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Shifting the Paradigm

This section presents challenges to the supposedly stable categories of classical theory by introducing the work of critical race, feminist, and postcolonial scholars, beginning with an essay looking at how the digital divide shapes the knowledge we find on the internet (“Webs of Knowledge in the Digital Divide”). The essay asks readers to consider questions about the social contexts of knowledge creation, and how unequal access to what we know and, more fundamentally, how we know about reality helps perpetuate social inequality and injustice. We set the stage with selections from two foundational scholars of race and feminist theory: W. E. B. Du Bois’ The Souls of Black Folk and Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex. Additional excerpts include Frantz Fanon’s powerful work on the racial discourses of colonialism, a selection from Edward Said’s groundbreaking Orientalism, Michael Omi and Howard Winant on racial formation in the contemporary United States, Dorothy Smith’s work on feminist standpoint theory, and Patricia Hill Collins’s brilliant work on black feminist epistemology. Each of these contemporary theorists continues to unpack the place of lived experience and oppression in shaping social life and social theory, just as Du Bois and de Beauvoir did decades earlier.


  • Black feminist epistemology
  • Intersectionality
  • Standpoint theory
  • Woman as Other
  • Black skin white masks
  • Double-consciousness
  • Orientalism
  • Racial formations

Writing Out Loud

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(W.E.B. Du Bois)
(Simone de Beauvoir)
(Michael Omi and Howard Winant)
(Frantz Fanon)
(Edward Said)
(Patricia Hill Collins)

Interactive Readings