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Thinking Familiar with the Interstitial: An Introduction

KRISTIE DOTSON Its not that we havent always been here, since there was a here. It is that the letters of our names have been scrambled when they were not totally erased, and our ngertips upon the handles of history have been called the random brushings of birds. (Lorde 1990, ix) Because [racialized peoples] dehumanization has not been successful, conceiving of self and others and their exercise of themselves both against dehumanization and toward liberatory possibilities has meant living double lives backed up by peopled ways of living, acting, perceiving, thinking familiar with the interstitial, liminal, and with breaking up with, delinking from, colonial modernity. (Lugones, this issue, X; my emphasis) We are not born women of color. We become women of color. To become women of color, we would need to become uent in each others histories, to resist and unlearn an impulse allowing mythologies to replace knowing about one another. We cannot afford to cease yearning for each others company. (Alexander 2002, 91; italics in original)

1. INTRODUCTION This particular special issue is the product of many dialogues between Donna-Dale Marcano and me.1 We had the idea to create a special issue that showcased women of color feminist philosophy without apology. That is, we would call for and highlight articles focused on the business of doing women of color philosophy. This special issue is the result of an attempt to honor our early vision. The authors published in this issue have simply gone about the task of producing women of color feminist philosophy without explanation or conspicuous backtracking. The bravery this kind of approach takes in todays academy and journal culture should not go unnoticed. Apologies and defenses of women of color feminist philosophy are not produced because of some supposed selling out on the part of the author. Rather, such work is produced and, it seems to me, reasonably so, because of a paucity of informed
Hypatia vol. X, no. X (XXX 2014) by Hypatia, Inc.


audiences for ones work. In such circumstances, achieving basic comprehension from ones readers often demands including elaborate and sophisticated defenses against wrongheaded and ill-informed assumptions and interpretations of ones work. This being the case, the authors in this special issue took signicant risks associated with simply doing women of color feminist philosophy while engaging in minimal amounts of defensive posturing. This is substantial given that those risks are exacerbated when ones publishing outlet is an academic journal, even one with the legacy of Hypatia. To honor the many risks taken here, this introduction is on the longer side. It proceeds in four parts. I situate this special issue, rst, by offering two considerations concerning how the work showcased here ts within ongoing women of color feminist research that, in this manifestation, is necessarily limited. Second, I trace some of the contours of women of color feminist philosophy as it is engaged and performed in this special issue. Third, I outline the vision of this particular special issue. That is, I articulate a frame for women of color feminist philosophy that can be seen to emerge from this special issue. Fourth, I explain the organization of the table of contents. Out of respect for the ongoing nature of women of color feminist philosophy and the riskiness of this endeavor, I group texts together according to calls and responses. This structure allows for interrelations to emerge without the reduction to sameness, which is important in order to demonstrate how women of color as a political identity can reduce unproductive fragmentation without weaving false senses of cohesiveness.




The journey to produce this special issue on women of color feminist philosophy has been, without doubt, illuminating. There are a couple of important grounding realizations with which I would like to start in order to frame this project and this table of contents. First, this special issue does not represent a beginning of women of color feminist philosophy. It includes many acts of inheriting already existing women of color feminist philosophy and the further production of such work, but it is notno, it could not bea beginning of women of color philosophical engagement, since such engagement has been here since there was a here. And, second, this project offers a snapshot of women of color feminist philosophy being produced today. As a snapshot, it is not comprehensive or complete. The table of contents is, at once, shaped and limited by what comes into focus and what remains obscured. In what follows, I will briey elaborate on these two opening observations.




Too often, far too often, women of color work is compiled under the guise that such a compilation marks the beginning of something new. This is, to be blunt, nonsense. It is nonsense not because of a possible skepticism concerning whether there are any

