The dedication of a critical volume to a thinker is evidence that the thinker in question produces scholarly work of major importance and significance. As such, the author in question, prominent African American philosopher, George Yancy, is recognized for creatively producing a theoretical framework that provides innovative critical discourse, critical knowledge production, and conceptual insights and rich epistemic metaphors, that generate the creation of new questions, new research objects, new styles of thinking, and theoretical assumptions that permit the framing of new truths, and the uncovering of new problems. The volume under discussion is entitled, George Yancy: A Critical Introduction.
With a Foreword by Judith Butler and edited by Kimberley Ducey, Clevis Headley and Joe R Feagin, this book is published by Rowman and Littlefield, this collection gives George Yancy’s transformative work in social and political philosophy and the philosophy of race the critical attention it has long deserved. Contributors apply perspectives from disciplines including philosophy, sociology, education, communication, peace and conflict studies, religion, and psychology.
Similar to critical readers, which are designed to acknowledge the scholarly work of outstanding thinkers, George Yancy: A Critical Introduction consists of multiple insightful and deeply generative interpretations of Yancy’s work within the areas of critical whiteness studies, critical philosophy of race, critical phenomenology (especially, with respect to racial embodiment), critical pedagogy, and philosophy of the Black experience. Yancy’s contributions to these disciplinary matrices are explored from diverse perspectives, numerous interdisciplinary orientations, and philosophical standpoints. Accordingly, George Yancy: A Critical Introduction is not an occasion for uncritical genuflection to Yancy’s philosophically imaginative work. Rather, the volume represents the convergence of various critically engaging, imaginative, and creative mediations on Yancy’s challenging and philosophically fecund work.
In terms that reflect much of Yancy’s philosophical corpus, the book functions as a generative space that exemplifies a rich experience of tarrying with Yancy. His many engaging and courageous texts are not for those who seek to read as disembodied subjects; rather, to adequately appreciate the intensity of Yancy’s words, thoughts, and style, and the weight of his address, one must become attuned to what it means to suffer, to renounce “innocence,” to grieve for those who have been defined and materialized as the least of these, to listen and speak courageously, and come to terms with the gravitas of affectivity that accompanies our existential finitude and forlornness. Yancy reminds us throughout his writings that he never forgets that he is embodied, enfleshed, as Black within an anti-Black world that renders his life socially and existentially precarious. Accordingly, George Yancy: A Critical Introduction is, among other things, a constellation of various transformational sites of rupturing or un-suturing of our complacent modes of existence vis-à-vis social sites of pain, suffering, and violence. Like Yancy himself, the text unsettles simple-minded assumptions espoused by meta-philosophically hegemonic gatekeepers who regard as “irrelevant” or “non-philosophical” the probing of the specifically philosophical significance of the meaning of Black existence.
From another perspective, the wide-ranging essays in George Yancy: A Critical Introduction collectively demonstrate the extent to which a precondition of rigorously working through Yancy’s texts requires a critical encounter with the contradictions within liberalism and the problematic ontology that undergirds neoliberalism. Here we should note that the encounter in question is one that should lead us to transcend the basic theoretical structure underpinning liberalism and neoliberalism. Within this context, Yancy argues for an ontology of no edges that implicates white people within a web of complicity with anti-Black racism. Yancy challenges the assumption that one can uncritically and proudly proclaim the virtues and innocence of individualism, the convenience of individual responsibility, and a social ontology of atomism, while successfully confronting the corrosive effects of systemic racism. Yancy demands the shedding of a liberal/neoliberal self that is linked to thinking and acting beyond the deep phenomenological, habitual, and epistemic structural elements of the philosophical imaginary of white supremacy.
Other works by George Yancy include: