This is the sixth in a series of interviews with philosophers on race that I am conducting for The Stone. This week’s conversation is with Linda Martín Alcoff, a professor of philosophy at Hunter College and the CUNY Graduate Center. She was the president of the American Philosophical Association, Eastern Division, for 2012-13. She is the author of “Visible Identities: Race, Gender, and the Self.” — George Yancy
George Yancy and Linda Martin Alcoff, The Stone / New York Times
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Linda Martin Alcoff
February 4, 2015 | George Yancy: What is the relationship between your identity as a Latina philosopher and the philosophical interrogation of race in your work?
Linda Martín Alcoff: Every single person has a racial identity, at least in Western societies, and so one might imagine that the topic of race is of universal interest. Yet for those of us who are not white — or less fully white, shall I say — the reality of race is shoved in our faces in particularly unsettling ways, often from an early age. This can spark reflection as well as nascent social critique.
The relationship between my identity and my philosophical interest in race is simply a continuation through the tools of philosophy the pursuit that I began as a kid, growing up in Florida in the 1960s, watching the civil rights movement as it was portrayed in the media and perceived by the various parts of my family, white and nonwhite. I experienced school desegregation, the end of Jim Crow, and the war in Indochina, a war that also made apparent the racial categories used to differentiate peoples, at enormous cost. It was clear to me from a young age that “we” were the ones with no value for life, at least the life of those who were not white.
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George Yancy is a professor of philosophy at Duquesne University. He has written, edited and co-edited numerous books, including “Black Bodies, White Gazes,” “Look, a White!” and “Pursuing Trayvon Martin,” co-edited with Janine Jones.
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This is the fifth in a series of interviews with philosophers on race that I am conducting for The Stone.. This week’s conversation is with Judith Butler, Maxine Elliot Professor in the department of comparative literature and the program of critical theory at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of numerous influential books, including “Dispossession: The Performative in the Political,” which she co-authored with Athena Athanasiou. She will publish a book on public assemblies with Harvard University Press this year.
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