Out of the Binary and Beyond the Spectrum: Redefining and Reclaiming Native American Race

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Philosophy, United States on 2018-08-14 02:56Z by Steven

Out of the Binary and Beyond the Spectrum: Redefining and Reclaiming Native American Race

Critical Philosophy of Race
Volume 6, Issue 2, 2018
pages 216-238
DOI: 10.5325/critphilrace.6.2.0216

Alex R. Steers-Mccrum
Graduate Center, City University of New York

Race in the United States is most often talked about in terms of black and white, sometimes as a spectrum running from whiteness to blackness. Such a conception does not map onto actual racial structures in the United States and excludes Native Americans. This article will criticize this binary, detailing a theory of race in which colonialism and racism are prior to racial formation, following Patrick Wolfe and Michael Omi and Howard Winant. In assembling this theory, this article attempts to bridge philosophical critical race studies and Native American and Indigenous Peoples studies. It argues that to be a member of a race is to be in a relationship of dominance and resistance with settler colonialism. It discusses the implications of a political mode (following Tommie Shelby) of Native race in greater detail, including how it can be differentiated from ethnicity and tribal identity, and how it might be politically useful in anti-domination solidarity. Finally, the article examines the similarities and differences between Native race as construed here and concepts of being Indigenous, suggesting that what Indigenous is at the global level, Native race may be at the local.

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Black on the Outside, White on the Inside: Peter Abelard’s Use of Race

Posted in Articles, Europe, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Philosophy, Religion on 2018-08-14 02:39Z by Steven

Black on the Outside, White on the Inside: Peter Abelard’s Use of Race

Critical Philosophy of Race
Volume 6, Issue 2, 2018
pages 135-163
DOI: 10.5325/critphilrace.6.2.0135

Colleen Mccluskey, Professor of Philosophy
Saint Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri

In his reply to Heloise’s complaints in the fourth of the so-called personal letters, Peter Abelard (a twelfth-century theologian) draws upon the figure of the Ethiopian queen from the biblical Song of Songs, who proclaims that she is black on the outside but beautiful on the inside. While some scholars have interpreted his discussion as a commentary on the persona of a nun, this article considers what Abelard’s remarks might mean for understanding the development of the concept of race in Western thought. In particular, it considers whether Abelard’s discussion, both in the letter and in his metaphysical writings, challenges the common (although not universal) position that Europeans did not develop a concept of race until at least the early modern period. It examines these texts to determine the extent to which his remarks reveal congruities or differences with later more explicit conceptions of race.

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“The Fixity of Whiteness”: Genetic Admixture and the Legacy of the One-Drop Rule

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive, Philosophy, Social Science on 2018-08-14 02:25Z by Steven

“The Fixity of Whiteness”: Genetic Admixture and the Legacy of the One-Drop Rule

Critical Philosophy of Race
Volume 6, Issue 2, 2018
pages 239-261
DOI: 10.5325/critphilrace.6.2.0239

Jordan Liz

There has been increasing attention given to the way in which racial genetic clusters are constructed within population genetics. In particular, some scholars have argued that the conception of “whiteness” presupposed is such analyses is inherently problematic. In light of these ongoing discussions, this article aims to further clarify and develop this implicit relationship between whiteness, purity and contemporary genetics by offering a Foucauldian critique of the discourse of race within these genetic admixture studies. The goals of this article, then, are twofold: first, to unearth some of the presuppositions operative in this genetics discourse that make possible a biological conception of race; and second, to examine some of the social and historical origins of those presuppositions. To this end, this article provides a brief genealogy of racial purity beginning with its formal legal codification in the one-drop rule.