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new ideas under the sun (Lorde 1984, 3839). Rather, it is nonsense because such a beginning requires the disappearing of the theoretical production of women of color that already exists. For example, when I began this introduction with a title inspired by Mar a Lugones and three extended quotes from her, Audre Lorde, and M. Jacqui Alexander, I situated this project with respect to their work.2 Accordingly, Namita Goswami, in her essay, Europe as an Other: Postcolonialism and Philosophers of the Future, works to illuminate Gayatri Spivaks call to counter disappearings effected by a still present insistence on placing Europe (and its imaginative creation) at the center of discourse and signication. By doing so, Goswami places her project within a sphere of signication facilitated by Spivaks work. From that landing, she forges several signicant insights of her own about the workings of colonial imaginaries today. Every contributor to this issue has been aided by the existence of already present women of color feminist philosophy. Most, if not all, of the authors in this special issue have heeded Alexanders call to utilize resources left by previous generations of women of color ghting, surviving, and thriving in varying oppressive landscapes.3 As women of color feminist philosophers, many of us nd ourselves in a fortunate place of not having to reinvent the pencil every time we want to send a message (Lorde 1984, 78). This is not to say that new ideas, indeed, new pencils do not need to be created in women of color feminist philosophy. For many of us, the creation of the pencil is precisely what is needed. This creation, however, constitutes an extension and expansion of women of color feminist philosophy, not a beginning. So, even as we work to create the tools necessary to articulate our lives, experiences, and liberation, many of us do so with an eye to what has been done and what is still to be accomplished. Though there is undoubtedly much to be done in developing and sustaining women of color feminist philosophy, it would be remissno, unethicalto fail to acknowledge that much has already been articulated. Operating outside of this realization encourages the kind of disappearing of women of color work that Marcano and I envisioned this special issue to be an active struggle against. As a result, I urge that the importance of this particular special issue follow from how the contributors inherit, extend, and expand women of color feminist philosophy and not be ascribed to a rhetoric of beginnings. Because this is not a beginning; it is, however, a collection of different acts of inheriting women of color feminist thought. Bernice Johnson Reagon, in her article, Coalition Politics: Turning the Century, calls for every generation to leave a legacy of their principles and praxis for future generations. Reagon writes: The thing that must survive you is not just the record of your practice, but the principles that are the basis of your practice. If in the future, somebody is gonna use that song I sang, theyre gonna have to strip it or at least shift it. Im glad the principle is there for others to build upon. (Reagon 1983, 366) Here she identies not only what one should expect to leave of herself and her work, but also what one should expect to receive. Reagons articulation of throwing ourselves into the future (365) institutes a process of inheritances. In this project,


contributors not only throw themselves into the future, they are also in the process of inheriting that which has been left for them to receive. Therefore, this special issue does not mark a beginning of women of color feminist philosophy, but is rather one moment in ongoing work on and by women of color feminist philosophers.




Interstices: Acts of Inheriting Women of Color Feminist Philosophy is a snapshot. It captures one moment in a continuous stream of movement and activity. This moment is captured within a given frame among many possible frames. Snapshots, like this special issue, are limited by their very nature. When looking at a particularly engaging photo, we often turn it over in pursuit of other interpretive clues to ll in the gaps inevitably created by the limits of the photograph itself. Snapshots, taken in a moment of high activity, inevitably leave one wishing the camera had spanned farther to the left or offered a larger panoramic scan. One is often left with the question, what has not been revealed by this particular framing? Though many resist this question, it is an important one. Undoubtedly, moving from what is revealed to what is obscured produces important observations that aid in offering more complete renderings of our actual landscapes. Though this issue wrestles with everything from political identity to social agency, from postcolonial to decolonial projects, from becoming women of color to being women of color, it is still only a snapshot. It is incomplete; from certain angles, it is dissatisfying and is dened as much by what remains obscured as by what is displayed.4 For example, issues surrounding disability are conspicuously absent. Explorations of transphobia do not manifest saliently. These aspects of women of colors lives, and many more besides, are not necessarily addressed in the pages of this issue. Of course, this is not to say that the authors included here are unaware or unconcerned with these and other topics. It is to say that this special issue is a snapshot and, as such, is replete with the limitations of still frames. It simply does not cover enough and there will be no pretense from me, as the editor, that this is (nor should be) the sum total of women of color feminist philosophy. Nor do I imagine that any project of this type could hope to achieve such a feat. Let me also say that my inclusion of these reections is not an attempt to offer canned excuses to problems that project limitations often exacerbate and advance. One cannot (should not) merely quote everything has limits to avoid often transformative and important observations concerning the nature of those limitations. So I will not try to head off such comments. Rather, I court them. I cannot fathom all that remains outside of the focus of this special issue or that is obscured within its pages. I can only hope and, indeed, await the continued education in women of color feminist philosophy that will undoubtedly result from conversations concerning the strengths and limitations of this project.

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What, then, is women of color feminist philosophy? Although I cannot (and should not) answer this question denitively and for all time, I will offer some parameters that are salient for me in the articles of this special issue.5 Here, I understand the term women of color feminist philosophy to entail three orientations. First, it casts a signicantly broad conception of philosopher. Second, it often demands a crossdisciplinary focus and, at times, outright disregard for the expectations of the academy. Third, and this may be the most important orientation, doing women of color feminist philosophy includes centering the work and/or lives of women of color for the sake of articulating and/or uncovering liberatory possibilities. In what follows, I will explain these three orientations utilizing essays from this special issue.




Philosopher, in this context, includes professional philosophers, theorists, people who maintain active philosophical and/or theoretical engagement in their work, and philosophical sages, people from all walks of life who subject the everyday to critical, second-order type of thinking (Ochieng-Odhiambo 2006, 4). That means, for example, Mamma Ola is a philosopher (X, this issue). Devonya Havis, in her article, Now, How You Sound: Considering a Different Philosophical Praxis, begins her enunciation of her philosophical praxis with a question routinely asked by Mamma Ola, the woman who raised Haviss father. Though Mamma Ola may have been largely illiterate, her sagacity leaves principles and praxis to be inherited and utilized in ones own philosophical praxis. Havis, of course, is also a philosopher. Not only because of the philosophical engagement required to outline her philosophical praxis in her essay, but also because Havis is a professional philosopher herself, I will return to this point. Jacqueline Martinez is a philosopher. Her essay, entitled Culture, Communication, and Latina Feminist Philosophy: Toward a Critical Phenomenology of Culture, consistently offers philosophical insights that challenge neat dichotomies between culture and epistemological legitimation. Her exploration of Gloria Anzald uas phenomenology of culture is grounded in a philosophical praxis that lends itself to highlighting the importance of lived experience in the cultivation of perceptual capacities, which, in turn, complicate assumptions concerning possibilities of understanding across signicant difference, for example, cultural and/or sexual. Emily S. Lee, like Havis, is a philosopher. Not only because she has a PhD in philosophy and works as a professional philosopher, that is, she makes her living from her education and knowledge of the discipline of philosophy, but also because her essay, entitled The Ambiguous Practices of the Inauthentic Asian American Woman, provides salient philosophical insights concerning how social identity at times operates on the ground to outstrip narratives of self-determination. Lee looks particularly at how stereotypes of Asian Americans and class dynamics overtake, to devastating ends, ready social identication for Asian American women. This outstripping


provokes various questions concerning the nature of individual and group agencies with respect to social identity. The example of these four philosophers are vast and, to my mind, uncomplicated. Mamma Ola, Devonya Havis, Jacqueline Martinez, and Emily S. Lee are philosophers. Every contributor to this special issue and their many women of color philosophical touchstones are philosophers.








Understanding the broad conception of philosopher utilized here is key for understanding what women of color feminist philosophy demands. Women of color feminist philosophy routinely crosses disciplinary boundaries and normative, academic expectations. The Santa Cruz Feminist of Color Collective, in their essay entitled Building on the Edge of Each Others Battles: A Feminist of Color Multidimensional Lens, illustrates this point nicely in writing about their determination to produce as an interdisciplinary collective and the well-meaning advice they received to forego such writing given the expectations of scholarship in todays academy. Their piece, which is a wonderful exploration of the who, why, and how of becoming women of color, persuasively and collectively demonstrates that one of the ways of becoming women of color is to think with and, at times, against each other in order to pursue their own well-being. They write: As a collective we are faced with the challenge of an environment organized to give credit to individuals. Nonetheless, the collaborative practice we nurtured became an intellectual sanctuary from hostile responses cloaked in good advice of prioritizing our own individual academic careers over collective work. We contribute to decolonizing the academy by prioritizing our holistic well-being and collective thinking. We have continued in this process despite academias insistence on individual accomplishments. (XX) Becoming women of color, a term that nds its origins in the identier lesbians of color (X), for The Santa Cruz Feminist of Color Collective is to take a relational approach to identity-formation (X). This is exemplied in collective writing processes where what is required to become women of color, that is, community, shared commitment, and an acknowledgment of differences among us (X) parallels the process of collective writing itself. This Collective articulates that becoming women of color, and the relational approach such a political identity demands, mends frayed connections by tracing the way knowledge shifts depending on historical, social, and political contexts (X). The mending of frayed connections is not done for the sake of prevailing academic norms, but for the sake of the collective members own survival, which includes, but is not limited to, decolonizing that same space. Much of women of color feminist philosophy is done for the sake of survival and not for the sake of academic approval. This being the case, women of color feminist philosophy is often taken to be unscholarly at best and unseemly at worst. No

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matter the negative judgment rendered, one can be assured that, in most cases, what is produced as women of color feminist philosophy took shape for the sake of the authors/authors survival and ourishing, which includes the survival and ourishing of communities that enable their well-being (see also Elena Flores Ru z on this point). Deliberate decisions not to heed academic norms or deliberate epistemic disobedience in women of color feminist philosophy is by no means new (see Roshanravan in this issue). This is despite the fact that many readers do not consider the motivations behind the decisions women of color feminist philosophers make. For example, Vivian May, in her essay Speaking into the Void? Intersectionality Critiques and Epistemic Backlash, calls attention to reductive readings of the concept of intersectionality. May argues that many critiques of intersectionality, a concept distinctly identied with women of color feminist thought, reveal forms of epistemic recalcitrance that distort interpretations of intersectionality. She explains: Intersectionality challenges the pull of prevailing mindsets, in part by drawing from political expectations, lived experiences, and analytic positions not crafted solely within the bounds of dominant imaginaries. Unfortunately, critique narratives sometimes atten such resistance, rendering it invisible or meaningless by adhering to conventional, even hegemonic epistemological assumptions in terms of the questions asked, assessments offered, and expectations brought to bear. (X) In her essay, May highlights a very important feature alluded to earlier of audience reception of women of color feminist philosophy. Strict adherence to norms of current, academic scholarly inquiry and/or epistemological commitments serve to distort the deliberate epistemic disobedience of women of color feminist philosophy by generating oversimplications of complex positions, at best, or accusations of incompetence, at worst. Such failures to seriously acknowledge deliberate epistemic disobedience ensures that those reading women of color feminist philosophy are not just misreading this work, but are actively engaged in particularly colonializing scholarly engagement. It demonstrates what most, if not all, the contributors to this special issue are ghting against: the continued colonizing nature of the academy. Women of color feminist philosophy often actively struggles to decolonize the academy in its very performance. However, one should not take such performances of decolonizing as apologies, as they are done for the sake of ones own survival, though often at the expense of ones place and ease in the academy. In fact, all of the musings in this special issue are concerned, in some fashion, with decolonizing projects. Three musings in particular focus on decolonizing the discipline of philosophy specically. Stephanie Rivera Berruz, in her musing Inhabiting Philosophical Space: Reections from the Reasonably Suspicious, explores some of the costs of becoming a professional philosopher via graduate training in philosophy. With at times painful candidness, Rivera Berruz describes the cost of passing in graduate school in philosophy with its heteronormative masculinity and problematic whiteness. The costs, which included her embodied ease in speaking Spanish, are


