Global Colorism


Thursday, February 21, 2019, 11:45am to 1:00pm


Ellwood Democracy Lab, Room 414, Rubenstein Building, Harvard Kennedy School

Trina Jones, Jerome M. Culp Professor of Law, Duke University School of Law

Scholars have widely discussed colorism – the differential treatment of same-race individuals based on skin color – with regard to the African-American community. They have less frequently examined colorism’s worldwide dimensions. Yet, the manufacture of products offering the prospect of lighter, brighter, whiter skin is a multi-billion dollar global industry, with Asia being a key market. Importantly, the salience accorded skin color varies depending upon geographical location and social context. In this seminar, Professor Jones will discuss: (1) the ways in which skin color operates within different racialized communities, with a specific focus on African Americans, Asians, and Asian Americans; and (2) how skin tone differences influence perceptions of individual and group identity and complicate coalition building within and across racial groups.