Race and/as Metaphor: Figurative Language and Critical Race Pedagogy


Thu Feb 09 2023 at 12:10 pm to 02:00 pm


Cal Poly (Building 20, Room 143) | San Luis Obispo, CA

Presenter: Alpen Razi
About this Event

Pedagogies abound in the use of metaphor. Such figurative language has been central to the ways in which the interdisciplinary field of Ethnic Studies has attempted to illustrate, simplify, and render legible the highly abstract problems of racial privilege and structural inequality. Drawing upon my own experiences in teaching the social construction of whiteness, this brief talk examines why we have so centrally come to rely upon metaphor as the apex tool for understanding and explicating contemporary problems of race and racism. The answer, I suggest, may have less to do with the utility of metaphor as an educational tool, and may instead be an effect of the very structure of metaphor itself. To that end, this presentation begins by surveying the conceptual framework of metaphor and its relation to modern understandings of the social construction of race. It then turns to a closer examination of two important metaphorical instances in the representation of race: W.E.B. DuBois’s foundational articulation of whiteness as a form of “property” and Barbara Field’s invitation to understand modern processes of racialization as analogous to practices of “witchcraft.” With these two case studies in mind, I pose the following questions: do metaphors offer us a handy “shortcut” to understanding issues of race or are they instead inextricable from racial formation itself? What problems and opportunities might a commitment to thinking through race as metaphor confront?


Where is it happening?

Cal Poly (Building 20, Room 143), 1 Grand Ave., San Luis Obispo, United States

Event Location & Nearby Stays:


USD 0.00

Cal Poly College of Liberal Arts

Host or Publisher Cal Poly College of Liberal Arts

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