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Recognition and Identity: Ethical and Theological Explorations

This project engages with the notion of “recognition” as a crucial moral, political, and theological category. Given experiences of misrecognition and nonrecognition, the “struggle for recognition” has found expression in many protest movements against the systemic persistence of racism, sexism, homophobia, cultural chauvinism, and other harmful strategies of othering. This research project affirms the promise of the concept of recognition for grappling with questions of identity and difference. Yet, it also calls attention to the ambivalence of recognition, pointing out how within colonial contexts accounts of recognition often presuppose rather than challenge inherent pathologies within oppressive cultures. Therefore the need to challenge a deficient view that does not take cognizance of unequal power relations and structural injustices. Against this backdrop, the argument is made for an embodied and historicized account of recognition. Central to this concern is the attempt to build, in the words of Paul Ricoeur, a bridge between the poetics of love and the prose of justice. Or differently put, to reconfigure the notion of recognition in the tension between gesture and structure, between grace and justice. With this focus in mind, the project engages with recognition discourses in philosophy and cultural studies as well as with religious and theological sources.


Fellows involved in this project

South Africa

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Is any information on this page incorrect or outdated? Please notify Ms. Nel-Mari Loock at [email protected].