Cover of Shades of Difference by Edited by Evelyn Nakano Glenn
Shades of Difference
Why Skin Color Matters
Edited by Evelyn Nakano Glenn


312 pages.
from $30.00

Hardcover ISBN: 9780804759984
Paperback ISBN: 9780804759991
Ebook ISBN: 9780804770996

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Excerpts and More

Shades of Difference addresses the widespread but little studied phenomenon of colorism—the preference for lighter skin and the ranking of individual worth according to skin tone. Examining the social and cultural significance of skin color in a broad range of societies and historical periods, this insightful collection looks at how skin color affects people's opportunities in Latin America, Asia, Africa, and North America.

Is skin color bias distinct from racial bias? How does skin color preference relate to gender, given the association of lightness with desirability and beauty in women? The authors of this volume explore these and other questions as they take a closer look at the role Western-dominated culture and media have played in disseminating the ideal of light skin globally. With its comparative, international focus, this enlightening book will provide innovative insights and expand the dialogue around race and gender in the social sciences, ethnic studies, African American studies, and gender and women's studies.

About the author

Evelyn Nakano Glenn is Professor of Ethnic Studies and Gender and Women's Studies and Founding Director of the Center for Race and Gender at the University of California, Berkeley. She currently holds the position of president-elect of the American Sociological Association and will assume the presidency of the association in 2009.

"[T]his is an excellent collection with new findings, important ideas, and moving quotations and illustrations. I recommend it highly."

—Jennifer L. Hochschild, Journal of American Ethnic History

"If you think that there is nothing left to write or read about skin color and human societies, Shades of Difference will change your mind and shake you up."

—Nina G. Jablonski, Journal of Anthropological Research

"Shades of Difference is a distinguished collection that broadens the new area of colorism scholarship to include the national and international class dynamics of why skin color matters. Evelyn Nakano Glenn has brought together diverse authors to capture a range of identities shaped by the national and international politics and economics of skin color. A must read for all concerned with critical race studies."

—Mary Romero, Arizona State University

"Skin color and race are often used synonymously in the US. From historical accounts of black beauty pageants to social meanings of color in Brazil to global marketing of skin lightening products, Nakano Glenn presents an array of research from different countries of the world to analyze the meanings and hierarchies of skin-color. The result is a very thought-provoking book that will reshape how scholars think about skin color and race in the contemporary world."

—Bandana Purkayastha, University of Connecticut