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African American Political Philosophy


In 1903, W.E.B. Du Bois predicted that the problem of the twentieth century would be "the problem of the color-line."  We can find evidence that Du Bois was right in all sorts of places: in representations of black Americans on television and in film, in the war on drugs, in relations between black Americans and the politics, and in segregated cities across the country.  The "problem of the color-line" is not a single problem, but a collection of many diverse problems that the American institution of race regenerates through the decades.

In this course, we will bring philosophical tools to bear on these problems, drawing primarily on works by American philosophers of color.  First, we will investigate the kinds of injustice familiar in the racial polity.  Second, we will explore the ways in which people of color have cultivated their own agency, often in active resistance to the oppressive systems in which they find themselves.  Our main guides in these investigations will include Patricia Hill Collins, W.E.B. Du Bois, bell hooks, Charles Mills, and Tommie Shelby.  This course has no prerequisites, though students may benefit from prior experience with Political philosophy.

Satisfies a requirement in the Philosophy major and minor.
Satisfies the Philosophical and Religious Perspectives requirement.
Satisfies the Justice, Equality, and Community requirement.