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Before the Department of Homeland Security instituted the Migrant Protection Protocols in January 2019, as many as 1,000 Central American refugees passed each day through Catholic Charities’ Humanitarian Respite Center, where they received food, clothing, a shower, toiletries, and sandwiches for the road. Sister Norma Pimentel founded the Humanitarian Respite Center in 2014 to “restore human dignity” to refugees who had been degraded and vilified during their dangerous journeys north, not least by way of their processing by the US government. Sister Norma has inspired countless people, including me, to engage with the community as a form of place-based philosophical activism, that is, of situated and engaged teaching, scholarship, and service. In this essay I read Sister Norma as a feminist pragmatist in the historical and philosophical lineage of Jane Addams, and I aim to provide an example of how a feminist-pragmatist approach can support and encourage philosophical activism in our communities. Feminist scholars can learn from feminist pragmatism the importance of “being-with,” “sympathetic understanding,” and “a larger social impulse.” Feminist pragmatism encourages academics to become place-based philosophical activists who use their teaching, research, and service in order to press for social justice.


Copyright © The Author(s) 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of Hypatia, a Nonprofit Corporation

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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