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X-The Problem of the Negro as a Problem for Thought

The Problem of the Negro as a Problem for Thought

Nahum Dimitri Chandler

Publication Year: 2013

X: The Problem of the Negro as a Problem for Thought offers an original account of matters African American, and by implication the African diaspora in general, as an object of discourse and knowledge. It likewise challenges the conception of analogous objects of study across dominant ethnological disciplines (e.g., anthropology, history, and sociology) and the various forms of cultural, ethnic, and postcolonial studies. With special reference to the work of W. E. B. Du Bois, Chandler shows how a concern with the Negro is central to the social and historical problematization that underwrote twentieth-century explorations of what it means to exist as an historical entity referring to their antecedents in eighteenth-century thought and forward into their ongoing itinerary in the twenty-first century. For Du Bois, "the problem of the color line" coincided with the inception of a supposedly modern horizon. The very idea of the human and its avatars the idea of race and the idea of culture emerged together with the violent, hierarchical inscription of the so-called African or Negro into a horizon of commonness beyond all natal premises, a horizon that we can still situate with the term global. In ongoing struggles with the idea of historical sovereignty, we can see the working out of then new concatenations of social and historical forms of difference, as both projects of categorical differentiation and the irruption of originary revisions of ways of being. In a word, the world is no longer and has never been one. The world, if there is such from the inception of something like "the Negro as a problem for thought" could never be, only, one. The problem of the Negro in "America" is thus an exemplary instance of modern historicity in its most fundamental sense. It renders legible for critical practice the radical order of an ineluctable and irreversible complication at the heart of being its appearance as both life and history as the very mark of our epoch.

Published by: Fordham University Press

Series: American Philosophy

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xvi

For the appearance of this work, I must, above all, thank my editor at Fordham University Press, Helen Tartar. And, I am most deeply thankful. For, since first speaking with me in the autumn of 1993 about the project of which this book is an expression, she has remained steadfast—for what is now a generation of thought, at least—in her affirmation of my efforts to think the work ...

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Note on Citations

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pp. xvii-xviii

Where possible or appropriate the citations given herein to texts by W. E. B. Du Bois will be to the thirty-seven volumes of The Complete Published Writings of W. E. B. Du Bois, published by the Kraus-Thomson Org. Ltd., edited and introduced by the late Herbert Aptheker, from 1973 to 1986, as well as to the six volumes of Du Bois’s texts published...

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pp. 1-10

We must desediment the dissimulation of a war.
Yet, no speech can pretend to offer a commensuration with the massive violence of the disaster that was in Los Angeles.2
How can we speak of the massive violence that preceded what has been called the rebellion or riots in the streets of Los Angeles? How can we speak of the violence of a beating that had occurred before it had occurred? How can we find words, fashion a discourse responsible to the unnameable sense ...

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Chapter One

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pp. 11-67

In a classical philosophical opposition we are not dealing with the peaceful coexistence of a vis-à-vis, but rather with a violent hierarchy. One of the two terms governs the other (axiologically, logically, etc.), or has the upper hand. To deconstruct the opposition, first of all, is to overturn [renverser] the hierarchy at a given moment. To...

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Chapter Two

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pp. 68-111

In some considerations on what is given in The Souls of Black Folk: Essays and Sketches, John Edgar Wideman adduces the order of the problematic that we must bring into focus when we approach the matter of the autobiographical in the writing of W. E. B. Du Bois. ...

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Chapter Three

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pp. 112-128

Death always comes at least twice to one whose life is marked by greatness, once in life and again in biography. And, more radically, if death is at least double, then it most assuredly is never only double. One death always begets another death. If death, however, is understood first of all or only as loss, then the rich drama, the generosity, of this incessant ...

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Chapter Four

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pp. 129-170

It is widely believed that a real thing called “America” exists. Yet, it is precisely this idea of America in itself that we should not accept without examination. Is “America” in its truth the anchorage point that supports the social-cultural practices of African Americans? Or, is it rather a complex...

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pp. 171-178

There is no given horizon of thought or critical practice that is, or can be rendered, in its contemporary formation, commensurate with the problematic named under the heading of the problem of the Negro as a problem for thought....


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pp. 179-248


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pp. 249-272


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pp. 273-284

Further Reading

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pp. 285-286

E-ISBN-13: 9780823254101
Print-ISBN-13: 9780823254064
Print-ISBN-10: 0823254062

Page Count: 288
Publication Year: 2013

Edition: Cloth
Series Title: American Philosophy
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OCLC Number: 870969954
MUSE Marc Record: Download for X-The Problem of the Negro as a Problem for Thought

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • African Americans -- Race identity.
  • African Americans -- Intellectual life.
  • Race -- Philosophy.
  • Race -- Social aspects -- United States
  • Du Bois, W. E. B. -- (William Edward Burghardt), -- 1868-1963 -- Political and social views.
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