"[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)
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.
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)
: 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.
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)
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)
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)
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)
: 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.
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)
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.
: 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)