Whiteness on the Border

Mapping the US Racial Imagination in Brown and White

304 pages

16 halftones

December, 2016

ISBN: 9781479858538



Add to Cart Available: 11/11/2016

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Lee Bebout is Associate Professor of English at Arizona State University where he is affiliated with the School of Transborder Studies and the Program in American Studies.  He is the author of Mythohistorical Interventions: The Chicano Movement and Its Legacies (2011).

All books by Lee Bebout

The many lenses of racism through which the white imagination sees Mexicans and Chicanos  
Historically, ideas of whiteness and Americanness have been built on the backs of racialized communities. The legacy of anti-Mexican stereotypes stretches back to the early nineteenth century when Anglo-American settlers first came into regular contact with Mexico and Mexicans. The images of the Mexican Other as lawless, exotic, or non-industrious continue to circulate today within US popular and political culture.  Through keen analysis of music, film, literature, and US politics, Whiteness on the Border demonstrates how contemporary representations of Mexicans and Chicano/as are pushed further to foster the idea of whiteness as Americanness.           

Illustrating how the ideologies, stories, and images of racial hierarchy align with and support those of fervent US nationalism, Lee Bebout maps the relationship between whiteness and American exceptionalism.  He examines how renderings of the Mexican Other have expressed white fear, and formed a besieged solidarity in anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies.  Moreover, Whiteness on the Border elucidates how seemingly positive representations of Mexico and Chicano/as are actually used to reinforce investments in white American goodness and obscure systems of racial inequality.  Whiteness on the Border pushes readers to consider how the racial logic of the past continues to thrive in the present.


  • “Bebout draws together the insights of critical whiteness studies and Chicana/o studies to show how whiteness has been made and remade through the construction and policing of a material and imagined brown/white racial border."

    Critical Inquiry

  • “Bebout’s book forms an impressive contribution to scholarship in this field."

    U.S. Studies Online

  • “Bebout makes Whiteness on the Border a compelling read by weaving his own experiences as a white person into his analysis; his anecdotes remind us that even in nonborder spaces like Chicago in the 1970s, ideas about Mexicanness circulate, reverberate, and solidify ideas about whiteness."

    ALH Online Review

  •  “With wit, passion, rigor, Whiteness on the Border breaks down the logic of white supremacy. Innovative and dynamic, Lee Bebout’s critical study drops onto the world at a key moment. We are living through a backlash against multiculturalism and against the civil rights movement. Something has changed; something has turned, and Bebout’s timely study helps us to chart the depth of this bracing cultural metastasis.”

    —William Anthony Nericcio, author of Tex[t]-Mex: Seductive Hallucinations of “Mexicans” in America

  • Whiteness on the Border explores the vexed ways in which white identity in the U.S. has historically been forged in opposition to a Mexican ‘other.’  Displaying mastery of the intellectual traditions of critical whiteness studies and Chicana/o studies, Lee Bebout draws deftly on complicated concepts to show that while there is always racism, there is never only a singular homogenous racism, but instead many differentiated and tactically deployed racisms. Brimming with exceptional critical acumen, Whiteness on the Border will be a book of significant impact and influence.”

    —George Lipsitz, author of How Racism Takes Place