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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Hypatia’s Editor and Reviews Editor Resign; Authority of Associate Editors “Temporarily Suspended”

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Philosophy on 2017-07-23 23:48Z by Steven

Hypatia’s Editor and Reviews Editor Resign; Authority of Associate Editors “Temporarily Suspended”

Daily Nous: News For and About the Philosophy Profession
2017-07-21

Justin W.

The editor of feminist philosophy journal, Hypatia, Sally Scholz (Villanova University) and the editor of Hypatia Reviews OnlineShelley Wilcox (San Francisco State University), are resigning from their positions in the wake of the controversy surrounding the publication of “In Defense of Transracialism” by Rebecca Tuvel (Rhodes College). Meanwhile, the Board of Directors of Hypatia, the non-profit corporation that owns the journal, is taking “emergency measures to restore the academic integrity of the journal” and has “temporarily suspended the authority of the Associate Editorial Board.”

Readers may recall that the associate editors of Hypatia, responding to criticism on social media of the journal’s decision to publish Tuvel’s article, issued an unofficial apology in which they stated that the article “should not have been published.”…

Read the entire article here.

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The Uproar Over ‘Transracialism’

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, Philosophy, United States on 2017-05-18 19:53Z by Steven

The Uproar Over ‘Transracialism’

The New York Times
2017-05-18

Rogers Brubaker, Professor of Sociology
University of California, Los Angeles


Rachel Dolezal in 2015. The controversy over her choice to identify as black has lingered.
Credit Colin Mulvany/The Spokesman-Review, via Associated Press

Rogers Brubaker is a sociology professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the author, most recently, of “Trans: Gender and Race in an Age of Unsettled Identities.”

The world of academic philosophy is ordinarily a rather esoteric one. But Rebecca Tuvel’s article “In Defense of Transracialism,” published in the feminist philosophy journal Hypatia this spring, has generated a broad public discussion.

Dr. Tuvel was prompted to write her article by the controversy that erupted when Rachel Dolezal, the former local N.A.A.C.P. official who had long presented herself as black, was revealed to have grown up white. The Dolezal story broke just 10 days after Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair debut, and the two discussions merged. If Ms. Jenner could identify as a woman, could Ms. Dolezal identify as black? If transgender was a legitimate social identity, might transracial be as well? Dr. Tuvel’s article subjected these public debates to philosophical scrutiny.

The idea of transracialism had been rejected out of hand by the cultural left. Some worried — as many cultural conservatives indeed hoped — that this seemingly absurd idea might undermine the legitimacy of transgender claims. Others argued that if self-identification were to replace ancestry or phenotype as the touchstone of racial identity, this would encourage “racial fraud” and cultural appropriation. Because race has always been first and foremost an externally imposed classification, it is understandable that the idea of people declaring themselves transracial struck many as offensively dismissive of the social realities of race…

Read the entire article here.

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The Philosophy Of Multiracial Identity Vs. The Cult Of Antiracism

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Philosophy, United States on 2017-05-05 22:57Z by Steven

The Philosophy Of Multiracial Identity Vs. The Cult Of Antiracism

The Daily Caller
2017-05-03

Charles Michael Byrd, Freelance Writer
Queens, New York

Born the illegitimate, white-looking son of a dark-skinned woman in a small Virginia town in the 1950s, I squandered countless years wandering in the darkest mental ignorance before ultimately discovering that my atma-dharma (the natural devotional inclination of the soul or atma) or purpose on this planet was not to be a loyal servant to racial identity politics. Our eternal atma-dharma has nothing to do with the dharma of body, dynasty, caste or race. Those falsely identifying the body as the real self cannot fathom this.

That racial inheritance made me keenly aware, however, of the struggles multiracials endure regarding personal identification in a society that has only grudgingly begun publicly accepting the notion of hybridity. Even Barack Obama spent eight years on the global stage identifying exclusively as black, although the entire world knew of his white mother.