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The Existence of the Mixed Race Damnés: Decolonialism, Class, Gender, Race

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Caribbean/Latin America, Latino Studies, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Monographs, Philosophy, United States on 2018-06-06 19:37Z by Steven

The Existence of the Mixed Race Damnés: Decolonialism, Class, Gender, Race

Rowman & Littlefield
June 2018
160 pages
Trim: 6 x 9
Hardback ISBN: 978-1-78660-615-0
eBook ISBN: 978-1-78660-616-7

Daphne V. Taylor-Garcia, Assistant Professor of Ethnic Studies
University of California, San Diego

The Existence of the Mixed Race Damnés is an interdisciplinary and intersectional study of the mixed-race subject in the Americas and the rise of oppositional consciousness with a consideration of not only race, but also colonialism. Daphne V. Taylor-Garcia examines the construction of race, gender, and class in coming to an oppositional consciousness as a Spanish colonial subject in the Americas. Spanning the early foundations of knowledge production about colonial/racial subjects and connecting to contemporary debates on Latinxs and racialization, the book takes up the terms through which first-person perceptions of precarity and class, mixed-race existence, and gendered power relations are constructed. The Existence of the Mixed Race Damnés ends with a response to the current scepticism towards organizing as people of color through a decolonial redefinition of the damnés that centers a critique of anti-black racism and colonial relations.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • 1. The Spatiality of the Damnés
  • 2. Visible Race and the Legacy of the Sistema de Castas
  • 3. The Semiotics of Gender in Colonial/Renaissance Knowledge Production
  • 4. Taking Action as the Damnés
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • Index
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In Black and White: A Hermeneutic Argument against “Transracialism”

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Passing, Philosophy, United States on 2018-04-19 00:47Z by Steven

In Black and White: A Hermeneutic Argument against “Transracialism”

Res Philosophica
Volume 95, Issue 2, April 2018
Pages 303-329

Tina Fernandes Botts, Professor of Philosophy
California State University, Fresno

Transracialism, defined as both experiencing oneself as, and being, a race other than the race assigned to one by society, does not exist. Translated into hermeneutics, transracialism is an unintelligible phenomenon in the specific sociocultural context of the United States in the early twenty-first century. Within this context, race is a function of ancestry, and is therefore defined in terms of something that is external to the self and unchangeable. Since transracialism does not exist, the question of whether transracialism would be ethically advisable if it did exist is inapposite. Nonetheless, at a minimum we can say that racial transition (defined as attempting to change one’s race through artificial and/or associative changes, and living life as a race other than the race assigned to one by society, etc.) is possible, but is very likely unethical, since it is the same as racial passing.

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Thinking through Rejections and Defenses of Transracialism

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Philosophy on 2018-04-19 00:20Z by Steven

Thinking through Rejections and Defenses of Transracialism

Philosophy Today: An International Journal of Contemporary Philosophy
Volume 62, Issue 1, Winter 2018
Pages 11-19
DOI: 10.5840/philtoday201829196

Lewis R. Gordon, Professor of Philosophy; Africana Studies
University of Connecticut, Storrs

This article explores several philosophical questions raised by Rebecca Tuvel’s controversial article, “In Defense of Transracialism.” Drawing upon work on the concept of bad faith, including its form as “disciplinary decadence,” this discussion raises concerns of constructivity and its implications and differences in intersections of race and gender.

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On prejudice

Posted in Arts, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Philosophy, Slavery on 2018-03-06 01:27Z by Steven

On prejudice

Aeon
2018-03-05

Blake Smith, Postdoctoral Fellow
European University Institute, Florence, Italy


Famille Métisse (1775) by Marius-Pierre le Masurier. Photo courtesy Musée du Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac/RMN

An 18th-century creole slaveholder invented the idea of ‘racial prejudice’ to defend diversity among a slave-owning elite

n 1791, Julien Raimond published one of the first critiques of racial prejudice. Raimond was a free man of racially mixed ancestry from the French colony of Saint-Domingue (today the country of Haiti), and his essay ‘Observations on the Origin and Progress of White People’s Prejudice against People of Colour’ argued that legal discrimination against people of African origin resulted from psychological biases. Raimond’s work was the first sustained account of how racial prejudice operates – and how it might be eliminated. Today, the idea that unconscious biases permeate individual psychology, prompting discriminatory behaviours and perpetuating social inequality, is central to discussions of race in politics, academia and everyday life. But this idea was the product of a specific 18th-century moment, with surprising and troubling motivations behind it.

