The title of this collection, The Logic of Racial Practice, pays homage to the work of Pierre Bourdieu, who coined the term habitus to name the pretheoretical, embodied dispositions that orient our social interactions and meaningfully frame our lived experience. The language of habit uniquely accounts for not only how we are unreflectively conditioned by our social environments but also how we responsibly choose to enact our habits and can change them. Hence, this collection of essays edited by Brock Bahler explores how white supremacy produces a racialized modality by which we live as embodied beings, arguing that race—and racism—is performative, habituated, and enacted. We do not regularly have to “think” about race, since race is a praxis, producing embodied habits that have become sedimented into our ways of being-in-the-world, and that instill within us racialized (and racist) dispositions, postures, and bodily comportments that inform how we interact with others. The construction of race produces a particular bodily formation in which we are shaped to viscerally perceive through a racialized lens images, words, activities, and events without any self-reflective conceptualization, and which we perpetuate throughout our day-to-day choices. The contributors argue that eradicating racism in our society requires unlearning these racialized habitus and cultivating new anti-racist habits.
Brock Bahler is associate teaching professor and director of undergraduate studies in religious studies at the University of Pittsburgh.
Foreword – George Yancy
Introduction – Brock Bahler
Jessie K. Finch
James B. Haile
Although the universalistic principles of the American nation's founding documents promise freedom and equality for all, to call the country a Herrenvolk democracy at its origins is apt. A bloody Civil War did not end that but instead was a prelude to Jim Crow. The Civil Rights Movement a century later made genuine gains, but as the election of Donald Trump made clear, racism remains a virulent part of everyday life. This edited collection from Bahler compiles 10 chapters that explore the quotidian realities of a society in which race looms large. The contributors are mainly philosophers and sociologists, their disciplines largely defining the collection. The text includes empirical cases involving “the talk,” the role of race and politics in romantic attachments, race and immigration law, and racialized disgust in film. Two essays explore embodiment and race, and two others take up the white gaze and racialized seeing. Taken on their own terms, all the chapters—whether case studies, philosophical explorations, or as with the concluding chapter, a meditation—are compelling. Recommended. Advanced undergraduates and graduate students.
“Bahler very skillfully curates aspects of the everyday-life foundation and background of the egregious cases of the murder and disrespect of African Americans, which continually shock us. Contributors explore white habits that impact people of color, as in ‘the talk,’ partner racial preferences, and Asian American ‘triple consciousness.’ Also examined are epistemic injustice, embodied whiteness, unlearning ‘color blindness,’ racism by lawyers defending immigrants, racist disgust in film, and the appearance and fictional disappearance of black bodies. Indeed, this book provides much needed orientation for our time. The observations and analyses are surprising, fascinating, and engaging.”
“This interdisciplinary collection brings together philosophers, psychologists, sociologists, and religious studies scholars to examine racialized habits that support white supremacy and white privilege. The contributors skillfully examine topics ranging from habits of racialized memory and seeing to institutional practices that habituate people into whiteness. Inspired by Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of habitus, this book makes a timely contribution to contemporary understandings of the bodily enactment of race and racism.”
“The Logic of Racial Practice takes our attention away from anti-blackness as spectacle to anti-blackness as banal, laying bare our habitus’s Operating System (OS) of white supremacy. These multidisciplinary essays show that in order to be bodies in the world differently, we need to come to terms with this OS of white supremacy—with what it produces and what produces it. Autumn Redcross’s phenomenological account of 'The Talk' brings to light what black embodiment must remember in an anti-black world, as Alison Bailey’s epistemological account elucidates the particular violence of testimonial silencing. James Haile grapples with the idea of blackness as opacity, as that 'dark matter' of a white supremacist social praxis ill-equipped to come to terms with the actual matter of black life. A much-needed elucidation, to be sure, as we resist under the banner of 'Black Lives Matter.'”