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The Paradox of Resistance

Briana Toole, Claremont McKenna College

October 17, 2023 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

Room 9205/06

The Center for Global Ethics and Politics is excited to welcome philosopher Briana Toole as our third colloquium speaker of Fall 2023. The lecture will be followed by a Q&A with the speaker.

This is an in-person event that will allow for virtual participation via Zoom. The in-person talk will be followed by a reception with wine and snacks.

In person: the event will take place at the CUNY Graduate Center, Room 9205/06.

Virtually: please register to participate via Zoom (linked here).



Political and social resistance aim at liberatory ends, those which require the disruption of “business as usual”. But resistance is also constrained by certain standards – espoused most notably by philosopher and political theorist, John Rawls – that it must satisfy if it is to be seen as justified. These standards can be manipulated to manufacture opposition to resistance, a tactic which frames an act of resistance as illegitimate even if it satisfies these standards. The specter of manufactured opposition forces actors to thread a needle between enacting resistance that is disruptive and enacting resistance that avoids this threat. I argue that this imposes a paradox – resistance that avoids the threat of manufactured opposition cannot be disruptive enough to bring about the liberatory ends towards which it strives; however, resistance that is disruptive enough to bring about such ends will not be viewed as legitimate. Consequently, this limits performances of resistance to those that will confer legitimacy on the very systems that are the subject of resistance.


Speaker Bio

Briana Toole is an assistant professor of philosophy at Claremont McKenna College. Her research interests are in epistemology, philosophy of race and gender, and social and political philosophy. Toole’s research investigates the role of traditional assumptions regarding knowledge production in reproducing oppression. For the past few years, she has been working to motivate and revitalize a thesis consigned to the margins of philosophy, standpoint epistemology, the view that non-epistemic features (like one’s social identity) make a difference to what one is in a position to know. Her work has appearedin HypatiaEpistemeAnalysisPhilosophy Compass, and the Journal of the American Philosophical AssociationToole is currently a Laurance S. Rockefeller fellow in the Center for Human Values at Princeton University, where she is working on a book project on the subject of social and political resistance. Toole is also the founder and director of Corrupt the Youth, a program that brings philosophy to high school-aged populations that have been historically excluded from the academy.


October 17, 2023
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm


Graduate Center, CUNY
365 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10016 United States
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