W. E. B. Du Bois and Double Consciousness – A Transatlantic Perspective
Chicago Book Salon
Wednesday 23 February 2022
7:00 PM (Central European Time) / 12:00 PM (Central Standard Time)
Please join us for our first Chicago Book Salon of the year with Magali Bessone (Université de Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne) and Matthieu Renault (Université de Paris 8 Vincennes-Saint Denis) who will present their new book W. E. B. Du Bois. Double conscience et condition raciale, Éditions Amsterdam, 2021. The discussants will be Jennifer Pitts (University of Chicago) and Lewis Gordon (University of Connecticut).
Conversation in English.
"How does it feel to be a problem ?" How does it feel to be both Black and American, when the two terms are supposedly contradictory ?
Through the examination of the notion of "double consciousness", key to the subjective experience of Black Americans, the authors invite us to discover the masterful and multifaceted work of the great African-American intellectual W. E. B. Du Bois. He was born in 1868, shortly after the end of the Civil War, and died in 1963, on the eve of Martin Luther King Jr.’s "I have a dream" speech. Their book is the first introduction in French to this major work.
From his opposition to Booker T. Washington to his commitment to Marxism, from the experience of segregation to the conviction that the fate of American democracy is played out in the socio-political condition of Black people, this book traces the trajectory of W. E. B. Du Bois and invites us to make his legacy our own.
The "double consciousness" describes the inner turmoil of African-Americans, but also appears as the source of a particular insight on the racial construction of power relations.
At a time when the echo of the Black Lives Matter movement can be heard everywhere, at a time when the notion of "race" and its articulation with the principles of equality and justice are the subject of the most heated debates, Du Bois’s analyses are highly relevant.
About the Speakers :
Magali Bessone is Professor of Political Philosophy at University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, member of the ISJPS (Institut des Sciences Juridiques et Philosophiques de la Sorbonne), and in 2021-2022, Fellow Member at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.
Her research focuses on contemporary theories of justice, critical race theory and reparations for colonial injustices. She is the author of Sans distinction de race ? (Vrin, 2013), Faire justice de l’irréparable (Vrin, 2019), the co-editor, with Gideon Calder and Federico Zuolo, of How Groups Matter ? Challenges of Toleration in Pluralistic Societies (Routledge, 2014), the co-editor, with Daniel Sabbagh, of Race, racisme, discriminations : une anthologie de textes fondamentaux (Hermann, 2015), and the co-editor, with Myriam Cottias, of Lexique des réparations de l’esclavage (Karthala-CIRESC, 2021). She translated and edited W. E. B. Du Bois’ Souls of Black Folk (La Découverte, 2007).
Matthieu Renault is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Paris 8 Vincennes-Saint-Denis, and a member of the Laboratory of Studies and Research on Contemporary Logics of Philosophy (LLCP). His research focuses on the relations between philosophy and non-European societies, the (post)imperial history of knowledge formations and their reappropriation from minority standpoints (class-gender-race). He has authored : Frantz Fanon : De l’anticolonialisme à la critique postcoloniale (Éditions Amsterdam, 2011), L’Amérique de John Locke : L’expansion coloniale de la philosophie européenne (Éditions Amsterdam, 2014), C. L. R. James : La vie révolutionnaire d’un “Platon noir” (La Découverte, 2016), L’empire de la révolution : Lénine et les musulmans de Russie (Syllepse, 2017), and, with Magali Bessone, W.E.B. Du Bois. Double conscience et condition raciale (Éditions Amsterdam, 2021).
Jennifer Pitts is Professor of Political Science and the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. She is an expert on modern political and international thought ; empire ; the history of international law ; and global justice. At the University of Chicago, she is a member of the faculty boards for the Human Rights Program and the Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory (3CT). She is the co-editor, with Adom Getachew, of W.E.B. Du Bois, International Thought (forthcoming from Cambridge University Press), a collection of 24 of Du Bois’s essays and speeches on international themes, spanning the years 1900-1956. Her previous books include Boundaries of the International : Law and Empire (Harvard, 2018) ; A Turn to Empire : the rise of imperial liberalism in Britain and France (Princeton 2005) ; she was co-editor of The Law of Nations in Global History (Oxford 2017) ; and editor and translator of Alexis de Tocqueville : writings on empire and slavery (Johns Hopkins 2001).
Lewis R. Gordon is Professor and Head of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Connecticut at Storrs ; Honorary Professor in the Unit for the Humanities at Rhodes University, South Africa. He works in the areas of Africana philosophy, existentialism, phenomenology, social and political theory, postcolonial thought, theories of race and racism, philosophies of liberation, aesthetics, philosophy of education, and philosophy of religion. He has written particularly extensively on Africana and black existentialism, postcolonial phenomenology, race and racism, and on the works and thought of W. E. B. Du Bois and Frantz Fanon. His two most recent books are Freedom, Justice, and Decolonization (Routledge, 2021) and Fear of Black Consciousness (Penguin Books, 2022).
This event is organized and presented by the University of Chicago Center in Paris in partnership with the Éditions Amsterdam, the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture at the University of Chicago and the France Chicago Center at the University of Chicago.