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Collegium of Black Women Philosophers launched at Vanderbilt; Conference set for September

Jan. 12, 2007, 1:15 PM

A new organization to assist black women pursue careers in philosophy has been launched at Vanderbilt University through a five-year pilot program.

The Collegium of Black Women Philosophers will support black women in the field through networking, mentoring and financial support.

The CBWP will hold its first conference at Vanderbilt on Sept. 28-29.

“The American Philosophical Association has more than 11,000 members, and only about 112 of them are African American philosophers,” said CBWP founder Kathryn Gines, assistant professor of philosophy and also African American and Diaspora Studies at Vanderbilt.

“Only about 18 or 20 of the 112 are black women. So there are very, very few black women in the discipline of philosophy, and some have left the discipline because of the racism and sexism in some philosophy departments and institutions.”

The issue needs to be addressed, Gines said.

“With any discipline, you need a variety of perspectives and positions,” she said. “Without it, you just have this homogeneous group that tends to repeat and reassure itself.

“Philosophy is still viable in part because women and people of color have recharged the discipline in innovative and exciting ways. Part of that is seen in feminist theory and race theory being developed, and part of it has been the challenging of racism and sexism in a lot of classic texts.”

The CBWP plans to offer financial support to black women philosophers to attend conferences, where much of the networking takes place that leads to job opportunities.

“There are some excellent teachers and scholars out there who feel alienated in their departments or at their institutions, and sometimes all that is needed is a safe space where you can get some encouragement and mentoring,” Gines said. “If we provide it, more black women will enter the field and make progress. The discipline of philosophy will benefit if we‘re successful.”

Media contact:Jim Patterson, (615) 322-NEWS
jim.patterson@vanderbilt.edu

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