The Embodied Politics of Pain in US Anti-Racism


  • Rachel Slocum Department of Sociology and Anthropology, St. Cloud State University


emotion, anti-racism, race, embodiment, feminist theory, politics of pain


Scholarship in geography has underscored the importance of emotions to our understanding of space and society. However, the dimension of emotion in politics, particularly anti-racist politics, has not been adequately explored. This paper reads these politics through a largely feminist poststructural conceptual framework. The ideas of race and racism underlying anti-racist training and activism promote tears and anger – a politics of pain. Anti-racism training elicits sadness and contrition as a means to bring white people to cognizance of privilege. This could make participation more difficult. Strategies adequate to the task of confronting manifold racisms require more than tears and guilt, thus I make some proposals for anti-racist politics. Though not a comparison with Australian race politics, the paper does draw on several antipodean scholars to suggest an embodied anti-racist ethics. The critiques and proposals made here owe a debt to feminist theories of embodiment and difference as they have been articulated by geographers, cultural studies theorists and philosophers.


How to Cite

Slocum, R. (2015). The Embodied Politics of Pain in US Anti-Racism. ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies, 8(1), 18–45. Retrieved from