“Becoming” White: Race, Reality, and Agency

Michael J. Monahan

in The Creolizing Subject

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print May 2011 | ISBN: 9780823234493
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823240715 | DOI:

Series: Just Ideas

“Becoming” White: Race, Reality, and Agency

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Much of the discourse on the relation between race and biology is mired in positivism. Phenomenology, from Edmund Husserl on, has been characterized first and foremost by a commitment to placing human consciousness at the center of philosophical investigation. If human subjectivity is understood in this way as a process situated and conditioned by embodiment, history, and sociality, then race must be understood as a significant aspect of identity, at least within the contemporary context. Because the politics of purity tends toward an atomistic ontology of the human in which the ideal of liberty is expressed in terms of the purity of an internal self free of external and unchosen impositions and constraints, it tends toward a rather generous definition of coercion. Anti-racism demands the struggle to participate fully in the ongoing negotiation of racial meaning — it demands, in other words, the assertion of our own fully human (and thus embodied and even raced) agency and that of others.

Keywords: Edmund Husserl; race; biology; positivism; consciousness; identity; politics of purity; phenomenology; agency; anti-racism

Chapter.  13014 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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