Research Seminar: Steve Garner on 'Skin graft: skin lightening discourses and practices in England, and what they tell us about ‘race’'
The Centre of Ethnicity and Citizenship Seminar Series
Steve Garner (University of Bristol) will be discussing 'Skin graft: skin lightening discourses and practices in England, and what they tell us about ‘race’'
Date: 24th January 2019
Venue: G1 7 Priory Rd
The global market in skin lightening products has a $multi-billion annual turnover. Skin lightening customers are primarily women of colour, and the topic sits at the crossroads of debates about ‘race’, colonialism, gender, body modification, representations, consumption, and the regulation of markets. yet it has been relatively unexplored by sociologists and virtually ignored within a British context. Indeed, an abundant technical medical and public health literature dwarfs the small social science corpus - and there is an absence of research done in England. There are several aspects of skin lightening to investigate, including; Racialised understandings of beauty; Intersectional and cross-national approaches; Consumer choice; Public health; Harm and safety v legality / illegality. In terms of empirical work, this is a gap to be filled. A British Academy Small Grant and a top-up from my former institution enabled the first baseline survey of practices to be developed. I will first present the headline findings, explain some of the methodological issues, and talk about my conversations with the media over the last two years. I will then trace some of the discursive leads thrown up, before outlining the next phase, which consists of building a network of interested academics and activists. The aim is to spur activism, change the terms of the debate and make skin lightening into a public health issue (as well as, not instead of, whatever else it is) in this country.