Against that backdrop, critics deride as naive post-racialism the notion that multiracial self-identification on the part of an ever increasing number of people may be, as the late mixed-race poet, novelist and philosopher Jean Toomer opined, “the turning point for the return of mankind, now divided into hostile races, to one unified race, namely, to the human race.”…

Read the entire article here.

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The Death of Race: Building a New Christianity in a Racial World

Posted in Books, Media Archive, Monographs, Philosophy, Religion on 2017-05-04 20:42Z by Steven

The Death of Race: Building a New Christianity in a Racial World

Fortress Press
2016-11-01
182 pages
Paperback ISBN: 9781506408880
Ebook ISBN: 9781506408897
5.50 x 8.50

Brian Bantum, Associate Professor of Theology
Seattle Pacific University, Seattle, Washington

Brian Bantum says that race is not merely an intellectual category or a biological fact. Much like the incarnation, it is a “word made flesh,” the confluence of various powers that allow some to organize and dominate the lives of others. In this way, racism is a deeply theological problem, one that is central to the Christian story and one that plays out daily in the United States and throughout the world.

In The Death of Race, Bantum argues that our attempts to heal racism will not succeed until we address what gives rise to racism in the first place: a fallen understanding of our bodies that sees difference as something to resist, defeat, or subdue. Therefore, he examines the question of race, but through the lens of our bodies and what our bodies mean in the midst of a complicated, racialized world, one that perpetually dehumanizes dark bodies, thereby rendering all of us less than God’s intention.

Table of Contents

  • 1. Race Is a Story Written on My Body
  • 2. Bodies Matter
  • 3. Naked and Ashamed
  • 4. This Is My Body, Born for You
  • 5. Jesus Walks
  • 6. Jesus Makes Us Free to Become Like Mary
  • 7. Race Must Die
  • 8. There Is Life in the Tomb
  • Epilogue
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Should I Get a Pet From a No-Kill Shelter?

Posted in Articles, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Philosophy, United States on 2017-05-04 02:54Z by Steven

Should I Get a Pet From a No-Kill Shelter?

The Ethicist
The New York Times Magazine
2017-04-26

Kwame Anthony Appiah, Professor of Philosophy, Law
New York University

…My mother is from Central America. She came to the United States for college and met my American father. I am, therefore, 50 percent Latino genetically, but I don’t identify as Latino. There were (to my regret) no Central American influences in my upbringing — no Spanish language, no Latino relatives, no foods from “the old country.” There was also no discrimination directed at me or my mother (we look “white”). Is it ethical to identify as Latino in social situations and on the census? Name Withheld

Our ethnic and racial categories drape loosely around the realities of our complex lives. I am the son of an English woman and a Ghanaian man. I am an American citizen. Am I a black American? African-American? Anglo-American? Anglo-African? “Latino” is a word that hovers uneasily between a category defined by culture and one defined by descent. The latter conception makes you Latino. The former doesn’t quite. There’s also a notion that ethnicity should be defined by your own sense of identity — by whether you think of yourself as Latino. But whether you think of yourself as Latino is shaped by ideas about culture and descent. There isn’t a single correct view about that. Still, here’s a solution: In cases in which you don’t have the time or space to explain your situation, probably the least confusing thing to say to people in the United States is that your mother is Latina. (As far as forms go, if they permit you to check two boxes, I’d do that. If they don’t, I don’t believe it matters much what you do.).

Read the entire article here.

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This Is What a Modern-Day Witch Hunt Looks Like

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, Passing, Philosophy, United States on 2017-05-04 01:53Z by Steven

This Is What a Modern-Day Witch Hunt Looks Like

New York Magazine
Daily Intelligencer
2017-05-02

Jesse Singal


Rebecca Tuvel, a philosophy professor and the target of a protracted online pile-on.

In late March, Hypatia, a feminist-philosophy journal, published an article titled “In Defense of Transracialism” by Rebecca Tuvel, an assistant professor of philosophy at Rhodes College in Memphis, as part of its spring 2017 issue. The point of the article, as the title suggests, is to toy around with the question of what it would mean if some people really were — as Rachel Dolezal claimed — “transracial,” meaning they identified as a race that didn’t line up with how society viewed them in light of their ancestry.

