“Power Play: Race Performance at the Margins”

Codes of Conduct - Code Switching and the Everyday Performance of Identity - K. Merinda Simmons

K. Merinda Simmons [+-]
University of Alabama
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K. Merinda Simmons is Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Graduate Director of the Religion in Culture MA Program at the University of Alabama. Her books include Changing the Subject: Writing Women across the African Diaspora (Ohio State UP, 2014), The Trouble with Post-Blackness (co-edited with Houston A. Baker, Jr., Columbia UP, 2015), and Race and New Modernisms (co-authored with James A. Crank, Bloomsbury, 2019). She is editor of the book series Concepts in the Study of Religion: Critical Primers (Equinox).


This essay addresses code-switching as a careful, though often unconscious, way of identifying spheres of dominance and power. Whether the aim is to subvert or authorize particular power structures, performing certain social scripts--or “codes”--establishes one’s participation in a group. Thus, code-switching is not a by-product of marginalization but rather a universal practice (albeit to varying degrees in different contexts) by which social actors identify “dominant” and “marginal” groups. I will press this argument through an analysis of “postblackness” and the ways in which race and politics are mediated in the American South.

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Simmons, K. Merinda. “Power Play: Race Performance at the Margins”. Codes of Conduct - Code Switching and the Everyday Performance of Identity. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. Sep 2021. ISBN 9781781791844. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=24868. Date accessed: 18 Oct 2021 doi: 10.1558/equinox.24868. Sep 2021

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