Podcast, Social Justice

Episode 156: Badiou, Universalism & Racial Politics — with Elisabeth Paquette

January 25, 2022
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Continental philosopher and assistant professor of Philosophy and Women Gender Studies at the University of North Carolina, Elisabeth Paquette, joins Am Johal to speak about her latest book, Universal Emancipation: Race Beyond Badiou.

Elisabeth speaks about some of her transformative moments as a continental philosopher, including an essential question posed to her by Paget Henry, and her experience joining the Black Lives Matter Charlotte Protests in 2016. Her and Am also speak about the important questions surrounding ideas of justice, how justice can be emancipatory, and the ways that states fail in enacting justice — due to its deep foundations upon race and culture.

Elisabeth spends time critiquing Badiou’s class-first philosophies that undermines possibilities for universality in the sense of race, and then discusses the histories of Marxism centering on whiteness and Eurocentric attitudes. She also speaks about the importance of positive conceptions of race, and draws from Sylvia Wynter to determine that true universal emancipation needs to be filled with the varied and particular knowledges of racialized folks.

About Our Guest

Elisabeth Paquette

I am an assistant professor of Philosophy and Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of North Carolina, and affiliate faculty with the Department of Africana Studies, the Center for Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights Studies. I received my B.A. from Trent University (Peterborough, Ontario, Canada), my M.A. from the University of Guelph (Ontario, Canada), and my Ph.D. from York University (Toronto, Ontario, Canada).

My research interests include social and political philosophy, decolonial theory, feminist theory, critical race theory, queer theory, and continental philosophy. My publications can be found in philoSOPHIA, Philosophy Compass, Radical Philosophy Review, Hypatia, Philosophy Today, and Badiou Studies. My first book — Universal Emancipation: Race beyond Badiou — was published with the University of Minnesota Press in October 2020.

Currently, I am working on two book projects. The first book is an edited collection with a number of exceptional Badiou scholars, which centers around theories of sexuality in, through, and against Alain Badiou’s conception of “indifference to difference” and what Louise Burchill calls Badiou’s “turn” in a 2011 paper titled “Figures of Femininity in the Contemporary World.”

The second book is a single author manuscript on the writings of Sylvia Wynter. Therein, I analyze Wynter’s articulation of emancipation and solidarity by developing her account of Indigeneity alongside her discussion of anti-Black racism. More specifically, my project seeks to engage Wynter’s project around five themes: environmental racism, feminist theory, Marxism, representations of Shakespeare’s Caliban, and ceremony as method for solidarity.

I incorporate much of my research into my teaching and pedagogy. I teach classes on feminist theory, Indigenous theory, critical race theory, and decolonial theory at both the undergraduate and graduate level. My classes have been cross-listed with Philosophy, Women’s and Gender Studies, Liberal Studies, Africana Studies, and Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights Studies.

Cite This Episode

Chicago Style

Johal, Am. “Badiou, Universalism & Racial Politics — with Elisabeth Paquette” Below the Radar, SFU’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement. Podcast audio, January 25, 2022.


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