CFP: Race and Aesthetics

CFP: Race and Aesthetics: A British Society of Aesthetics Connections Conference Race and Aesthetics: A British Society of Aesthetics Connections Conference May 19th and 20th, 2015 Leeds, UK

CALL FOR PAPERS: (Please note the revised submission deadline and format.) We invite papers that are on the conference themes: the psychological, political, and methodological intersections between philosophical studies of race and aesthetics. Please send either a *4000-word full paper draft* or a *1500-word extended abstract* that outlines the central argument, suitable for anonymous review, as an attachment to and include in the main text of the email: the paper title, your contact information, and your current affiliation. Please bear in mind that the papers should be suitable for a thirty-minute presentation. Each paper will be evaluated on the strength of its central argument and its embodiment of the conference’s spirit. Members of traditionally underprivileged groups in academia and junior scholars are warmly encouraged to apply. The submission deadline is *March 15th 2015*. We aim to make decisions within a month.

CONFIRMED SPEAKERS: Alia Al-Saji (McGill University) Nathaniel Adam Tobias C̶o̶l̶e̶m̶a̶n̶ (University College London) Kristie Dotson (Michigan State University) A.W. Eaton (University of Illinois – Chicago) Sherri Irvin (University of Oklahoma) Ron Mallon (Washington University in St Louis) Charles W. Mills (Northwestern University) Jennifer Saul (University of Sheffield) Paul C. Taylor (Pennsylvania State University)

CONFERENCE AIM AND THEMES: Nearly 100 years ago, the two founding giants of the academic field that became philosophy of race — W.E.B. Du Bois and Alain Locke — debated the proper social and artistic conception of black aesthetics. Since then, there has been impressive growth in both philosophy of race and philosophical aesthetics. Unfortunately, the advances in each of these philosophical fields seemed to have gone unnoticed by the other (with a few exceptions). Our aim with this conference is to reunite philosophy of race and philosophical aesthetics. To return the spirit of Du Bois and Locke to contemporary discourse, we have invited philosophers who tackle philosophical problems related to race from diverse perspectives and philosophical aestheticians with demonstrated interest in race. We have chosen three intersections between race and aesthetics to focus on: psychology, politics, and methods. For more information on these themes, please visit the conference website: .

ACCESSIBILITY AND INCLUSIVITY: We are adopting the BPA/SWIP-recommended good practices. We aim to be an inclusive conference and we will do our best, within our budgetary constraints, to help with childcare and lower the barrier of participation for disabled philosophers. Please email us to discuss how we can best offer accommodation. We have chosen a conference venue, Leeds Art Gallery, that has a strong accessibility infrastructure. Disabled parking is available, and the gallery entrance, the conference room, and toilets are all fully accessible. The conference room is equipped with a sound enhancement system for induction loops, and conference speakers will be asked to use microphones that connect to the system. Guide and assistance dogs are welcome.

SUPPORTED primarily by British Society of Aesthetics Connections Grant with ADDITIONAL SUPPORT from Centre for Aesthetics and Centre for Racism and Ethnicity Studies at University of Leeds

All questions can be directed to conference organizers, Shen-yi Liao and Aaron Meskin, at .

Names and pseudonyms

Hi everybody! After a little hiatus, I’m back. And I have a favor to ask. As most readers know, this pseudonym has been pretty publicly outed in various places. Despite that, I’m still going to keep using it here, and I’d like to ask that as much as possible my name be kept off this blog. (My first name is fine, but leave the last name out of it.) I’d like to minimize the amount of creepy email I get, especially since I already get plenty as it is. And keeping my full name off this blog is an important part of doing that. Yes, I am looking directly at you, persons who arrived here this week by searching for “handicapped porn”, “hairy feminist cunt”, “do feminists do anal?”, and “vaginas are gross”. Like most academics, my email address and phone number are publicly available and easily locatable. The internet is weird, and the treatment of women on the internet is especially weird. So as much as I don’t care that philosophers know who I am, I would prefer that everyone who visits this site not be able to easily contact me.

