A journal article for Political Theology.
In this essay, I advance a theological account of critique that attends to the material nature of creaturely life. This account involves first the “postcritique” movement recently taken up by literary theorists. In order to demonstrate what postcritique involves for political theology, I enlist Luke Bretherton’s anti-Manichean theological method and its case for ethnography. I then turn to an extended example. Specifically, I ask about the usefulness of whiteness discourse. I answer that the term “whiteness” is most useful when connected to the material racism that it helps to explain and less useful when abstracted from realities that “whiteness” properly describes as contingent. In pursuing my account of critique in regards to whiteness, I use my postcritical formulation to frame political scientist Cedric Johnson’s penetrating assessment of whiteness studies. I conclude by suggesting that whiteness discourse abstracted from material realities borders on nonsense, but not an uninteresting kind of nonsense.