The CLR James Journal

Volume 29, Issue 1/2, Fall 2023

Derefe Kimarley Chevannes
Pages 195-220

Criminalizing Black Reason
A Critique of Carceral Methodologies in the Study of Race

This paper critically examines the nexus between the scientific method and the study of race in the contemporary world. It begins by historicizing the emergence of the scientific method as indispensable to the advent of European modernity. The development of modernity collapsed into the racialization of black subjects as subhuman and criminal. This criminalization of blackness occurs at two critical junctures: the arrest of blacks via plantation enslavement and the concomitant imprisoning of black bodies of thought. The consequence of modernity’s carceral methods implicates the study of race, particularly the formation of Black Studies, by criminalizing black reason. As such, the paper contends for an Afromodern scientific revolution, understood as the emancipation of method and the decarceralizing of science in order to procure black liberation in the modern world.