Raimond was an activist for the rights of people of colour. In 1789, he left his home in Saint-Domingue just before the outbreak of the French Revolution. He went to Paris to lobby the government to grant equal status to free people of African origin. In Paris, Raimond joined a circle of radical thinkers and politicians who believed that racial equality had to be part of the emerging Revolution. But Raimond was no opponent of slavery. On the contrary, while his allies argued for its abolition, Raimond insisted that racial equality and abolition of slavery had nothing to do with each other. The first page of his treatise claimed that a cabal of ‘white plantation-owners … have cleverly conflated the cause of people of colour with that of slaves’. Raimond, in fact, wanted to preserve slavery. He believed that eliminating racial prejudice would bring white and non-white slave-owners together in a united front against enslaved Africans. He drew on the pro-slavery arguments of white plantation-owners. Raimond’s idea that there is such a thing as ‘racial prejudice’ and that discrimination is rooted in this psychological phenomenon originated in these plantation-owners’ defences of slavery.

Raimond’s ideas strike many present-day readers as bizarre and hypocritical. After all, he pioneered modern critiques of racial prejudice while also defending slavery. Most people today presume that racism led to slavery, and that slavery and racism were practically synonymous. But in the 18th century, this was not so clearly the case. From Raimond’s perspective, as an 18th-century creole slave-owner, slavery and racism were distinct, and it seemed urgent to disentangle them. Slavery, after all, had existed for thousands of years, while modern racial discrimination, Raimond held, was something recent, contingent and reformable. Like many thinkers of his era (including many of the United States’ Founding Fathers), Raimond saw the world divided between an elite of propertied men and a servile mass of labourers. He saw that the power of a tiny elite would be more resilient if the privileged included people of different colours…

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Delia Graff Fara Explored a Philosophical Concept With a Heap of Sand

Posted in Articles, Biography, Media Archive, Philosophy, United States, Women on 2018-02-11 03:29Z by Steven

Delia Graff Fara Explored a Philosophical Concept With a Heap of Sand

The Lives They Lived
The New York Times Magazine
2017-12-28

James Ryerson, Senior Story Editor


Tackling a paradox: Fara in 2004. Credit Steve Pyke

She philosophized about vagueness — and lived with it too

The “paradox of the heap” seems at first like a trick, a brainteaser that must have some clever catch. But it reveals itself, as it defies easy understanding, to be a philosophical problem. You might approach it as a puzzle, only to end up devising a solution so deep that it would challenge our thinking about language, knowledge and the nature of reality. By the time of her death from brain cancer in July at 48, Delia Graff Fara, a philosopher at Princeton, had done just that.

Start with a heap of sand. If you remove a single grain, it remains a heap. Repeat this process enough times, however, and you have a heap of sand that contains, say, one grain. This is absurd: One grain is not a heap. Something has gone wrong, but it is not obvious what. Either there is a precise number of grains at which point a heap becomes a nonheap, or there is no such thing as a heap, or classical logic is flawed (perhaps it is only ever sort of true that something is a heap). Which bullet to bite?…

…When it came to racial diversity, an area in which philosophy is similarly lopsided, Fara was also a champion, if more circumspect. Her mother, who raised Fara as a single parent in New York, was African-American; her father, who died when she was a child, was of Irish and Jewish descent. Because of her appearance, Fara was often assumed to be white or queried clumsily about where she was “from.” She told her husband she hoped to avoid being defined by her race. But as much as she let misperceptions slide, or answered politely that she was “born in Queens,” it was an issue she could never fully escape…

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On Black Negativity, Or the Affirmation of Nothing

Posted in Articles, Interviews, Media Archive, Philosophy, United States on 2017-09-20 16:02Z by Steven

On Black Negativity, Or the Affirmation of Nothing

Society and Space
2017-09-18

Jared Sexton, Interviewed by Daniel Colucciello Barber

Jared Sexton is Associate Professor of African American Studies and Film and Media Studies at the University of California, Irvine, where he also holds an affiliation with the Center for Law, Culture, and Society. He is the author of Amalgamation Schemes: Antiblackness and the Critique of Multiracialism (University of Minnesota Press, 2008) and Black Masculinity and the Cinema of Policing (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017). In these books, as well as in his numerous articles and essays, Sexton addresses themes of contemporary political and popular culture, or more broadly the cultural politics of the post-civil rights era United States, focusing on questions of race and sexuality, policing and prisons, multiracial coalition, and contemporary film.

