"[A] lucid discussion of race that does not sell out the black experience." —Tommy Lott, author of The Invention of Race Revealing Whiteness explores how white privilege operates as an unseen, invisible, and unquestioned norm in society today. In this personal and selfsearching book, Shannon Sullivan interrogates her own whiteness and how being white has affected her. By looking closely at the subtleties of white domination, she issues a call for other white people to own up to their unspoken privilege (...) and confront environments that condone or perpetuate it. Sullivan’s theorizing about race and privilege draws on American pragmatism, psychology, race theory, and feminist thought. As it articulates a way to live beyond the barriers that white privilege has created, this book offers readers a clear and honest confrontation with a trenchant and vexing concern. (shrink)
This essay aims to clarify the value of developing systematic studies of ignorance as a component of any robust theory of knowledge. The author employs feminist efforts to recover and create knowledge of women's bodies in the contemporary women's health movement as a case study for cataloging different types of ignorance and shedding light on the nature of their production. She also helps us understand the ways resistance movements can be a helpful site for understanding how to identify, critique, and (...) transform ignorance. (shrink)
In my response to the comments of Vincent Colapietro, Charlene Seigfried, and Gail Weiss on Living Across and Through Skins , I explain pragmatist feminism as an ecological ontology that understands bodies and environments as dynamically co-constitutive. I then discuss the relationship of pragmatist feminism to phenomenology, psychoanalysis, Nietzschean genealogy, and Darwinian evolutionary theory. Some of the specific concepts I examine include the anonymous body, the bodying organism, truth as transactional flourishing, and the preservation of racial and ethnic categories.
Beginning with the experience of a white woman's stomach seizing up in fear of a black man, this essay examines some of the ethical and epistemological issues connected to white ignorance. In conversation with Charles Mills on the epistemology of ignorance, I argue that white ignorance primarily operates physiologically, not cognitively. Drawing critically from psychology, neurocardiology, and other medical sciences, I examine some of the biological effects of racism on white people's stomachs and hearts. I argue for a nonideal medical (...) theory focused on improving wellness in a society that systematically has damaged the health of people of color. The essay concludes that to be fully successful, critical philosophy of race must examine not just the financial, legal, political, and other forms of racism, but also its biological and physiological operations. (shrink)
Merleau-Ponty's claim in Phenomenology of Perception (1962) that the anonymous body guarantees an intersubjective world is problematic because it omits the particularities of bodies. This omission produces an account of "dialogue" with another in which I solipsistically hear only myself and dominate others with my intentionality. This essay develops an alternative to projective intentionality called "hypothetical construction," in which meaning is socially constructed through an appreciation of the differences of others.
Farmers have been characterized as people whose ties to the land have given them a deep awareness of natural cycles, appreciation for natural beauty and sense of responsibility as stewards. At the same time, their relationship to the land has been characterized as more utilitarian than that of others who are less directly dependent on its bounty. This paper explores this tension by comparing the attitudes and beliefs of a group of conventional farmers to those of a group of organic (...) farmers. It was found that while both groups reject the idea that a farmer’s role is to conquer nature, organic farmers were significantly more supportive of the notion that humans should live in harmony with nature. Organic farmers also reported a greater awareness of and appreciation for nature in their relationship with the land. Both groups view independence as a main benefit of farming and a lack of financial reward as its main drawback. Overall, conventional farmers report more stress in their lives although they also view themselves in a caretaker role for the land more than do the organic farmers. In contrast, organic farmers report more satisfaction with their lives, a greater concern for living ethically, and a stronger perception of community. Finally, both groups are willing to have their rights limited (organic farmers somewhat more so) but they do not trust the government to do so. (shrink)
Merleau-Ponty's claim in Phenomenology of Perception that the anonymous body guarantees an intersubjective world is problematic because it omits the particularities of bodies. This omission produces an account of “dialogue” with another in which I solipsistically hear only myself and dominate others with my intentionality. This essay develops an alternative to projective intentionality called “hypothetical construction,” in which meaning is socially constructed through an appreciation of the differences of others.
