Selling Ethnicity and Race

Consumerism and Representation in 21st-Century America

International Symposium, Leipzig University (Germany), November 6-8, 2013


While critics have envisioned both a “post-ethnic” and “post-racial” turn in the United States over the past two decades, it cannot be denied that ethnicity “sells”: Ethnic labels are an important economic factor, ethnic festivals experience a revival, and there is a growing market for ethnic difference and racialized commodities. At the same time, the character of ethnic identification is changing: Marilyn Halter in her study Shopping for Identity speaks of a “portable ethnicity” based on symbolic structures rather than on concrete cultural practices. The buying power of African Americans, Latinos, Asians, and Native Americans is increasing faster than that of white households, and demographers predict a population development that will make white Anglosaxons a minority by 2050, a trend often described as a “browning of America.” Ethnic and racial minorities utilize their diverse cultural backgrounds and historical experiences to preserve and express their respective and often distinct group identities through consumerism and specific commodities. 
Against this background the symposium will explore the production and performance of ethnic and racial identities as well as the consumption of “ethnic” and racialized products in the complex field between representational politics, economics, and consumerism. We will investigate new emerging ethnic imaginaries and the ways in which they respond to the re-invigoration of ethnic
identification and to the increased visibility of nonwhite Americans in the United States.




International Symposium “Selling Ethnicity and Race”
Institute for American Studies, Leipzig University
Beethovenstraße 15
04107 Leipzig, Germany

Team of Organizers

Copyright Information

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