The contents of racialized seeing

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1 Scopus citations


This paper explores the conscious visual experience of seeing race. In everyday occurrences, racialized seeing involves the capacity for a subject to simply “see” that someone she encounters belongs to a racial category. I bridge research in analytic philosophy of perception and accounts from phenomenologists and critical race theorists on the lived experience of racialized seeing. I contend that we should not trust our visual experiences of racialized seeing because they provide, at best, incomplete information on a target’s racial identity. I make a case for a version of perceptual learning that I think both captures actual experiences of racialized seeing and is empirically plausible. Finally, I follow work of critical race theorists in suggesting that normative constraints surrounding racial identity and privilege are built into our experiences of racialized seeing. Both types of racialized seeing are subject to social norms and practices and, thus, aid in perpetuating racial hierarchies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)723-741
Number of pages19
JournalPhenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • Contents of perception
  • Experience
  • Perception
  • Phenomenology
  • Race

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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