Alex R. Steers-McCrum
I'm a PhD candidate in philosophy at the CUNY Graduate Center. I'm a White guy from Oregon and an enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. My dissertation was born when I discovered there were no ready explanations in philosophy for an identity like that. I set out to find one, which has turned into a research project years in the making. In my work, I aim to bridge some of the gaps between Native American philosophy, critical race philosophy, and social ontology, and examine a variety of philosophical issues from an Indigenous-centered perspective
I was a teacher long before I was a philosopher and I still love the classroom (even the virtual one). I have taught at Baruch College, CUNY since 2017. The greatest joy in teaching is when students discover the aspect of philosophy that is for them, that they will take into their lives and professions, whatever those may be.
I live in Maryland, just across the border from Washington, DC. When I'm not working, I like to bake with my wife, build Lego with my kids, and watch baseball or play board games with anyone.
AOS: Indigenous Philosophy, Philosophy of Race, Social and Political Philosophy
AOC: Ethics, Ancient Chinese Philosophy, Ethics, Philosophy of Emotion, Feminist Philosophy, Modern Philosophy
My Dissertation: “Hattak Vpi Homma” mvt Miha Nanta Fehnah? What Does “Native American” Really Mean?
This dissertation title is simply the same question I have been asking since I started my graduate coursework nearly a decade ago. Over time, the question has grown in scope, defying complete or final definitions. Asking what “Native” means, is really asking what it means to be Native—and in what sense I am. As an enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, and yet consistently racialized as White, the two most visible definitions of Nativeness are in tension in my person.
I have chosen to title my work in both Chahta Anumpa (the Choctaw language) and English to emphasize that there are answers to this question that come from within Indigenous communities, answers that are imposed by settler colonial society, and answers that arise from their interplay.
I identify six key aspects of Native identity in the U.S. context: enrollment status, tribal ethnic kinship, Native racialization in settler colonial society, intertribal Indian panethnicity, and Indigenous nationhood. Rather than discrete categories, these ways of being Native are mutually interdependent, porous, contextual, and continuously in flux—understanding each is a part of understanding the others. They often encompass different populations. Most importantly, I ground these senses of Nativeness in (or confront their opposition to) Native American relational social ontologies of kinship with the land.
My Research Interests
Inside and outside of my dissertation research, I work broadly in Indigenous philosophy, philosophy of race, and social/ethical/political philosophy. My work tends to blur the boundaries of philosophical branches and academic disciplines. Questions of sovereignty, justice, and the nature of human connections to one another and to our world to impel my research. My immediate future projects revolve around Indigenous-centered critiques of problems in political philosophy, social epistemology, and philosophy of race.
Don’t Put Words in My Mouth: Self-Appointed Speaking-for Is Testimonial Injustice Without Prejudice
2019. “Don’t Put Words in My Mouth: Self-Appointed Speaking-for Is Testimonial Injustice Without Prejudice.” Social Epistemology. First published online. https://doi.org/10.1080/02691728.2019.1682710
Out of the Binary and Beyond the Spectrum: Redefining and Reclaiming Native American Race
2018. “Out of the Binary and Beyond the Spectrum: Redefining and Reclaiming Native American Race.” Critical Philosophy of Race Vol. 6, No. 2. 216-238. https://doi.org/10.5325/critphilrace.6.2.0216
Bernard M. Baruch College, CUNY
I love teaching. My philosophy of teaching philosophy is that my students aren't learning a topic, they're learning a praxis, a craft, maybe even a way of life. Through engaged readings, classroom discussion, and writing and revising philosophy is something we do together in my courses.
Major Issues in Philosophy
An introduction to the topics and practices of philosophy. Students gain a broad view what philosophy is and how to philosophize by encountering some of the discipline's "greatest hits," as well as topics and voices long marginalized, by reading historical pieces and the cutting edge of new research, and by learning to make their own contribution to conversations they care about.
Logic and Moral Reasoning
Students learn the basics of formal logic and practice using this tool to improve the reasoning and arguing skills that will help them succeed in philosophy, law, computer science, and arguing on social media. (Okay, there's nothing I can do for that last one....)
Students explore a variety of topics, issues, and perspectives in ethics, society, and politics. They encounter both theory and applied philosophy from inside and out of the Western canon, and form their own research-based arguments on the topics that matter to their lives.
Philosophy of Race
We explore issues of race, racism, and racialization in the US and globally. Students grapple with historical and contemporary issues in the philosophy of race and address some of our society's longest lasting and most urgent questions. We consider the metaphysics of race, racialization and colonialism, the nature of racism, and proposals for anti-racist action.
Baruch Logic: Digital Humanities Curriculum Development
Baruch Logic is designed to meet the needs of our student population. With my colleagues in the Philosophy Department and funding from the Teaching and Learning Center, we are continuing to develop open access Digital Humanities materials--including the zero-cost textbook, virtual lectures, and online homework--for our hybrid and online logic course.
Fellowships & Awards
Robert M. Adams–Charlotte W. Newcombe Fellow in Philosophy. Institute for Citizens & Scholars
Marilyn J. Gittell Dissertation Fellowship. Gittell Urban Studies Collective, CUNY
CUNY Writing Across the Curriculum Fellowship
CUNY GC Center for Global Ethics and Politics Fellow
APA Graduate Student Stipend: "Here, We Are: A Native American Relational Social Ontology"
Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy Graduate Student Travel Award: "Ongoing Erasure: Antinative Racism and Its Philosophical Origins"
PhD: CUNY Graduate Center
MA: CUNY Graduate Center
BA: Seattle Pacific University
Creative Writing, magna cum laude, honors