Collective turning & modern-day persons unknown: An ideological critique of white supremacy in public

Courtney B. Cook


Through a Critical Whiteness Studies framework, this essay engages in an ideological critique of white supremacy that conceptualizes sites of 20th century spectacle lynching as public pedagogy. After establishing historical sites of terror as teaching/learning moments, the author focuses on contemporary sites of violence—the modern classroom—and links educational structures, policies, and practices to violent legacies. Theorizing ideology within Althusserian and Žižekian frames, spectacle lynching is argued as a situation which crystallized understandings of racial dominance/violence that lay the foundation for modern educational contexts where racial violence is persistently mishandled. Theorized as a “collective turning,” legacies of violence are examined within contemporary educative situations, and readers are asked to recognize white supremacy and avoidance as active forces our contemporary realities.


Critical Whiteness Studies; Curriculum Studies; Education; Ideology; Spectacle Lynching; Race; Whiteness

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