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Not Quite White: White Trash and the Boundaries of Whiteness

4.4 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 858-0000822878
ISBN-10: 0822338734
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Matt Wray’s Not Quite White is a richly textured social history of how and why the nation has come to conceive, categorize, and routinely vilify that part of its population known as ‘white trash.’ Because this subject has rarely been the focus of systematic scholarly inquiry, that alone would be a notable achievement. Yet the book aims for more—to propose a boundary theory of why ‘white trash’ has had so many uses—from literature to politics to social science. By any measure, this book is a major contribution.”—Troy Duster, New York University


“White trash? What did you just call me? Not Quite White provides the best social history of America’s most quizzical moniker in the racial-class system. From its colonial origins to the era of eugenics to the public health campaign to eradicate hookworm in the South, Matt Wray’s careful analysis documents the roots of this label, showing what its apparently oxymoronic nature tells us about the larger system of symbolic stratification in the United States.”—Dalton Conley, author of Honky


“[A]n engaging study. . . . the book is the result of ambitious interdisciplinary research examining multileveled, interactive processes of social differentiation in distinct historical periods. . . . Wray’s work adds new depth to our understanding of the intraracial dynamics that construct and sustain ideologies of white supremacy and will challenge scholars to rethink their own constructs of what white means. Both the substance and methodology of this work will be of interest to professionals and graduate students in the social sciences and humanities. Selected chapters might also serve well in upper-division undergraduate courses.”
(Pamela Perry, American Journal of Sociology)

“Matt Wray’s latest book, Not Quite White: White Trash and the Boundaries of Whiteness, is a compelling read. The prose is lucid and the analysis, which draws upon boundary theory and poststructuralist methods, most insightful. . . . [A] beautifully crafted, detailed and fascinating account.”
(Anoop Nayak, Ethnic and Racial Studies)

“The length of the book and an easily readable narrative style make it well suited for the undergraduate classroom. Students will find the book accessible; educators should appreciate its potential to stimulate thought-provoking discussion. . . . [T]his is a well-argued and thought-provoking book. It complicates scholarly understandings of what it has meant to be ‘white’ and succeeds as a model of interdisciplinarity.”
(David J. LaVigne, Journal of Social History)

“Wray’s new book, Not Quite White, is a brilliant and original monograph that both expands and challenges Whiteness Studies, which tend to deal with an undifferentiated white ethnicity; Ethnic Studies, which largely omit class analysis; and Labor Studies, which are not interested in the phenomenon of poor whites . . . . The text is accessible to non-specialists and undergraduates along with scholars and graduate students. This would be a fine textbook for any number of courses.”
(Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Journal of American Ethnic History)

From the Back Cover

"Matt Wray's "Not Quite White" is a richly textured social history of how and why the nation has come to conceive, categorize, and routinely vilify that part of its population known as 'white trash.' Because this subject has rarely been the focus of systematic scholarly inquiry, that alone would be a notable achievement. Yet the book aims for more--to propose a boundary theory of why 'white trash' has had so many uses--from literature to politics to social science. By any measure, this book is a major contribution."--Troy Duster, New York University
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books (November 3, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0822338734
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822338734
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #45,537 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Ryan A. Brown on December 29, 2006
Format: Paperback
Matt Wray has put together an extremely powerful treatise on the cultural construction of poor whites in the U.S. With wonderful historical detail and depth, he has shown how poor whites have come to be perceived over three centuries, and in various regions of the United States. Wray's book is theoretically sophisticated in a direct, eloquent, and very "alive" way. As a result, it should appeal to a wide variety of academic and non-academic audiences.

For students of race and class in America, this really should be required reading. More than an historical text, this book is also deeply anthropological, psychological, and sociological. Extremely well empirically substantiated, it also sits right on the cutting edge of social theory.
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Format: Paperback
It's funny that the term "white trash" seems largely regulated to poor whites. As a rule, that is usually where they are found. As a Southerner I have known plenty of white trash, but they weren't always poor. We in the South tend to give the term to those in our population that have few or no morals. We base it on behaviour and not economic standing. Some of the best people I have ever known were poor as gully dirt and some of the trashiest people have held tenure at the local university.
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This book was very well written. Sometimes a little wordy, but the author leaves you feeling that you are getting the complete knowledge on the subject. I found myself stopping throughout the book to do research on different things mentioned to get a better picture. I found the book very interesting and would strongly suggest others to read it. It is not a book you will read in one sitting. But it is worth taking the time to read. It should be required reading in schools. I will go one better it should be a course called the Social History of America. Every American should have a working knowledge of this information.
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Format: Paperback
This book will be too academic for many readers. It is well researched and well written but many non academics will find it difficult to read in many places and difficult to figure out what the message or intent of the book is. It is definitely written for academics and has been reviewed by a few.

I create and maintain educational websites, Midwest Independent Research. I have one on sociology, mwir-sociology.blogspot com.
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The first couple chapters feel derivative but the chapters on Eugenics and Hookworm are well done and provide an interesting point of analysis for understanding the development of whiteness. I used this in class on Race in the Americas and it was very popular with the students.
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By JL on March 25, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Thoroughly researched and illuminating. This book is both engaging and academically sound. Matt Wray draws from history, sociology, and his own life experience to describe the American relationship with the "other" kind of white people.
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This is an amazingly helpful book to learn the history of low-class white. Breathtaking and eye-opening. The book totally reoriented how I think race in America.
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