Long Read | Refusing race and salvaging the human

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Philosophy, Politics/Public Policy, Social Justice, Social Science on 2019-06-24 19:57Z by Steven

Long Read | Refusing race and salvaging the human

New Frame
2019-06-20

Paul Gilroy, Professor of American and English Literature
King’s College, London, United Kingdom

Illustration by Anastasya Eliseeva.
Illustrator: Anastasya Eliseeva

In his Holberg Lecture, Paul Gilroy, winner of the Holberg Prize for 2019, advocates turning away from the defaulted racial ordering of life in pursuit of a new humanism.

It is commonplace to observe that democracy in Europe has reached a dangerous point. As ailing capitalism emancipates itself from democratic regulation, ultra-nationalism, populism, xenophobia and varieties of neo-fascism have become more visible, more assertive and more corrosive of political culture.

The widespread appeal of racialised group identity and racism, often conveyed obliquely with a knowing wink, has been instrumental in delivering us to a situation in which our conceptions of truth, law and government have been placed in jeopardy. In many places, pathological hunger for national rebirth and the restoration of an earlier political time have combined with resentful, authoritarian and belligerent responses to alterity and the expectation of hospitality.

Those reactions underscore the timeliness and importance of analysing racism, nationalism and xenology, which are nowadays frequently disseminated online. Intensified by evasive and dubious techno-political forces, they have begun to correspond to the anxieties of lived experience in precarious and austere conditions.

The effects of that shift are augmented by the uptake of generic conceptions of racial identity sourced from the United States. They have gained significant international currency, even in places barely touched by the signature racial habits of the north Atlantic, which would project the world only in black and white…

Read the entire lecture here.

Tags: , ,

Self-Portrait in Black and White: Unlearning Race

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Identity Development/Psychology, Monographs, Philosophy on 2019-05-18 15:30Z by Steven

Self-Portrait in Black and White: Unlearning Race

W. W. Norton
2019-10-15
2018 pages
5.5 × 8.3 in
Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-393-60886-1

Thomas Chatterton Williams

A meditation on race and identity from one of our most provocative cultural critics.

A reckoning with the way we choose to see and define ourselves, Self-Portrait in Black and White is the searching story of one American family’s multigenerational transformation from what is called black to what is assumed to be white. Thomas Chatterton Williams, the son of a “black” father from the segregated South and a “white” mother from the West, spent his whole life believing the dictum that a single drop of “black blood” makes a person black. This was so fundamental to his self-conception that he’d never rigorously reflected on its foundations—but the shock of his experience as the black father of two extremely white-looking children led him to question these long-held convictions.

“It is not that I have come to believe that I am no longer black or that my daughter is white,” Williams writes. “It is that these categories cannot adequately capture either of us.” Beautifully written and bound to upset received opinions on race, Self-Portrait in Black and White is an urgent work for our time.

Note from Steven F. Riley: See Chatterton Williams’ article “Black and Blue and Blond” in the Volume 91, Number 1 (Winter 2015) edition of the Virginia Quarterly Review.

Tags: ,

Deconstructing the Truism of Race as a Social Construct

Posted in Identity Development/Psychology, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, Philosophy, Videos on 2018-11-12 22:22Z by Steven

Deconstructing the Truism of Race as a Social Construct

Hammer Museum
University of California, Los Angeles
10899 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, California 90024
2018-11-03

Naomi Zack, Professor of Philosophy
University of Oregon

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

Diarmuid Costello, Associate Professor of Philosophy
University of Warwick

Philosophers Naomi Zack of the University of Oregon, Rebecca Tuvel of Rhodes College, and Diarmuid Costello of the University of Warwick discuss the ways in which Adrian Piper’s art interrogates racial identity, focusing on specific works as well as Piper’s own writings about race, “Passing for White, Passing for Black” and Escape to Berlin: A Travel Memoir.


Adrian Piper, Self-Portrait Exaggerating My Negroid Features, 1981
Pencil on paper. 10 × 8 in. (25.4 × 20.3 cm). The Eileen Harris Norton Collection © Adrian Piper Research Archive Foundation Berlin.

View the discussion (03:04:11) here.

Tags: , , , ,

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.

Read or purchase the article here.

Tags: , ,

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.

Read or purchase the article here.

Tags: , , , ,

“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.

Read or purchase the article here.

Tags: , ,

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
Tags: , ,

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.

Read or purchase the article here.

Tags: , , ,

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.

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , ,

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…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , ,