An Uncolored Conference Campaign (UCC) ?

Feminist Philosophers points to a conference on “Equality, Diversity And The Ethics Of Philosophy” which will focus on recent discussions of issues of gender diversity in professional philosophy. The conference looks amazing! However – and this is emphatically not meant as bashing of the conference, the organizers, or participants – one must wonder, where are the philosophers of colour? As Anon says in the comments, “White women are not the only ‘philosophers who have contributed to recent discussions of issues of gender diversity in professional philosophy.'” Anon goes on to suggest that the time has come to consider an “Uncolored Conference Campaign (UCC)” — which would be closely modelled on the Gendered Conference Campaign.

“The [Uncolored] Conference Campaign aims to raise awareness of the prevalence of all-[white]* conferences…, of the harm that they do. We make no claims whatsoever about the causes of such conferences: our focus is on their existence and effects. We are therefore not in the business of blaming conference organisers, and not interested (here, anyway) in discussions of blameworthiness. Instead, we are interested in drawing attention to this systematic phenomenon….”

I have been talking to people about starting something like this for a while. I am now wondering, what do others think? What are the problems with this approach? What are the benefits? Is this the right time to start something like this?  I would like to have an open and honest discussion about the possibility of pursing a UCC.  Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

5 responses

  1. One thought might be to start out with a list of steps organizers might follow in order to ensure that their conferences are as inclusive as possible. One might be reminding everyone periodically of the APA’s underrepresented philosophers directory, here:

    http://www.theupdirectory.com

    and encouraging those who haven’t signed on to do so.

  2. One concern: I think we tend to be better (though by no means perfect) at eyeballing a conference program and sorting out how to gender-slot participants who we don’t know, or only know a little. But I suspect most of us are worse as race-slotting philosophers that we don’t know.

    As a result, I’d imagine that some of the interactions surrounding this campaign might get weird, especially for people of color who get racially mis-identified (e.g. somebody has to publicly announce their racial identification to correct the false claim that some conference is all white people). I also think there’s something objectionable about googling people and trying to racially sort them by looking at photos (though I’m not having the easiest time articulating what seems so unsavory about it to me).

    None of this is meant to speak decisively against the campaign you’ve got in mind, but might be something to consider when trying to settle whether/how to go ahead with this.

  3. RJ – Thanks for this. I think the best way to proceed would be to encourage people to use the UP directory (http://www.theupdirectory.com) which works on the basis of self-identification (people add themselves to the directory). I believe this would avoid the problems you are worried about.

    • Thanks, Meena. I hadn’t thought of the updirectory, but that seems like a pretty good fix for everything I was concerned about, especially if most philosophers of color are signing up at the directory.

  4. Pingback: Round up the usual suspects | Feminist Philosophers

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