The Center Must Not Hold: White Women Philosophers on the Whiteness of Philosophy

The Center Must Not Hold: White Women Philosophers on the Whiteness of Philosophy

by George Yancy
     
 

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The Center Must Not Hold: White Women Philosophers on the Whiteness of Philosophy functions as a textual site where white women philosophers engage boldly in critical acts of exploring ways of naming and disrupting whiteness in terms of how it has defined the conceptual field of philosophy. Within this text, white women philosophers critique the field of philosophy

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Overview

The Center Must Not Hold: White Women Philosophers on the Whiteness of Philosophy functions as a textual site where white women philosophers engage boldly in critical acts of exploring ways of naming and disrupting whiteness in terms of how it has defined the conceptual field of philosophy. Within this text, white women philosophers critique the field of philosophy for its complicity with whiteness as a structure of power, as normative, and as hegemonic. In this way, the authority of whiteness to define what is philosophically worthy is seen as reinforcing forms of philosophical narcissism and hegemony. Challenging the whiteness of philosophy in terms of its hubristic tendencies, white women philosophers within this text assert their alliance with people of color who have been both marginalized within the field of philosophy and have had their philosophical and intellectual concerns and traditions dismissed as particularistic. Aware that feminist praxis does not necessarily lead to anti-racist praxis, the white women philosophers within this text refuse to telescope as a site of critical inquiry one site of hegemony (sexism) over another (racism). As such, the white women philosophers within this text are conscious of the ways in which they are implicated in perpetuating whiteness as a site of power within the domain of philosophy. Framed within a philosophical space that values the multiplicity of philosophical voices, and driven by a feminist framework that valorizes de-centering locations of hegemony, interdisciplinary dialogue, and transformative praxis, The Center Must Not Hold refuses to allow the white center of philosophy to masquerade as universal and given. The text de-centers various epistemic and value orders that are predicated upon maintaining the center of philosophy as white. The white women philosophers who contribute to this text explore ethics, epistemology, aesthetics, taste, the nature of a dilemma, questions of the secularity of philosophy, perception, discipline-based values around how to listen and argue, the crucial role that social location plays in the continued ignorance about the reality of oppression and privilege as these relate to the subtle forms of white valorization and maintenance, and more. Those interested in critical race theory and critical whiteness studies will appreciate how the contributors have linked these areas of critical inquiry within the often abstract domain of philosophy.

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Editorial Reviews

Hypatia
CMNH is an important step in trying to dislodge whiteness as a transcendental norm. It prompts us to enact critical practices in doing a kind of philosophy that builds up an anti-racist world. One of CMNH's extraordinary strengths is that it is infused with innumerable non-traditional, often obscure, culturally and historically rich examples....It stands out from and is a valuable contribution to contemporary feminist scholarship and critical race theory and proves to be an important resource for undergraduate and graduate students.
Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy
CMNH is an important step in trying to dislodge whiteness as a transcendental norm. It prompts us to enact critical practices in doing a kind of philosophy that builds up an anti-racist world. One of CMNH's extraordinary strengths is that it is infused with innumerable non-traditional, often obscure, culturally and historically rich examples....It stands out from and is a valuable contribution to contemporary feminist scholarship and critical race theory and proves to be an important resource for undergraduate and graduate students.
African American Review
The authors of these chapters demonstrate the necessary philosophical expertise to qualify the book as a major source of knowledge production on the structural components of whiteness. Its major strength lies in revealing how sources of resistance to the whiteness of philosophy as an academic discipline can indeed be found by way of white subjectivities. White women philosophers' desire to open their discipline to the work of people of color attempts to revise nothing less than Western hegemonic racialized gender discourse. In this respect, The Center Must Not Hold is a major contribution not only to philosophy and race studies, but also to critical whiteness studies, as it matures in the second decade of the new millennium.
Mariana Ortega
How can intelligent, well-meaning lovers of wisdom become so unwise? In The Center Must Not Hold, George Yancy brings together contributors who confront this urgent question with candid, thoughtful analyses of their own whiteness, the whiteliness of Philosophy and the pitfalls of anti-racist and feminist theorizing. Let us listen to these white women allies in our quest to create self-reflective, inclusive, and coalitional philosophies so as to destabilize the reign of whiteness in a discipline that professes not only the love of wisdom but also the love of justice.
M. Shawn Copeland
With rare exception, philosophy—even feminist philosophy—has remained cool toward the critical analysis of race, racism, and racial privilege. In this powerful, demanding, and insightful volume, women philosophers unflinchingly tackle the discipline’s refusal to interrogate its discursive practices, its silence, its more or less conscious collusion in the construction of ‘whiteness.’ This work breaks new ground in its challenge to all who need and love and do philosophy.
Elizabeth V. Spelman
If the unexamined life is not worth living, can the unexamined discipline be worth reproducing? In The Center Must Not Hold, reflective practitioners of the craft provide compelling reasons for worrying about the soul of the enterprise and the insidious toxicity of some of its most deeply entrenched assumptions.
Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy
CMNH is an important step in trying to dislodge whiteness as a transcendental norm. It prompts us to enact critical practices in doing a kind of philosophy that builds up an anti-racist world. One of CMNH's extraordinary strengths is that it is infused with innumerable non-traditional, often obscure, culturally and historically rich examples....It stands out from and is a valuable contribution to contemporary feminist scholarship and critical race theory and proves to be an important resource for undergraduate and graduate students.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780739138830
Publisher:
Lexington Books
Publication date:
07/10/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
298
File size:
1 MB

Meet the Author

George Yancy is associate professor of philosophy at Duquesne University and author of Black Bodies, White Gazes: The Continuing Significance of Race. He is also coeditor of Critical Perspectives on bell hooks and Narrative Identities: Psychologists Engaged in Self-Construction and editor of Philosophy in Multiple Voices, White on White/Black on Black, What White Looks Like: African American Philosophers on the Whiteness Question, I, Cornel West: A Critical Reader, and African-American Philosophers: 17 Conversations.

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