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Visible IdentitiesRace, Gender, and the Self$
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Linda Martín Alcoff

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195137347

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2006

DOI: 10.1093/0195137345.001.0001

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The Phenomenology of Racial Embodiment

The Phenomenology of Racial Embodiment

(p.179) 7 The Phenomenology of Racial Embodiment
Visible Identities

Linda Martín Alcoff

Oxford University Press

When one realizes the indeterminacy of racial categories — their fluid borders, arbitrary criteria, and cultural variety — it may be tempting to adopt a nominalism about race, that race is no more real than phlogiston or witchcraft. This chapter resists this conclusion based on phenomenological grounds and insists that race is real. It explores reasons for the current confusion about race, considers various approaches to knowledge about race, and proposes a preliminary phenomenological account of racial identity as it is lived in the body of various racialized subjects at a given cultural moment. It is argued that only when we come to be very clear about how race is lived, in its multiple manifestations, and only when we can come to appreciate its often hidden epistemic effects and its power over collective imaginations can we entertain even the remote possibility of its eventual transformation.

Keywords:   racism, race, racial identity, white identity, phenomenological account

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