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The Pluralists' Guide certainly generated a lot of heat, even before it went public. In this short post, I'm not going to address any of that heat.
Instead, I'd like to talk about one of the difficulties we faced in putting this site together, and one that I hope posting publicly will help.
When we decided to cover under-represented areas, I felt it important, and Paul and Linda agreed, that we should cover GLBTTQ Philosophy. Since I had published in the field and had contacts with other philosophers working in the field, I thought I could make up an advisory board, send out surveys, and see the results.
I was wrong. Virtually nobody responded to the survey. Several people contacted me expressing their hope that we could generate such a list, but they did not feel fully qualified to fill out the survey. I had access to several reliable email lists of philosophers working in GLBTTQ Philosophy, but to no avail. In the end, the data generated for what are described on the site as "Tentative Lists" was worked out in actual conversation with the people on the advisory board and through sheer "grunt-work" -- checking on who was at which departments and what they had published, and looking through the meager survey results.
There are two obvious reasons for these difficulties: first, GLBTTQ philosophy is a fairly new field, and second, it is a fairly small field. My impression is that there are no departments that can be described as "strong in GLBTTQ Philosophy" in the same way that a department can be described as "strong in American Philosophy." That is, no department has multiple people working in that field and at the top of their game. This impression was reinforced by the difficulty of finding strong departments, and (depressingly) reinforced by the fact that the data showing which parts of the site are getting hits reveals that nobody's going to look at the GLBTTQ recommendations.
So I end this post with a plea, the same one that that appears on the site: please, if you have reliable information about strong programs in GLBTTQ Philosophy, or would be willing to serve on our advisory board, contact the site through our email: email@example.com
2. Fewer than 125 out of 11,000 members of the American Philosophical Association are black
3. Fewer than 30 out of 11,000 members of the American Philosophical Association are black women
The data in items #2 and #3 are drawn from Kathryn T. Gines. Being a black woman philosopher: Reflections on founding the Collegium of Black Women Philosophers. Hypatia 26(2): 429-43.
Together, these facts add weight to the conclusion that there is a global lack of blacks in professional philosophy. I urge the philosophical professioriat to take immediate and positive action to combat this global lack. Please do convey my entreaty to your readers.
MIT Women's and Gender Studies has undertaken a campaign to make feminism more visible. Many people accept the basic principles of feminism (anti-sexism!?) but resist the f-word. Our thought is that by showing that feminism is a broad-based movement that includes people of all kinds, we can defuse some of the anxiety about the word and build connections and coalitions more easily.
We began by using International Women's Day as an occasion to wear a sticker saying "This is what a feminist looks like" and then moved on to photograph members of the MIT community wearing their stickers. You can find it on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/mit.wgs?ref=ts#!/media/set/fbx/?set=a.1436127642686.52869.1817835690 Our most recent effort was at the MIT Open House celebrating MIT's 150th anniversary (4/30). We set up a photo booth and offered a tote bag printed with "This is what a feminist looks like at MIT" to anyone who would have their photo taken with a sign saying the same thing. We were busy all day and over 175 people participated. It is an AMAZING display and includes the president of MIT, Susan Hockfield, the Dean of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, Deborah Fitzgerald, the former mayor of Cambridge, Denise Simmons, and many many more from around the area and around the world. Find it here:
Some argue that same-sex marriage is not an equal rights issue because, where same-sex marriage is illegal, heterosexuals and homosexuals have the exact same right to marry—i.e., the right to marry one adult of the opposite sex. I dispute this argument by pointing out that while societies that prohibit same-sex marriage equally permit individual heterosexuals and homosexuals to marry one adult of the opposite sex, same-sex couples in such societies are denied an important right that opposite-sex couples enjoy—i.e., the right (...) to marry. I argue that the right to marry is fundamentally, not an individual right, but a couple’s collective right, analogous to assembly rights.
Those interested in intersectionality (most of the readers of this blog, I imagine!) may want to have a look at the Alternet article "Becoming a Black Man" by Daisy Hernandez. It's about the way that transitioning from one sex/gender to another can change one's experiences of race. Here's a sample:
Trans people of color are finding that they have an extremely different relationship to gender transition than white people. London Dexter Ward, an LAPD cop who transitioned in 2004, sums it up this way: a white person who transitions to a male body “just became a man.” By contrast, he says, “I became a Black man. I became the enemy. “
On a slight tangent, I was surprised by the fact that Hernandez seemed to use 'heterosexual' as a term contrasting with 'trans'. Is that a mistake, or is this something I've missed? Here's the passage:
Just as key has been the work of transgender people themselves, who have transitioned due to the more widespread availability of hormones and surgeries. Rather than passing as heterosexual, an increasing number of them in the last decade have identified as “trans” and begun support, advocacy and legal-rights groups.
A line of thought I've been trying out lately. Some theses:
1) Obama's metapolitics is his account of how we should conduct and think about politics. "Dumbed down," it is all about unity and bipartisanship. But "smarted up" it is a more sophisticated view, spelled out in "The Audacity of Hope," that emphasizes debate and deliberation about the common good. The common good as the regulative ideal of democratic debate and deliberation. Obama is a deliberative democrat. And he is also a participatory democrat who emphasizes participation through mobilization. This last a recurrent theme in his speeches.
2) This framing, spelled out in 1), is explicitly meant to pose a sharp contrast to Hillary Clinton's representation of politics as an elite driven enterprise, with Hillary representing herself as the heroine of the good elites primed now to do battle against the bad elites.
3) Why should progressives take Obama's metapolitics seriously? Two reasons. One is that it is an attempt to transform the political culture. That is, to break with the Clintonian style of responding reactively to the attack dog mode of Republican politics that aggressively sides with allies against enemies. The reactive Clintonian style simply reproduces this mode. The short hand for Obama's critique of this mode: "they are willing to say anything to win." The key idea, however, is that poltical culture should be geared less to the ally/enemy distinction and more to the idea that, the diversity of the polity notwithstanding, ordinary, democratically energized Americans can mobilize/debate their way towards common understandings of the common good. There is certainly room for race consciousness in all this, as when Obama did, finally, in the last debate, invoke the theme of racial justice, arguing that this is a theme that should concern all Americans.
4) A second, perhaps more important reason: that a successful transformation of the poltical culture along these lines (which Obama compares to Reagan's transformation of American political culture--an analogy that Hillary has gone out of her way deliberately to misrepresent) may be needed for the establishement of an enduring progressive coalition (in Obama's words--democrats, independents, and some Republicans) that, rather than constantly react to and compromise with post-Reagan Republican ideas (an important part of Bill Clinton's legacy, as is evident, e.g., in the compromise over welfare reform), articulates in new terms (talk of common sense and of a common good) a new progressive agenda. The insistence, in short, that overcoming a reactive political style is the indispensable first step moving towards the articulation of a nonreactive, progressive political agenda.
In sum, Obama disagrees with Clinton in thinking that a radical transformation of the poltical culture is necessary, if not sufficient, to promote a progressive agenda.
This is all very abstract, of course, but still valuable, I hope, as attempt to identify the key ideas that seem to animate the Obama campaigns political rhetoric.