While gender and race often are considered socially constructed, this book argues that they are physiologically constituted through the biopsychosocial effects of sexism and racism. This means that to be fully successful, critical philosophy of race and feminist philosophy need to examine not only the financial, legal, political and other forms of racist and sexism oppression, but also their physiological operations. Examining a complex tangle of affects, emotions, knowledge, and privilege, The Physiology of Sexist and Racist Oppression develops an understanding (...) of the human body whose unconscious habits are biological. On this account, affect and emotion are thoroughly somatic, not something "mental" or extra-biological layered on top of the body. They also are interpersonal, social, and can be transactionally transmitted between people.Ranging from the stomach and the gut to the hips and the heart, from autoimmune diseases to epigenetic markers, Sullivan demonstrates the gastrointestinal effects of sexual abuse that disproportionately affect women, often manifesting as IBS, Crohn's disease, or similar functional disorders. She also explores the transgenerational effects of racism via epigenetic changes in African American women, who experience much higher pre-term birth rates than white women do, and she reveals the unjust benefits for heart health experienced by white people as a result of their racial privilege. Finally, developing the notion of a physiological therapy that doesn't prioritize bringing unconscious habits to conscious awareness, Sullivan closes with a double-barreled approach for both working for institutional change and transforming biologically unconscious habits. The Physiology of Sexist and Racist Oppression skillfully combines feminist and critical philosophy of race with the biological and health sciences. The result is a critical physiology of race and gender that offers new strategies for fighting male and white privilege. (shrink)
: Responding to Silvia Stoller's comments on "Domination and Dialogue in Merleau-Ponty's Phenomenology of Perception" (Sullivan 1997), I argue that while phenomenology has much to offer feminism, feminists should be wary of Merleau-Ponty's notion of projective intentionality because of the ethical solipsism that it tends to involve. I also take the opportunity to clarify the concept of hypothetical construction introduced in the earlier paper, in particular the transformative relationship that it has to pre-reflective experience.
i am honored to have the opportunity to think with Patricia Hill Collins about community as a political construct. Collins has argued that, like concepts of family and love, community often has been considered to be part of a nonpolitical sphere, something personal and private even as it is not individualistic. As feminists have shown, however, the personal is political, and as Collins urges, an intersectional understanding of the political can and also should apply to the concept of community. In (...) Collins's words, "instead of being a natural, apolitical space, or even an empty category that can be used for political purposes, the construct of community may lie at the heart of politics itself". The concept of... (shrink)
This paper demonstrates how John Dewey's notion of habit can help us understand gender as a constitutive structure of bodily existence. Bringing Dewey's pragmatism in conjunction with Judith Butler's concept of performativity, 1 provide an account of how rigid binary configurations of gender might be transformed at the level of both individual habit and cultural construct.
I admit that when I think of pragmatism’s contributions to political philosophy, I primarily think of Jane Addams and John Dewey. Their contributions to democratic theory and practice have been extremely important in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere, so much so that “pragmatist politics” and “Deweyan democracy” are virtually synonymous. I also think of W.E.B. Du Bois’s criticisms of anti-Black racism and white supremacy in the United States and across the globe. In any case, my first instincts have never (...) been to turn to William James for political inspiration or insight. I’m not alone in thinking and... (shrink)
: This paper demonstrates how John Dewey's notion of habit can help us understand gender as a constitutive structure of bodily existence. Bringing Dewey's pragmatism in conjunction with Judith Butler's concept of performativity, I provide an account of how rigid binary configurations of gender might be transformed at the level of both individual habit and cultural construct.
