[SydPhil] Philosophy/CAVE seminar: Robert Bernasconi (Penn State), "Towards a Genealogy of the Concept of Racism", 15 November, Macquarie Uni

Centre for Agency, Values, and Ethics arts.cave at mq.edu.au
Tue Nov 8 11:04:34 AEDT 2016

Hi all,

The Macquarie University Research Centre for Agency, Values, and Ethics (CAVE) and the Macquarie Philosophy Department are pleased to announce that there will be a seminar by distinguished visitor, Robert Bernasconi (Penn State) on Tuesday 15 November.

Date: Tuesday 15 November 2016

Time: 13:00 - 14:30

Venue: W6A 107, Macquarie University (P12 on the campus map<http://www.mq.edu.au/__data/assets/image/0010/183556/campus_map.png>)

(Prof. Bernasconi will also be a keynote speaker at the CAVE Workshop<http://mq.edu.au/cave/events>, The History and Philosophy of 'Race', on 17-18 November.)

"Towards a Genealogy of the Concept of Racism"

Abstract: One can find in the 1950 UNESCO Statement on Race a clear articulation of what became the dominant strategy for attacking racism in the aftermath of the Second World War, but its general outlines were already formulated in the 1930s by Franz Boas and Julian Huxley. Nevertheless, whereas the focus in the 1930s fell almost exclusively on isolating and discrediting the racial doctrines expounded by National Socialism, in the 1950s and 1960s decolonization and the dismantling of segregation were the central challenge. The importance of exposing the false biological theories of the 1930s should not be underestimated, nor the time it took to do so, but it was immediately apparent to Black intellectuals, like Oliver Cromwell Cox and Frantz Fanon, that the Boasian approach would fail to meet the challenges of the post-war world. In this paper I recall the contributions of Cox and Fanon, but above all I focus on how the Boasian school of anthropology came to understand racism as it did and without any thoroughgoing examination of structural racism: for the Boasians racism was not a system but a set of false scientific dogmas that could be corrected by education. I argue further that the Boasian model of racism, in addition to being unduly narrow, was based not on a study of racism at large but only on their limited understanding of a theoretical antisemitism that, while represented in one strand of Nazi racial biology, did not even extend to cover Nazi racism more broadly conceived.  Finally, I make the case that until the limitations of this understanding of racism are fully acknowledged, the dominant antiracist discourse does more to protect the status quo than it serves to challenge it.

About Prof. Bernasconi:

Robert Bernasconi is Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Philosophy and African American Studies at Pennsylvania State University. He is a co-editor of the journal Critical Philosophy of Race. Much of his recent work has been in the critical philosophy of race: he has written extensively on the racism of philosophers and on the history of the concept of race, but he also addresses current issues, such as police violence and the way race is perpetuated through its spatialisation. In addition he is a specialist on Hegel and continental philosophy more generally and he has written two books on Heidegger and one on Sartre. Among his current projects is a genealogy of the concept of racism. He is also engaged in a study of the ways in which most of those we consider the major philosophers of the eighteenth century addressed - or failed to address - the issues raised by the slave trade with a special concern for the implications of this knowledge for how the history of philosophy and ethics should be taught.

All welcome, no registration required!

Macquarie University Research Centre for Agency, Values and Ethics (CAVE)
Department of Philosophy
Macquarie University
Sydney, NSW 2109, Australia
CAVE website: mq.edu.au/cave<http://cave.mq.edu.au>

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