Academia is not a meritocracy

Aaron Clauset, Sam Arbesman and Daniel Larremore have analysed some data comcerning career paths in computer science, business, and history. People won’t, I imagine, be that surprised at their findings…

First, academics’ career success largely depends on the prestige of the department where they did their PhD. Second, the system is so skewed in favor of academics who came from prestigious departments that it’s really hard to explain this by just saying that they are better than people who went to less prestigious departments. The evidence suggests “a specific and significant preference for hiring faculty with prestigious doctorates” even aside from differences in their productivity (which are also more skewed than one would expect if the differences were based on merit alone). The system is also significantly skewed against women in both computer science and business, although there’s no evidence that they’re discriminated against in history.

This – as others have pointed out – intersects with issues of class, since people from lower classes tend not to be at more prestigious departments. Whilst they didn’t examine philosophy, it seems very plausible the same story holds there too. Links to further info/data on this issue would be great.

You can read more here.

Rape and murder are not natural disasters, but saying so can get you arrested.

Valentine’s day in Mersin, in the South East of Turkey, was marked by the funeral of a 20 year old student, Ozgecan Aslan, whose body has been found stabbed and burned after she was missing for three days. Ozgecan had been attacked by the driver of her bus, his father and friend, when she was coming home from her college in the neighboring town of Adana. She was last on the line and reportedly .

Women in Mersin attended her funeral en masse, defying the officiating imam, and an age old tradition forbidding women from approaching the grave or carrying the coffin. Big protests were held in Ankara and Istanbul the next day urging the government not to treat violence against women as inevitable, but to respond with tougher sentences, and stop blaming women for provoking men into rape, or dismissing the crime because there is no ‘observable psychological damage’.

The police intervened, blocking off the protesters’ march, and so far, five women have been arrested.

Climate Contacts

I’ve been asked to post this call for climate contacts:

Hello, philosophers!

We are a gender climate group for philosophy applicants for next fall, and we’re collecting information on “climate contacts” in individual departments.

Would you be able to send info to about contacts in departments with which you’re affiliated? We will be posting this in our 2015 women applicants group, but if you also have contacts that would be helpful for sharing information on your departments’ track records, support systems, and attitudes when it comes to race, disability, LGBT+, and more, we can find a way to distribute this information to applicants through grad cafe or by email. If you would prefer for this information to remain private, we can respond to individual emails from applicants.

If this is successful, we’d like to post this information on an updatable blog to make it available to next year’s applicants (with permission from contributors before making public posts).

Please indicate whether it is okay to post these contacts in a public forum, or whether you prefer that we share them in a private group, or with individual applicants whose identity has been confirmed.

For a better idea of the sort of information we mean, here is an example of one email we received (names redacted):

I’m the grad pres at [UNIVERSITY X] for the philosophy department, and hang out to answer questions, etc. about attending [UNIVERSITY X]. While this is typically useful I think, understandably there may be people who may not want to approach me with certain questions, e.g. about the climate at [UNIVERSITY X]. I was hoping you could pass along contact info for alternative people who may help potential applicants, so that they needn’t approach me to talk to someone else.

And here’s an example of providing climate contacts:

All women and transgender people in our department are members of SWIP…. If prospective students would like to contact a professor, I would suggest they contact [NAME] or [NAME]. If they would like to contact a graduate student, any of the following people are active in SWIP and would be great help:[NAMES]. Lastly, if a non-gender conforming prospective student has questions regarding climate, [NAME] would be of great help (please address them by non-gendered pronouns, e.g. they/them/their).”

CFA: Summer Immersion at Brown

The Brown Philosophy Department is pleased to announce a call for applications for the Summer Immersion Program in Philosophy at Brown University. SIPP@Brown is a two-week residential program for members of traditionally underrepresented groups in philosophy, including women and students of color. This year’s program will run from May 31, 2015 to June 13, 2015 and will feature seminars taught by Brown faculty and the SIPP@Brown research conference. Students will have travel and lodging expenses covered and will receive a $500 stipend. More information is available at The application deadline is March 15.

