Whiteness as Giftedness

Racial Formation at an Urban High School
  • Annegret Staiger


By examining a gifted magnet of an urban California high school as a racial project, this study contributes to our understanding of racial formation. The study analyzes the organizational and representational practices of this voluntary desegregation tool—a partial-site magnet program for “gifted” students—and its impact on students inside and outside the program. In doing so, the study reveals how, in contrast to its stated mission, this form of voluntary desegregation actually constitutes a form of resegregation. Based on ethnographic fieldwork, this research reveals a series of practices that have produced exclusionary access to the gifted program, limited the interaction between magnet and non-magnet students, and instituted an apparently color-blind discourse of the gifted as in need of protection, all contributing to a widespread though complex and contradictory notion of whiteness as giftedness. Such notions run counter to the original intent of the desegregation ruling in Brown v. Board of Education. Revealing the processes by which a desegregation instrument facilitates such contradictory outcomes provides critical insights into the dynamic nature of racial formation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH, ein Teil von Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Humanities & Social SciencesClarkson UniversityPotsdamUSA

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