Desire and Displacement In Christological Perspective: Race, Redemption, and Christian Discipleship Público

Armstrong, Amaryah Shaye (2012)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/kk91fm322?locale=es
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Abstract

This thesis is primarily a set of close readings in which I interrogate physical and

figurative displacements as a way into Christology. In part one of my thesis, I read Kathryn

Tanner's account of human nature, as characterized by its plasticity and ability to be formed,

alongside Hortense Spillers' readings of the "Middle Passage" and Harriet Jacobs' Incidents in

the Life of a Slave Girl. Here, I show how human nature's plasticity is fundamentally a

vulnerability to movement which is open to exploitation through acts of displacement that

are driven by disordered desires. Taking events of black displacement as my starting place, I

argue that black people's ontological and particular situation as subject-objects within the

logic of white supremacy is the doubled figure of blackness by which white subjectivity and

desires are formed. In part two, I respond to this problem of vulnerability and displacement

by exploring how the Incarnation reopens the enslaved body as the body of Christ. Through

a reading of St. Maximus the Confessor on movement, I explore how it is that Christ's work

of redemption reorders desire, not through an exploitation of human vulnerability, but by

inhabiting it in an excessively perfect way. I find this excess provides the possibility of

resignifying the black body/being, whose meaning as human is foreclosed by oppressive

systems of dominance, through practices of Christian discipleship that displace and decenter

the self as acts of reconstituting the self.

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Problems and Possibilities of Displacement ....................................................1

Prelude: A Brief History of "Race" as a Concept .............................................................................8

Immanuel Kant and the Knowledge of "Race" .................................................................. 12

Science, "Race", and Sexuality ................................................................................................ 19

Part I: The Displacement of Desire ................................................................................................. 23

Human Nature, Desire, and Displacement .......................................................................... 24

The Displacement of Desire .................................................................................................. 31

Aporetic Openings ................................................................................................................... 47

Part II: Desire and Displacement in Christological Perspective ................................................. 50

Movement, Human Nature, and Redemption ..................................................................... 51

Displacement, Desire, and Christian Discipleship .............................................................. 63

Prayer, Protest, and Christian Praxis ..................................................................................... 67

Into the Aporia: Blackness as Theopolitical Strategy ......................................................... 83

Bibliography ........................................................................................................................................ 85

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