TABLE OF CONTENTS
Michael BARBER, Introduction to Schutzian Research 13 [OPEN ACCESS]
George D. YANCY, The Danger of White Innocence: Being a Stranger in One’s Own “Home”
Abstract: This paper explores how whiteness as the transcendental norm shapes the meaning structure of Black-being-in-the-world. If home is a place, a site, a dwelling of acceptance, where one is allowed to feel safe, to relax, to let one’s guard down, then being Black in white supremacist America is anathema to being at home for Black people. Indeed, to be Black is to be a stranger, something “strange,” “scary,” “dangerous,” an “outsider.” To be Black within white America belies what it means to dwell, to reside, to rest. In other words, one’s sense of racialized Black embodiment remains on guard, unsettled, hyperalert. Phenomenologically, there is a profound sense of alienation, where one’s racialized body is ostracized and shunned. On this score, I examine, within the mundane context of an elevator, how the dynamics of intersubjectivity and sociality are strained (or even placed under erasure) through the dynamics of the white gaze. The white gaze, among other things, functions to police the meaning of the Black body and attempts to de-subjectify Black embodiment. In this way, the only real perspective is white. Black bodies are deemed devoid of a perspective on the world as there is no subjectivity, no sense of agential meaning making. One might say that Black people, on this view, constitute an essence, a typified mode of being. Unlike the existentialist thesis where existence precedes essence, Black people are locked into an objecthood, a fungible and fixed essence. This racial and racist myth is what, for Schutz, would collapse the importance that he places on intersubjectivity and sociality. Indeed, within this paper, I delineate the threatening, necro-political dimensions of whiteness that I experienced after writing the well-known article “Dear White America.” That experience cemented, for me, and for many other readers, what it means to occupy the residence of whiteness, an abode that can take one’s life in the blink of an eye. The experience of the racialized stranger means walking a tightrope, a precarious situation where one flirts with death, where one’s body is deemed hypersexual, inferior, frightening, and monstrous. Based upon this construction, the white body is deemed the site of virtue, safety, deliverer, protector of all things white and pure. Think here of “the white man’s burden” or the idea of “white manifest destiny.” Stain, blemish, taint, and defilement are indelible markers of the stranger. And based upon the logics of racial purity, one must extinguish the “vermin,” the “criminals,” the “rapists.” While I don’t explore this within the paper, Schutz scholars will immediately recognize the genocidal implications of what would have been at stake for Schutz had he not escaped Adolf Hitler’s anti-Semitic gaze and his Anschluss of Austria. My sense is that Schutz would have understood not just the horrors of white racism but would appreciate the necessity of theorizing the need to rethink home as existentially capacious and intersubjectively vibrant. I conclude this paper by thinking through the concept of “breakdown”, delineating its spatial, phenomenological, and subjectively embodied implications. Breakdown, as I use the term, upends forms of white racialized habituation, creating possible embodied psychic space for what I term un-suturing, which involves undoing the machinations of white safety in the face of alterity, where the stranger invokes wonder and self-critique.
Keywords: Alfred Schutz, Édouard Glissant, Typification, Racism, Whiteness, Stranger
Thomas S. EBERLE, A Study in Xenological Phenomenology: Alfred Schutz’s Stranger Revisited
Abstract: This keynote takes a fresh look at Schutz’s essay on “The Stranger” of 1944. After a brief reflection on the probably universal topos of the stranger, it discerns three different kinds of strangeness in that essay: 1. the otherness of the other and the inaccessibility of the other’s experiences; 2. the strangeness vs. familiarity of elements of knowledge; and the social acceptance by the in-group. Then some methodological implications of Schutz’s approach are pondered, his somewhat hidden offer of an alternative sociology and the postulate of adequacy. Subsequently, two critical issues are pondered: Schutz’s handling of values and value-relations and his complete omission of affects and emotions in spite of all the hardship the (Jewish) immigrants at that time suffered from. An outlook on future Schutzian research concludes the paper.
Keywords: Stranger, Strangeness, adequacy, values and value-relations, affects and emotions
Hermilio SANTOS and Priscila SUSIN, Relevance and Biographical Experience in Urban Social Research
Abstract: This paper analyses how the epistemological foundation proposed by Alfred Schutz, especially his notion of system of relevance, can adequately inform interpretive social research that adopts biographical narrative interviews and the method of biographical case reconstruction. We exemplify this adequacy between Schutz’s theory and the interpretive biographical approach by exploring a research project conducted in favelas of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. We claim that social research on urban development and social inequalities can greatly benefit from this type of phenomenologically based perspective because it offers a longitudinal and in-depth understanding of individuals’ life courses and experiences in urban everyday life and how they unfold always intertwined with a wide range of different historical and cultural experiences, contexts, and meanings.
Keywords: Alfred Schutz, Biographical research, Urban sociology, System of Relevance
Erik GARRETT, Strangeness of the Strange: Strangeness and Proximity in Schutz, Husserl, and Levinas
Abstract: This article reexamines Alfred Schutz’s famous 1944 Stranger essay and the initial criticism of Aron Gurwitsch. I side with Schutz in thinking of the refugee as a special type of stranger. Then to respond to the charge that the essay is not philosophical enough from Gurwitsch, I read Schutz’s notion of the strange with Husserl’s notion of homeworld and Levinas’s notion of fecundity. This allows us to see the philosophical depth of doing a phenomenology of the stranger and strangeness.
Keywords: Schutz, Husserl, Levinas stranger, home, fecundity
ISSN: 2067-0621 (paperback)
ISSN: 2248-1907 (electronic)