Toward Social Justice: Learning from the Outsider Within Revisted
Friday, March 30, 2012 | 12:00 p.m. - 1:15 p.m. | Location: 4th Floor Davis Center
Over twenty years ago, I published "Learning from the Outsider Within: The Sociological Significance of Black Feminist Thought" where I examined the potential benefits of being treated as an outsider within communities to which you seemingly belong. I suggested that, rather than seeing outsider within locations that were created by power relations of race, class, gender and sexuality as places of alienation, we might learn from Black women and other people who lived in such spaces because they had an edge in seeing the world differently than those in the center. My presentation revisits the construct of the outsider within, examining how its meaning has changed, and exploring its utility for contemporary social issues. In particular, I explore how the emancipatory potential of the construct of the "outsider within" has increasingly been recast as a personal identity category of marginality and alienation from the mainstream. This shift parallels similar trends within anti-racism, feminism and similar social justice projects where ideas about power, social hierarchy and equality have shrunk, leaving amorphous ideas about difference and diversity behind. I examine the significance of these trends.
Introducing Patricia Hill Collins: