Research Seminar

Chandra Kumar: Racist Explanations

Date: 24 June
Time: 10:00–12:00

Chandra Kumar, with a PhD in Philosophy, teaches philosophy at the Department of Philosophy at York University in Canada.

While crudely and explicitly racist explanations persist in our social lives, these are no longer the norm, as they were during colonial times. Often racist structures and practices are bolstered by explanations and interpretations that are more implicit than explicit, and it is not always obvious that we are dealing with racist views rather than, say, views that are simply mistaken, perhaps biased, but not particularly racist. This paper will consider some examples of explanations that are not obviously racist, but still arguably racist: explanations of the Cold War, explanations relating to Islam, terrorism and the ‘war on terror’, and explanations of global poverty. The argument will be that, even if such explanations are not explicitly racist, even if they are not obviously racist, they should still be regarded as racist. Our conception of racism should not be so narrow as to exclude these accounts as being of a different order than racist explanations. A corollary of this argument is that ‘race’ as a category, however problematic from a biological point of view, is still useful for both understanding and challenging persistent forms of oppression.

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