This article takes up the idea of language as a home and dwelling, and reconsiders what this might mean in the context of diasporic bilingualism – where as a ‘heritage speaker’ of a minority language, the ‘mother tongue’ may be experienced as both deeply familiar yet also alien or alienating. Drawing on a range of philosophical and literary accounts (Cassin, Arendt, Anzaldúa, Vuong, among others), this article explores how the so-called ‘mother tongue’ is experienced by heritage speakers in an English-dominant (...) world. From navigating one’s being in-between language-worlds, to the experience of language loss and efforts of reconnection, I argue that bilingual dwelling involves many complex layers often overlooked by philosophical accounts of language that do not attend to the lived world of the migrant and racialised outsider. By turning to the example of bilingual parenting, I then examine how such an undertaking, while labour-intensive, offers opportunities to refresh and co-create language-worlds anew. (shrink)
Horizons of Difference offers twelve original essays inspired by Luce Irigaray's complex, nuanced critique of Western philosophy, culture, and metaphysics, and her call to rethink our relationship to ourselves and the world through sexuate difference. Contributors engage urgent topics in a range of fields, including trans feminist theory, feminist legal theory, film studies, critical race theory, social-political theory, philosophy of religion, environmental ethics, philosophical aesthetics, and critical pedagogy. In so doing, they aim to push the scope of Irigaray's work beyond (...) its horizon. Horizons of Difference seeks conversations that Irigaray herself has yet to fully consider and explores areas that stretch the limits of the notion of sexuate difference itself. Sexuate difference is a unifying mode of thought, bringing disparate disciplines and groups together. Yet it also resists unification in demanding that we continually rethink the basic coordinates of space, place, and identity. Ultimately, Horizons of Difference insists that the fragmented, wounded subjectivities within the dominant regime of masculine sameness can inform how we negotiate space, find place, and transform identity. (shrink)
There was a day in March 2020 when I discovered I was old. There had, of course, been quite a few previous intimations of impending old age, but they had not “really” defined my being for me. Some years earlier, I had been surprised when people started to offer me their seat on a crowded bus or train. At first, I politely refused the seat; later, I decided that I would accept such invitations because declining seemed ungracious, and because accepting (...) would encourage this thoughtful behavior from which “others” would benefit. Recently, as my feet have begun to ache more, I have sometimes been happy to accept a seat on my own account. There have been other intimations too: some physical indications, such as needing a brighter light in order to read and stiffness in my knees. There have also been signs that my cultural, intellectual, and professional world, a world in which I have been deeply embedded, is passing: Students now live in an online media world that is alien to me, and a few of my colleagues have made it known that they find my research interests on Simone de Beauvoir a bit old-fashioned. But none of this actually defined me for myself as “old.” Surely, still an unremarkable, white, late-middle-aged woman, I did not think I “looked my age.” Surely, I had not yet become a member of that detested “foreign species” whose presence lurks within us all and that I, like most of us, so vehemently sought to deny. (shrink)
This essay asks after the lateness that affectively structures Fanon's phenomenology of racialized temporality in Black Skin,White Masks. I broach this through the concepts of possibility, “affective ankylosis”, and by taking seriously the dismembered past that haunts Fanon's text. The colonization of the past involves a bifurcation of time and of memory. To the “burning past,” wherein colonized experience is stuck and to which we remain sensitive, is contrasted the colonial construction of white, western time as progressive and futural—a construction (...) that relies on the very indifference, ankylosis, and closure of this time to the multiple, lived temporalities of colonized others. (shrink)
