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Half-Hearted Intentionality: The Politics of Being Seen

Friday, December 1, 2023
4:15 pm
Hall Auditorium Green Room (HAL 103)

The term known as “critical phenomenology” that first occurs in the middle of the last century changes phenomenology from the question of what it is like to Be the perceiver, the focus having been on Being, to what it is like to be the perceived, and perceived as Other. In Oda Davanger's work, she attempts to apply insights from critical phenomenology to political philosophy. Franz Fanon, Iris Marion Young and Sachi Sekimoto all work from Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception to characterize the effects on agency of being perceived as Other from three different types of Othering. Fanon analyzes the effects of racialization, Young analyzes the effects of gender, and Sekimoto’s analysis adds an analytic element of being exposed to new cultural interpellations to show that these effects need not be static. Davanger argues that all three at once criticize Merleau-Ponty for universalizing the phenomenological subject, but also appeal to Merleau-Ponty’s subject in order to point out the erring effects of social injustice on the subject. Through a phenomenological reading of Hannah Arendt’s The Human Condition, Davanger brings the questions of agency, body schema, and half-hearted intentionality into political analysis. Davanger argues that being seen as an Othered whatness impairs one’s recognition as a distinct who, and that this effect is reinforced by the loss of entitlement that follows a public whatness designation.

Oda Davanger is a PhD Candidate at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, where she is writing a dissertation in philosophy on bodies and politics, drawing on critical phenomenology. She holds an MPhil from the University of Oslo and a BA from Earlham College, both in philosophy. She has taught courses on Democracy, feminist and decolonial theory. Currently, Davanger is a visiting researcher at Emory University through the Fulbright program.

This colloquium is presented by the Miami University Department of Philosophy and the Miami University Humanities Center.

Oda K. Storbråten Davanger
Oda K. Storbråten Davanger
Visiting Research Scholar, Emory University and PhD Candidate, Norwegian University of Science and Technology