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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Africa in Du Bois's philosophy of race
Author:Kiros, TeodrosISNI
Periodical:Quest: An International African Journal of Philosophy
Geographic term:Africa
Black people
About person:William Edward Burghardt Du Bois (1868-1963)ISNI
Abstract:The author focuses on the idea of Africa in the work of the African American W.E.B. Du Bois, particularly how this idea enabled him to develop a unique philosophy of race. He aims to correct the view that Du Bois is an essentialist, as A. Appiah in particular has contended. For the present author Du Bois provided a complicated race concept based on the idea that it is the material conditions of blacks and the identity confusions that poverty produces that forces him to look at Africanity as an empowering idea of blackness, and hence black humanity. To Du Bois, race is always concrete, ready to be faced, to be dealt with. He neither wills it nor theorizes it. As Du Bois argues, the race concept is autobiographical, and not a theoretical construct. Appiah's critique of Du Bois' race concept is based on a misunderstanding. Whereas Appiah argues that the race concept is an inheritance from the 19th-century race theories that Du Bois inherited from his Western education, there is no textual base for this view. In fact, Du Bois is at pains to share his agonies and frustrations with the race concept. He himself does not really know what the concept means, what he knows for sure is that he suffers in the hands of those self-acknowledged experts of the race idea and the ignorant masses of people who think they know what it is, and who discriminate his ancestors, their ancestors, and finally his very self, despite his mixed ancestry. What is at issue then is not whether or not Du Bois himself is a racist, but rather his existential situation, his and his children's life in America where he grew up and lived most of his life. It is in the USA that he is reminded everyday that he is black, condemned, wretched, inferior and born to suffer. It is that everyday existence that determines what he thinks of the race concept. Sum. in English and French. [ASC Leiden abstract]