Slavery appears as an ambivalent concept in Hegel’s work which at once objectivizes the principles of the rational state and goes against them. The aim of this chapter is twofold: to adumbrate Hegel’s dialectic and teleological narratives of world history and to explore Fanon’s critique of Hegel. Fanon lays bare the ethnocentrism inherent in the dialectic. In Black Skin, White Masks, he shows that color is a factor in the dialectic. In The Wretched of the Earth, he discounts the teleological (...) narratives of progress for their complicity in Europe’s colonial project. Fanon identifies an otherness which is not situated within the dialectic, a difference which cannot be synthesized and digested by world history and which Hegel uses to justify historical slavery. (shrink)
In this article, I will examine the phenomenon wherein white people feel that they can be impartial in discussions about racism. Specifically, I will argue that the experience of whiteness confers the belief that one can be impartial, that manifests itself in the appearance of an epistemic privilege. The phenomenological experience of whiteness is constituted in such a way as to ignore the racialized experience. Moreover, white people have privileged access to the majority’s hermeneutic resources, as these reflect and build (...) upon this whiteness. In this regard, I will analyse the white and racialized phenomenological experiences and examine their epistemic consequences to show how impartiality can be conceived as a white epistemic privilege. (shrink)
The scholarship on Frantz Fanon’s theorization of violence is crowded with interpretations that follow the Arendtian paradigm of violence. These interpretations often discuss whether violence is instrumental or non-instrumental in Fanon’s work. This reading, I believe, is the result of approaching Fanon through Hannah Arendt’s framing of violence, i.e. through a binary paradigm of instrumental versus non-instrumental violence. Even some Fanon scholars who question Arendt’s reading of Fanon, do so by employing a similar binary logic, hence repeating the same either/or (...) paradigm of instrumental versus non-instrumental violence. I aim to challenge such interpretations of Fanon by demonstrating that in the context of anticolonial armed struggle in which Fanon writes, the either/or framework of the instrumental/non-instrumental binary of violence cannot fully capture his perspective. Violence can indeed be conceived as having both constructive and instrumental aspects. My argument is supported by Fanon’s corpus, including his 1960 Accra speech, “Why We Use Violence” in Alienation and Freedom. This piece, I suggest, together with Fanon’s other writings, poses a direct challenge to the Arendtian binary of violence. My analysis resists positioning the difference between Arendt and Fanon through the instrumental/non-instrumental binary. By using Judith Butler’s notion of “frame” I complicate their difference and argue Arendt’s framing of violence prevents her from apprehending Fanon and – more importantly – interpretations of Fanon based on this Arendtian frame of violence inevitably lead to misinterpretations. (shrink)
This article stems from my presentation at the 2020 Symposium of the Kripke Center for the Study of Religion and Society, whose theme was "Religion and the New Politics." The article is written for an interdisciplinary audience. Drawing on resources from the philosophical tradition of phenomenology and putting them into dialogue with an important theme in Christian theology, I argue that there is a distinctly non-discursive, embodied form of racism that should be recognized and addressed by the new politics. Because (...) this form of racism occurs not at the familiar level of discourse (word), but in the often unconscious habitualities of the lived body (flesh), it resists common antiracist strategies, and seems to be outside the purview of responsibility and of willful, rational change (the logos). I situate these underlying issues with regard to the traditional opposition between mind and body, and then offer a reinterpretation of them by way of some key phenomenological concepts: intentionality, the lived body, the critique of scientism, motivation, and empathy. I conclude that embodied racism is something which is open to an extended conception of rationality that includes the lived body, and for which we are responsible. I then suggest some antiracist political strategies that put these theoretical considerations to use through attention to embodied spaces and practices. (shrink)
Using both first-person interviews and historical research into organizations ranging from the NAACP to the FBI and CIA, Charlton McIlwain charts the development and intersection of Black culture and the technoscientific technosystem of computing through the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. He charts the ways in which Black people and movements, despite their marginalization in the history of computing, have utilized computers and technology for their own liberation.
