Scholars across the disciplines have turned to theories of recognition to interpret recent cases of racial profiling, police brutality, and the militarization of the police in black communities. Social activists, too, have embraced the concept, staging recognition scenes to claim political legitimacy. I examine the rhetorical contours of five recognition scenes and the sociopolitical objectives that recognition is expected to perform: 1) dialectical recognitions, which showcase how recognition works hierarchically through dyadic configurations of structural inequalities; 2) intersectional recognitions, which break down the oppressor/oppressed binary through multiaxle identifications and analyses; 3) human rights recognitions, which attempt to hold liberalism accountable to its ideals; 4) recognitions in between, which draw attention to the limits of classical liberal and neoliberal logics of recognition and create alliances that may be impossible based on the logics of recognition; and 5) postracial recognitions, which invest in the temporal fantasy that race is no longer a structuring principle in inequality and fail to account for the power in which recognition operates.

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