While gender and race often are considered socially constructed, this book argues that they are physiologically constituted through the biopsychosocial effects of sexism and racism. This means that to be fully successful, critical philosophy of race and feminist philosophy need to examine not only the financial, legal, political and other forms of racist and sexism oppression, but also their physiological operations. Examining a complex tangle of affects, emotions,
knowledge, and privilege, The Physiology of Sexist and Racist Oppression develops an understanding of the human body whose unconscious habits are biological. On this account, affect and emotion are thoroughly somatic, not something "mental " or extra-biological layered on top of the body. They
also are interpersonal, social, and can be transactionally transmitted between people.
Ranging from the stomach and the gut to the hips and the heart, from autoimmune diseases to epigenetic markers, Sullivan demonstrates the gastrointestinal effects of sexual abuse that disproportionately affect women, often manifesting as IBS, Crohn's disease, or similar functional disorders. She also explores the transgenerational effects of racism via epigenetic changes in African American women, who experience much higher pre-term birth rates than white women do, and she reveals the unjust
benefits for heart health experienced by white people as a result of their racial privilege. Finally, developing the notion of a physiological therapy that doesn't prioritize bringing unconscious habits to conscious awareness, Sullivan closes with a double-barreled approach for both working for
institutional change and transforming biologically unconscious habits.
The Physiology of Sexist and Racist Oppression skillfully combines feminist and critical philosophy of race with the biological and health sciences. The result is a critical physiology of race and gender that offers new strategies for fighting male and white privilege.
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Number of pages: 224
Weight: 494 g
Dimensions: 238 x 162 x 18 mm
"The Physiology of Sexist and Racist Oppression is, I think, ground-breaking. This book will further many people's thinking, some in ways that we can't foresee now. It will be important for a long time to come. " -Ladelle McWhorter, University of Richmond
"For all those-and here, embarrassingly, I include myself-who have had too cerebral a concept of the dynamics of sexism and racism, Shannon Sullivan's new book will come as a revelation. These systems of domination turn out to be 'material' not merely in the familiar sense of generating economic advantage and disadvantage but in the literal sense of re-incorporating the bodies of both the privileged and the subordinated. Through embodied affect, gut reaction,
epigenetic inheritance, and incarnated ignorance, gender and racial domination write themselves into our flesh, undermining familiar oppositions of the natural and the social, the innate and the acquired. For an emancipatory anti-sexist and anti-racist agenda to have any chance of success, it will need to
engage not merely with hearts and minds but intestines and muscle fibers-the (all too real) somatic infrastructure of the figurative body politic. " -Charles W. Mills, Northwestern University