This chapter argues that Fanon works to interrupt specular and spectacular renderings of suffering and colonial violence. The touch that Fanon advocates is neither optimal grip, violent grasp, nor uniform pressure, nor can it be predicted in advance. His writing touches colonial wounds; by palpating these wounds and dwelling in them, it resuscitates colonial wounds as feelings that are flesh, and does not leave them behind as if their scar tissue was merely a numb object of the past. Fanon seems (...) to reiterate Edmund Husserl’s phenomenological discovery in Ideas II that the hand that touches the surface of a table, as it moves across it, also feels itself touched. Fanon’s aim is not simply to calculate the destructive effects of colonization, against arguments for its partial “civilizing” benefits. (shrink)
Since 2015, the ‘refugee crisis’ is possibly the most photographed humanitarian crisis in history. Photographs taken, for instance, in Lesvos, Greece, and Bodrum, Turkey, were instrumental in generating waves of public support for, and populist opposition to “welcoming refugees” in Europe. But photographs do not circulate in a vacuum; this book explores the visual economy of the ‘refugee crisis,’ showing how the reproduction of images is structured by, and secures hierarchies of gender, sexuality, and ‘race,’ essential to the functioning of (...) bordered nation-states. Taking photography not only as the object of research, but innovating the method of photographìa— the material trace of writing/grafì with light/phos—this book urges us to view images and their reproduction critically. Part theoretical text, part visual essay, "Reproducing Refugees" vividly shows how institutional violence underpins both the spectacularity and the banality of ‘crisis.’ This book goes about synthesising visual studies with queer, feminist, postcolonial, post-structuralist, and post-Marxist theories. "Reproducing Refugees: Photographìa of a Crisis" offers theoretical frameworks and methodological tools to critically analyse representations, both those circulated through hegemonic institutions, and those generated from ‘below’. It carves a space between logos and praxis, ways of knowing and ways of doing, by offering a new visual language that problematises reified categories such as that of the ‘refugee’ and makes possible disruptive, alternative, resistant perceptions. The book contributes to the fields of migration and border studies, critically engaging visual narratives drawn from migration movements to question dominant categories and frameworks, from a decolonial, no-borders, queer feminist perspective. (shrink)
This paper examines Pierre Hadot’s philosophy as a way of life in the context of race. I argue that a “way of life” approach to philosophy renders intelligible how anti-racist confrontation of racist ideas and institutionalized white complicity is a properly philosophical way of life requiring regulated reflection on habits – particularly, habits of whiteness. I first rehearse some of Hadot’s analysis of the “way of life” orientation in philosophy, in which philosophical wisdom is understood as cultivated by actions which (...) result in the creation of wise habits. I analyze a phenomenological claim about the nature of habit implied by the “way of life” approach, namely, that habits can be both the cause and the effect of action. This point is central to the “way of life” philosophy, I claim, in that it makes possible the intelligent redirection of habits, in which wise habits are more the effect than simply the cause of action. Lastly, I illustrate the “way of life” approach in the context of anti-racism by turning to Linda Martín Alcoff’s whiteness anti-eliminativism, which outlines a morally defensible transformation of the habits of whiteness. I argue that anti-racism provides an intelligible context for modern day forms of what Hadot calls “spiritual exercises” insofar as the “way of life” philosophy is embodied in the practice of whites seeing themselves seeing as white and seeing themselves being seen as white. (shrink)
This is a long critical discussion of Frank Wilderson's Afropessimism, focusing primarily on Wilderson's claim that Blackness is equivalent to Slaveness. The article draws out some strengths of the book, but argues that the book's central arguments often rest on shaky methodological, metaphysical, epistemic, and political grounds. Along the way, we consider some complications endemic to the project of evaluating a text so clearly geared towards Black audiences from the perspective of a non-Black reader.
This review examines Burke's phenomenological analysis of normative femininity, examining how femininity is implicated in both historical and present racial violence. It lauds Burke's analysis of the temporality of gendered experience—in the Beauvoirean tradition of feminist phenomenology—but it criticizes Burke for coming up short in the critical aspect of their project. It closes with some methodological reflections about doing effect critical phenomenology.
