London annual lectures

The Return of Cultural Racism

Linda Martin Alcoff, Professor of Philosophy at Hunter College and the Graduate Centre, C.U.N.Y., explores the concept of cultural racism, how it differs from attitudinal racism, and its impact on our political discourse.

Cultural racism targets not people, but peoples, or forms of life and ways of existing. When biological racism lost credibility after World War II, cultural racism came to the fore as an ostensibly more legitimate ground for discrimination.

It is often cloaked in concepts of ‘backwardness’ or the distinction between ‘traditional’ and ‘historical’ cultures, i.e. those that merely repeat versus those that allow innovation. This talk will explore the concept of cultural racism and argue that a renewed attention to this form, as opposed to attitudinal racism, will help us see how racism is working today. It will also help to show why the focus on cultural practices (i.e. the ‘culture wars’) is not peripheral but central to our political discourses.

Linda Martín Alcoff is Professor of Philosophy at Hunter College and the Graduate Center, C.U.N.Y. Her books include Rape and Resistance: Understanding the Complexities of Sexual Violation (Polity 2018); The Future of Whiteness (Polity 2015); and Visible Identities: Race, Gender and the Self (Oxford 2006), which won the Frantz Fanon Award for 2009.She has written for the New York Times, Aeon, the NY Independent, and other publications. In 2021, she was listed as the third most influential philosopher by Academic Influence. She is originally from Panama but lives today happily in Brooklyn.