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Hegel, Haiti, and Universal History

Susan Buck-Morss

Publication Year: 2009

In this path-breaking work, Susan Buck-Morss draws new connections between history, inequality, social conflict, and human emancipation. She offers a fundamental reinterpretation of Hegel's master-slave dialectic and points to a way forward to free critical theoretical practice from the prison-house of its own debates. Historicizing the thought of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and the actions taken in the Haitian Revolution, Buck-Morss examines the startling connections between the two and challenges us to widen the boundaries of our historical imagination. She finds that it is in the discontinuities of historical flow, the edges of human experience, and the unexpected linkages between cultures that the possibility to transcend limits is discovered. It is these flashes of clarity that open the potential for understanding in spite of cultural differences. What Buck-Morss proposes amounts to a “new humanism,” one that goes beyond the usual ideological implications of such a phrase to embrace a radical neutrality that insists on the permeability of the space between opposing sides and as it reaches for a common humanity.

Published by: University of Pittsburgh Press

Series: Illuminations: Cultural Formations of the Americas


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TItle Page, Copyright

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p. v


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

“Hegel and Haiti” was something of an intellectual event when it appeared in Critical Inquiry in the summer of 2000. The essay’s unexpected movement through art catalogues, political journals, foreign translations, internet blogs, workers’ newspapers, and college classrooms was in response to the unconventional topologies of time ...


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p. 1

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pp. 3-20

“Hegel and Haiti” was written as a mystery story. The reader is encouraged to begin with it directly, before the introduction provided here. For those already familiar with the plot and its denouement, this new introduction (that can be read as the afterward as well) describes the process of discovery behind the essay and ...

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pp. 21-76

By the eighteenth century, slavery had become the root metaphor of Western political philosophy, connoting everything that was evil about power relations.1 Freedom, its conceptual antithesis, was considered by Enlightenment thinkers as the highest and universal political value. Yet this political metaphor began to take root ...

Part Two: Universal History

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p. 77

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pp. 79-86

Today’s neoliberal hegemony sets the stage for “Universal History” that continues in the spirit of “Hegel and Haiti” to unearth certain repressions surrounding the historical origins of modernity. Present realities demand such historical remappings as an alternative to the fantasies of clashing civilizations and exclusionary ...

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pp. 87-152

Could slavery have taken root in the colonizing metropoles of Europe? The answer to this question was contested rather than assured. What made colonial slavery modern was its capitalist form, extracting maximum value by exhausting both land and labor to fill an insatiable consumer demand created by the addictive products ...


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pp. 153-164

E-ISBN-13: 9780822973348
E-ISBN-10: 0822973340
Print-ISBN-13: 9780822959786
Print-ISBN-10: 082295978X

Page Count: 176
Illustrations: 23 b&w Illustrations
Publication Year: 2009

Series Title: Illuminations: Cultural Formations of the Americas
Series Editor Byline: John Beverley and Sarah Castro-Klaren, Editors See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 794702154
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Hegel, Haiti, and Universal History