Few issues are as controversial as race and nation, reveating that after years of debate we still understand very little about how these terms of self-definition and identity work. Perhaps their meaning finds its most powerful expression in the medium of photography. Photographs have been used to present America as a haven for immigrants and a paradise of pioneers and entrepreneurs; yet photographs have also shown us a society fraught by racial conflict and struggles to transform the social order. Throughout the history of American photography, artists have responded to these mixed signals in a variety of ways. By bringing together a provocative selection of essays and images. Only Skin Deep: Changing Visions of the American Self addresses the issues of nation, race, and selfhood and how they are depicted in ways that are challenging and informative, prompting readers to consider the impact of photography on our everyday lives. If photographs are chiefly responsible for perpetuating myths of American identity, can a different reading of these representations break down distorting stereotypes? This is the central question posed by Only Skin Deep. The authors in this book forcefully argue that race and nation -- and, indeed, photography itself -- are fictions, cultural constructions that shape our social interactions. Even as symbols, these photographic depictions of ethnic difference and cultural superiority have very real consequences. This collection of works and essays addresses, for example, the lingering consequences of American colonial expansion; the conflict between public and private visualizations of individuals; the role of commercial imagery in shaping gender roles; the impact of fantasy in ethnic or ethnographic photography; and the uses of science to provide justification for politicized depictions of "race." Book jacket.Fusco, Coco is the author of 'Only Skin Deep Changing Visions of the American Self' with ISBN 9780810991651 and ISBN 0810991659.