Race and Pedagogical Practices: When Race Takes Center Stage in Philosophy

Hypatia 29 (1):205-220 (2014)
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This paper presents a segment of a broader research project titled “When Black Consciousness Meets White Consciousness,” which first developed out of my research work with White women in violence-against-women organizations. It documents an interview between a White woman and me, a Black South African philosopher. I lived and worked in Canada at the time but I traveled to the United States for conferences on a regular basis. I was presenting my work on Black consciousness, White consciousness, and Black existentialism—relying on Derridean deconstruction and psychoanalysis—when I had the exchange with a White woman, a young faculty member in the philosophy department, which had jointly hosted the talk with the women and gender studies department. This paper offers a verbatim account of this dialogue wherein the history of philosophy is unraveled and where I draw on Jacques Derrida's “White Mythology” to demonstrate how White consciousness is engraved. It is out of this intertwined analysis that my work on White consciousness emerged in the 1990s—and with which I continue—as is evidenced throughout the paper. In unpacking this dialogue, I situate the complexities that arise from the pedagogical practices within philosophy when race takes center stage within a discipline that has written itself as though race does not exist



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