made worse as she emphasizes that this cost resulted not because philosophical engagement is not pervasively diverse, but rather because the US academys conception of philosophical engagement, especially its representative language, is particularly narrow. Whereas Rivera Berruz, an advanced graduate student, questions the cost of pursuing professional philosophy, Denise James, an advanced assistant professor of philosophy, asks whether being a Black feminist philosopher is even possible in the academic discipline of philosophy. Her piece, entitled A Black Feminist Philosopher: Is that Possible?, reveals her struggle to rethink attitudes toward philosophical engagement that, in her estimation, are not conducive to doing work as a Black feminist philosopher. She writes that in her philosophical training: I would learn to cut and undercut. To outwit and to argue minutiae not because the points were important to the projects I wanted to pursue or because my criticism truly shed light on the difculties of the task at hand, but because that was the way to do philosophy right, to do philosophy like a white man. I learned to use my black feminist jackhammer to crack foundations, disrupt interpretations, shut down ethical theories, and most important, to be perfectly acceptable while doing it. (X) James is forthright about rethinking this kind of philosophical praxis. Her need to rethink the often rabidly critical attitude many take to be philosophical resonates well, though very differently, with Rivera Berruzs own speculation on what her graduate training in philosophy has caused her to lose: a sense of doing philosophy as a woman of color being a woman of color. Elena Flores Ru z, in her musing Spectral Phenomenologies: Dwelling Poetically in Professional Philosophy, offers a description of the kind of somnambulatory policing that signicantly contributes to making the climate of professional philosophy so difcult for women of color in the ways Rivera Berruz and James describe. Ru z writes: by specifying how through a host of intricately woven regulatory practices and mystication rituals (which legitimate the implicitly operative status of a norm by mystifying its sociocultural origin and its tacit repetition), academic philosophy self- polices its own borders. Once these practices are established as the norm and reied through the use of regulative mechanisms like conference programs, grant awards, curricular perspectives and syllabi construction, tenure and promotion criteria, the replication of power structures in Research I universities, and so on, it makes possible the conditions under which diverse practitioners in the eld experience the systematic microaggressions that alone can be methodically dismissed as isolated incidents, but that taken together create the spectral experience of alienation, professional estrangement, and on some days, normalized madness characteristic of inhabiting spaces ripe with ambient abuse. (XX; Ru zs italics)

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In other words, there is nothing accidental about the convergence in Rivera Berruzs and Jamess narratives. Women of color intent on doing philosophy as women of color share a common context of struggle, but have very different relationships to that struggle along with, at times, very different manifestations of that struggle. It is hardly surprising, then, that both Rivera Berruzs and Jamess sentiments concerning legitimation in professional philosophy are echoed by Ru z when she writes, to have a legitimated philosophic voice one must speak with the aid of tools from these very somnambulatory practices that, at once, both constrain and enable border-crossing (X). One will nd many such echoes throughout this special issue on various points that aid in highlighting common contexts of struggle shared by many women of color, particularly in a US context. Ru z concludes her musing with straightforwardly calling for self-validation in women of color feminist professional philosophy. That is, she calls for doing women of color feminist philosophy without apology. In this, I believe every author answers her call. Part of self-validation, in this context, is to take women of color feminist philosophers as ones primary touchstones with a blatant disregard for their acceptability or unacceptability within the greater academy in general, or in academic, professional philosophy in particular. The authors in this special issue do this in several different ways.








