Photo of Alexis Shotwell

Alexis Shotwell


Degrees:Ph.D. (UC-Santa Cruz)
Phone:613-520-2600 x 3082
Office:D791 Loeb Building
Website:Visit Professor Shotwell's website

Areas of research

Impurity and imperfection as a basis for action, environmental justice, racial formation, disability, unspeakable and unspoken knowledge, sexuality, gender, and collective political transformation.


I’m a theory and science fiction fan, functional potter, and I ride my bike in all weather. I’ve been part of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Carleton since 2012, where I’m cross-appointed to Philosophy and the Pauline Jewett Institute of Women’s and Gender Studies. I was proud to teach from 2007-2012 in the Department of Philosophy at Laurentian University, and I mourn its death at the hands of the Ford Government. From 2013-2018 I co-investigated (with Gary Kinsman and others) the history of AIDS activism in the Canadian context, ( – I am slowly working my way through that material and welcome inquiries from graduate students who would like to work on the archive we’ve assembled.

My other ongoing projects are

  • Collecting Our People, which begins from the understanding that we face multiple wicked problems that we cannot solve alone and for which we are not equally responsible – complex things like global warming, systemic racism, and chemical pollution. I’m interested in how we get together to solve big problems in which we are complicit. So, the book looks to social movements for their theoretical insights and suggestions for practical paths towards collecting our people in every sense – calling “in” our racist uncle at the Thanksgiving table or addressing a Twitter rando, finding other people who care about the issues we care about, and identifying not only our complicity in wrongdoing but how that complicity offers us traction for making change.
  • A short advice book called This Is Not Writing Advice, in which I offer some of what I’ve learned teaching academic and activist writing, with the aspiration that it can help people suffer less in their writing practice.
  • A project on hermeneutic justice and pedagogical approaches to resist epistemic extractivism, take an approach other than epistemophilia, and craft practices of respecting other people’s boundaries and furthering their practice of freedom as a condition for collective liberation.

Recent publications


Against Purity: Living Ethically in Compromised Times (University of Minnesota Press, 2016)

Knowing Otherwise: Race, Gender, and Implicit Understanding (Penn State Press, 2011)

Journal articles:

With Janet Siltanen, Xiaobei Chen, Aaron Doyle. “Teaching, Supervising, and Supporting PhD Students: Identifying Issues, Addressing Challenges, Sharing Strategies”. Canadian Review of Sociology, 2019, 56(2).

With Ryan Conrad ““This Is My Body”: Historical Trauma, Activist Performance, and Embodied Rage.” a/b: Auto/Biography Studies 33:2 (2018) pp. 449-453

“Implicit Knowledge: How It Is Understood and Used in Feminist Theory.” Philosophy Compass 9, no. 5 (May 1, 2014): 315–24

“’Women Don’t Get AIDS, They Just Die From It’: Memory, classification, and the campaign to change the definition of AIDS.” (Hypatia 29.2 Summer 2014)

Chapters in Edited Collections:

“Forms of Knowing and Epistemic Resources” in The Routledge Handbook to Epistemic Injustice Ian James Kidd, José Medina & Gaile Pohlhaus (eds.) Routledge (February 2017)

“Ethical polyamory, responsibility, and significant otherness.” In Gary Foster, ed. Desire, Love, and Identity: A Textbook for the Philosophy of Sex and Love. Oxford University Press Canada: Toronto (October 2016)

With Ami Harbin, “Race and Bioethics” in Arras, John D., Elizabeth Fenton, and Rebecca Kukla, eds. The Routledge Companion to Bioethics. Routledge, 2014.

“Unforgetting as a Collective Tactic” in George Yancy, ed. White Self-Criticality beyond Anti-Racism: How Does It Feel to Be a White Problem?. Lexington Books, 2014

Non-academic writing:

The Virus is a Relation.” Upping the Anti: A Journal of Theory and Reflection. Blog post. Published on May 5, 2020.

Survival Will Always Be Insufficient, but It’s a Good Place to Start.” The Arrow: A Journal of Wakeful Society, Culture, and Politics. Practice, Resilience, and Compassion in the Time of COVID-19 collection, invited blog post. Published on April 16, 2020.

“Vampirement: How the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board feeds on some futures to secure others” Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. Issue 04: ACCOUNTING Eds. D.T. Cochrane, Alison Cooley, Fraser McCallum, Christine Shaw and Joy Xiang (serial broadsheet, invited contribution). University of Toronto, Blackwood Gallery. (July 2019).

“Claiming Bad Kin” Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. Issue 03: BEARING Eds. D.T. Cochrane, Alison Cooley, Fraser McCallum, Christine Shaw and Joy Xiang (serial broadsheet, invited contribution). University of Toronto, Blackwood Gallery. (March 2019).

With Chris Dixon. “For a grieving optimism” Canadian Dimension (magazine). Vol 52 issue 3, Fall 2018.