Racist habits: a phenomenological analysis of racism and the habitual body

Ngo, Helen 2016, Racist habits: a phenomenological analysis of racism and the habitual body, Philosophy and social criticism, vol. 42, no. 9, pp. 847-872, doi: 10.1177/0191453715623320.

Attached Files
Name Description MIMEType Size Downloads

Title Racist habits: a phenomenological analysis of racism and the habitual body
Author(s) Ngo, HelenORCID iD for Ngo, Helen orcid.org/0000-0001-7445-3625
Journal name Philosophy and social criticism
Volume number 42
Issue number 9
Start page 847
End page 872
Total pages 26
Publisher SAGE Publications
Place of publication London, Eng.
Publication date 2016
ISSN 0191-4537
Keyword(s) embodiment
Maurice Merleau-Ponty
Arts & Humanities
Social Sciences
Social Sciences, Interdisciplinary
Social Sciences - Other Topics
Summary This article examines how the phenomenological concept of habit can be productively deployed in the analysis of racism, in order to propose a reframing of the problem. Racism does not unfold primarily in the register of conscious thought or action, I argue, but more intimately and insidiously in the register of bodily habit. This claim, however, relies on a reading of habit as bodily orientation - or habituation - as developed by Merleau-Ponty in the Phenomenology of Perception. Drawing on his account, I turn to two salient dimensions of racist praxis which I argue are better understood through the frame of habit: bodily gesture or response, and racialized perception. Building onthe analyses of contemporary critical race thinkers, I argue that racismis habitual insofar as it is embedded in bodily modes of responding to the presentation of racialized ‘others’ and in ‘sedimented’ modes of racialized seeing. However, this is not to suggest that the acquisition of racist habits is passive, or that such habits foreclose the possibility of change. In the final section, I revisit the concept of habit and its usual characterization as ‘sedimentation’ or ‘calcification’. I argue that while such a reading gives voice to the anchoring weight of the temporal past in habit, a more prospective rendering of the concept is available to us through a rereading of sedimentation as active passivity; habits are not only acquired, they are also held. This in turn will allow us to recast the question of responsibility in relation to one’s racist habits.
Language eng
DOI 10.1177/0191453715623320
Field of Research 2203 Philosophy
1606 Political Science
Socio Economic Objective 0 Not Applicable
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2016, The Author(s)
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30089946

Document type: Journal Article
Collections: Faculty of Arts and Education
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Connect to link resolver
Unless expressly stated otherwise, the copyright for items in DRO is owned by the author, with all rights reserved.

Version Filter Type
Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 8 times in TR Web of Science
Scopus Citation Count Cited 8 times in Scopus
Google Scholar Search Google Scholar
Access Statistics: 402 Abstract Views, 1 File Downloads  -  Detailed Statistics
Created: Mon, 05 Dec 2016, 13:17:14 EST

Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that permission has been obtained for items included in DRO. If you believe that your rights have been infringed by this repository, please contact drosupport@deakin.edu.au.