This chapter examines María Lugones’s germane and insightful attempt to theorize “intermeshed oppressions,” which, she argues, have been (mis)represented in women of color feminisms by the concepts of “interlocking systems of oppression” and, more recently, “intersectionality.” The latter, intersectionality, introduced by Black feminist legal scholar Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw as a metaphor (1989) and as a “provisional concept” (1991), has become the predominant way of referencing the mutual constitution of what have been theorized as multiple systems of oppression, constructing the multiplicity (...) of social identities. But Lugones’s analysis, which maintains subtle but important distinctions among the concepts of “intermeshed,” “interlocking,” and “intersecting” oppressions, shows that intersectionality theory often conflates fragmentation with multiplicity, and—by reifying “intersectional identities”—reproduces social-ontological fragmentation at the political and perceptual-cognitive levels of representation. Intersectional accounts redeploy unitary categories (for instance, race, gender, class, sexuality, disability) that are defined to the exclusion of each other by privileging the identities of normative group members. Consequently, they remain within what Lugones calls the “logic of purity,” which erases “curdled,” impure, category-transgressive, border-dwelling, mestiza subjects. Although, according to Lugones, intersectionality enables us to discern how the logic of purity produces “women of color” as impossible beings, she argues that the liminal identities of subjects dwelling in categorial interstices can only be made visible by conceptualizing oppressions as fused or “intermeshed.” However, as I interpret her, Lugones is not merely criticizing intersectionality or seeking to transcend its conceptual limitations by proposing an alternate concept. Rather, the concepts of “intermeshed,” “interlocking,” and “intersecting” oppressions do significantly different work in her account and illuminate different aspects of the social ontology, phenomenology, and epistemology of resistance to oppression. First, I situate Lugones with respect to the current conjuncture in intersectionality studies, in which some scholars are calling for a post-intersectional turn. Then, I reconstruct Lugones’s complex account of intermeshed oppressions, interlocking oppressions, and intersectionality. Finally, I discuss the status of intersectionality in the shift in Lugones’s work from “women of color feminisms” to “decolonial feminism.” Intersectionality is now routinely invoked as a representational theory of multiple identities, but Lugones’s heterodox interpretation helps us to see that it is best understood as a critique of representations based on the logic of purity: specifically, of how categorial axes of oppression (mis)represent intermeshed oppressions. Lugones’s triadic distinction (intersecting/interlocking/intermeshed) points toward a provisional usage of intersectionality, namely, to diagnose the fragmentation of social experiences of multiplicity (which, I would argue, is more consistent with the concept’s original aims). In her visionary philosophy, which attempts to theorize resistance against the grain of fragmentation from a conceptual space outside of the “logic of purity,” we find “glimpses” of a non-fragmented account of oppression, and praxical possibilities for liberatory, decolonial feminist coalitions. (shrink)
Towards the end of Tsitsi Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions, Nyasha is taken to a psychiatrist who dismisses her family’s concerns based on his belief that Africans cannot suffer metal illness. Frantz Fanon explores a similar theme in his 1952 essay, ‘The “North African Syndrome”’. In both cases, the veil of sterility behind which the clinical encounter is often presumed to take place is rent, and the clinician and patient are exposed as coloniser and colonised or ‘white’ and ‘raced’ first. Similarly, the (...) pages that follow provide an account of the situation of the racialised at the outset of a psychiatric consultation with a white clinician in a Western clinical setting. Drawing on Fanon’s ‘The “North African Syndrome”’ I attempt to shed light on the gulf that must be traversed in order for the patient to be intelligible to the clinician. I question the process of bridging that divide, particularly the question of which party bears the bulk of the responsibility for traversing the distance between the two. The challenge presented to clinician, and the extent of the turmoil of the patient in this kind of encounter are thus brought to the fore. I conclude by offering a suggestion of what Fanonian ethics demand of the clinician. (shrink)
This paper provides a phenomenological analysis of the navigation of academia as experienced by two Black scholars, situated in dissimilar disciplinary and cultural traditions and origins. What is shared is an interest in the academic space that exists within which Black scholars may freely roam, and the structure and function of the boundaries that are present. The policing of Black thought and Black emotion within those boundaries, the violence with which the boundaries are enforced, and the strategies and rationales employed (...) by Black academics in expanding, resisting, subverting, and acquiescing to said boundaries is explored by way of the authors’ testimonies. Drawing on our lived experience of academia, we suggest that the academy functions as a frontier of racist violence, where the thinking that grounds state-based racist violence is taught, legitimated and fostered. Through a dialogue which brings to the fore the tensions and contradictions of the outlooks and strategies employed by Black academics, we testify to the emancipatory potential of Black pain, Black rage and Black thought. (shrink)
