The Physiology of Sexist and Racist Oppression

Paperback | August 17, 2015

byShannon Sullivan

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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 notonly 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 whoseunconscious 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. Shealso 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.

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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 notonly the financial, legal, political and oth...

Shannon Sullivan is Professor of Philosophy and Department Chair at UNC Charlotte.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:224 pages, 9.21 × 6.1 × 0.79 inPublished:August 17, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0190250615

ISBN - 13:9780190250614

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgementsIntroduction: Physiological Habits1. The Hips: On the Physiology of Affect and Emotion2. The Gut and Pelvic Floor: On Cloacal Thinking3. The Epigenome: On the Transgenerational Effects of Racism4. The Stomach and the Heart: On the Physiology of White IgnoranceConclusion: Social-Political Change and Physiological TransformationBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

"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 generatingeconomic 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, underminingfamiliar 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 ofthe figurative body politic." --Charles W. Mills, Northwestern University