Collegium of Black Women Philosophers

The Collegium of Black Women Philosophers has now met!  This photo is organizer Kathryn Gines and first US black woman PhD in philosophy, Joyce Mitchell Cook.
Gines and Cook
You can read about it here.  We’d really love to get a first-hand report on this.  If any of our readers attended, we’d like to hear about it.  One way to tell us would be to put some comments on this post.  Another way– which we’d be really excited about– would be to write a guest post for us, either anonymously or not.  If you’re interested, just click on contact and let us know!

Delia Graff Fara (1969-2017)

We are saddened to report the death of Delia Graff Fara.

Delia Graff Fara, a noted professor of philosophy of language at Princeton University, died peacefully at home July 18 after a chronic illness. She was 48.

Fara served on Princeton’s faculty for 11 years. She made exceptional contributions to her field and was a highly engaged member of the philosophy community, her colleagues said.

“Delia was an eminent scholar, an extremely conscientious teacher and an exemplary department citizen,” said Michael Smith, the McCosh Professor of Philosophy and department chair.

You can read the rest of the obituary from the Princeton webpage here.

Jason Stanley also has also written an obituary, posted at the Collegium of Black Women Philosophers, which can be read here.

Hiring black philosophers

This summer There was some discussion on this blog and on Brian Leiter’s about the dearth of Black philosophers in our profession.  Some universities may become interested in hiring Black philosophers and want some resources for finding likely candidates.  I know of two resources for names.  Are there any others you know of?  If so, please let us know.

1. Facebook page for the Society of Young Black Philosophers:  https://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_313902619150

  You have to click on “see all” to see the names of all the members, who number over 40.
2.  The Collegium of Black Women philosphers.  http://web.me.com/ktgphd/CBWP/Participants.html
Let me be clear:  There are huge lacks all over the diversity map in philosophy; this post only addresses one of them.  There should be no implication that the others are less important.

How few blacks are there in philosophy?

Following on from this article about the tiny numbers of blacks in British academia, Nathaniel Adam Tobias Coleman has called attention to the staggering lack of black philosophers.

1. Only 50 out of 14,000 professors in Britain are black 
The data in item #1 is reported here http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2011/may/27/only-50-black-british-professors?intcmp=239, and here http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/mortarboard/2011/may/27/black-professor-shortage-failure-to-nurture-talent. To my knowledge (and I am a citizen of Britain), none of these 50 black professors specialises in philosophy.
2. Fewer than 125 out of 11,000 members of the American Philosophical Association are black

3. Fewer than 30 out of 11,000 members of the American Philosophical Association are black women
The data in items #2 and #3 are drawn from Kathryn T. Gines. Being a black woman philosopher: Reflections on founding the Collegium of Black Women Philosophers. Hypatia 26(2): 429-43.
Together, these facts add weight to the conclusion that there is a global lack of blacks in professional philosophy. I urge the philosophical professioriat to take immediate and positive action to combat this global lack.
From here.

CfP: Dimensions of Pain

Here’s an interesting call for papers, covering the topic guest-blogger Rugbyfan recently raised:

 

Dimensions of Pain 

September 17-18, 2009 

The Nordic Network

Gender, Body, and Health

in collaboration with Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, Finland

The Nordic/Baltic Network Gender, Body, and Health is based at the Centre for Gender Research at Uppsala University,Sweden and had its first network meeting in January 2008. With the aim of achieving productive interdisciplinary work on issues concerning gender, body, and health, the network gathers researchers and practitioners from a number of diverse fields such as medicine, comparative literature, philosophy, sociology, anthropology, cultural geography, sports- and health sciences, psychiatry, social psychology, and history of science.

We now invite submissions for the third meeting with the network Gender, Body, and Health under the theme “Dimensions of Pain”. The meeting will be held at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, Finland on September 17-18, 2009. We welcome submissions for papers, panels, and mini-workshops approaching issues within the overarching theme from a broad range of disciplines and fields of research.

Topics can include, but are not limited to: 

  • Pain and Bodily Integrity
  • Pain and Identity
  • Sexualized Pain
  • Treatments of Pain
  • Psychosomatics of Pain
  • Representations and Discourses of Pain
  • Stigmatizing Pain and the Pain of Stigmatization
  • Healing and Cathartic Forces of Pain

One page abstracts are due July 1, 2009. Please submit your abstracts and direct any questions you might have to Lisa Folkmarson Käll, Center for Gender Research, Uppsala University (lisa.kall@gender.uu.se).

Anita Allen on Philosophy

crmallen1.jpg The Philadelphia Inquirer has an interesting interview with Anita Allen, philosopher and law professor, about her view of philosophy and her experiences as both philosopher and law professor. It makes for depressing reading. At the time of the interview, Allen was about to give the keynote address to the Collegium of Black Women Philosophers.

“I have not been able to encourage other people like me to go into philosophy because I don’t think it has enough to offer them. The salaries aren’t that great, the prestige isn’t that great, the ability to interact with the world isn’t that great, the career options aren’t that great, the methodologies are narrow. Why would you do that,” she asks, “when you could be in an African American studies department, a law school, a history department, and have so many more people to interact with who are more like you, a place where so many more methods are acceptable, so many more topics are going to be written about? Why would you close yourself off in philosophy?”I feel that philosophy is hoisting itself by its own petard. Its unwillingness to be more inclusive in terms of issues, methods, demographics, means that it’s losing out on a lot of vibrancy, a lot of intellectual power.”Despite delight at the birth of the collegium, the existence finally of a “critical mass” of black female philosophers, she admits “philosophy still feels to me like an isolated profession. I don’t think I would encourage a black woman who has big ideas necessarily to go into philosophy,” Allen says. “Why? What’s the point? Go out and win the Pulitzer Prize! Don’t worry about academic philosophy. On the other hand, I would like to see that world open up to more women and women of color.”  

And to some extent Allen seems hopeful:

“My hope,” Allen says of the Nashville gathering, “is that this meeting will be for black women philosophers what the first meeting of black women lawyers was for us in the early ’90s. . . . We have now arrived. And I think women in philosophy can also arrive.”  

See below for more on the Collegium of Black Women Philosophers. Thanks, Sally, for the article!

Black Women in Philosophy, and forthcoming conference

See here for details of the forthcoming Inaugural Conference of the Collegium of Black Women Philosophers (Oct 19-20th, Vanderbilt University).Recently written about in The Chronicle (here, but subscription only, I’m afraid. I’ll quote, for non-subscribers, specifics that I refer to),  Professor Kathryn Gines (who set up CBWP) notes that this offers a rare opportunity for black women philosophers to work in context that does not consist of, as she puts it ‘a sea of graying, white males’:  ‘if you’re a black women, you cannot identify with the majority of the people in the profession’.Whilst much has been written about the number and status of women in philosophy (see e.g. here, here, here), but when one comes to think of the number of non-white women in philosophy, the numbers are, well, appalingly small: in the US, ‘fewer than 30 black women are known to hold full-time jobs in the discipline’.  The caveat ‘are known’ is needed here, because, there  is so little data:

  • ‘The American Philosophical Association does not even keep  even keep up-to-date figures on how many of North America’s approximately 10,000 philosophers are women or minority group members’

Note, though, that what we’d want to know additionally is how many philosophers are women AND minority group members: the intersection of the two (in philosphy) minorities brings the amplification of problems that have been discussed with repsect to women in philosophy, namely, solo status. Haslanger writes, that for black women philosophers, ‘their scarcity means that [they] are always solo in every context.’The impact of this solo status is manifest in the report of Professor Jaqueline Scott, (Loyola University Chicago) who is quoted:

  • ‘I spend a lot of time being the only women and the only black person … Every once in a while it hits me, and I wonder what I’m doing here’

Indeed, the kinds of problems that have been recently discussed – homogeneity of shortlists, deparment members often not noting this; schemas that favour, in hiring, publishing, at teaching evaluations, the majority (white males); the problems of how to respond to this – will, surely, all arise – but perhaps qualitative data should also be gathered; it would be a mistake to suppose that white women’s experiences of being a minority group in the profession can straightfowardly generalise to black women’s experiences, across all cases (such as, noted above, the fact that being a ‘double minority in the field’ ensures that black women are solo in pretty much every context) (see Spelman 1988 on the problems of essentialism in feminist theory).Some, though, are critical of the seeming ‘separatism’ of such a conference – Professor Carol Swain, also of Vanderbilt worries about ‘encouraging black people to marginalise themselves’ and, it is written, ‘doesn’t believe that ‘self-segregation’  is in any scholar’s best interest.But others, such as Professor Allen, endorse what she describes as an ‘opportunity to sit down with 20 African-American philosophers to figure out our place in the discipline and talk about issues that are on our minds’.On a more positive note, though, The Chronicle also reports that concerted efforts to raise the small number of black women philosophers are having a significant effect:

  • ‘The philosophy department [at the University of Memphis] has made recruiting black women a top priority. Faculty members and graduate students regularly visit historically black colleges to try to interest undergraduates early on. Since 2003 the department has turned out five black female Ph.D.’s, and seven more are making their way through the program.’

 In my online forays, I couldn’t find any stats for the number of non-white women philosophers in UK departments. Any help – has any such data been gathered?  (Thanks, Sally, for passing this one on!)