This special section brings together scholars working in Critical Philosophy of Race to explore questions of racism, coloniality, and migration, and in doing so, offers a glimpse into some of the scholarship currently being undertaken in this emerging field. The section has its origins in a one-day workshop, On Anti-Racism: A Critical Philosophy of Race Symposium, which took place in Narrm/Melbourne, Australia in October 2017. The symposium participants, Amir Jaima, Helen Ngo, and Bryan Mukandi, are here joined by Lori Gallegos (...) and Chelsea Bond, in an effort to continue and extend some of the conversations initiated at that event. (shrink)
This chapter proceeds in two ways. First, I argue that Fanon’s structural witnessing of racism yields important insights about the nature of violence that challenges the settler colonial concept of violence as the extra-legal use of force. Second, I argue that his analysis of violence is insufficient for combating colonial racism and violence because, using the terms of his own analysis, it leaves intact logics and mechanisms that allow racism to structurally renew itself in perpetuity: violence against women. Without a (...) critical feminism that tracks the alterities of structural violence against women, and women of color in particular, Fanonianism is just another lifeline of colonialism. I thus caution against uncritical uses of Fanon’s structural account of violence for any emancipatory social theory that fails to acknowledge the attendant alterities, asymmetries, and axes of coordinated subordination involved in racialized violence against women. (shrink)
Much phenomenological work on race has focused on the bodily experiences of persons of color in white spaces or in the face of the white gaze. But comparatively little has been written about how to change these bodily experiences. This article fills this gap by discussing the perspective of those who enact bodily habits alienate persons of color, or what this article calls “racializing bodily habits.” It defends a novel path toward reforming these habits: the practice of mindfulness meditation. The (...) key premise in this argument is that reforming racializing bodily habits requires that one transform one’s perception of and affective responses to racialized others. It explains that mindfulness meditation slows our experience of time, thereby opening up the possibility for new affective responses, perceptual habits, and bodily habits. This article bases its argument on qualitative descriptions of mindfulness meditation and on empirical research on its effects. (shrink)
Discussions of non-racialism in South Africa and discussions of post-racialism in the United States are sufficiently similar to invite the question as to whether South African thinkers could help to develop new ways of thinking about post-racialism and its potential in the United States. Biko's ideas are rarely taken up in the United States, yet they are relevant to contemporary discussions in critical philosophy of race. This article begins with an evaluation of the typology of non-racialism provided by Rupert Taylor (...) and the historical study of non-racialism provided by Julie Frederikse, distinguishing different understandings of non-racialism. The second section presents Biko's understanding of non-racialism, arguing that Biko's understanding of which is embedded in his account of Black Consciousness, and not a variant of racial eliminativism. The final section focuses on the striking similarities between understandings of non-racialism and post-racialism using a distinction it introduces between principled and progressive forms of both these terms. Ultimately, this article makes the case for a progressive understanding of post-racialism, which has yet to be articulated and is too easily dismissed in the United States. (shrink)
Sexual and racial differences matter. Indeed, facile assumptions of sameness born from the desire to claim universal truths persist as a dangerous tendency. Difference matters and we have yet to fully understand what difference means. But claims of absolute difference have a history of justifying colonization and recently can justify slipping into indifference about people with different embodiment. In philosophy of race’s emphasis that race has ontological significance, such emphasis on difference can leave differently racialized and sexualized people living in (...) isolation from each other. Absolute sameness and absolute difference are not true to phenomenological experience. Philosophy has long debated the relation between identity and difference, from its metaphysical origin in the relation between monism and dualism, to Hegel’s formulation of a dialectical relation between identity and difference. But the idea of an identity-in-difference explores a more immediate relation between the two. Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s work explores the idea of an identity-in-difference throughout his phenomenology in both its epistemic and ontologic senses. This paper explores at least four instantiations of the relation of identity-in-difference in Merleau-Ponty’s work to argue for upholding the value of both difference and sameness in developing our understanding of race. (shrink)
