Linda Martín Alcoff

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Linda Martín Alcoff is a professor of philosophy at Hunter College, City University of New York. Alcoff specializes in epistemology, feminism, race theory and existentialism. She is the author of Visible Identities: Race, Gender, and the Self (2006) and The Future of Whiteness (2015).

Alcoff has called for greater inclusion of historically underrepresented groups in philosophy and notes that philosophers from these groups have created new fields of inquiry, including feminist philosophy, critical race theory, and LGBTQ philosophy.[1][2] To help address these issues, with Paul Taylor and William Wilkerson, she started "The Pluralist’s Guide to Philosophy".[3] From 2012 to 2013 she served as president of the American Philosophical Association, Eastern Division.[4] In February 2018 she was appointed president of the board of directors of Hypatia, Inc., the non-profit corporation that owns the feminist philosophy journal Hypatia.[5][6]

Early life and education[edit]

Alcoff was born in Panama,[7] the younger of two daughters to an Irish mother, Laura, and Panamanian father, Miguel Angel Martín, who met each other while studying at Florida State University.[8] Her father became a professor of history at the Universidad de Panama.[9] When her parents separated, Alcoff moved with her mother and sister to Florida when she was three.[7] In 1980 she earned a BA with honors in philosophy from Georgia State University and in 1983 an MA, also in philosophy. She did her doctoral work at Brown University, completing her dissertation under the direction of Ernest Sosa, Martha Nussbaum, and Richard Schmitt and receiving her PhD in 1987.[10]


Positions held[edit]

After spending a year as assistant professor of philosophy at Kalamazoo College, Alcoff moved to Syracuse University, where she taught for the next ten years. She was tenured and promoted to associate professor in 1995 and full professor in 1999. She held visiting positions at Cornell University (1994–1995), Aarhus University (November 1999), Florida Atlantic University (Fall 2000), and Brown University (Spring 2001). She took a position as professor of philosophy and women's studies at Stony Brook University in 2002–2003. In 2009 she became professor of philosophy at Hunter College and the City University of New York Graduate Center.[10]

From 2010 to 2013 Alcoff was joint editor-in-chief, with Ann Cudd, of the feminist philosophy journal Hypatia.[11] She served on its board of associate editors during the Hypatia transracialism controversy in 2017, when the associate editors controversially issued a public apology for the publication of a peer-reviewed article in Hypatia that compared transracialism to the decision to change gender expression.[12][13] The journal's management subsequently established a task force to resolve the journal's governance issues; Alcoff became president of the board of directors of Hypatia, Inc., in February 2018.[5][6]


Alcoff has written widely on subjects including Foucault, sexual violence, the politics of epistemology, gender and race identity, and Latino issues.[10] She has authored three books - Real Knowing: New Versions of Coherence Theory (1996), Visible Identities: Race, Gender and the Self (2006), and The Future of Whiteness (2015).[10] She has also edited ten volumes, written a large number of peer-reviewed articles, and contributed a large number of book and encyclopedia chapters and entries.[10]

Visible Identities: Race, Gender and the Self attempted to offer a unified account of social identity by bridging her previous work in epistemology, metaphysics, and the politics of ethnicity, race, and gender.[14] In it, Alcoff suggested that geographic location has significant implications for social identity above and beyond those conveyed by other contributors to identity (although she does not view such implications as deterministic).[14]

In 1991, Linda Alcoff wrote an essay called:“The problem of speaking for Others”, where she analysed all the aspects of this discursive practise. She recognises that there is a problem in speaking for Others and she introduces significative concepts as: the social location/identity, the ritual of speaking. She tries to analyse the possible solutions and at the end of the essay she summarizes some advices in 4 points that she defines:“four sets of interrogatory practises”. The first one concerns about the impetus to speak, she says that often this impetus must be repressed because it represents a “desire for mastery and domination”, the impetus to be always the speaker is not a good impulse, the most important thing is to interrogate ourselves carefully before speak. The second point focuses on the importance of the location and context, these concepts are part of every “serious discourse practise”, she argues that considering the connections between our locations and our words is a good starting point. In the third point she writes about the importance to talk with accountability and responsibility, it is fundamental remain open about critics and always hear what the other people have to say. The fourth point is defined the central one, she focuses on the importance to analyse the possible and real effects of the words on the discursive and the material context. The conclusion of Linda Alcoff's essay is significative, her text is complicate and full of questions, the answers are few, because as she underlines, the issue is complicate and is difficult to find a solution. She writes that often the practise of speaking for others is born from a “desire of mastery”, to dominate someone, but at the same time it can be considered a positive practise if used just to be a messenger for someone's needs.


