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Interventions in Intersectionality: Exploring Fantastical World-building to Investigate Feminist and Anti-racist Strategies

Interventions in Intersectionality: Exploring Fantastical World-building to Investigate Feminist... This article explores the asymmetrical treatment of race and gender, critiquing the conflation of these categories under the intersectional concept of “identity.” I conducted a three-year ethnography of the “live action role play” (LARP) community to explore this asymmetry. I found that Live Action Role Players (LARPers) consciously abandoned gender roles but were deeply invested in creating racial categories to make games “feel real.” When creativity is paramount, what makes for this differential treatment? I identified key distinctions in how these categories were conceived, embodied, and enforced. I found that LARPers engaged in collective negotiations to maintain a homogenous understanding of fictional racial categories. When players deviated, they were coerced back into uniform embodiment. These categories often drew on existing racial stereotypes, using “real world flavor.” When participants attempted anti-racist interventions, conversations shifted from confronting racism to “understanding race.” Conversely, LARPers framed gender as a self-determined choice that should have no impact on the gaming experience. Gender performance was welcome but not predetermined. This led to greater gender inclusion and effective anti-sexist interventions. Accordingly, the “both/and” framing of identity—authentic self-navigating society—is an empowering model for gender as it legitimizes autonomous choice. However, when applied to race it risks obfuscating the collective practices that fortify racism. Intersectional theorists must abandon efforts to draw similarities between race and gender. Instead, intersectional research must identify the ways in which sexism and racism persist and compound. The confrontation of racecraft is a necessary first step in developing more robust solutions. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Sociology of Race and Ethnicity SAGE

Interventions in Intersectionality: Exploring Fantastical World-building to Investigate Feminist and Anti-racist Strategies

Sociology of Race and Ethnicity , Volume OnlineFirst: 1 – Jan 1, 2022

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Publisher
SAGE
Copyright
© American Sociological Association 2022
ISSN
2332-6492
eISSN
2332-6506
DOI
10.1177/23326492221112426
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This article explores the asymmetrical treatment of race and gender, critiquing the conflation of these categories under the intersectional concept of “identity.” I conducted a three-year ethnography of the “live action role play” (LARP) community to explore this asymmetry. I found that Live Action Role Players (LARPers) consciously abandoned gender roles but were deeply invested in creating racial categories to make games “feel real.” When creativity is paramount, what makes for this differential treatment? I identified key distinctions in how these categories were conceived, embodied, and enforced. I found that LARPers engaged in collective negotiations to maintain a homogenous understanding of fictional racial categories. When players deviated, they were coerced back into uniform embodiment. These categories often drew on existing racial stereotypes, using “real world flavor.” When participants attempted anti-racist interventions, conversations shifted from confronting racism to “understanding race.” Conversely, LARPers framed gender as a self-determined choice that should have no impact on the gaming experience. Gender performance was welcome but not predetermined. This led to greater gender inclusion and effective anti-sexist interventions. Accordingly, the “both/and” framing of identity—authentic self-navigating society—is an empowering model for gender as it legitimizes autonomous choice. However, when applied to race it risks obfuscating the collective practices that fortify racism. Intersectional theorists must abandon efforts to draw similarities between race and gender. Instead, intersectional research must identify the ways in which sexism and racism persist and compound. The confrontation of racecraft is a necessary first step in developing more robust solutions.

Journal

Sociology of Race and EthnicitySAGE

Published: Jan 1, 2022

Keywords: anti-racism; feminism; race; gender; intersectionality; racecraft

References