For Steve Biko, ‘Black Consciousness’ has to do with remedying the ‘lack’ and ‘failure’ which emanate from the colonial encounter. It describes the existential and ontological shift whereby the black moves towards the assumption of her humanity. Beginning on the margins of Continental European philosophy with Jacques Derrida and Frantz Fanon, I examine the pathogenesis of the situation of the black, and point to a road to recovery. In the process, I centre the lived experience of black folk: our yearning (...) to dance with the past; our need for air; our struggle to keep madness at bay. (shrink)
Homi Bhabha brings attention to the figure of the postcolonial metropolitan subject—a third world subject who resides in the first world. Bhabha describes the experiences of the “colonial” subject as ambivalently split. As much as his work is insightful, Bhabha's descriptions of the daily life of postcolonial metropolitan subjects as split and doubled is problematic. His analysis lends only to the possibility of these splittings/doublings as schizophrenically wholly arising. His analysis cannot account for the agonistic moments when the colonial subject (...) is caught in not knowing, and in developing understanding about present circumstances. A framework with an account of context and horizons, such as in phenomenology, can better depict the experiences of the postcolonial metropolitan subject. Maurice Merleau-Ponty follows a gestaltian contact with the world, which advances that the “most basic unit of experience is that of figure-on-a-background.” One perceives the figure/theme because of and within the background/horizon. In this horizonal framework, human experiences are ambiguously open. The openness in the horizon of the gestaltian framework better accounts for the conditions Bhabha refers to as splitting. The ambivalence can be understood not simply as conundrums that defy understanding but as ambiguous moments for expanding, developing, and growing. (shrink)
This paper asks how perception becomes racializing and seeks the means for its critical interruption. My aim is not only to understand the recalcitrant and limitative temporal structure of racializing habits of seeing, but also to uncover the possibilities within perception for a critical awareness and destabilization of this structure. Reading Henri Bergson and Maurice Merleau-Ponty in dialogue with Frantz Fanon, Iris Marion Young and race-critical feminism, I locate in hesitation the phenomenological moment where habits of seeing can be internally (...) fractured. Hesitation, I claim, makes visible the exclusionary logic of racializing and objectifying perception, countering its affective closure and opening it to critical transformation. (shrink)
Exploring the intimate tie between body movement and space and time, Lee begins with the position that body movement generates space and time and explores the ethical implications of this responsibility for the situations one’s body movements generate. Whiteness theory has come to recognize the ethical responsibility for situations not of one’s own making and hence accountability for the results of more than one’s immediate personal conscious decisions. Because of our specific history, whites have developed a particular embodiment and body (...) movement that generates places that can only be characterized as more comfortable and more enabling to whites. (shrink)
In this paper, I suggest that embodied metaphysical experience underlies many of our everyday judgements, which are expressed in our bodily comportments and actions, through which disagreements in our ontological experiences are highlighted. I propose attending to such concrete, situated disagreements as a way of challenging the tradition of metaphysics as an enterprise of objective and universal theory, and as a way of promoting feminist, anti-racist, and queer practices of responsibility.
In this paper, I explore some of the temporal structures of racialized experience – what I call racialized time. I draw on the Martiniquan philosopher and psychiatrist Frantz Fanon, in particular his book ‘Black Skin, White Masks,’ in order to ask how racism can be understood as a social pathology which, when internalized or ‘epidermalized,’ may result in aberrations of affect, embodiment and agency that are temporally lived. In this regard, I analyze the racialized experience of coming ‘too late’ to (...) a world predetermined in advance and the distorted relation to possibility – the limitation of playfulness and imaginative variability – that defines this sense of lateness. I argue that the racialization of the past plays a structuring role in such experience. Racialization is not limited to the present, but also colonizes and reconfigures the past, splitting it into a duality of times: one open and civilizational, the other closed, anachronistic and racialized. To understand this colonial construction of the past, I draw on the work of Latin American thinker Aníbal Quijano. (shrink)
Gabriel Marcel’s reflective method is animated by his extraphilosophical commitment to battle the ever-present threat of dehumanization in late Western modernity. Unfortunately, Marcel neglected to examine what is perhaps the most prevalent threat of dehumanization in Western modernity: antiblack racism. Without such an account, Marcel’s reflective method is weakened because it cannot live up to its extraphilosophical commitment. Tunstall remedies this shortcoming in his eloquent new volume.
