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Alcoff, Linda Martin, , . Visible Identities: Race, Gender, and the Self
2006, Oxford University Press.
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Publisher’s Note: Visible Identities critiques the critiques of identity and of identity politics and argues that identities are real but not necessarily a political problem. Moreover, the book explores the material infrastructure of gendered identity, the experimental aspects of racial subjectivity for both whites and non-whites, and in several chapters looks specifically at Latio identity.

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Appiah, Kwame Anthony, , . Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers (Issues of Our Time)
2010, WW Norton & Company.
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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.
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Appiah, Kwame Anthony, , . Reconstructing Racial Identities
1996, Research in African Literatures 27 (3):58-72.
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Abstract: The main theoretical gap in In My Father’s House – in the opinion, at least, of its author – is the lack of a proposed alternative to the account of identity in the black diaspora that the book criticizes. The pseudo- biological essentialist account of black identity is, in my judgment, now generally understood to be untenable; what is lacking is an alternative positive account of black identity. In the book I criticized the biological account as a proposed basis for identities in the continent as well: but I offered, in the chapter on “African Identities,” some suggestions for a positive basis for a range of continentally based mobilizations of Africa as what I called “a vital and enabling badge.” But what I had to say about diasporic identities was, to put it kindly, perfunctory. Katya Azoulay’s critique of my work (“Outside Our Parents’ House: Race, Culture, and Identity” in RAL 27.1 [1996]: 129-42) identifies this theoretical gap and rightly draws attention to it. Let me offer at least a sketch of an approach.

Comment: The article follows up on Appiah’s In My Father’s House.
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Collins, Patricia Hill, , . It’s All in the Family: Intersections of Gender, Race, and Nation
1998, Hypatia 13 (3):62 – 82.
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Abstract: Intersectionality has attracted substantial scholarly attention in the 1990s. Rather than examining gender, race, class, and nation as distinctive social hierarchies, intersectionality examines how they mutually construct one another. I explore how the traditional family ideal functions as a privileged exemplar of intersectionality in the United States. Each of its six dimensions demonstrates specific connections between family as a gendered system of social organization, racial ideas and practices, and constructions of U.S. national identity

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Collins, Patricia Hill, , . Learning from the outsider within: The sociological significance of black feminist thought
2004, In Sandra G. Harding (ed.), The Feminist Standpoint Theory Reader: Intellectual and Political Controversies. Routledge.
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Abstract: Black women have long occupied marginal positions in academic settings. I argue that many Black female intellectuals have made creative use of their marginality their “outsider within ” status-to produce Black feminist thought that reflects a special standpoint on self family, and society. I describe and explore the sociological significance of three characteristic themes in such thought: (1) Black women’s self-definition and self-valuation; (2) the interlocking nature of oppression; and (3) the importance of Afro-American women’s culture. After considering how Black women might draw upon these key themes as outsiders within to generate a distinctive standpoint on existing sociological paradigms, I conclude by suggesting that other sociologists would also benefit by placing greater trust in the creative potential of their own personal and cultural biographies.

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Collins, Patricia Hill, , . Social Inequality, Power, and Politics: Intersectionality and American Pragmatism in Dialogue
2012, Journal of Speculative Philosophy 26 (2):442-457.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Corbin Covington

Introduction: June Jordan (1992) had her eye set on an understanding of freedom that challenged social inequality as being neither natural, normal, nor inevitable. Instead, she believed that power relations of racism, class exploitation, sexism, and heterosexism were socially constructed outcomes of human agency and, as such, were amenable to change. For Jordan, the path toward a reenvisioned world where ‘freedom is indivisible’ reflected aspirational political projects of the civil rights and Black Power movements, feminism, the antiwar movement, and the movement for gay and lesbian liberation. These social justice projects required a messy politics of taking the risks that enabled their participants to dream big dreams.

