Pornography, hate speech, racial slurs, blasphemy, colonial clichés in children’s books or street names, gangsta rap songs: certain words, symbols, and images are at the center of great mobilization and controversy. They are accused to cause offense to the public as well as the moral and sexual order, or to generate hate, racism, sexism, homo/transphobia, or religious intolerance. How do we explain that words and images can harm, offend, or discriminate? Where does the power of discourse come from? Should the state regulate public expression of certain words and images? If yes, under which normative principles? Such questions are explored from the perspective of contemporary political theories, including but not limited to, feminist, critical race, and postcolonial studies.
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