chapter  3
A white world? Whiteness and the meaning of modernity in Latin America and Japan
Pages 32

Introduction [W]e have always been looking at Western countries as progressive ones. These were places that Japan had to catch up with. From this there developed sort of a complex - 'it's a white world'. (Creative Director, Dentsu advertising agency Tokyo, cited by Creighton, 1997, p.216)

The notion that 'it's a white world' appears both obvious and faintly ridiculous. The idea that those social, economic and cultural forms that dominate the planet may be characterised as white, whether in terms of their origin, their values or which group benefits from them, is a ubiquitous one. Yet it is frequently swiftly followed by certain caveats - 'for the time being at least'; 'or so they like to think' - qualifiers that simultaneously undermine and highlight the pomposity of the initial claim. The demands and delusions of whiteness are keenly observed by many people around the world, its conceits identified, scrutinised and often resented.