During the American version of the 1997 Labor Day weekend, shocking news interrupted the barbeques. Princess Diana had died in a Paris car crash. One of the world’s most visible women, Diana replaced everything in the news for days, and her death remains for many one of the “I-remember-what-I-was-doing-when-I-heard” moments that dot our lives. Indeed, Princess Diana’s death unleashed an international outpouring of grief, love, and press attention virtually unprecedented in history.
What narrative of white femininity transformed Diana into a signifier of both national and global popularity? What ideologies transform her into an idealized woman of the millennium? Why would a similar idealization not have appeared around a non-white, non-Western, or immigrant woman?
Raka Shome investigates. In Diana and Beyond, Shome explores how images of white femininity in popular culture intersect with issues of race, gender, class, sexuality, and transnationality in the performance of Anglo national modernities.
Digging into the media and cultural artifacts that circulated in the wake of Diana’s death, Shome investigates issues surrounding motherhood and the production of national masculinities, global humanitarianism, the intersection of fashion and white femininity, and spiritual and national modernity. The result is a fearless and fascinating explanation of the late princess’s never-ending renaissance and ongoing cultural relevance.