'Yellow peril': Contradictions of race in James Ellroy's Perfidia

Ashman, Nathan ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4065-6253 (2018) 'Yellow peril': Contradictions of race in James Ellroy's Perfidia. Studies in Crime Writing, 1 (1). pp. 1-15. ISSN 2578-4021

[thumbnail of Published manuscript]
PDF (Published manuscript) - Published Version
Download (210kB) | Preview


James Ellroy’s treatment of race continues to captivate and polarize both popular and academic opinion. Whilst some see the casual racism and often uncomfortable stereotypes in Ellroy’s work as a reflection of the author’s own political agenda, for others Ellroy’s work offers a complex deconstruction of both racial identity and white social power. Focusing on his novel Perfidia, this paper explores these contradictions and paradoxes in Ellroy’s representations of race, arguing that whilst the novel depicts and forcefully overemphasizes an historical moment fraught with a brand of physiognomic racism that persecutes individuals on the basis of biological difference, it simultaneously deconstructs such essentialist engenderings by foregrounding the performative dimensions of race as a category of identity. As a result, this paper argues that Ellroy’s novel “visibilizes” the socially and institutionally constructed nature of race, deconstructing and destabilizing the integrity and authority of white social power. Yet, this paper also suggests that through such an unyielding portrayal of white power, Perfidia only partly dislodges the authority and power of institutional whiteness, and can in fact be seen to validate the sustainment of such apparatus.

Item Type: Article
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Literature, Drama and Creative Writing
UEA Research Groups: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Research Groups > Creative Writing Research Group
Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Research Groups > Modern and Contemporary Writing Research Group
Related URLs:
Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 14:30
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2024 17:44
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/68552


Downloads per month over past year

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item