Sexual Assault & Students with a Disability

“The hidden victims of campus sexual assault: Students with disabilities”

“Even Gallaudet University, designed specifically for deaf students, can get it wrong when it comes to rape”

“Nationally, research has shown that individuals with disabilities experience sexual assault at significantly higher rates than the general population and that they also face critical gaps in services when they seek help for abuse. At the same time, experts say, schools have yet to adequately assess or address the issue on their campuses. “

“Al Jazeera America’s six-month investigation into sexual violence at Gallaudet — which included interviews with a dozen current or former students who say they were sexually assaulted, senior Gallaudet administrators, Title IX and disability experts, and an analysis of the university’s judicial board actions — reveals that even a school explicitly designed for students with disabilities can struggle in dealing with sexual assault.”

One story:

“Melissa thought his [Mike’s] behavior was creepy, and she reported him to Gallaudet’s Department of Public Safety. Since he wasn’t a student, she hoped DPS would bar Mike from campus. Instead, she says, the DPS officer she met with didn’t take her seriously: “He was sort of casual.” He started asking Melissa questions about her blindness, she says, and whether she could really know if she was being stalked. “If you couldn’t see him,” Melissa says the officer asked her, “how do you know it was Mike stalking you, and not someone else?”

“Yes, she was blind, but Melissa had other ways of identifying people, she insisted. She gave the officer details about the roughness of his hands when he signed to her, the things he said to her, and even offered to show him his Facebook profile picture. But without visual identification, Melissa says, the DPS officer told her there was no way they could pursue the claim or bar Mike.”

Another story:

“The two women, whose names and some identifying features have been changed, began dating. But within a month and a half, Alma says, their relationship took a turn. It began with a light punch. As a survivor of abuse growing up, Alma told Lisa the punch triggered bad memories.

Alma says Lisa suggested that it was playful and described growing up in a difficult home. Feeling guilty, Alma scolded herself for not being sensitive enough.

But over the course of their five-and-a-half-month relationship, the abuse escalated, she says. If Lisa felt Alma spoke too loudly, she would pinch her. And when Alma reacted, she says, Lisa would snap, “Oh my God, do you know how awful you sound?”

Alma had no idea what her voice sounded like, but she did know that the fastest way to disempower her was to demean the way she spoke. “The verbal insults became the root of the relationship,” Alma recalls. “Before I knew it, I was getting in trouble for talking to my friends.” [It gets worse.]

“But the worst part, she says, were the questions the other officer asked her.

““Are you sure you were raped?”

““You call that rape?”

““Do you know what the definition of ‘rape’ is?””

On how the university handles sexual assault:

“in October, an article in the university’s newspaper told an unnamed survivor’s account of why she didn’t report assault. “It had nothing to do with how the university would handle it,” the piece began. “But it had everything to do with me being embarrassed.” Later, it continued, “I’ve seen how Gallaudet has improved in how they handle sexual assault and rape cases, and I have faith in how they run the system.” But while the university was being defended by its students, it was also trying to block the reporting that led to this article. During this investigation, Gallaudet, and representatives from a communications firm it hired, reached out to Al Jazeera America on several occasions to express concern about contacting sources for this story.

““We’ve all been dismissed as being the exception individually, even by people who are sympathetic and open to listening to our story,” explains one student who says she was groped by an unknown assailant one night. “People don’t want to see it as common [because] it’s scary. For one, it means it can happen to them. It also means admitting there is something wrong with a system they are a part of … Gallaudet is such a safe place in other ways, nobody wants to admit that there is an ugly underbelly.”” -Alma


Bias in Wikipedia Articles Towards Men as Default Gender

“Computational Linguistics Reveals How Wikipedia Articles Are Biased Against Women” (published last week)

“It turns out that articles about women are much more likely to link to articles about men than vice versa, a finding that holds true for all six language versions of Wikipedia that the team studied.

