Drawing on examples of white imitation, this article discusses the racialization of facial expression. Taking the white imitator Grey Owl as my principal example, I argue that the employment of facial expressions as racial symbols is beset by a tenacious ambiguity. The genesis of the stern yet fierce “Indian look” is discussed in the context of the employment and deployment of the “noble savage” within European primitivism and racism. The article concludes with an account of Grey Owl’s capacity to look “more Indian than an Indian” and his redemption as a hero of environmentalism.
Pale Face, Red Mask: Racial Ambiguity and the Imitation of “American Indian” Facial Expressions
ALASTAIR BONNETT IS PROFESSOR OF SOCIAL GEOGRAPHY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF NEWCASTLE, UK. HIS MOST RECENT BOOK IS THE IDEA OF THE WEST: HISTORY, CULTURE AND POLITICS (PALGRAVE 2004). HE IS ALSO THE AUTHOR OF ANTI-RACISM (ROUTLEDGE 2000) AND WHITE IDENTITIES (PEARSON 2000).
Alastair Bonnett; Pale Face, Red Mask: Racial Ambiguity and the Imitation of “American Indian” Facial Expressions. Cultural Politics 1 November 2006; 2 (3): 319–338. doi: https://doi.org/10.2752/174321906778531655
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