RACIAL VIOLENCE, EMOTIONAL FRICTION, AND EPISTEMIC ACTIVISM

Jose Maria Medina*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Using Iris Marion Young’s framework, this essay looks at racial violence as one of the many “faces” of racial oppression (which also include exploitation, marginalization, powerlessness, and cultural domination). In the light of this analysis I argue that the fight against racial violence requires much more than identifying the perpetrators of such violence and bringing them to justice; it requires, I argue, thick critical engagements with multiple publics and institutions and with society at large, engagements that are not only cognitive and argumentative but also affective, imaginal, and action-oriented. My argument about the broad range of thick critical engagements needed in anti-racist-violence activism focuses especially on what I term epistemic activism, which refers to the critical activities of denouncing, contesting, and resisting the cognitive-affective attitudes and sensibilities (or insensitivities) that facilitate complicity with racial oppression and with racial violence. My analysis pays particular attention to the role that affectivity plays in complicity with racial violence and how affective attitudes can be used in epistemic activism to disrupt complicity and to mobilize people in the fight against racial violence. My analysis and argumentation are developed through a case study of epistemic activism: the activism against racial violence in the United States and the changes in public life and institutional recognition that activist organizations such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Equal Justice Initiative have aimed to promote.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)22-37
Number of pages16
JournalAngelaki - Journal of the Theoretical Humanities
Volume24
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 4 2019

Keywords

  • Iris Marion Young
  • emotional friction
  • epistemic activism
  • racial violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Philosophy
  • Literature and Literary Theory

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