The range of themes addressed in Sexton’s work is motivated by a central commitment to the field of black studies. Importantly, black studies is here understood not as one field among many, such that it would become identifiable through its division from others. Black studies—as “an internally differentiated project”—concerns what Sexton describes as “an unlimited field,” one that ramifies upon, because it is implicated in, all fields of study.

This interview attends to and foregrounds Sexton’s theorization of the meaning, stakes, and implications of the unlimited field of black studies. While such theorization is bound to matters that entail a sociological specificity, the questions that thereby emerge likewise entail the opening up of “a whole series of ontological matters.” Such double entailment follows from Sexton’s focus on the singular “sociopolitical status” of blackness in the modern world: if blackness “opens the space for articulating what is unthought,” this is because blackness is “that which relates to the undoing or unraveling of every social bond” and so inhabits them, negatively, from within.

Daniel Barber: In “The Social Life of Social Death,” you speak of “a procedure for reading, for study, for black study or, in the spirit of the multiple, for black studies … wherever they may lead. And, contrary to the popular misconception, they do lead everywhere. And they do lead everywhere, even and especially in their dehiscence.” This is a lesson that I am constantly learning from the reading of your work. You characterize such black study as “an exemplary transmission: emulation of a process of learning through the posing of a question, rather than imitation of a form of being,” and it is inarguable that your writing has been at the vanguard of such exemplification.

Many of your recent essays have explicitly pressed the stakes of a dehiscent “everywhere.” The incommensurateness of the position of blackness with discourses of the universal—which, as you demonstrated in Amalgamation Schemes, remains the case even in a purportedly pluralized, expansive discourse such as multiracialism—marks an opening up all over, according to the unthought recesses of what Dionne Brand has called “a tear in the world.” I can imagine this everywhere coming to be interpreted as “more” universal than universality, and I wonder how you would think about this? Dehiscence—or, along similar lines, the ungrounding entailed by deracination—certainly exceeds the universal, but such excess would seem to refuse its being related in terms of universality.

Jared Sexton: First, let me thank you again for your rich and generative questions here, and for the careful and sustained reading required to formulate them. I say that especially because I am aware of the ways that, for all of the moments of real critical engagement I’ve enjoyed since entering academia, aspects of my writing, as one instance in a much larger collective project, have been fairly consistently distorted and, at times, caricatured for some time now. Some of that has to do of course with very broad developments in intellectual life in the United States—academic celebrity culture, social media “hot takes,” “me too” research protocols, the denigration of the arts and humanities, etc.—and some of it has to do with an understandable, if disagreeable, anxiety about conserving radical thought under reactionary conditions. But then too I think much of it reflects the type of paralogical affect, or animus, that Frantz Fanon explored so provocatively in his time and that I have, again among many others, tried for a while now to understand better. It strikes me as a ressentiment not of the slave, but rather about and against the slave, and those thought to be slavish…

Read the entire interview here.

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Racism is real, race is not: a philosopher’s perspective

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Oceania, Philosophy, Social Science on 2017-09-07 02:31Z by Steven

Racism is real, race is not: a philosopher’s perspective

The Conversation
2017-08-31

Adam Hochman, Lecturer in Philosophy
Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia


from www.shutterstock.com

There are no races – biological or social – only racialised groups.

We live in a richly diverse country, populated by Indigenous Australians, recent immigrants, and descendants of relatively recent immigrants. Some feel threatened by this diversity; some relish it.

Most of us, I think, are unsure quite how to talk about it.

We have many words to describe diversity. We ask people about their ancestry, their ethnicity, and – most awkwardly – their “background”. We seem least comfortable asking people about their “race”, and with good reason.

Racial classification has been used to justify some of the most heinous crimes of modernity, including those committed on our own shores. Asking people about their “race” can make you sound a bit, well, racist…

Read the entire article here.

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