The third and nal orientation for woman of color feminist philosophy is to take women of color as ones primary philosophical touchstones and/or scholarly focus for the sake of liberatory projects. Focusing on Women of Color In this special issue, women of color and/or women of color feminist philosophy is centered in at least three ways: 1) centering philosophical contributions from women of color in ones inquiry; 2) placing oneself, as a woman of color, in the center of ones analysis; and 3) placing a group of women of color as the center of ones discussion. Shireen Roshanravans piece, Motivating Coalition: Women of Color and Epistemic Disobedience, for example, centers women of color feminist philosophy. She engages Chandra Mohanty, M. Jacqui Alexander, and Mar a Lugones in a plurilogue. In this way, Roshanravan pursues dissimilarities to clarify the conceptual interventions made within women of color theorizing and the relationship among different patterns of oppression that each intervention exposes (X). Roshanravan demonstrates extraordinary uency with three different women of color positions and positionalities throughout her essay. In doing so, she centers women of color feminist philosophy by demonstrating methods of engaging women of color knowledges that extend beyond critique of Eurocentrism (X).



Another means of centering women of color is to center oneself, as a woman of color feminist philosopher, in ones inquiry. Rozena Maarts performative piece demonstrates the difculty of navigating professional philosophy in North America when she, a Black, woman of color from South Africa, takes center stage.6 In her article, Race and Pedagogical Practices: When Race Takes Center Stage in Philosophy, Maart recounts a conversation held after she gave a talk in a philosophy department in North America on black consciousness, psychoanalysis and Derrida. The dialogue is between Maart and a white, feminist, philosophy professor employed at the university. It is illuminating. What is also illuminating is how Maart uses philosophical positions that do not necessarily include considerations of Black women and women of color. Every theory she utilizes is invoked as if it does, indeed, concern her as a Black, woman of color. In this performance, she afrms her ability to use any theory that strikes her as useful, in any way it becomes useful to her own project and points, which she connects to ways existentialism and Derridian deconstruction meet. This kind of assertion of the politicization of presence, which is a form of epistemic disobedience, is often taken to be carelessness or incompetence. These kinds of understandings, however, fail to fully acknowledge not only the intentional epistemic disobedience that is rife in Maarts essay, but also the performative nature of her efforts. The texts she cites are about her, simply because she says they are. And they are about Maart, as a Black, woman of color, not because of how the texts make sense of her, but because of how she makes sense of philosophical texts she takes to task. Maart and other contributors to this special issue, on my account, center themselves and/or women of color feminist philosophy while making use of other theoretical positions and perspectives in order to make the sense they intend, not the sense certain tools allow. As Goswami so elegantly writes, inuenced by Spivak, sometimes we have to lie in order to correct a lie (X). This is the future of philosophy, if there is a future of philosophy at all (Goswami X and XX). Third, and nally, Laura Gillman, in her article Anancyism and the Dialectics of an Africana Feminist Ethnophilosophy: Sandra Jackson-Opokus The River Where Blood is Born, takes Jackson-Opokus novel and contours elisions of the positionality of Black women in the African diaspora with respect to white men, white women, and Black men. In doing so, she centers the work of a Black woman, Jackson-Opoku, and situates this work over and against ethnophilosophies produced by Black men, Paget Henry and Lewis R. Gordon, in an African diasporic context. Integrating literary criticism and intersectionality theory with ethnophilosophical thought and Africana phenomenology, Gillman shows that for Africana philosophical discourses to truly function as counter-discourses, it is important that Africana philosophers draw upon reading strategies that link Africana philosophy with intersectional frameworks developed by Black feminists. In Gillmans essay, one nds the complicated negotiation and courage of someone who is not herself Black, but who understands that part of understanding herself, as a white woman, is to make serious inquiries into groups other than her own. In doing so, Gillman centers Jackson-Opokus literary production to identify Africana feminist ethnophilosophy, which

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recognizes that philosophy produced at the interstices and peripheries of disciplines by diverse Black women can reveal the ssures in disciplinary knowledge, thereby opening up a space in which Black womens humanity in African diasporic contexts can be foregrounded and analyzed philosophically. (XX) Gillman, in her essay, does not cower in the face of Black womens African diasporic thought. In fact, she aims, with bravery indicative of all contributors to this volume, to think through/with the interstitial lens provided by Jackson-Opoku. One will nd all three of these kinds of centeringsof women of color feminist philosophy, of oneself as a woman of color, of one distinctive women of color group and many more besides. Centering women of color feminist philosophy is important in and of itself. However, it is important to remember that such centering of woman of color feminist philosophy often shares the goal of pursuing greater ranges of liberatory possibilities for women of color, including communities that contribute to our wellbeing. That is to say, one of the reasons we chose to center women of color and women of color feminist philosophy, as has been gestured to earlier, is to help in thinking and creating livable lives in the midst of, at times, extreme oppression. For Enhancing Liberatory Possibilities Often, thinking through liberatory possibilities begins with considering the nature of agency and the ways that women of color are seen to either demonstrate or be stripped of agency. Alisa Bierria highlights several social dimensions of agency to argue that intention is not just authored by the agent as a function of practical reasoning, but is also socially authored through others translation of her action (X). Using women of color feminist philosophy, particularly Black feminist thought, Bierria proposes a shift to a heterogeneous model that can track the agency of Black women where idealizations fail. Her essay not only locates a viable conception of agency that aids in detecting difcult-to-detect agential actions, but she also identies means of understanding transformative and insurgent agency. Her project, then, has the goal to further articulations of agency, while simultaneously forwarding an understanding of agency that aids in answering the question: how do black subjects and other oppressed people plan purposeful action in social conditions that are precarious and out of their control (XX)? Women of color feminist philosophy, in this special issue, includes a broad denition of philosopher, an often cross-disciplinary focus, epistemic disobedience, and the centering of women of color feminist philosophy with an eye toward identifying and increasing liberatory possibilities. This denition is not meant to be the denition of all of women of color feminist philosophy, though those who nd its orientations salient for their own projects are, by all means, welcome to make use of it. However, if it is too limited, too broad, or too- anything, I look forward to reading different denitions, as they will certainly increase my understanding of the many manifestations of women of color feminist philosophy today, yesterday, and tomorrow.



