Working to Heal White Supremacy: Spiritual Ontologies and Anti-Racist Activism Public Deposited

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  • May 15, 2019
  • Osment, "Sunny" Quinn
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Curriculum in Global Studies
  • In this thesis, I look to the significance of spiritual ontologies that illuminate the inherent interconnectedness and love among all beings as such ontologies are associated with anti-racist activism as they diverge from and challenge the operation of worldviews of whiteness. I explore larger questions about whiteness, its implications during the Trump-era whitelash, and the contemporary pertinence of spirituality in the face of white supremacy. This context situates my research questions about the spiritually informed sustenance of activism and its efficacy. I review the literature of the academic frameworks on which my research is contingent: critical whiteness studies and feminist epistemologies and spiritualities. I contend that spiritual ontologies work to theoretically and practically challenge ontologies of whiteness and oppression. The argument chapters of my thesis are comprised of content and textual investigations in activists’ propositions about the need for spirituality and spiritual values within anti-racist organizing. I consider activists deliberations on the conflicting ontologies of whiteness vs. spiritual ontologies, as these different worldviews conceptualize of whiteness and the self in opposite ways. Under an ontology of whiteness, whiteness signifies domination and power, and the individual is inherently separated from others and self-interested, while in a spiritual world, whiteness is a distorted and deadly concept, and all selves are interrelated through suffering and love. I ultimately investigate a variety of activists’ proposals around implementing spiritual practice and love into their organizing, and argue that the spiritual activism they embody works to manifest the spiritual ontologies I define throughout the thesis.
Date of publication
Resource type
  • Osterweil, Michal
  • Bachelor of Arts
Academic concentration
  • Global Studies
Honors level
  • Honors
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Graduation year
  • 2019
  • English

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