February 22-25, 2017: presenting at the International Studies Association meeting (Baltimore).

I'll be presenting the third chapter of my book manuscript Kant, Du Bois, and Cosmopolitanism in a New Color:


Empire, Identity, and Political Subjectivity: Reading Du Bois Beyond Double Consciousness

 

 

Abstract

 

In this paper I make the normative case to recuperate identity for cosmopolitanism. I do this by tracking the transformation of the political subject at the center of Du Bois’s project of emancipation between the early twentieth century and the 1930s. In particular, I pay attention to two features in this trajectory. First, I examine the way in which his initial focus on double consciousness is transformed, even if not completely negated, by his turn toward the transnational. In this section I examine Du Bois’s seldom-studied writings on segregation, and make sense of them in relation to the questions of self-definition and transnationalism that preoccupied Du Bois around this time. Second, I explore how the identity that emerges is built upon racial commonality, but it is also politically constructed and thus inherently subject to contestation. I develop further this emerging notion of identity through an engagement with conceptions of non-sovereign subjectivity offered by scholars like Patchen Markell and Linda Zerilli. The exploration of Du Bois’s transnational work, when put in conversation with the literatures mentioned above, makes available forms of identity that are based on kinship that does not overlap with the national. In the later Du Bois, identity is built both around sub-national group identity and the establishment of linkages with groups located outside of the nation; it relies on difference not as a source of antagonism or rejection, but as an attempt to build a composite picture of domination that supports projects of emancipation; it is oppositional toward imperial projects without containing a will to dominate. In closing, I contrast this picture with the antagonist relation with identity that predominates in the cosmopolitan literature