4. IN


When Marcano and I initially conceived of this special issue, we chose the word interstices as its title. It seemed to us that as women of color in a US context, we found ourselves continually trying to negotiate and navigate interstitial positioning. The term interstices is often dened as spaces between closely related things. The preposition between is a close approximation for an interstitial space, but it is not perfect. A more accurate preposition, though rarely used today, is betwixt. Interstices refer to positions betwixt closely related locations, ideas, positions, and the like. Being located betwixt two locations, for example, is to be neither wholly separate, nor wholly part of two closely related, though, some would say, thoroughly demarcated areas. Though betwixt has often been deployed to indicate indecision, here it refers more closely to undecidability. It is not that interstices are rife with indecision, as if the people populating them are in a constant state of not having decided. Rather, interstices are rife with distinctly undecidable conicts. That is to say, interstices are often demarcated spheres where hard and fast decisions carry unacceptable losses of life and health. Mar a Lugones undoubtedly says it best in her musing in this issue, Reading the Nondiasporic from within Diasporas, when she writes: Because [racialized peoples] dehumanization has not been successful, conceiving of self and others and their exercise of themselves both against dehumanization and toward liberatory possibilities has meant living double lives backed up by peopled ways of living, acting, perceiving, thinking familiar with the interstitial, liminal, and with breaking up with, delinking from, colonial modernity. (Lugones, X) To say that women of color navigate through interstices is to say that many of us are often forced to live double lives. But not for the sake of being double, but because our landscapes come with expectations, cultural norms, habits of awareness, habits of conduct, and the like that provoke an embodied awareness or, as Martinez explains, perceptual capacities (X, XX, and XX) that, because we persist in interstices, or in betwixt places, impose a kind of doubleness that often feels like duplicity (Rivera Berruz X and X-X). As a result, women of color, who exist in varying interstitial positionings, have to become capable of thinking familiar with the interstitial, liminal (Lugones, X).7 Becoming familiar with ones existence within interstices is by no means an easy or pleasant journey. It requires, for many, philosophical engagement broadly construed. That is to say, thinking familiar with the interstitial, which may be a routine and necessary activity for many women of color to survive and live well, is a kind of philosophical engagement. It seemed appropriate, then, for Marcano and me to entitle a special issue devoted to doing women of color feminist philosophy without apology, Interstices, which is an aspect of women of color existence that demands philosophical engagement.8 At least two aspects of interstices emerge from this collection of essays: the understanding that 1) interstitial spaces often emerge within intra-group dynamics; and 2)

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though interstices are often spatial, they are not specic locations. I will briey articulate these two aspects of interstices to highlight my vision in shaping this special issue as a means of exploring life within interstices.




Detecting, much less charting, the interstices is often exceedingly difcult. This is primarily because those who understand themselves to dwell within interstices are, properly speaking, part of the groups within which they experience marginalization. Lugones identies a difcult to detect intra-group dynamic within racialized populations, like women of color populations, in her musing. She inquires about the possibilities concerning delicate interactions between diasporic and nondiasporic peoples of color, where racialized diasporic people are backed by a collective memory that includes myths and memories of a homeland (X), and racialized nondiasporic subjects are not so situated within a particular landscape. Lugones draws attention to the ways that existing as a diasporic subject or a nondiasporic subject within women of color populations, for example, Latina feminists, complicates the politics of reading, including how one will be read and to whom ones work will seem relevant. Lugoness discussion is illuminating. The dynamics she highlights are difcult to detect from the privileged place of being a disaporic subject, even within women of color populations. This, it seems to me, is part of Lugoness message. Interstices exist within any group, even groups that are, in part, formed within interstices. Interstitial positioning, then, may be an inherent part of group dynamics according to a certain logic of groups. As such, groups can be potentially damaging places (see, especially, Lee for further articulations of such damages). At the same time, as Lugones expresses, thinking familiar with the interstitial can be a place of radical creativity and incisive knowledge. For example, Lugones notes that as a nondiasporic, Latina feminist her understanding of the importance of becoming a woman of color to counter ghostly sociality and denied agency is ever-present (see also Goswami, Bierria, and Ru z on ghostly sociality and agency). There may not be such an immediate demand to become women of color for racialized women of various diasporas due, in part, to their relationship to a collective memory. Detecting interstices is difcult, made more so because they often exist within our group dynamics and not outside of them.





