Bodily Alienation and Critical Phenomenologies of Race

Céline Leboeuf


The concept of bodily alienation is promising for critical phenomenologies of race because it marries description and evaluation. With this concept, we can go beyond mere descriptions of lived experience and provide arguments for challenging the status quo. In fact, we can steer clear of another danger: an overly “objective” form of theorizing about race that is unresponsive to the lived experiences of the subjects whose lives it aims to reimagine. By contrast, phenomenologies founded on the concept of bodily alienation teach us which social interactions and spaces alienate people of color. In turn, this knowledge can help us envision a more hospitable world for all.


Bodily alienation, phenomenology of race, critical phenomenology, Frantz Fanon, normativity


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Jaeggi, Rahel. 2014. Alienation. Edited by Frederick Neuhouser. Translated by Frederick Neuhouser and Alan E. Smith. New York: Columbia University Press.

Ngo, Helen. 2017. The Habits of Racism: A Phenomenology of Racism and Racialized Embodiment. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.

Yancy, George. 2008. “Elevators, Social Spaces and Racism: A Philosophical Analysis.” Philosophy and Social Criticism 34 (8): 843–76.

Zeiler, Kristin. 2013. “A Phenomenology of Excorporation, Bodily Alienation, and Resistance: Rethinking Sexed and Racialized Embodiment.” Hypatia 28 (1): 69–84.

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