While Sigmund Freud and Maurice Merleau?Ponty both acknowledge the role that spatiality plays in human life, neither pays any explicit attention to the intersections of race and space. It is Franz Fanon who uses psychoanalysis and phenomenology to provide an account of how the psychical and lived bodily existence of black people is racially constituted by a racist world. More precisely, as I argue in this paper, Fanon's work demonstrates how psychical and bodily spatiality cannot be adequately understood apart from (...) the environing space of the social world. For Fanon, body, psyche, and world mutually influence and constitute each other. In a raced and racist world, therefore, the lived bodily experience and the unconscious of human beings will be racially and racist?ly constituted as well. This will show you how in psychoanalysis we take spatial ways of looking at things seriously. ??Sigmund Freud1 Everything throws us back on to the organic relations between subject and space, to that gearing of the subject onto his world which is the origin of space. ??Maurice Merleau?Ponty2 Hence we are driven from the individual back to the social structure. If there is a [neurotic] taint, it lies not in the ?soul? of the individual but rather in that of the environment. ??Franz Fanon3. (shrink)
In the twenty-first century, 70.6 percent of Americans self-identify as Christians,1 58 percent of them still segregate themselves by race on Sunday mornings, and white Protestants make up the majority of this 58 percent.2 These facts belie the claim, popularized after Barack Obama's 2008 presidential election, that America is living in a postracial society3 And yet, the role played by religion in white people's lived experiences of race, racism, and white class privilege in the United States tends to be neglected (...) by philosophers and religious studies scholars, except perhaps when considering white supremacist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan.4 Contemporary philosophy is secular in a way that generally excludes and... (shrink)
Responding to Silvia Stoller's comments on “Domination and Dialogue in Merleau-Ponty's Phenomenology of Perception”, I argue that while phenomenology has much to offer feminism, feminists should be wary of Merleau-Ponty's notion of projective intentionality because of the ethical solipsism that it tends to involve. I also take the opportunity to clarify the concept of hypothetical construction introduced in the earlier paper, in particular the transformative relationship that it has to pre-reflective experience.
: In my response to the comments of Vincent Colapietro, Charlene Seigfried, and Gail Weiss on Living Across and Through Skins (Sullivan 2001), I explain pragmatist feminism as an ecological ontology that understands bodies and environments as dynamically co-constitutive. I then discuss the relationship of pragmatist feminism to phenomenology, psychoanalysis, Nietzschean genealogy, and Darwinian evolutionary theory. Some of the specific concepts I examine include the anonymous body, the bodying organism, truth as transactional flourishing, and the preservation of racial and ethnic (...) categories. (shrink)
Drawing on the work of John Dewey, the author argues that if academic philosophers take seriously the claim that theory and practice are reciprocally determined, then they should take seriously the task of intelligently experimenting with teaching practices in order to refine theories of knowledge and, on this basis, improve teaching practices. This paper explores one way of relating non-foundational epistemology to classroom practices. The author elaborates a “transactional” model of knowledge, according to which knowledge is what arises from historically- (...) and contextually-situated agents interacting with each other and the world. One pedagogical application of this model is a “transactional classroom.” Such a classroom employs “Group Inquiry,” a teaching strategy that involves the teacher and students sharing responsibility for the results of inquiry as well as for the development of standards to which inquiry is held. After detailing several courses built on this teaching strategy and offering advice for avoiding a foundationalist position in the classroom, the author addresses criticisms of this teaching method and reflects on its results. With the help of student surveys, the author concludes that while students found these courses demanding, Group Inquiry successfully decentralized the classroom and improved student participation. (shrink)
Against the backdrop of eliminitivist versus critical conservationist approaches to the racial category of whiteness, this article asks whether a rehabilitated version of whiteness can be worked out concretely. What might a non-oppressive, anti-racist whiteness look like? Turning to Josiah Royce’s “Provincialism” for help answering this question, I show that even though the essay never explicitly discusses race, it can help explain the ongoing need for the category of whiteness and implicitly offers a wealth of useful suggestions for how to (...) transform it. “Provincialism” is an exercise in critical conservation of the concept of provincialism, and while not identical, provincialism and whiteness share enough in common that “wise” provincialism can serve as a model for “wise” whiteness. Royce’s concept of provincialism thus can be a great help to critical philosophers of race wrestling with questions of whether and how to transformatively conserve whiteness. Exploring similarities and differences between wise provincialism and wise whiteness, I use Royce’s analyses of provincialism to shed light on why whiteness should be rehabilitated rather than discarded and how white people today might begin living whiteness as an anti-racist category. (shrink)
This paper outlines the effectiveness of films as a pedagogical tool for teaching philosophy. For the author, a film skillfully explores philosophical issues, capturing students’ attention and providing a setting for discussion. The author focuses on the use of Lars von Trier's Zentropa as a beneficial tool for discussion of Kierkegaard’s Either/Or. The film adequately illustrates the two positions of the aesthete and the judge, and demonstrates the adverse affects of avoiding choice in one's life. The film can also be (...) useful in an introductory course and a class on existentialism because it attends to the larger philosophical questions of how one should live their life. (shrink)