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Discourses of Denial: Mediations of Race, Gender and Violence.


Yasmin Jiwani's Discourses of Denial: Mediations of Race, Gender and Violence is a thorough, comprehensive and excellent study of race, racism and violence in Canada.

The book succeeds poignantly and intelligently in engaging students, scholars and activists on questions of race and racism, including the unspoken aspects of its discourse of denial. Jiwani points to the very public examples of how racism is carried out--in the form of reported incidents of girl-to-girl violence, gendered racism and sexist violence--while also drawing attention to the way the media perpetuated these through its reporting of suspected terrorists after the events of September 11, 2001.

The book is divided into four parts. Parts one to three consist of two chapters each, and part four consists of a rather powerful and insightful chapter, "Gendering Terror post 9/11," which grapples with various media constructions of terrorists and the process through which terror and terrorists have become gendered. A short, concise conclusion follows, noting succinct points with sharp accuracy.

I particularly enjoyed reading the introduction. While I don't usually find them interesting or useful in books of this kind, it served its purpose well. It is here that Jiwani asserts her refusal to place race in quotation marks. "As George Dei argues, we do not place quotation marks around the words gender, age, class, sexuality or ability, even though each of these categories is socially constructed," she notes.

I found the choice of Jiwani's case studies, those reported in the national news--the Reena Virk case, the Vernon massacre and the Sharon Velisek story, also set in Vernon, British Columbia--particularly useful, for it allowed her the opportunity to present her scholarly reflections within the text. It is here that Jiwani shines, since her analysis comes through strongly and very clearly.

The book is well-written, not loaded with unnecessary and laborious academic jargon, and should certainly be taught within high schools, colleges and universities across Canada. Denial is the discourse of racism, this book reveals, for it is in the silence, withdrawal, dismissal, disavowal, negation and disassociation that the language of racism flourishes. Although Jiwani does not state this, it is clear through the incidents she recalls, including her own experiences with colleagues at conferences--a matter I recognized immediately, and from which I drew parallels to my own experience in Canada.

Rozena Maart is an author who was featured in the Winter 2007 issue of Herizons. See "When Black Consciousness Meets White Consciousness."

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Author:Maart, Rozena
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jun 22, 2007
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