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Collins, Patricia Hill, , . Some group matters: Intersectionality, situated standpoints, and Black feminist thought
2003, In Tommy Lee Lott & John P. Pittman (eds.), A Companion to African-American Philosophy. Blackwell.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Corbin Covington

Abstract: In developing a Black feminist praxis, standpoint theory has provided one important source of analytical guidance and intellectual legitimation for African-American women. Standpoint theory argues that group location in hierarchical power relations produces shared challenges for individuals in those groups. These common challenges can foster similar angles of vision leading to a group knowledge or standpoint that in turn can influence the group’s political action. Stated differently, group standpoints are situated in unjust power relations, reflect those power relations, and help shape them. I suspect that one reason that the ideas of standpoint theory (in contrast to the vocabulary deployed by standpoint theorists, including the term standpoint theory itself ) resonate with African-American women’s experiences lies in the resemblance of stand- point theory to the norm of racial solidarity. Created in response to institutionalized racism and associated with Black nationalist responses to such oppression (see, e.g., Franklin 1992; Van Deburg 1992), racial solidarity within Black civil society requires that African-Americans stick together at all costs. The civil rights and Black Power movements certainly demonstrated the effectiveness of Black politics grounded in racial solidarity. In the former, racial solidarity among African-Americans lay at the center of a multiracial civil rights effort. In the latter, racial solidarity was expressed primarily through all-Black organizations. Collectively, these movements delivered tangible politi- cal and economic gains for African-Americans as a group (but not for all members within the group). Differences could be expressed within the boundaries of Blackness but not across those same boundaries. In this sense, the notion of a Black women’s standpoint gains meaning in the context of a shared Black consciousness dedicated to sustaining racial solidarity. Notions of racial solidarity and a shared Black women’s standpoint both invoke explicitly political objectives. Just as adhering to racial solidar- ity was important for Black emancipation in the United States, so might a collective Black women’s standpoint be seen as essential for Black feminist praxis. Since Black women, like African-Americans overall, are oppressed as a group, collective as com- pared to individualized strategies remain important. Much has happened since the 1970s. Depending on their placement in hierarchies of age, gender, economic class, region of the country, and sexuality, African-American women encounter new challenges associated with the new politics of containment in the United States. These changes require fresh ideas that analyze the complexities of contemporary lived Black experience and suggest adequate political responses to them. The intellectual climate currently housing Black feminist thought has also changed. In academic contexts influenced by postmodern rubrics of decentering, deconstruction, and difference, the norm of racial solidarity itself has come under increasing attack. Within Black cultural studies in particular, critiques now stress how racial solidarity has far too often been constructed on the bedrock of racial authenticity and essential- ism (see, e.g., Dyson 1993; West 1993; and Collins 1998c, 83), leading some to empha- size the pitfalls of unquestioned racial solidarity for African-American women (Grant 1982; Terrelonge 1984; Richie 1996). Academic feminism in North America takes aim at similar targets. Whereas Black academics question the utility of racial solidarity in addressing social issues of lived Black experience, feminist theorists increasingly criticize standpoint theory on theoretical grounds (Hekman 1997). Collectively, many Black and/or feminist academics question the assumptions that underlie solidarities of all sorts. This has great implication for Black feminist praxis generally, and a Black women’s standpoint situated in unjust power relations in particular. Given these shifting patterns, the situated standpoints that Black women collectively construct, and even the question of whether African-American women self-define as a group, become vitally important. In historical contexts in which racial segregation more visibly organized geographic, symbolic, and political space assigned to African- Americans, the links between a group’s common positionality in power relations, the shared experiences that accompanied this commonality, the mechanisms for con- structing group standpoints, and the significance of group standpoints for political activism were fairly straightforward. Under the changed conditions that accompany the new politics of containment, however, these links are neither clear nor assumed. Despite the historical significance of the ideas of standpoint theory to African- American women, questions remain concerning the efficacy of group-based identities of this sort for contemporary political struggles. In situations in which increasingly sophisticated practices, such as controlling populations through constant surveillance (Foucault 1979), as well as strategies of everyday racism (Essed 1991) and symbolic racism (Jhally and Lewis 1992), obscure the continued effects of institutionalized injus- tices of all sorts, political theories that seem to advocate pulling together and storming the factory gates can seem simplistic. Moreover, the decreasing effectiveness of an identity politics currently associated with standpoint theory raises questions of its continued relevance (see Collins 1998c, 44-76). Are group-based identities that emerge from standpoint theory and the politics they generate still empowering for African-American women? Do group-based identities such as those advocated by stand- point theory ultimately disempower African-American women because they unduly suppress differences and heterogeneity among Black women? Quite simply, in what ways, if any, does standpoint theory remain relevant for Black feminist thought?

