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Cultural Studies of Science Education




Alterity is a concept with an extensive yet elusive history. Popularly conceived of as radical difference and Otherness, I identify alterity as the source of much of the virulent forms of racism, sexism, islamophobia, and other dichotomies in society that pit one group against another. Coming out of the tradition of critical qualitative inquiry, I offer a genealogy of the concept of alterity through various contexts and disciplines with a focus on its use in traditional Western philosophy. Within this tradition, the alteric relationship between the Self and the Other was typified by a preeminence bestowed upon the Self and an adversarial, totalizing posture taken toward the Other. Relying on a hermeneutic methodology, I theorize the development of alterity within this tradition as the root of the Eurocentric project of hegemony and subjugation that has culminated in and solidified White supremacy and that manifest today as Trump era articulations of racism and nativism in American society. Detailing the early twentieth century postmodern turn in Western philosophy which rehabilitated the Other from the tyranny of the Self, I use that history as a model for reclaiming the racial, cultural, and religious Others that continue to be marginalized throughout American society. Enlisting the notion of borderlands from border pedagogy, the ethics of care of Emmanuel Levinas, and the tenets of critical qualitative inquiry, I argue for a deliberate and focused project of activist research and critical pedagogy to not only rehabilitate and give voice to marginalized groups but to also deterritorialize the borderlands between the Self of White society and those who have been Othered by White society.


Georgia Southern University faculty member, E. Anthony Muhammad authored The Concept of Alterity: Its Usage and Its Relevance for Critical Qualitative Researchers in the Era of Trump.


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