A Phenomenology for Women of Color: Merleau-Ponty and Identity-in-Difference explores how phenomenology can help philosophy of race explain the persistence of race as a key indicator of social standing. Engaging with the work of women of color to think more deeply about our racial and gendered structural relations with one another, Emily S. Lee argues that phenomenology is helpful in two ways: (1) race, as a social construct, is phenomenal and (2) Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology centers on embodiment and therefore applies to both feminist and racial concerns. Lee defines the phenomenon of race as a structure that is open-ended, is developed creatively, and mediates one’s situatedness in the world and relations with others. Drawing on ideas from Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, and Merleau-Ponty, this book depicts the dynamic and creative expressions of race and racism to address the ambiguities within the experiences of race and sex and, ultimately, to conceptualize the identity group “women of color.”
Emily S. Lee is professor of philosophy at California State University, Fullerton.
Chapter One: A Phenomenology of Perception: Racism as Bias and Multiplicitous Subjects
Chapter Two: The Phenomenological Structure of Experience: The Ambiguity of Intersectionality as a Group Identity
Chapter Three: The Body Movement of Historico-Racial-Sexual Schemas
Chapter Four: Three Criticisms of Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology
Chapter Five: In the Face of Indifference: The Phenomenological Structure of Identity-in-Difference
About the Author
In A Phenomenology for Women of Color: Merleau-Ponty and Identity-in-Difference, Emily S. Lee offers a courageous analysis of the fleshy theories of women of color using major themes in Merleau-Pontyian phenomenology. Within this forging of phenomenology, Lee is moved by women of color, disclosing their multiple-situated embodied experience in which their very movement is marked, as well as by their desire for coalition anchored in heterogeneous commonality. To follow Lee’s phenomenological analysis of the phenomenon of race is to take seriously the critical promise of phenomenology, daring the reader to listen to women of color in an intellectual and political climate that undervalues their lives and thought.
Emily S. Lee has become one of our leading philosophers of race, making use of the phenomenological tradition to complexify racial identities and understand the dynamic character of their embodiment. This book presents her fully developed view and shows how the lens of women of color enhances the potential of phenomenology itself to address relationality and the varied forms of oppression.