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Michelle Maiese (Emmanuel College, Boston, MA)

Michelle Maiese on White Supremacy

Colloquium Talk, 17 February 2023, 3-5 pm, Department of Philosophy, UQAM, W-5215

NB: This talk will take place in person only (there is no Zoom or hybrid option). Open to all. No registration required. For more information, please email Mauro Rossi: rossi.mauro@uqam.ca


White Supremacy as an Affective Milieu


Some critical philosophers of race have argued that to understand the workings of white supremacy, we need to examine not just its legal and political dimensions, but also its emotional dimension. This is because white supremacy is comprised partly of unconscious habits that result in racialized perception. I argue that insights from situated affectivity help to make sense of the affective and bodily dimensions of white supremacy and the ways in which affective habits are socially produced. Theorists in this field maintain that affective experience is not simply a matter of felt inner states; instead, it is socially embedded and fundamentally relational. My proposed account highlights the extent to which white supremacy is an affective, bodily phenomenon and how racist habits are formed over the course of learning and ongoing affective engagement, in the context of various social settings. Crucially, these affective habits are fully bound up with habits of appraisal, interpretation, and judgment, and therefore inseparable from how subjects come to see and understand their world.


Michelle Maiese received her PhD in Philosophy from the University of Colorado, Boulder in 2005 and is now Professor of Philosophy at Emmanuel College in Boston, MA. Her research explores topics in philosophy of mind, philosophy of psychiatry, and emotion theory. She has authored or co-authored five books: Embodied Minds in Action (co-authored with R. Hanna, OUP, 2009), Embodied, Emotion, and Cognition (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), Embodied Selves and Divided Minds (OUP, 2015), The Mind–Body Politic (co-authored with R. Hanna, Palgrave Macmillan, 2019), and Autonomy, Enactivism, and Mental Disorder (Routledge, 2022).