Alcoff has received several honors and awards, including an honorary doctorate from the University of Oslo in September 2011, and the Caribbean Philosophical Association's Frantz Fanon Prize for 2009 for her book Visible Identities: Race, Gender and the Self. She was recognized as a Distinguished Woman in Philosophy by the Society for Women in Philosophy in 2005, and held the Meredith Professorship for Excellence in Teaching at Syracuse University from 1995–1998.[10]

Selected works[edit]

  • Alcoff, Linda Martín (1996). Real Knowing: New Versions of the Coherence Theory. New York: Cornell University Press.
  • Alcoff, Linda (1997). "Cultural feminism versus post-structuralism: the identity crisis in feminist theory". In Nicholson, Linda (ed.). The Second Wave: A Reader in Feminist Theory. New York: Routledge. pp. 330–355. ISBN 9780415917612.
  • Alcoff, Linda Martín (2006). Visible Identities: Race, Gender and the Self. Oxford University Press.
  • Alcoff, Linda; Kittay, Eva (2007). The Blackwell Guide to Feminist Philosophy. Malden, MA, and Oxford: Blackwell Publishing. ISBN 9780631224273.
  • Alcoff, Linda Martín (2015). The Future of Whiteness. Cambridge and Malden, MA: Polity Press.
  • Alcoff, Linda Martín (2018). Rape and Resistance. ISBN 9780745691916.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mann, Bonnie (2013). "Three White Men Walk into a Bar". Radical Philosophy Review. 16 (3): 733–746. doi:10.5840/radphilrev201316354.
  2. ^ Wilson, Robin (2013-01-18). "Women Challenge Male Philosophers to Make Room in Unfriendly Field". Chronicle of Higher Education. 59 (19): A1–A6.
  3. ^ O'Connor, James (Jan–Mar 2012). "Pluralist Guide scrutinised". The Philosophers' Magazine (56): 6. Retrieved February 22, 2014.
  4. ^ "APA Divisional Presidents & Addresses". American Philosophical Association. Retrieved February 22, 2014.
  5. ^ a b "Announcement from Hypatia's Board of Directors and Task Force Co-Chairs". Hypatia. 23 February 2018. Archived from the original on 1 March 2018.
  6. ^ a b Weinberg, Justin (24 July 2017). "Hypatia's Associate Editors Resign". Daily Nous.
  7. ^ a b Yancy, George; Alcoff, Linda Martín (4 February 2015). "Philosophy's Lost Body and Soul". The New York Times.
  8. ^ Alcoff, Linda Martin (2015). The Future of Whiteness. Cambridge and Malden: Polity Press. pp. 30–31, 34.
  9. ^ Alcoff, Linda Martín (2006). Visible Identities: Race, Gender and the Self. Oxford University Press. pp. vii, 8.
  10. ^ a b c d e f Alcoff, Linda Martín. "Curriculum Vitae".
  11. ^ "Editorial board". Hypatia. 1 March 2018. Archived from the original on 1 March 2018.
  12. ^ Brubaker, Roger (18 May 2017). "The Uproar Over 'Transracialism'". The New York Times.
  13. ^ Alcoff, Linda Martin (4 May 2017). "Here's my take". Facebook. Archived from the original on 15 May 2017.
  14. ^ a b Sundstrom, Ronald (22 June 2006). "Visible Identities: Race, Gender and the Self (Review)". Notre Dame Philosophical Review.

External links[edit]