To say that interstices, or the betwixt places, are not locations is to use a very literal notion of location. Taking interstices to imply physical locations indicates that one needs to travel to an interstice. But they rarely need to be physically traveled to, and should one try without the perceptual capacities necessary to detect a space-betwixt, it will be difcult to identify when one is within an interstice. Falguni Sheth, in her article Interstitiality: Making Space for Migration, Diaspora, and Racial



Complexity, calls for detecting complicated intra-group dynamics by advocating for the need to attend to the ways institutions and public policy create and signal interstitial spaces. Interstitial, for Sheth, refers to spaces between intersections, those city blocks, bounded by roads and trafc intersections that can be detected via regulations, building codes, architectural or (political) designsthe invisible institutions that form the history and the background for the (institutional) buildings inhabited by people in those city blocks (XX).9 Detecting an interstice often takes signicant work, again, much of which is itself philosophical labor. Merely physically traveling to an interstitial location, for example, a border, does not ensure that one has the perceptual capacity to detect interstices. And, as Sheth indicates, one does not need to travel at all. Interstices surround us at all times. Some of us dwell in them, aware of their existence via philosophical reection on lived experience and/or advanced study of constitutive institutions. However, to conceive of interstices as physical locations to which one travels overlooks the reality that the interstices exist at our very feet, and that the awareness of these interstices requires philosophical labor, broadly conceived. Identifying interstices as physical places located at some point to be traveled to, but not here and now, also overlooks the fact that interstices are often the result of particular kinds of embodiment. An interstice may not only be beneath a groups feet, it may be the result of a groups presence. Amrita Banerjee works to locate interstitial bodies made thus due to international surrogacy transactions (XX), in her article, Race and a Transnational Reproductive Caste System: Indian Transnational Surrogacy. She aims to expose the violence and exploitation implicit in an interstitial existence as a transnational surrogate, and how high-tech reproduction in the context of international surrogacy arrangements actually contributes toward the preservation of problematic social and global hierarchies instead of overriding them (XX). Here, Banerjee articulates the way certain populations of women themselves become interstitial space (XX) in a global market. Interstices then, in this special issue, concern intra-group dynamics that are misunderstood if they are taken to be spaces somehow outside of ones current location. They are our everyday spaces that are often constituted differently at varying places and times depending upon preexisting and/or emerging institutions, histories, and hierarchies. The contributors to this special issue grapple with thinking familiar with the interstitial in varying ways, a project they inherit from women of color feminist philosophers who precede them.




This special issue compiled as it is of acts of inheritance, is itself a call in a long line of calls and responses within women of color feminist philosophy. This being the case, I have organized the table of contents according to recognizable calls and responses. How I do so is purely an editors choice. These texts could have been organized according to a range of different calls to engagement. However, I felt it salient to begin with an account calling attention, yet again, to interstitial populations by

Kristie Dotson


situating Lugoness exploration of nondiasporic subjects within largely diasporic groups. Her call awaits responses. Accordingly, I felt it necessary to highlight that we become women of color alongside other women of color. Hence, the rst section includes a call from The Santa Cruz Feminist of Color Collective to realize this point and responses from Namita Goswami and Shireen Roshanravan as authors who actively demonstrate being women of color. Also, I felt it important to bring attention to, as so many of the contributors in this volume do, the complex presences represented by women of color. Because the often interstitial nature of women of color existence calls for increasingly complex analysis aimed at rendering, at times, ghostly subjects and agency present, I chose to organize a section around efforts to highlight and address complex presencing. Falguni Sheth and Vivian May articulate means by which to begin such presencing, while Amrita Banerjee, Alisa Bierria, Emily S. Lee, and Laura Gillman perform such presencing in their essays. Last, but certainly not least, the increasing number of women of color working within the academic discipline of philosophy requires some attention, in my estimation. Stephanie Rivera Berruz, Denise James, and Elena Flores Ru z all explore their existence as women of color within academic, professional philosophy. Their call, it seems to me, is taken up by Rozena Maarts performance of presencing within academic philosophy, Jacqueline Martinezs detailing of the lived experience of epistemological norms, and Devonya Haviss unapologetic articulation of her Black womans philosophical praxis. In the end, any one of these essays could serve as a call or a response, as they are themselves undoubtedly responses to previous calls and responses. Again, this special issue is not a beginning. It is, however, a snapshot of acts of inheriting women of color feminist philosophy today.

