Simulating the lived experience of racism and islamophobia: on ‘embodied empathy’ and political tourism

Ngo, Helen 2017, Simulating the lived experience of racism and islamophobia: on ‘embodied empathy’ and political tourism, Australian Feminist Law Journal, vol. 43, no. 1, pp. 107-123, doi: 10.1080/13200968.2017.1321090.

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Title Simulating the lived experience of racism and islamophobia: on ‘embodied empathy’ and political tourism
Author(s) Ngo, HelenORCID iD for Ngo, Helen
Journal name Australian Feminist Law Journal
Volume number 43
Issue number 1
Start page 107
End page 123
Total pages 17
Publisher Taylor & Francis Australasia
Place of publication Melbourne, Vic.
Publication date 2017-01-02
ISSN 1320-0968
Summary This paper considers a certain genre of anti-racist solidarity — what I call simulations of lived experience – in order to critically examine the premises and pitfalls of such efforts. Two primary examples are examined: (1) a 2014 smartphone app called Everyday Racism, where users are invited to ‘play’ a racialised character for a week in order to ‘better understand’ the experience of racism; and (2) various iterations of ‘Hijab Day’, where non-Muslim women are invited to wear a hijab for a day. I argue that both examples, while well-intentioned, offer only a ‘thin’ version of the lived experience of veiled Muslim women and people of colour, failing to reckon with the epistemological and phenomenological complexity entailed in this embodied experience. Moreover, I argue that both proceed on the misguided idea that first-hand experience, rather than empathic listening, is generative of anti-racist solidarity, and in doing so, these efforts risk reproducing the very structures and habits of white privilege they set out to challenge.
Language eng
DOI 10.1080/13200968.2017.1321090
Field of Research 180199 Law not elsewhere classified
160299 Criminology not elsewhere classified
1801 Law
1602 Criminology
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2017, Australian Feminist Law Journal
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Document type: Journal Article
Collections: Faculty of Arts and Education
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
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