Book description for Mills, Blackness Visible

Charles Mills makes visible in the world of mainstream philosophy some of the crucial issues of the black experience. Ralph Ellison’s metaphor of black invisibility has special relevance to philosophy, whose demographic and conceptual “whiteness” has long been a source of wonder and complaint to racial minorities. Mills points out the absence of any philosophical narrative theorizing and detailing race’s centrality to the recent history of the West, such as feminists have articulated for gender domination. European expansionism in its various forms, Mills contends, generates a social ontology of race that warrants philosophical attention. Through expropriation, settlement, slavery, and colonialism, race comes into existence as simultaneously real and unreal: ontological without being biological, metaphysical without being physical, existential without being essential, shaping one’s being without being in one’s shape. His essays explore the contrasting sums of a white and black modernity, examine standpoint epistemology and the metaphysics of racial identity, look at black-Jewish relations and racial conspiracy theories, map the workings of a white-supremacist polity and the contours of a racist moral consciousness, and analyze the presuppositions of Frederick Douglass’s famous July 4 prognosis for black political inclusion. Collectively they demonstrate what exciting new philosophical terrain can be opened up once the color line in western philosophy is made visible and addressed.

That was copied from the wicked Amazon but I believe it is from the publisher. This is the sort of statement I want to make for my book: much has been said about mestizaje, and much has been said about ways race works in different places, but I am interested in the way race is systematically excised from the discourse of Latin American letters – even when it is nominally placed front and center from a topic. “Evoke and elide, or evoke so as to elide” were my words in a now distant conference paper, when I first started thinking about these things.

I have not been sure I was right about this, or that it had not been discussed somehow already, but books like the Sanjinés book I am reading, and a few other books and essays that talk about the elites’ interest in non European culture for purposes of transferring cultural capital “upward,” are talking along my lines.

And now I see there was this, published some time ago now.

This entry was posted in Race. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Book description for Mills, Blackness Visible

  1. N G says:

    “I am interested in the way race is systematically excised from the discourse of Latin American letters – even when it is nominally placed front and center from a topic.”

    True. And its also true in the States. Last week, there were interviews with Jenna Talackova, the transgendered Miss Universe contestant, on American news stations including the View as well as all of the newspapers and not one of them mentioned that she is a First Nations member. In almost all Canadian newstories her name is predicated by “aboriginal” but nothing in the States. My last post was on this topic.

  2. Z says:

    I have to look into this and figure out whether it’s a parallel “evoke/elide” gesture — it’s a very interesting move.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s