Tuvel structures her argument more or less as follows: (1) We accept the following premises about trans people and the rights and dignity to which they are entitled; (2) we also accept the following premises about identities and identity change in general; (3) therefore, the common arguments against transracialism fail, and we should accept that there’s little apparent logically coherent reason to deny the possibility of genuine transracialism.

Anyone who has read an academic philosophy paper will be familiar with this sort of argument. The goal, often, is to provoke a little — to probe what we think and why we think it, and to highlight logical inconsistencies that might help us better understand our values and thought processes. This sort of article is abstract and laden with hypotheticals — the idea is to pull up one level from the real world and force people to grapple with principles and claims on their own merits, rather than — in the case of Dolezal — baser instincts like disgust and outrage. This is what many philosophers do…

Read the entire article here.

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In Defense of Transracialism

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Passing, Philosophy, United States on 2017-05-04 01:28Z by Steven

In Defense of Transracialism

Hypatia: A Journal Of Feminist Philosophy
Volume 32, Issue 2 (Spring 2017)
Pages 263–278
DOI: 10.1111/hypa.12327

Rebecca Tuvel, Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Rhodes College, Memphis, Tennessee

Former NAACP chapter head Rachel Dolezal’s attempted transition from the white to the black race occasioned heated controversy. Her story gained notoriety at the same time that Caitlyn (formerly Bruce) Jenner graced the cover of Vanity Fair, signaling a growing acceptance of transgender identity. Yet criticisms of Dolezal for misrepresenting her birth race indicate a widespread social perception that it is neither possible nor acceptable to change one’s race in the way it might be to change one’s sex. Considerations that support transgenderism seem to apply equally to transracialism. Although Dolezal herself may or may not represent a genuine case of a transracial person, her story and the public reaction to it serve helpful illustrative purposes.

Read or purchase the article here.

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After Trump

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Philosophy, Religion, United States, Virginia on 2017-03-16 20:04Z by Steven

After Trump

Boston Review: A Political and Literary Forum
2016-11-22

Christopher Petrella, Lecturer in the Humanities and the Associate Director of Equity and Diversity
Bates College, Lewiston, Maine

In November 2015 Donald Trump was asked on the campaign trail if he would require Muslim U.S. citizens to register with the Department of Homeland Security. “Absolutely,” Trump said, “they have to be.” Trump and his team had been mum on the issue until last week when a number of prominent surrogates and advisers—including incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and Trump’s immigration adviser Kris Kobach—mused, seemingly as a test balloon, that the administration is “not going to rule out anything” and that a registry of Muslims entering the country would pass constitutional muster. One member of Trump’s team went as far as citing the 1942–45 internment of 120,000 Japanese-Americans during World War II as a “precedent.” (Both statements were hedged with qualifications that made them no less worrisome.)

Since then, many commentators have roundly condemned the idea of a Muslim registry—not to mention citing the internment of Japanese-Americans as a precedent for anything except that which we must avoid repeating. Few have offered deeper historical examinations , though, that would suggest that the registration of Japanese-Americans and their subsequent movement to concentration camps were not really aberrations in American history. On the contrary, racial and ethnic registries and immigration quota systems have long been integral to America’s approach to regulating the freedom, movement, and rights of non-whites. Two pieces of legislation passed in the same year nearly a century ago—one federal, one in the state of Virginia—reflect the recurrent appeal in the United States of laws aimed at protecting the racial purity of whatever is indexed in a given moment as best representing American nationalism…

…In the same year as the passage of the Immigration Act of 1924, the Commonwealth of Virginia passed its Racial Integrity Act, originally drafted as “A Bill for the Preservation of the White Race.” The Racial Integrity Act of 1924 explicitly forbade miscegenation—that is, “race mixing through marriage and fornication”—on the basis that such practices would “pollute [the nation] with mixed-blood offspring.”…

Read the entire article here.

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