The Phenomenology of Racial Embodiment

Linda Martín Alcoff

in Visible Identities

Published in print January 2006 | ISBN: 9780195137347
Published online February 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780199785773 | DOI:

Series: Studies in Feminist Philosophy

 							The Phenomenology of Racial Embodiment

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When one realizes the indeterminacy of racial categories — their fluid borders, arbitrary criteria, and cultural variety — it may be tempting to adopt a nominalism about race, that race is no more real than phlogiston or witchcraft. This chapter resists this conclusion based on phenomenological grounds and insists that race is real. It explores reasons for the current confusion about race, considers various approaches to knowledge about race, and proposes a preliminary phenomenological account of racial identity as it is lived in the body of various racialized subjects at a given cultural moment. It is argued that only when we come to be very clear about how race is lived, in its multiple manifestations, and only when we can come to appreciate its often hidden epistemic effects and its power over collective imaginations can we entertain even the remote possibility of its eventual transformation.

Keywords: racism; race; racial identity; white identity; phenomenological account

Chapter.  8671 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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