Oppression, Privilege, & Aesthetics: The Use of the Aesthetic in Theories of Race, Gender, and Sexuality, and the Role of Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Philosophical Aesthetics

Philosophy Compass 8 (2):101-116 (2013)
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Gender, race, and sexuality are not just identities; they are also systems of social organization – i.e., systems of privilege and oppression. This article addresses two main ways privilege and oppression (e.g., racism, misogyny, heteronormativity) are relevant topics in and for philosophical aesthetics: (i) the role of the aesthetic in privilege and oppression, and (ii) the role of philosophical aesthetics, as a discipline and a body of texts, in constructing and naturalizing relations of privilege and oppression (i.e., white heteropatriarchy). The first part addresses how systems of privilege and oppression use the aesthetic. I will discuss various ways race, gender, and sexuality, as both embodied identities and broader social institutions, work with and through “the aesthetic”. The second part addresses racism and (hetero) sexism in the discipline of aesthetics. Both in its history and its present practice aesthetics’apparent neutrality on questions of privilege and oppression is actually evidence of its investment in systems of privilege and oppression.

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Robin M. James
University of North Carolina, Charlotte

Citations of this work

Artistic, Artworld, and Aesthetic Disobedience.Adam Burgos & Sheila Lintott - 2023 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 81 (2):173-187.
A Plea for Emoji.Alex King - 2018 - American Society for Aesthetics Newsletter.
Desolation Sound: Social Practices of Natural Beauty.Dominic McIver Lopes - 2020 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 9 (4):266–273.

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