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Race and Philosophy Reading Group

Philosophy students and staff are warmly invited to join the Race and Philosophy Reading Group. We will meet on Teams on Friday afternoons, 4-5.15 pm, starting on 15 January 2021. The readings will address questions about race from a variety of perspectives. We will consider race as a focus for research in ontology, epistemology, phenomenology, existentialism, ethics, political philosophy, aesthetics and the history of philosophy, and also as an important focus of concern for activism, education, and the practice of philosophy. We hope the readings will be jumping-off points for discussion of issues, events, experiences, and projects of significance to participants.

The group is intended to be a serious but friendly and supportive gathering. Please show respect for and courtesy toward participants. We would like to have volunteers each week to (1) give a very brief introduction to one of the readings, raising a topic or question for discussion, and (2) moderate the session (to keep track of who has a comment, to make sure people are heard, and so forth). We will ask for volunteers at the Week 1 meeting, but if you know you are interested in having one of those roles, please feel free to contact Eileen John on e-mail to volunteer (

RSVP to Eileen if you want to join the reading group Team.

Links to readings will be posted here. We are starting with two weeks of readings on differing views as to whether to affirm a category of 'race'.

Week 1

Michael O. Hardimon (2017). Rethinking Race: The Case for Deflationary Realism. Harvard University Press.

Prologue and Introduction, pp. 1-11:


Naomi Zack (2003). ‘Philosophy and Racial Paradigms’, in A Companion to African-American Philosophy, eds. Tommy Lott and John Pittman. Wiley. pp. 239-53.

[Further reading: see a summary essay of Hardimon's position: Michael O. Hardimon (2017). Minimalist Biological Race, in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Race, ed. Naomi Zack.]

Week 2 - revised - see also Team chat for further suggestions

Introducers: Luke Valentine Leong (Appiah and Goldberg) and Jude Folorunso (Alpert)

Kwame Anthony Appiah (1985). 'The Uncompleted Argument: Du Bois and the Illusion of Race', Critical Inquiry 12(1): 21-37.

David Theo Goldberg (1993). Chapters 4 and 5, 'The Masks of Race' and 'Racist Exclusions' in Racist Culture: Philosophy and the Politics of Meaning. Blackwell.


Avram Alpert, 'Philosophy's Systemic Racism'. Aeon, 24 September 2020.

[Further reading:

K. A. Appiah (2015). ‘Race, Culture, Identity: Misunderstood Connections’, in Color Conscious, eds. K. Anthony Appiah and Amy Gutmann. Princeton UP, pp. 30–105.

Lucius T. Outlaw, Jr. (2018). 'On Race and Philosophy', in Racism and Philosophy, eds. Susan Babbitt and Sue Campbell (Cornell UP), pp. 50-76.

Also recommended: Outlaw's Preface (xi-xxxi - about his education) to On Race and Philosophy (New York: Routledge, 1996). This should be available electronically through the library very soon.]

Week 3 - Epistemology

Introducers: Judith Akua Arthur (Mills) and Nana Adwoa Obeng (Hill Collins)

Charles Mills (2018 [1988]). ‘Alternative Epistemologies’, in Blackness Visible Cornell UP, pp. 21-40.

Patricia Hill Collins (2000 [1990]). Ch. 11 'Black Feminist Epistemology', in Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment. Routledge. pp. 251-71.

[Further reading:

Kristie Dotson (2015), ‘Inheriting Patricia Hill Collins s Black Feminist Epistemology’, Ethnic and Racial Studies, Volume 38, Issue 13: 2322-2328.

Sandra Harding (2016 [1991]), Whose Science? Whose Knowledge?: Thinking from Women's Lives. Cornell UP. See especially sections II on Epistemology and III on ‘Others’ (Chs. 8 and 11).]

Week 4 - The practice of philosophy

Moderator: Judith Akua Arthur

Introducers: Luke Valentine Leong (Osei), David Bather Woods (Flikschuh), Zoe Fidel (Dotson)

Joseph Osei (2020). 'The Burden of Being a Black Philosopher in a White World: How to Respond to Anti-Black Racism', in Handbook of African Philosophy of Difference, ed. Elvis Imafidon. Springer.

Katrin Flikschuh (2018). 'Philosophical Racism', Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume, Volume 92, Issue 1, pp. 91–110. [Flikschuh responds to a Charles Mills paper, Racial Justice, in same issue.]

