Abstract
From a Levinasian perspective, the interaction between two people is an ethical encounter, a face-to-face interaction that calls the subject into question and renders them vulnerable to the ritual of rupture. But what if your embodiment renders you, in the moment of encounter, less than human? How can we bring the imperative of pre-ontological responsibility to bear on the present moment, fractured as we are in our understandings of embodiment and the hauntings of history? In this paper, I hope to respond to the previous question by articulating the problems and possibilities of Levinas’s thought in conversation with urgent considerations of racially-bodied Others. To begin, I briefly explore critiques of Levinas’s Eurocentrism. Then, drawing on the concept of incarnate historiography, I examine the difficulties of skin as “seen.” Next, I elaborate the prospect of how diachronous time affords a second register that takes seriously the historical experience of pain and oppression as responsibility. Finally, I argue that the recognition of responsibility is essential to education, proposing pedagogy that preserves alterity and makes space for the new.
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DOI 10.1007/s11217-021-09801-9
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