Race and the Habits of Scholarship of Critical Social Thought: Probing the Archaeology of Nancy Fraser's Justice Interruptus

Prof. Grace Livingston
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This paper interrogates the status of race as a valid social problematic in critical social thought, with particular regard to its role in the production of what counts as the political. This path of interrogation is animated by a particular problem with the timely and galvanizing treatment of the very valuable meta-categories, "redistribution" and "recognition", that feminist political philosopher Nancy Fraser contributes to the critical conversation about the state of the political, primarily through her 1997 and 2003 "texts", "Justice Interruptus: Critical Reflections on the Postsocialist Condition" and "Redistribution or Recognition?: A Political-Philosophical Exchange" (with Axel Honneth). Fraser diagnoses an interruption in the "grammar of political claims-making" in late capitalist globalization which is so severe that a condition of "justice interruptus" and "postsocialist commonsense", implied also as a postmodern one, is enacted in the ordering of the political. In this condition "claims for the recognition of group difference have become intensely salient" resulting in a "relative eclipse" of a "politics of redistribution" by a "politics of recognition" and a "decoupling" of them. Fraser addresses this breach by reappraising the meanings and performances of these two dimensions of the political and re-associating them within a "bivalent" rubric. Deploying "an archaeology of memory" mode of inquiry, culled from the work of Robert Hill, David Scott, Michel-Rolph Trouillot, Raymond Williams and Sylvia Wynter, this paper argues that race surfaces as a false conscious, materially deficit, subordinate and second-guessed rendering of the critical political. This disturbing situation, termed the beleaguered status of race, constrains and complicates the purchase of Fraser's prospectus. The paper implicates historical, ethical, and ideological habits of trans-disciplinary and differential terrain of critical social thought in effecting this status on race.

Keywords: Critical social theory, Race, Philosophy, Political thought
Stream: Knowledge, Philosophy, Ethics, Consciousness, History, Historiography, Political Science, Politics, Ethnicity, Difference, Identity
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Race and the Habits of Scholarship of Critical Social Thought

Prof. Grace Livingston

Assistant Professor, African American Studies Graduate School of Education, University of Puget Sound

I am a broadly trained interdisciplinary humanist and social scientist across the disciplines of education, comparative literature, history, sociology and theology, with specific expertise in Curriculum Research and Theory and Social Theory. My major research interest is in "knowledge production", particularly, the production of political knowledge. This research interest in political knowledge production indicates that I study the historical, conceptual, discursive, material, and symbolic structures or conditions through which understandings of what comes to count as the salient and urgent considerations and problematics about power relations and the horizon available for social action are formed. Culling from historical-archaeological, archival, philosophical, case study and oral/life history modes of inquiry, I investigate the structure of knowledge production relationships between curriculum knowledge and social movements; and across race, class and the historical foundations of social theory. My interest in the production of political knowledge also fuels my attention to the area of comparative Black Diaspora or Atlantic social thought and practices, with specific reference to the post-plantation Americas, namely the United States and the Caribbean. My most recently completed research project is a historical and case study investigation of two historical iterations of popular or community education activity in Jamaica in the times of decolonizing and independent nationhood, paying attention to the relationship of race to their terms or conditions of emergence. The research project also draws a comparison with the popular education or community education work of the Highlander Folk School and affiliated citizenship schools in the United States South during the momentum towards desegregation. My joint appointment in African American Studies and the Graduate School of Education offers me the opportunity to bring my research on the post-plantation Atlantic, to bear on the continued creation and development of courses, pedagogic formulations, research directions, and the changing national identity of both departments.

Ref: H05P0405