Skinnerian approaches to political thinking strictly bifurcate “past” and “present.” I argue that this is a simplistic understanding of political time—one sustainable only within a worldview where history is not felt as personally haunting. I substantiate my argument through an analysis of key passages in African American political thought. Thinkers like Du Bois and Baldwin center their inquiries on the very questions that the Cambridge School evades: When does the past begin to be past? When does the past cease to be present? How do we forge a language fully adequate to past and present’s complex relation?

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