Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Barbara Thayer-Bacon

Committee Members

David A. Reidy, Allison D. Anders, Cynthia G. Fleming


There is a tendency in education theory to place the focus on the consequences of racial hegemony (racism, Eurocentric education, low performance by racial minorities) and ignore that race is antecedent to these consequences. This dissertation explores the treatment of race within critical theory in education. I conduct a metaphysical analysis to examine the race concept as it emerges from the works of various critical theorists in education. This examination shows how some scholars affirm the scientifically discredited race concept by offering racial essentialist approaches for emancipatory education. I argue that one of consequences of these approaches is the further tightening of racial constraints on the student’s personal autonomy. This mandates that critical theorists gain a deeper understanding of race as a problem, conceptually, epistemically, ideologically, and existentially. I argue that critical theorists of education draw from work conducted in the philosophy of race by theorists such as K. Anthony Appiah, Jorge Gracia, Charles Mills, and Naomi Zack to gain insights on the metaphysics of race to better inform theory and praxis. I further recommend the creation of a critical philosophy of race in education to address and combat race as a problem and its consequences. I contend that the groundwork for philosophy of race in education must entail strategies that encourage and assist theorists and teachers to move toward the elimination of the race in society, while utilizing race only as heuristic tool to address its consequences. Additionally, I argue that a philosophy of race in education must advocate for an education for autonomy as a means to racial liberation for students.

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