnell B
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Abstract

In the United States, the Euro-American practice of using stereotypical Native American imagery and dancing in association with athletic mascots continues despite vigorous protest. This suggests that American Indians occupy a different semiotic space than other U.S. minorities who are no longer subject to such explicit racializing representations. This article asks how and why non-Native Americans endow Indian mascots with significance. Analysis of the discursive formations associated with one such local practice-the dancing Indianmascot at the University of Illinois known as Chief Illiniwek-suggests that the dominant “race-making” population, who are themascot’s ardent supporters, create and passionately defend a “White public space” in which any contemporaryNativeAmerican presence is positioned as disorderly. This article seeks to advance the understanding of how racializing discourses create the cultural logic that stigmatizes and stereotypes (in this case) American Indian people.

Author-supplied keywords

  • American Indians
  • Athletic mascots
  • Discourse
  • Racism
  • United States

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Authors

  • Brenda Farnell

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