Reviving Recognition: Toward Equity in the Politics of Identities

Snyder, Greta Fowler, Department of Politics, University of Virginia
Balfour, Lawrie, Department of Politics, University of Virginia
White, Stephen, Department of Politics, University of Virginia
Felski, Rita, Department of English, University of Virginia

Critics have charged the politics of recognition with producing fixed conceptions of collective identities that reinforce hierarchical relations within and between identity groups; some conclude that marginalized groups should forgo recognition politics. I challenge this criticism and conclusion through a close analysis of the past and present recognition politics of black Americans. Focusing on the underappreciated cultural dimension of recognition politics, I identify and theorize a heretofore unacknowledged form of recognition politics that revalues blackness by drawing attention to diverse ways of being black – what I call a ―politics of multivalent recognition.‖ A politics of multivalent recognition that stretches the symbolic boundaries of black identity while maintaining its importance has an important role to play in promoting individual autonomy and mitigating unjust material inequalities – that is, in addressing the problematic consequences of monovalent recognition movements that have rightly been criticized and challenging white dominance.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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