Du Bois and a Radical, Transnational, Cosmopolitanism
In this chapter, I propose a notion of transnational cosmopolitanism that repositions the principle of hospitality as a radical practice through which marginalized groups throughout the world welcome external voices and—through communication and exchange—come to reconceive the character of injustice as transnational and their plight as shared. I do this by engaging with the transformation of Du Bois’s transnationalism and anti-imperialism in the first decades of the twentieth century. These writings offer a sophisticated understanding of the inter-connected character of racial forms of domination across realms and the potential these commonalities have to ground forms of identity formation that can result in joint political action that straddles domestic, international, and cosmopolitan realms of politics. I argue that Du Bois’s intervention, by disrupting the practices of white supremacy that characterized the society of states and inaugurating novel forms of identification, is at once political and aesthetic. I further my argument through an examination of three events spearheaded by Du Bois: the 1919 Pan African Congress, his participation in the San Francisco Conference in 1945 as an advocate for the colonies, and his submission of a petition to the United Nations denouncing the violation of African Americans’ human rights in 1947. In closing I contrast the notion of transnational cosmopolitanism that I extract from Du Bois with notions of interconnection prevalent in the neo-Kantian literature.