“Religion of a Different Color: Race and the Mormon Struggle for Whiteness”


I’ve long argued that the exception that proves my rule that the central divide in American public life is between the Core and the Fringe, as seen in the demographics of who voted for Obama and who voted for Romney, are the Mormons. Romney’s religion is an insular sect that tries very hard to be part of the Core, which strikes most influential Americans today as pretty fringey if you know what I mean: these days, any red-blooded American with a hint of ambition is trying to redefine himself, herself, or pronoun-unspecifiedself as an oppressed member of some fringe group. Thus, Irish- and Italian-American academics, for example, argue that their ancestors weren’t white.

I recently suggested that no doubt some BYU grad student is working on a magnum opus that will redefine Mormons as oppressed outsiders. Commenter John Mansfield directs my attention to an upcoming book:

W. Paul Reeve (Ph.D., University of Utah) is an associate professor of history at the University of Utah … He is researching nineteenth-century notions of Mormon physical otherness, including ways in which outsiders racialized Mormons and a corresponding Mormon construction of whiteness. His book on the project, Religion of a Different Color: Race and the Mormon Struggle for Whiteness, is under contract with Oxford University Press.