Kristie Dotson (2012). 'HOW IS THIS PAPER PHILOSOPHY?', Comparative Philosophy: Vol. 3 : Iss. 1 , Article 5.

Week 5 - Race, phenomenology and life-worlds

Introducers: Luke Valentine Leong (Alcoff) and Pratham Mehrotra and Eileen John (Outlaw)

Linda Martín Alcoff (2006). Ch. 7 'The phenomenology of racial embodiment', in Visible Identities: Race, Gender, and the Self. Oxford UP.

Lucius T. Outlaw, Jr. (1996). On Race and Philosophy (Routledge): the Introduction and Ch. 7; for a selection from those chapters, focus on pp. 8-21 in the Intro and pp. 170-82 in Ch. 7. [The autobiographical preface in this book is excellent too, but it doesn't seem to show up in the e-edition. Let EJ know if you find it.]

Week 6 - Race, masks, sexuality, poetry and more!

Carolyn Dinshaw, 'Black Skin, Green Masks: Medieval Foliate Heads, Racial Trauma, and Queer World-Making', in The Middle Ages in the Modern World: Twenty-first century perspectives, eds.Bettina Bildhauer and Chris Jones. The British Academy, Oxford UP, 2017.

Will Harris, Three poems from Rendang. Granta, 2020.

Week 7 - Race and aesthetics: combined session with CineMAP

Organisers: Sailee Khurjekar and Chris Earley


Paul Gilroy, “It ain’t where you’re from, it’s where you’re at”, Chapter 8 of Small Acts (1993)

Paul Taylor, “Beauty to Set the World Right: The Politics of Black Aesthetics”, Chapter 3 of Black is Beautiful (2016)

Dayna Francis, ‘Black and British’?(2020)

Dayna Francis’s poem was published as part of the official Black History Month UK campaign in 2020. Francis explores themes of stereotyping, inclusion and what it means to be Black and British, along with its implications.


Steve McQueen, Lovers Rock (2020)

Lovers Rock is short romantic drama film from British filmmaker Steve McQueen. It is a part of his Small Axe anthology series, which can be accessed on BBC iPlayer. Set in 1980, it centres around young black people finding romance and freedom at London house parties, in the sound of a reggae genre called lovers rock.

Further Readings:

Further Viewing:

You may want to check out the rest of Steve McQueen’s Small Axe series, which provides other contrasting views on the same sets of issues.

Week 8 - Biopolitics, sexuality and racism

Daniele Lorenzini is organising the readings, drawing on the following texts - page details to come:

Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Vol. 1, Part V, pp. 145-157

Further readings:

Michel Foucault, "Society Must Be Defended": Lectures at the Collège de France, 1975-1976

Daniele Lorenzini, "The Emergence of Desire", Critical Inquiry 45 (2019)

Week 9 - Race and education


Darren Chetty, '"Racism as Reasonableness": Philosophy for Children and the Gated Community of Inquiry'. Ethics and Education 13(1), 2018: 39-54.

Jack Bicker, 'Teacher-led codeswitching: Adorno, race, contradiction, and the nature of autonomy'. Ethics and Education 13(1), 2018: 73-85.

Further readings:

Ben Kotzee, 'Education and epistemic injustice', in The Routledge Handbook of Epistemic Injustice, eds. James Kidd, José Medina and Gaile Pohlhaus. London: Routledge, 2017. pp. 324-35. [other essays in this volume of interest as well]

See the other essays in the 13(1) issue of Ethics and Education on Critical Philosophy of Race and Education.

Week 10 - Race, responsibility, activism


Lee McBride, 'Insurrectionist ethics and racism', in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Race, ed. Naomi Zack, 2017.

Robin Zheng, 'What Is My Role in Changing the System?'. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 21( 4), 2018: 869-85.

Further readings:

Patricia Hill Collins, On Intellectual Activism, Temple UP, 2013.

Iris Marion Young, Ch. 7 'Responsibility and Historic Injustice', in Responsibility for Justice, Oxford UP, 2011.

Further resources

Philosophers on Race: Critical Essays, eds. Tommy Lott and Julie Ward. Blackwell, 2002.

Race and Racism in Continental Philosophy, eds. Robert Bernasconi and Sybol Cook. Indiana UP, 2003.

The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Race, ed. Naomi Zack. Oxford UP, 2017.

Race and the Enlightenment: a Reader, ed. Emmanuel Chukwudi Eze. Blackwell,1997. (Library: HT1507.R33).

A broader reading list is being compiled - suggestions are welcome.

Week 7 CineMAP: