Wholism as a Companion to Pedagogies of Distinction: Exit Strategy for the Race Paradigm

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This paper hypothesizes the possibility that the pervasiveness of inter-group conflict is related to a prevalent ideology of learning through distinction. The color red is red, for example, because it is not blue. The paper theorizes the application of theories of wholism as companions to existing pedagogies that teach understanding the nature of things through the acceptance of difference and separation. It uses the goal of eradicating racism (and other forms of oppression) as a context for juxtaposing wholism with pedagogies of distinction. It analogizes racial trauma to the cycle of violence present in domestic violence contexts. It argues that abandoning ancestry (and other methods of identification which may be viewed from a wholistic perspective) for race, as a system of identification, is an example of a pedagogy of distinction that fosters methods of thinking and understanding that perpetuate cycles of oppression. Is asking what wholistic identity looks like similar to asking what a whole alphabet (as opposed to separate signifying symbols) and a whole biology (as opposed to a biology of parts) look like? Although this paper considers the possibility of wholism as a companion to pedagogies of distinction, it does not suggest that we can be blind to difference in learning or identity. Instead, it considers the possibility of improving understanding among people by expanding and shifting perpectives in how we learn.


Keywords: Pedagogy, Race, Difference, Wholism, Identity
Stream: Curriculum and Pedagogy; Student Learning, Learner Experiences, Learner Diversity
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Prof. E. Christi Cunningham

Professor, School of Law, Howard University
Washington, D.C., USA

e. christi cunningham. Currently a Professor and the Director of Legal Reasoning Research and Writing at the Howard University School of Law, she served as a law clerk to the Honorable Constance Baker Motley in the Southern District of New York and practiced in New York prior to entering academia. She received her J.D. from Yale Law School a B.A. and B.S. from Southern Methodist University. As an activist, she organizes an anti-violence project that includes a tutorial program for youth in Southeast Washington, D.C., has worked as the Sexual Assault Response Team Coordinator at the D.C. Rape Crisis Center and mediates disputes between consumers and service providers for the D.C. Department of Mental Health. She writes plays with the Black Women Playwrights’ Group. Her short works have been staged in New York and Washington, D.C. She has presented papers at universities internationally. She has several publications, including The Rise of Identity Politics I: The Myth of the Protected Class in Title VII Disparate Treatment Cases, 30 CONN. L. REV. 441 (1998); Identity Markets, 45 HOWARD L. J. 491 (2002); and Universal Sufficiency (2004). http://www.law.howard.edu/faculty/pages/cunningham/

Ref: L08P0256