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Coombe, Rosemary J., , . 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.
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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?”.

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Crenshaw, Kimberlé, , . Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence Against Women of Color
1991, Stanford Law Review 43(6): 1241-1299.
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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.

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Darby, Derrick, , . Adequacy, Inequality, and Cash for Grades
2011, Theory and Research in Eduation 9 (3): 209-232.
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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.

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Debra Jackson, , . An Examination of Racialized Assumptions in Antirape Discourse
2003, Studies in Practical Philosophy: A Journal of Ethical and Political Philosophy 3.
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Abstract: In this paper it is argued that contemporary conceptualisation of rape obscure the real but often unexamined connections between racism and sexual assault. Indeed, women of color are more likely to be victimised by sexual assault than white women. They are also less likely to report their assault, less likely to be believed and less likely to participate in the anti rape movement. This suggests that the racial factor should be involved in any discussion on sexual assault.

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Fusco, Coco, , . The Other History of Intercultural Performance
1994, The Drama Review 38(1): 143-167.
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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.

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Glaude, Eddie S., , . In a Shade of Blue: Pragmatism and the Politics of Black America
2007, University of Chicago Press.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Bart Schultz

Publisher’s Note: In this timely book, Eddie S. Glaude Jr., one of our nation’s rising young African American intellectuals, makes an impassioned plea for black America to address its social problems by recourse to experience and with an eye set on the promise and potential of the future, rather than the fixed ideas and categories of the past. Central to Glaude’s mission is a rehabilitation of philosopher John Dewey, whose ideas, he argues, can be fruitfully applied to a renewal of African American politics. According to Glaude, Dewey’s pragmatism, when attentive to the darker dimensions of life – or what we often speak of as the blues – can address many of the conceptual problems that plague contemporary African American discourse. How blacks think about themselves, how they imagine their own history, and how they conceive of their own actions can be rendered in ways that escape bad ways of thinking that assume a tendentious political unity among African Americans simply because they are black, or that short-circuit imaginative responses to problems confronting actual black people. Drawing deeply on black religious thought and literature, In a Shade of Blue seeks to dislodge such crude and simplistic thinking, and replace it with a deeper understanding of and appreciation for black life in all its variety and intricacy. Only when black political leaders acknowledge such complexity, Glaude argues, can the real-life sufferings of many African Americans be remedied. Heady, inspirational, and brimming with practical wisdom, In a Shade of Blue is a remarkable work of political commentary on a scale rarely seen today. To follow its trajectory is to learn how African Americans arrived at this critical moment in their history and to envision where they might head in the twenty-first century

Comment: A really terrific, historically sophisticated work that highlights how philosophical pragmatism can be developed in connection with critical race theory.

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Harris, Leonard (ed.), , . The Critical Pragmatism of Alain Locke a Reader on Value Theory, Aesthetics, Community, Culture, Race, and Education
1999, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
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Publisher’s Note: In its comprehensive overview of Alain Locke’s pragmatist philosophy this book captures the radical implications of Locke’s approach within pragmatism, the critical temper embedded in Locke’s works, the central role of power and empowerment of the oppressed and the concept of broad democracy Locke employed

Comment: Alain Locke (1885-1954) founded the philosophy department at Howard University. (The department is still housed in Locke hall, named for Alain, not John!) He was a pragmatist philosopher, who wrote on cultural relativism, pragmatism, and values. He is best known for his role as an aesthetic scholar of the Harlem Renaissance, but this work has deep connections to his work on the theory of race, on value theory and cultural relativism, and on pragmatism. (See the introductions to the anthologies above for more details.) Locke is an under-appreciated scholar of historical and philosophical significance. His work would provide excellent readings for courses in value theory, ethics and meta-ethics, aesthetics, pragmatism, and the philosophy of race, but would also be interesting reading for courses in epistemology, for instance, given his original stance on relativism, and his pragmatism about truth.

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Haslanger, Sally, , . Gender and Race: (What) Are They? (What) Do We Want Them To Be?
2000, Nous 34(1): 31-55.
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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.
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