• Jagoda Dworek
Non-white countries constitute three-quarters of the planet (Probyn, 2005). Even though dark skinned inhabitants outnumber the population, among them there still exists a prevalent notion of whiteness superiority.. As far as approaches toward whitening differ across the world depending on social milieu, contemporary trends and historical and cultural heritage, the main question which constitutes the axis of further divagations is what is the function of media texts in social construction (and reproduction of whiteness dominance, whitening and racial attitudes) in the Peruvian social and cultural environment Therefore, thesis aims to find out what impact mass media play in the reinforcement and reproduction of the notion of whitening and whiteness dominance; the purpose is to estimate in which direction the relation goes: does the media construct the reality or the social reality affect and determine the media texts? Realizing the prevalent importance of iconography in Peruvian social construction (from the Nazca’ lines to recent advertisements) one decided to analyze the media texts’ (six sample advertisements’) influence, discursive reproduction of racial attitudes and notion of skin color by and its consequences for the society. These advertisements are not just about aesthetic preferences, but also, while considering in a wider context, reveal implicit statements. These demand an active approach to the interpretation process. It is essential to clarify the four key terms used in the paper, not only because of their incidence, but also because of their importance. These terms are: racism, whitening/lightening, whiteness/paleness and role of (mass) media and advertisements. Separate section is dedicated for getting a deeper insight into Latin American (particularly Peruvian) social structure. In Latin America issue of racism has always been sensitive and complicated. The standpoint for this subsection is that every nation which through had experienced the slavery period, couldn’t remain untouched by thorough scars. For centuries all white was associated with civilization, development and refinement. On the opposite all that had to do with darker people was stereotypically linked to barbarism, laziness and primitivism. In consequence, a specific notion of docility and racial exploitation has been established. Colonial representations are still alive which can be seen in casta hierarchy (Reding, 2007:165). In Latin America person’s race (in a symbolical way) can change to a big extent during the lifetime –from being Negro, to being “cultural white” (González Manrique, 2006). Popular Brazilian proverb “el dinero clarea...” (money cleans) (Reding, 2007:160) reveals the way of social promotion. That is closely connected with consumerism – as the way in which Latin countries adopt themselves to the dynamic world and global trends. Regarding to methodological approach, one combined discourse analysis with semiotics. This unique combination is a consequence of student’s assumption that universal psychological structures in a certain sociocultural milieu take a certain form and are revealed in the world of signs. Signs reflect certain set of implicit meanings and underlying messages about the society. Student designed a three-step interpretation process. First, she wants to conduct textual analysis of the image, applying five key areas to discuss media text suggested by Selby and Cowdery. Secondly, Barhtes’ terms and approach toward the interpretation process will be employed. After that, treating semiotic analysis as a standpoint, one wants to employ DA categories and finally reflect achieved results to sociocultual and historical contexts. Thesis gives a detailed insight into Peruvian social construction and reveals latent messages about the dynamics (expressed in notion of whiteness, lightening and whiteness dominance) and directions of racial attitudes in the face of consumerism and globalization. The paper in a logical way shows how advertisements reinforce the notion of whiteness dominance by personalizing the ideology, referring to social and cultural milieu, contrasting the myth of Western civilization with the discursive representation of Latin legacy, reinforcing the twofold construction of the society (us vs them), constructing self and social identity and setting standards for cultural whitening of lifestyles and atmosphere. Eventually, the paper gives the readers an analytical vision of the future trends and further dynamics of the situation and the process of discursive reproduction of racial attitudes in the region.
Publication date2010
Number of pages90
Publishing institutionAalborg University
ID: 19999374