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Appiah, Kwame Anthony, and . Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers (Issues of Our Time)

2010, WW Norton & Company.

Back matter: “A welcome attempt to resurrect an older tradition of moral and political reflection and to show its relevance to our current condition.” — John Gray “Cosmopolitanism is… of wide interest-invitingly written and enlivened by personal history… Appiah is wonderfully perceptive and levelheaded about this tangle of issues.” — Thomas Nagel “Elegantly provocative.” — Edward Rothstein “[Appiah’s] belief in having conversations across boundaries, and in recognizing our obligations to other human beings, offers a welcome prescription for a world still plagued by fanaticism and intolerance.” — Kofi A. Annan, former United Nations secretary-general “[Appiah’s] exhilarating exposition of his philosophy knocks one right off complacent balance… All is conveyed with flashes of iconoclastic humor.” — Nadine Gordimer, winner of the 1991 Nobel Prize in Literature “An attempt to redefine our moral obligations to others based on a very humane and realistic outlook and love of art… I felt like a better person after I read it, and I recommend the same experience to others.” — Orham Pamuk, winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Comment: The introduction provides a particularly good entry text to ethics, race and cosmopolitanism.

Coombe, Rosemary J., and . The Properties of Culture and the Politics of Possessing Identity: Native Claims in the Cultural Appropriation Controversy.

1993, Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence 6(2): 249-285.

Abstract: The West has created categories of property, including intellectual property, which divides peoples and things according to the same colonizing discourses of possessive individualism that historically disentitled and disenfranchised Native peoples in North America. These categories are often presented as one or both of neutral and natural, and often racialized. The commodification and removal of land from people’s social relations which inform Western valuations of cultural value and human beings living in communities represents only one particular, partial way of categorizing the world. Legal and cultural manifestations of authorship, culture, and property are contingent upon Enlightenment and Romantic notions built upon a colonial foundation. I will argue that the law rips apart what First Nations peoples view as integrally and relationally joined, but traditional Western understandings of culture, identity, and property are provoked, challenged, and undermined by the concept of Aboriginal Title in a fashion that is both necessary and long overdue.

Comment: In this wide-ranging essay, Coombe situates debates about cultural appropriation in the context of colonial power dynamics. She discusses both appropriation of styles and stories as well as alienation of material cultural property. In particular, she criticizes the appeal to Western conceptions of property in these debates, and questions whether Native identity and autonomy can be appropriately protected by subsuming Native intangible cultural property claims under Western frameworks for intellectual property. This is a long and challenging essay, best used for more advanced courses. Alternative texts that capture some of the ideas here include Loretta Todd's "Notes on Appropriation" (on which Coombe draws), or, for a text that situates some of these ideas in the literature on epistemic injustice, see Erich Hatala Matthes, "Cultural Appropriation without Cultural Essentialism?".

Crenshaw, Kimberlé, and . Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence Against Women of Color

1991, Stanford Law Review 43(6): 1241-1299.

Summary: The concept of intersectionality is Crenshaw’s rich contribution to our embattled understanding of identity politics. To illustrate the danger of traditional identity groupings, Crenshaw turns our attention to the complexity of inhabiting two such distinct categories at the same time as a black woman. While it is true that a black woman can hardly be considered essentially black (on account of the primacy of men of color over women of color) or essentially a woman (on account of the primacy of white women over non-white ones), intersectionality does not aim to dismantle these general categories altogether. Instead, it seeks to introduce an ethical and political pragmatics of identity. The way Crenshaw proposes this should be done in the case of black women is by treating the two inherent identity categories – black and female – conjunctively rather than disjunctively as it has always been done. The resulting approach promises to improve our sense of the reality of “social location” and is thus of great value to all agents and processes of social health and justice.

Comment: Assigning this text is best in classes on women's rights and identity politics. It will be particularly useful in inspiring discussions on different types of discrimination affecting different groups, and the relations between them.

Darby, Derrick, and . Adequacy, Inequality, and Cash for Grades

2011, Theory and Research in Eduation 9 (3): 209-232.

Abstract: Some political philosophers have recently argued that providing K-12 students with an adequate education suffices for social justice in education provided that the threshold of educational adequacy is properly understood. Others have argued that adequacy is insufficient for social justice. In this article I side with the latter group. I extend this debate to racial inequality in education by considering the controversial practice of paying students cash for grades to close the racial achievement gap. I then argue that framing the demand for racial justice in education solely in terms of educational adequacy leaves us unable to take issue with the cash for grades policy as a matter of principle. While this does not entail that educational adequacy is unimportant, it adds to the general case for why adequacy does not suffice for social justice.

Comment: This text is a good rejoinder to Anderson and Satz's arguments concerning the shift from a focus on providing an equal education to an adequate education. Though it could be read in absence of those texts, it requires a familiarity with the idea of sufficientarianism - and so should probably be read after Anderson's "Fair Opportunity in Education: A Democratic Equality Perspective." It would have a place in a course concerning egalitarianism in education, racial justice, or education and democracy.

Fusco, Coco, and . The Other History of Intercultural Performance

1994, The Drama Review 38(1): 143-167.

