Professors Mills and Alcoff Featured in Special Issue of "Critical Philosophy of Race"

Professors Mills and Alcoff Featured in Special Issue of “Critical Philosophy of Race”

A special issue of the journal Critical Philosophy of Race (Volume 5, Issue 1) spotlights the work of CUNY Philosophy faculty members Charles W. Mills and Linda Martín Alcoff.

Entitled Charles Mills and his Critics, the issue features articles by Shannon Sullivan and Kathryn T. Gines, plus a reply to both by Mills, centered on how intersectionality figures in Mills’ work. A post on the APA Blog by Brooks Kirchgassner recaps the dialogue amongst these three philosophers, summarizing Mills’ reply to his critics as follows:

“Mills responds to Sullivan’s and Gines’s articles by defending his emphasis on the role race played in the construction of power relationships and identities in modernity, both individually and socially. In regards to Gines’s criticism of the chapter in Contract and Domination, Mills writes that she has misread the intention of theorizing behind the “racia-sexual contract,” which explains the operation of the “racial [white supremacist] patriarchy,” but “was not supposed to be the final word” or speak to all “dimensions of domination” (37, 38). Furthermore, regarding Mills’ claim that “race generally trumps gender—meaning white men and women unite to oppress “nonwhite men and women as a group”—does not ignore or minimize the gender domination between nonwhite men and women (39). He provides textual evidence from the chapter to back up his assertion (39–40). His response to Sullivan’s article is interesting in that he offers a detailed defense of his emphasis on race over other variables, and how it is empirically indefensible to employ the “co-constitution” approach of intersectionality (44). For example, Nazi Germany, the South African apartheid regime, and the “Old” Southern United States were societies based on white racial domination of all non-white peoples, regardless of class status, gender, etc. As a methodology, Mills contends intersectionality does not allow us to see the primary role race had in the constitution of the three societies mentioned above. Mills concludes that “we need to recognize the differential significance of race in modernity, because it shapes both social structure and the possibilities for social change” (47). This does not mean we ignore other variables that shape identity and lived experience, but when it comes to the role of race, “asymmetry rules” the day (47).”

The same issue includes a review of Prof. Alcoff’s book
The Future of Whiteness (Polity Press, 2015).