When skin talks: whitening strategies used in higher education*

Liuba Kogan, Francisco Galarza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


This paper aims to identify the ‘whitening’ strategies used by undergraduate students in a developing country with strong levels of ethno-racial discrimination and social mobility. We adopt a critical, constructivist theoretical perspective and a qualitative approach, in the design and analysis, for which we use three instruments: surveys, focus groups and the Q-Methodology. We find that students use several ‘whitening’ strategies (e.g. wearing expensive clothing, improving their diction and managing their bodies) in order to shield against the ethno-racial discrimination they face, and protect from the negative effects it imposes on their personal, academic and employment outcomes. Our findings also reveal that race is redefined in such a way that it involves more than just the skin colour, a process that is enabled by a relatively high degree of social mobility, experienced in the wake of a booming economy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-91
Number of pages15
JournalWhiteness and Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • discrimination
  • Higher education
  • Latin America
  • Peru
  • race
  • whitening


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