The Asian American identity is intimately associated with upward class mobility as the model minority, yet women's earnings remain less than men's, and Asian American women are perceived to have strong family ties binding them to domestic responsibilities. As such, the exact class status of Asian American women is unclear. The immediate association of this ethnic identity with a specific class as demonstrated by the recently released Pew study that Asian Americans are “the highest-income, best-educated” ethnicity contrasts with another study (...) that finds Asian American women have the highest suicide rates in the United States. To understand these contrasting statistics, this article explores Asian American women's sense of authenticity. If the individual's sense of authenticity is intimately related with one's group identity, the association of the Asian American identity with a particular class ambivalently ensnares her as dichotomously inauthentic—as both the poor Asian American woman who fails to achieve economic upward mobility and the model minority Asian American woman who engages in assimilation practices. Feminist philosophers understand that identities change, but exactly how these transformations occur remains a mystery. The article ends with three speculations on the difficulties for practicing and recognizing individual acts that transform one's group identity. (shrink)
The question of authenticity centers in the lives of women of color to invite and restrict their representative roles. For this reason, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak and Uma Narayan advocate responding with strategic essentialism. This paper argues against such a strategy and proposes an epistemic understanding of the question of authentic- ity. The question stems from a kernel of truth—the connection between experience and knowledge. But a coherence theory of knowledge better captures the sociality and the holism of experience and knowledge.
Thanks in large, part to the record of schohrship fostered by Hypatia, feminist philosophers are now positioned not just as critics of the canon, but as innovators advancing uniquely feminist perspectives for theorizing about the world. As relatively junior feminist scholars, the five of us were called upon to provide some reflections on emerging trends in feminist philosophy and to comment on its future. Despite the fact that we come from diverse subfields and philosophical traditions, four common aims emerged in (...) our collaboration as central to the future of feminist philosophies. We seek to: 1) challenge universalist and essentialist frameworks without ceding to relativism; 2) center cofoniality and embodiment in our analyses of the intermeshed realities of race and gender by shifting from oppression in the abstract to concrete cosmologies and struggles, particuforly those of women of color and women of colonized communities across the globe; 3) elaborate the materialities of thought, being, and community that must succeed atomistic conceptions of persons as disembodied, individually constituted, and autonomous; 4) demonstrate what is distinctive and valuable about feminist philosophy, while fighting persistent marginalization within the discipline. In our joint musings here, we attempt to articulate how future feminist philosophies might advance these aims, as well as some of the challenges we face. (shrink)
Patricia Williams in her book, The Alchemy of Race and Rights, describes being denied entrance in the middle of the afternoon by a “saleschild.” Utilizing the works of Maurice Merleau-Ponty, this article explores their interaction phenomenologically. This small interaction of seemingly simple misunderstanding represents a limit condition in Merleau-Ponty’s analysis. His phenomenological framework does not explain the chasm between the “saleschild” and Williams, that in a sense they do not participate in the same world. This interaction between the “saleschild” and (...) Williams represents a moment when the two contest exactly what is reason in our society. To the extent that society discerns one’s actions as reasonable and the other’s actions as unreasonable, our society participates in determining that which constitutes reason. Williams’s work speaks precisely to this chasm as evident in her text’s subtitle, Memoirs of a Mad Woman. This decision relegates one subject to “judiciousness” and relegates the other to “madness.”. (shrink)
Homi Bhabha attends to the figure of the postcolonial metropolitan subject-a racialized subject who is not representative of the first world, yet a symbol of the metropolitan sphere. Bhabha describes theirdaily lives as inextricably split or doubled. His analysis cannot account for the agonistic moments when one is caught in not knowing, in focusing attention, and in developing understanding. Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology with the openness in the horizon of the gestaltian framework better accounts for such splits as moments on the (...) horizon for becoming and grasping something new. (shrink)
Utilizing Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s work, I argue that the gestaltian framework’s co-determinacy of the theme and the horizon in seeing and experiencing the world serves as an encompassing epistemological framework with which to understand racism. Conclusions reached: as bias is unavoidably part of being in the world, defining racism as bias is superfluous; racism is sedimented into our very perceptions and experiences of the world and not solely a prejudice of thought; neutral perception of skin color is impossible. Phenomenology accounts for (...) the dynamic changes in expressions of racism and the interconnections of both race and sex for women of color. (shrink)