“More serious is the difference in the way these articles refer to men and women as revealed by computational linguistics. Wagner and co studied this counting the number of words in each biographical article that emphasize the sex of the person involved.

“Wagner and co say that articles about women tend to emphasize the fact that they are about women by overusing words like “woman,” “female,” or “lady” while articles about men tend not to contain words like “man,” “masculine,” or “gentleman.” Words like “married,” “divorced,” “children,” or “family” are also much more frequently used in articles about women, they say.

“The team thinks this kind of bias is evidence for the practice among Wikipedia editors of considering maleness as the “null gender.” In other words, there is a tendency to assume an article is about a man unless otherwise stated. “This seems to be a plausible assumption due to the imbalance between articles about men and women,” they say.

“That’s an interesting study that provides evidence that the Wikimedia Foundation’s efforts to tackle gender bias are bearing fruit. But it also reveals how deep-seated gender bias can be and how hard it will be to root out.”

Lynching as racial terrorism

If you are glad we in the US are not like ISIS, and don’t do brutal, horrible killings, you might think again:

From the NY Times:

It is important to remember that the hangings, burnings and dismemberments of black American men, women and children that were relatively common in this country between the Civil War and World War II were often public events. They were sometimes advertised in newspapers and drew hundreds and even thousands of white spectators, including elected officials and leading citizens who were so swept up in the carnivals of death that they posed with their children for keepsake photographs within arm’s length of mutilated black corpses.

Kirvin, Tex., where three black men accused of killing a white woman were set on fire in 1922 before a crowd of hundreds.History of Lynchings in the South Documents Nearly 4,000 NamesFEB. 10, 2015
These episodes of horrific, communitywide violence have been erased from civic memory in lynching-belt states like Louisiana, Georgia, Alabama, Florida and Mississippi. But that will change if Bryan Stevenson, a civil rights attorney, succeeds in his mission to build markers and memorials at lynching sites throughout the South as a way of forcing communities and the country to confront an era of racial terror directly and recognize the role that it played in shaping the current racial landscape.

One of the important questions raised is whether the more recent treatment of African Americans by the police and the judicial system is really a substitute for lynching. Do read the article. Even the comments I have seen are better than usual. (I probably will regret saying that.)

Dr Lisa McKenzie on Class, Austerity and Academia

There’s an interesting and important article at the Guardian (apologies for getting to it a little late now) by Dr Lisa McKenzie, a Fellow in the Department of Sociology at LSE. McKenzie’s research concerns the negative impact of austerity politics on working class people, especially in the context of council estates, and she draws on her own perspective as a working class woman who has lived in council housing for most of her life. She describes her book, ‘Getting By: Estates, Class and Culture in Austerity Britain’, as follows:

Getting By is the outcome of eight years’ ethnographic study, based on both theory and practice. Working-class people, and the communities where they live have been devalued to such an extent that they are known simply as “problematic” and in need of making better. It is the deficit model that working class people have something wrong with them, which needs putting right by intervention, by carrots and sticks. They are misrepresented and devalued. This is damaging and painful at best, and dangerous and vicious at worst.

She also has some very interesting things to say about her experiences as an academic with a working-class background:

Unfortunately, offhand and casual comments relating to class prejudice and snobbery are very common. Now “I have made it”, I am not supposed to react angrily to it, I am supposed to know my place, and be grateful for getting out. However, I am angry and so are other working-class people when we have to deal with and hear these simplistic and stigmatising views of our lives. I have written about how working class life is misunderstood, and reduced to simplistic one-dimensional narratives from both the prurient poverty porn, but also the middle class do-gooders. We are not expected to attempt to defend our choices, become angry, or resist. Getting By was written to tackle this type of prejudice, and stereotype, and to explain the complexity of working-class life, and life on council estates.

Well worth a read.