chapter  17
12 Pages

Phenomenology and Race (or Racializing Phenomenology)

WithGail Weiss

The major influence that the phenomenological concepts introduced in the early twentieth century by Edmund Husserl had upon many of the most famous philosophers of the twentieth century, including Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, has been well documented. Frantz Fanon work has played a central role in inaugurating what Lisa Guenther calls a "critical phenomenology," a rigorous philosophical mode of inquiry that abandons the meta-level of "pure" subjective description advocated by Husserl, and directly addresses the constitutive social, political, psychological, economic, and cultural dimensions of the phenomena under investigation. Fanon's brutally honest, first-person descriptions of the evils of anti-black racism, like those more recently offered by American critical race phenomenologist George Yancy and others, make ethical demands upon their readers, calling upon them to recognize their own ignorance of and responsibility for the perpetuation of racism.