There are so many people whose support and hard work made this special issue possible. Many thanks to Linda Alcoff, Alison Wylie, Asia Ferrin, and the members of the University of Washington Hypatia staff whose encouragement and aid made this difcult project much easier. I owe a debt of gratitude to Donna-Dale Marcano who played an integral role in the proposal of this special issue. Thank you to all the contributors who worked hard to produce women of color feminist philosophy in their own images. Thank you as well to all of the anonymous reviewers (and there were many) who took time out of their busy schedules to provide valuable feedback throughout this process. And, nally, thank you to all of the people who submitted essays to be reviewed for this special issue. Every essay submitted aided in informing and expanding my understanding of women of color feminist philosophy. There is some fantastic work out there. 1. Donna-Dale Marcano and I worked together to conceptualize this project. Unfortunately, fairly early on in the editing process Marcano had to withdraw for reasons outside of her control. In many ways, this project remains indebted to the vision we constructed together through our many conversations and shared hopes for this special issue.



2. It bears noting that there are many, many women of color feminists who could have opened this project. To list them here would serve little purpose but to offer an incomplete accounting of the truly expansive range of women of color feminist philosophical production available. In fact, the women of color cited in this volume only scratch the surface of work available for further philosophical engagement that extends back well over 100 years. 3. See, for example, in this issue, The Santa Cruz Feminist of Color Collective, Building on the Edge of Each Others Battles: A Feminist of Color Multidimensional Lens, and Shireen Roshanravan, Motivating Coalition: Women of Color and Epistemic Disobedience. 4. It is important to note that special issues with open calls for papers are also limited by time and opportunity. Who submits, who has the time to work a paper into a nished piece, and who is in a position of needing to nd such time often dictates who is included and why. That is to say, this particular snapshot has constraints that may appear accidental, but that have important institutional inuences that are quite predictable. 5. It is important to note that in this framing of women of color feminist philosophy I introduce and highlight particular aspects of the texts included in this special issue. This being so, I am in no way capable of doing justice to the complicated and, often, elegant positions offered in each essay. I do, however, hope to set the stage, as it were, for the complexity offered in each essay by weaving a narrative about women of color feminist philosophy as a means for introducing their contributions. 6. It is important to note that the term woman of color as it is used here bears no resemblance to the South African identication of colored. Maart is a Black, South African woman who, when traveling to North American contexts, becomes a woman of color. That is, she stands in solidarity with women of color in North American contexts as a Black, woman of color. However, in a South African context, she does not identify as colored in any way as it has an entirely different connotation in a South African context than North American contexts. To represent this difference, I will refer to Maart as a Black, woman of color. 7. Thinking with the interstitial is one of the origins of epistemic disobedience. As Ru z highlights, when ones lived experience is so far removed from dominantly constructed notions of everyday experience in the sphere that one inhabits, one gives up the hope that language will convey a one-to-one correspondence between ones experience and languages ability to articulate that experience. That is to say, one simply begins to hope that the language at ones disposal does not reproduce old and ongoing harms, nor open new wounds (Ru z X). 8. Marcano and I, of course, are not the rst to identify this aspect of women of color existence. Not only is Mar a Lugoness work rife with this realization, but it appears in the pages and the projects of This Bridge Called My Back (Moraga and Anzald ua 1981) and This Bridge We Call Home (Anzald ua and Keating 2002). Many other women of color feminist philosophers besides have identied the often interstitial nature of their existence as women of color. In this way, this special issue is one of several collections of women of color feminist thought to have identied life within interstices as a prominent point of departure.

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9. To be clear, Sheths notion of an interstitial analysis is not a replacement of intersectionality. It is a shift in attention within intersectional analyses to focus on institutional complications of group identication.

Alexander, M. Jacqui. 2002. Remembering This bridge, remembering ourselves: Yearning, memory, and desire. In this bridge we call home: Radical visions for transformation, ed. G. E. Anzald ua and A. Keating. New York: Routledge. Anzald ua, Gloria E., and Ana Louise Keating. 2002. This bridge we call home: Radical visions for transformation. New York: Routledge. Lorde, Audre. 1984. Sister outsider: Essays and speeches. Trumansburg, N.Y.: Crossing Press. . 1990. Foreword. In Wild women in the whirlwind: Afra-American culture and the contemporary literary renaissance, ed. J. Braxton and A. McLaughlin. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press. Moraga, Cherr e, and Gloria Anzald ua. 1981. This bridge called my back: Writings by radical women of color. Watertown, Mass.: Persephone Press. Ochieng-Odhiambo, F. 2006. The tripartite in philosophic sagacity. Philosophica Africana 9 (1): 1734. Reagon, Bernice Johnson. 1983. Coalition politics: Turning the century. In Home girls: A Black feminist anthology, ed. B. Smith. New York: Kitchen Table Press.