Summary: Fusco’s text chronicles the preparation, performance, and public reception of an artwork – “Two Undiscovered Amerindians” – she created in collaboration with Guillermo Gómez-Peña in 1992. The performance was intended as a critique of the contemporary artworld, whose shallow redemptive multiculturalism often sidelined important issues of racial difference and racialized aesthetic perception. It consisted of the two artists spending three days in a golden cage presented, in the manner of live ethnographic spectacles of the not so distant colonial past, as members of an exotic and newly discovered island nation in the Gulf of Mexico. Fusco contends that otherness is always performative and, as such, has held the entire history of performance art – from the Dadaists to the present day – captive. The resulting frequent gestures of appropriation, condescension and erasure discredit the social and intercultural consciousness most performance artists see themselves as representing. Ironically, the strange journey the “Two Undiscovered Amerindians” project has travelled has plentifully confirmed the iniquities the two artists set out to expose.

Comment: While not a philosophical text per se, this article is very helpful in discussions of the political dimension of the contemporary artworld, and the race dynamics within it.

Haslanger, Sally, and . Gender and Race: (What) Are They? (What) Do We Want Them To Be?

2000, Nous 34(1): 31-55.

Abstract: This paper proposes social constructionist accounts of gender and race. The focus of the inquiry–inquiry aiming to provide resources for feminist and antiracist projects–are the social positions of those marked for privilege or subordination by observed or imagined features assumed to be relevant to reproductive function, or geographical origins. I develop these ideas and propose that other gendered and racialized phenomena are usefully demarcated and explained by reference to these social positions. In doing so, I address the concern that attempts to define race or gender are misguided because they either assume a false commonality or marginalize some members of the group in question.

Comment: Seminal reading for modules on gender or race.

Jeffers, Chike, and . The Ethics and Politics of Cultural Preservation

2015, Journal of Value Inquiry 49(1-2): 205-220.

Summary: Jeffers offers an account of the moral permissibility, and moreover, praiseworthiness of cultural preservation for the sake of the continued existence of cultural groups. He defends this argument against challenges about inauthenticity and incoherence leveled by Jeremy Waldron and Sam Scheffler. In a political context, Jeffers argues that cultural preservation can be obligatory as a component of resistance against colonialism and racism.

Comment: This text is readily applicable to a variety of cultural practices that constitute part of a cultural heritage or practice. It offers thoughtful considerations for discussion concerning the reasons one might have to engage (or not) in a particular cultural artistic practice.

Mills, Charles, and . The Racial Contract

1997, Ithaca, Cornell University Press.

Introduction: White supremacy is the unnamed political system that has made the modern world what it is today. You will not find this term in introductory, or even advanced, texts in political theory. A standard undergraduate philosophy course will start off with Plato and Aristotle, perhaps say something about Augustine, Aquinas, and Machiavelli, move on to Hobbes, Locke, Mill, and Marx, and then wind up with Rawls and Nozick. It will introduce you to notions of aristocracy, democracy, absolutism, liberalism, representative government, socialism, welfare capitalism, andlibertarianism. But though it covers more than two thousand years of Western political thought and runs the ostensible gamut of political systems, there will be no mention of the basic political system that has shaped the world for the past several hundred years. And this omission is not accidental. Rather, it reflects the fact that standard textbooks and courses have for the most part been written and designed by whites, who take their racial privilege so much for granted that they do not even see it as political, as a form of domination. Ironically, the most important political system of recent global history-the system of domination by which white people have historically ruled over and, in certain important ways, continue to rule over nonwhite people-is not seen as a political system at all. It is just taken for granted; it is the background against which other systems, which we are to see as political are highlighted. This book is an attempt to redirect your vision, to make you see what, in a sense, has been there all along.

Comment: This text should be a primary early introduction to philosophy of race and critical race studies. Due to the Marxist undertones, this text would be well suited to secondary reading in a political philosophy course or module.

Mills, Charles, and . ’But What Are You Really?’ The Metaphysics of Race

2000, Light A., Mechthild N. (eds). Race, Class, and Community Identity: Radical Philosophy Today. Amherst, NY: Humanity Books. p. 23-51.

Summary (Diversifying Syllabi): There are a variety of possible views about the metaphysical status of racial assignments, which roughly parallel the variety of meta-ethical views in the literature. Most people are realists about race. Those who see that the realist position is wrongheaded often conclude that race is unreal, subjective, or relative. Both of these views are mistaken.

There are seven candidate conditions for racial identification: appearance, ancestry, public awareness of ancestry, self-awareness of ancestry, culture, experience, and self-identification. Consideration of ten cases of “racial transgressives”—in which a person has some of these conditions but not others — push on our intuitions and ultimately show that we ought to conclude that race is a social construction. This view is to be distinguished from relativism, insofar as you can be wrong about what race you are: Thinking does not make it so.

Comment: This article draws parallels between various positions on the nature of race and various positions on the metaphysical status of ethical values (realism, constructivism, nihilism, etc.). The article explains the latter meta-ethical positions quickly and cursorily, so your students might need a primer (Diversifying Syllabi).

Smalls, James, and . African-American Self-Portraiture

2001, Third Text, pp. 47-62.

Summary: As ‘always already’ racialized object of the white patriarchal look African-Americans have enduringly suffered from having to negotiate notions of the self from a crisis position. The act of self-portraiture for the African-American artist has the value of bestowing upon the self-portraitist a sense of empowerment.

Comment: Useful in discussing portraiture and depiction, as well as empowerment and art's role in power relations in general.

Artworks to use with this text:

Lyle Ashton Harris, Construct #10 (collection of the artist, 1988)

Harris's self-portraits are redemptive and liberatory in their focus on the self. They challenge standard discourse on identity and subjectivity to present a new sign of black power and liberation. Because his photographs expose gender as constructed and performed, they also, in the process, subvert phallocentrism and compulsory heterosexuality.