Abstract The phenomenological approach to racialization needs to be supplemented by a hermeneutics that examines the history of the various categories in terms of which people see and have seen race. An investigation of this kind suggests that instead of the rigid essentialism that is normally associated with the history of racism, race predominantly operates as a border concept, that is to say, a dynamic fluid concept whose core lies not at the center but at its edges. I illustrate this (...) by an examination of the history of the distinctions between the races as it is revealed in legal, scientific, and philosophical sources. I focus especially on racial distinctions in the United States and on the way that the impact of miscegenation was negotiated leading to the so-called one-drop rule. (shrink)
In his 1934 essay, “Reflections on the Philosophy of Hitlerism,” Levinas raises important questions about the subject’s relation to nature and to history. His account of the ethical significance of paternity, maternity, and fraternity in texts such as Totality and Infinity and Otherwise Than Being suggest powerful new ways to understand the meaning of kinship, beyond the abstractions of Western liberalism. How does this analysis of race and kinship translate into the context of the Transatlantic slave trade, which not only (...) stole Africans from their families and communities, but also imposed upon them a single “fictive” kinship relation to the master? What if the problem of racialization is not only a matter of being “chained” to one’s identity through (presumed) blood ties, but also being violently separated from one’s kin? What does it mean for the concepts of ethical and political fraternity if the only father recognized by law and society as legitimate is the slave master? Or if the bodies of slave women are exploited, not only for productive labor, but also for the reproductive labor that makes more slaves for the master? If kinship is a way of making sense of the relation between past, present and future generations, then what does a radical disruption of existing kinship relations, and the imposition of one fictive, absolute and unilateral kinship relation, do to the social meaning of time and of history in a particular community? In this paper, I reflect on the significance of fecundity and kinship in the context of US slavery, both in order in order to situate my analysis in the particular history of my own present community, and as a way of demonstrating the significance of a more determinate social analysis for Levinas’ ethics of singularity and politics of universal justice. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that it is productive to read Rancière’s theory of political practice – what he calls “disagreement” – with and against Kodwo Eshun’s theorization of hip hop. Thinking disagreement through hip hop helps flesh out how, exactly, disagreement works, particularly at the level of individual embodiment and consciousness. While Rancière himself gives us many examples of interruptions to the political body , I am interested in examining how these interruptions work in, on, and through individual bodies. (...) How is it that we become aware of the ways that distributions of sensibility – particularly hegemonic ones, which are most likely to be normalized and imperceptible by virtue of their ubiquity – structure our corporeal schemas? How does one’s corporeal schema reinforce or interrupt dominant distributions of sensibility? Can we stage an interruption of our own corporeal schemas, and if so, how? (shrink)
In this chapter, I explore the role of violence in colonial rule and its role in decolonization struggle by posing the question, “what is alive in Fanon’s thought?” What can Fanon tell us about white settler state power and Fourth World decolonization struggles? I explore the relevance of Fanon’s account to the ongoing colonial situation on the northern part of Anówara Kawennote (Turtle Island), occupied by Canada. In this analysis, I am informed by Kanien’kehaka (Mohawk) political philosopher Taiaiake Alfred. I (...) juxtapose Alfred’s theory of “nonviolent militancy” with Fanon’s concept of “violence in action.” I perform a reading of Fanon and Alfred to glean an understanding of the phenomenality of colonial state power. (shrink)
While Appiah and Soyinka criticize racial essentializing in Sartre and the Negritude poets, Sartre in Black Orpheus interprets the Negritudinists as employing a phenomenological, anamnestic retrieval of subjective experience. This retrieval uncovers two ethical attitudes: a less exploitative approach toward nature, and a conversion of slavery’s suffering into a stimulus for universal liberation. These attitudes spring from peasant cultural traditions and ethical responses to others’ race-based cruelty, rather than emanating from mystified ‘blackness’. Alfred Schutz’s because-motive analysis, a process of narrative (...) self-constitution, renders plausible these linkages the Negritudinists draw between themselves and peasant or slave ancestors. Such narratives, customarily constructed in common sense by European- and African-Americans, regularly involve mythic elements, serve laudable ethical purposes and require continual theoretical critique by anthropology, genetics and ethics. Theory, though, plays only a critical, corrective role for subjective, anamnestic recoveries of racial and ethnic identity, and it can never replace them. (shrink)