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William Paris

by Karissa Rodgers Aug 17, 2017
William Paris

Rock Ethics Institute Crawford Fellow


William Paris is in his sixth year of the Dual-Title Program in Philosophy and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. His research areas focus on Africana Philosophy, African-American Philosophy, 20th Century Continental Philosophy, Black Feminism, as well as Gender and Sexuality Studies. He is currently finishing his dissertation entitled “Shadow and Voice: The Ungendering of Black Life in Frantz Fanon, Sylvia Wynter, and Hortense Spillers.”

Over the course of Crawford Fellowship I will continue my research and writing for my dissertation “Shadow and Voice: The Ungendering of Black Life in Frantz Fanon, Sylvia Wynter, and Hortense Spillers.” My aim in this project will be to develop a more complex understanding of “Black Life” as understood through the ongoing traumas of Trans-Atlantic Enslavement and European Colonialism. No longer can we be content with conceptualizing the lives of Black women and men, in the past and present, as mere shadows, photo negativities, or analogies to our inherited Euro-U.S. understandings of identity. Black thought—as articulated by Fanon, Wynter, and Spillers—reveals enslavement and colonialism constructed, at best, an uneasy relationship between Black life and the privileges of gender as a fact of humanity and, at worst, made that relationship impossible. It was in this way that violence against the Black body could be justified or tolerated. This recurrent historical violence forced many Black people to understand and articulate their reality in a manner scarcely recognizable. But there was creativity in the development of this voice. This creativity is lost when Black women and men are simply read as mimics of Euro-U.S. thought. The consistent problematic of Black Life in the Western world is to engage with a reality that has made Black people unreal in a language that was not their own, yet to speak all the same. My research into these three figures will participate in that tradition of voice, creativity, and the challenge of a politics of freedom.