Pakeha Identity and Whiteness: What does it mean to be White?

Claire Gray, Nabila Jaber, Jim Anglem

Abstract


This paper is concerned with a critical examination of whiteness among those who self identify as Pakeha within a New Zealand context. Through in-depth interviews with 15 men and women we explored the proposition that the adoption of a Pakeha identity may preclude an understanding of the ways that whiteness and privilege operate. Employing thematic and discourse analysis, four major themes were identified within the data; a Pakeha relationship with Maori, the reification of whiteness, a disengagement from privilege and a separation from other white people. The functionality and organisation of language were considered in order to examine participants’ detachment from dominant white culture. This article suggests that the assumption of a Pakeha self-identity may allow the bearer to discursively obscure both the cultural capital that whiteness provides and the privileges afforded by this capital. Ultimately, this research draws attention to the intersection of privilege and whiteness within New Zealand and offers an explanation for the persistence of white hegemony.

Keywords


white privilege, white identity

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.11157/sites-vol10iss2id223