Deconstructing the Albino Other: A Critique of Albinism Identity in Media discusses how American popular culture and communication about albinism, including movie characters and memes, have worked to create and maintain a negative trope of albinism that situates people with albinism (PWA) as a monolithic other. Niya Pickett Miller demonstrates that consequently, PWA must construct their own identities of albinism, highlighting the salient aspects of themselves as they see fit with no valid representation to look to for guidance. Thus, Pickett Miller argues, self-defining for PWA is a key rhetorical action taken to rearticulate albinism identity. Rather than focusing on scientific and medical lenses of analysis, this book positions albinism as a social construct through which a broader understanding of otherness can be achieved, using the negative influence of pop culture’s otherization of PWA as a case study with broader implications, including how medical conditions can be visually troped to isolate the other outside of society’s realm of normalcy. Scholars of media studies, race studies, sociology, rhetoric, and the medical humanities will find this book particularly useful.
Niya Pickett Miller is post-doctoral assistant professor of communication studies at Samford University.
Preface: Why This Book Matters
Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: The (Evil) Albino Trope
Chapter 3: (Re)constituting Albinic Identity
Chapter 4: “Other” White Storytellers: Emancipating Albinism Identity through Personal Narratives
Chapter 5: Conclusion
About the Author
An important contribution on multiple disciplinary fronts, Niya Pickett Miller presents a compelling look at the intersections of rhetoric, race, and identity through an understudied context, albinism. Miller’s book sheds light on albinism not as a medical condition, rather as a rhetorical construct. The author weaves an education of albinism into a critical read of popular media texts, providing insight on the ways in which racial identity and albinism become conflated. Miller exposes popular media’s portrayal of albinism as a trope inappropriately deployed for humor or fear, providing all readers a reminder of the consequences of albinism when mediated in this way.
Starting with her personal connections to albinism, Niya Pickett Miller quickly turns this study into a compellingly critical look at whiteness, blackness, and all of the ways that society “races” individuals. Through her critical readings of various media texts, the author explores how race is often visualized. Because of its visual markings, albinism is often interpreted as a lack of race, making the seemingly random social construction of race apparent. Miller not only provides the reader with an important look at an unexplored approach to race, but does so through texts that are widely recognized.