April 11, 2012 STAFF/STU

The Shula Lecture Series on Bodies and Identities

The Shula Lecture Series on Bodies and Identities presents George Yancy of Duquesne University on Friday, April 13, at 5 p.m. in the Donahue Auditorium of the Dolan Center for Science and Technology. Yancy will speak on “When Essence Precedes Existence: An Elevator Encounter.”

He explains: “I will explore what it means to encounter a white body within the context of a mundane situation, that is, within the context of an elevator. I will explore how the Black body is weighed down by what Fanon referred to as the imago in the white imaginary. I will discuss how this imago installs particular embodied responses vis-a-vis the white body and how the Black body undergoes a process of what I call a ‘phenomenological return.’ I show how the space within the elevator is a space of ‘being-at-home’ for the white body until the appearance of the Black body. I describe what it means for the Black body to feel like an essence within a context where the white gaze is a site not only of whiteness as the transcendental norm, but where it functions as a specific racial practice. I then conclude by exploring ways in which white forms of embodiment might be challenged. However, I also complicate the desire that white people have for ‘undoing’ historic ally saturated white practices as itself a possible site
of re-inscribing whiteness itself.”

Yancy is associate professor of philosophy at Duquesne. He received his B.A. (cum laude) in philosophy from the University of Pittsburgh. He received his first M.A. from Yale University in philosophy and his second M.A. in Africana Studies from New York University. He received his Ph.D. in philosophy from Duquesne. Yancy is the editor of 12 books, three of which have received CHOICE Outstanding Academic Book Awards. He is also the author of Black Bodies, White Gazes: The Continuing Significance of Race (Rowman & Littlefield, 2008), which received an Honorable Mention from the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights. He is also the author of Look, A White! Philosophical Essays on Whiteness (Temple University Press, 2012).

Yancy is currently working on a book tentatively titled, Philosophical Fragments on Cultural Matters, where he looks at a range of cultural issues from rap music to Malcolm X.