In Against Purity, Alexis Shotwell proposes a powerful new conception of social movements as custodians for the past and incubators for liberated futures. Against Purity undertakes an analysis that draws on theories of race, disability, gender, and animal ethics as a foundation for an innovative approach to the politics and ethics of responding to systemic problems.
"Draws on philosophers, political theorists, activists, and poets to explain how unspoken and unspeakable knowledge is important to racial and gender formation; offers a usable conception of implicit understanding"--Provided by publishers.
This paper argues that trans and genderqueer people affect the gender formation and identity of non-trans people. We explore three instances of this relationship between trans and non-trans genders: an allegiance to inadequate liberal-individualist models of selfhood; tropes through which trans people are made to stand as theoretical objects with which to think about gender broadly; and a narrow focus on gender and evasion of an intersectional understanding of gender formation.
In gloomy and despairing times, we who work for liberation generate light and joy. We experience this every time we work together to defend our communities, when we fight to win collective victories, when we build something new. Much of the time these experiences are in marches and meetings – really important spaces for movement work. But here we want to amplify the usefulness of collective study, and share some thoughts about why Harsha Walia’s new book Border and Rule would (...) be a great place to start if you might like to try a political kind of book club. (shrink)
In this paper, I examine activist group ACT UP's campaign to change the US Centers for Disease Control surveillance case definition of HIV and AIDS. This campaign's effects included a profound shift in how AIDS is understood, and thus in some real way in what it is. I argue that classification should be understood as a political formation with material effects, attending to the words of activists, most of them women, who contested the way AIDS was defined in a moment (...) when no one else thought that definition needed to be changed. I argue that philosopher Sue Campbell's work on the importance of understanding memory and feeling as relational helps understand the histories of death and loss, resistance and fierce joy, crystallized in activist responses to HIV and AIDS. (shrink)
Feminist theorists have crafted diverse accounts of implicit knowing that exceed the purview of epistemology conventionally understood. I characterize this field as through examining thematic clusters of feminist work on implicit knowledge: phenomenological and foucauldian theories of embodiment; theories of affect and emotion; other forms of implicit knowledge. Within these areas, the umbrella concept of implicit knowledge (or understanding, depending on how it's framed) names either contingently unspoken or fundamentally nonpropositional but epistemically salient content in our experience. I make a (...) case for distinguishing implicit knowledge from lively conversations about ‘implicit bias’, as well as from the ‘know-how/know-that’ debates, and I explore key ways the notion of implicit knowledge is currently formulated in feminist philosophy. (shrink)
We are frequently enjoined to eat in one way or another in order to reduce harm, defeat global warming, or at least save our own health. In this paper, I argue that individualism about food saves neither ourselves nor the world. I show connections between what Lisa Heldke identifies as substance ontologies and heroic food individualism. I argue that a conception of relational ontologies of food is both more accurate and more politically useful than the substance ontologies offered to us (...) by certain approaches to both veganism and carnivory. Since relationality does not in itself offer normative guidance for eating, I ask how eaters might better practice relationality. With particular attention to Potawatomi scientist Robin Wall Kimmerer’s invitation to settlers to “become indigenous to place,” I suggest that forms of relationality based in anarchist practices of “mutual aid” better offer white settlers, and eaters more generally, a political approach to relational ontologies while resisting a tendency towards epistemic and spiritual extractivism. I argue that mutual aid approaches have much to offer to the politics of food and eating at every scale. (shrink)
It is foundational to ethics and bioethics that individuals will have to make hard decisions, frequently in challenging circumstances. But the scenarios and standard modes of theorizing in bioethics may fail to address important ethical questions, in part because of a paradigmatic focus on individual rights and freedoms in the context of decision making. There is a growing conviction that theorists of ethics and bioethics must reframe our core units of analysis to attend to health in public, collective, relational terms.1 (...) This would involve a move from an approach that focuses primarily on the relation between doctors and patients or between researchers and research subjects to something very different— something .. (shrink)
In this collection, white women philosophers engage boldly in critical acts of exploring ways of naming and disrupting whiteness in terms of how it has defined the conceptual field of philosophy. Focuses on the whiteness of the epistemic and value-laden norms within philosophy itself, the text dares to identify the proverbial elephant in the room known as white supremacy and how that supremacy functions as the measure of reason, knowledge, and philosophical intelligibility.
In this paper, I attend to a current strand in bioethics that forwards solidarity as a promising direction for bioethics theory and health-promoting practices. Drawing on resources from social and political philosophy, I argue that we can gain useful insight in bioethics if we understand solidarity as a political relation grounded not on shared social location but rather on shared visions for the sorts of worlds in which collective health and dignity proliferate. I consider what traction this conception of solidarity (...) might give for thinking about social justice issues in the context of political movements for “reproductive justice.”. (shrink)
This is the fourth paper in the invited collection. Shotwell examines the work of direct-action activists as forms of medical activism that express a non-reductionist and complex intersectional science and technology practice, bridging lay and professional medical contexts. Shotwell draws on Lorraine Code’s generative theory of the importance of “ecological thinking” as one way to practice what she calls “epistemic responsibility,” and to think about the varied and complex early responses of activists in Canada to AIDS. Activists made wide-ranging, theoretically (...) sophisticated, and socially significant interventions in how AIDS manifested in Canada; their interventions manifested a kind of political work welcoming to unpredictable and emergent medical and social situations. Three preliminary insights are offered, from an ongoing research project investigating the history of AIDS activism in the Canadian context: the usefulness of Code’s conception of the social imaginary for understanding how calcified social relations shape and limit the conditions for responsible knowing; the importance of recognizing the communal and social nature of knowledge as a key piece of epistemic responsibility, articulated in terms of collective epistemic privilege; and the possibility for practices of epistemic responsibility to create virtuous epistemic effects beyond what is known or intended by particular agents. (shrink)
In this article, we argue that, in order for white racial consciousness and practice to shift toward an antiracist praxis, a relational understanding of racism, the "self, "and society is necessary We find that such understanding arises from a confluence of propositional, affective, and tacit forms of knowledge about racism and one's own situatedness within it. We consider the claims sociologists have made about transformations in racial consciousness, bringing sociological theories of racism into dialogue with research on whiteness and antiracism. (...) We assert that sociological research on white racism and "whiteness" tends to privilege propositional and tacit/common sense knowledge, respectively, as critical to shifting white racial consciousness. Research on antiracism privileges affective knowledge as the source of antiracist change. We examine some of Perry's recent ethnographic research with white people who attended either multiracial or majority white high schools to argue that the confluence of these three types of knowledge is necessary to transform white racial praxis because it produces a relational understanding of self and "other, "and, by extension, race, racism, and antiracist practice. (shrink)