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Displaying: 1-10 of 373 documents


1. The CLR James Journal: Volume > 23 > Issue: 1/2
Paget Henry, Editor's Note
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2. The CLR James Journal: Volume > 23 > Issue: 1/2
Boaventura de Sousa Santos, Uncertainty, between Fear and Hope
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We are living in a period where the balanced interdependence of fear and hope seems to have collapsed as a result of the growing polarization between the world of hopeless fear (great majority of the population) and the world of fearless hope (a strictly small but all powerful minority). It is a world where uncertainties tend to become abysmal ones which, for the poor and powerless, ultimately translate into unjust fate and, for the rich and powerful, a reckless mission to appropriate the world. Under the present circumstances, the revolt and the struggle against the injustice must be waged in such a way as to bring about a new social redistribution of fear and hope to put an end to the hopelessness of the oppressed and the fearlessness of the oppressors. The struggle will be more successful if people come to realize that the hopeless fate of the powerless majorities stems from the fearless hope of the powerful minorities.
3. The CLR James Journal: Volume > 23 > Issue: 1/2
Michael Neocosmos, The Dialectic of Emancipatory Politics and African Subjective Potentiality
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All politics (i.e., a collective organised thought-practice), if it is to be emancipatory, must exhibit a dialectic of expressive and excessive thought. The absence of the dialectic implies the absence of a politics. The same point can be made by stressing that, in emancipatory politics, thought and practice are indistinguishable. The dialectic here concerns an emancipatory politics latent in excluded popular African traditions. Such latency means that a potentiality for dialectical thought often already exists within African traditions. Yet it can only be activated in struggle. I show through three examples separated by long periods of time, that Africans—or more accurately some Africans—have successfully activated existing potentials into emancipatory politics by thinking against and beyond the oppressive particularities of interests, place and identity embedded in dominant cultures (such as those typical of civil society today) and have thus emphasised the centrality of universal humanity in the politics of emancipation.
4. The CLR James Journal: Volume > 23 > Issue: 1/2
Jorge Zúñiga M., The Principle of Impossibility of the Living Subject and Nature
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Is it possible to ground universal ineluctable principles related to social reality? How should these principles be formulated from a Latin-American perspective of critical thought? What do they consist of? This paper focuses on answering these questions. The theoretical framework presented here is taken from the arguments and philosophical perspectives of two Latin-American critical thinkers: Enrique Dussel and Franz Hinkelammert. In this context, the arguments which are relevant are those linked to life as presupposition of human action. The purpose here is to provide an alternative strategy for grounding and formulating the material principle of life.
5. The CLR James Journal: Volume > 23 > Issue: 1/2
Tacuma Peters, The Anti-Imperialism of Ottobah Cugoano: Slavery, Abolition, and Colonialism in Thoughts and Sentiments on the Evil of Slavery
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This article argues that the work of Ottobah Cugoano provides readers with a robust anti-imperial analysis of European modernity. For Cugoano, slavery and colonialism are coeval and mutually constitutive processes. I argue that Cugoano’s Thoughts and Sentiments on the Evils of Slavery which has been accepted as a tract of radical abolitionism should also be interpreted as an anti-imperial text. I contend that we must attend to the global scope of Cugoano’s anti-imperialism which includes critiques of European colonialism in Asia, Africa, and the Americas, as well as provides recommendations for radical changes in the relationship between Europe and the rest of the world. Through an analysis of Cugoano’s historiography of modern slavery and colonialism, I argue that Thoughts and Sentiments on the Evils of Slavery provides one of the most thorough criticisms of slavery and empire in the eighteenth century.
6. The CLR James Journal: Volume > 23 > Issue: 1/2
Nathifa Greene, Anna Julia Cooper’s Analysis of the Haitian Revolution
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Anna Julia Cooper has gained wider recognition in philosophy, thanks to the work of black feminist scholars, generating increased interest in Cooper’s ideas on race, gender, education, and social problems in the United States. However, the global scope of Cooper’s political theory has not yet received sufficient attention. Cooper’s 1925 dissertation is an analysis of slavery and the Haitian revolution, which demonstrates the fundamental contradictions within French enlightenment discourses of liberty. Cooper shows how European discourses of liberty were hampered by the realities of enslavement, predating arguments that would become more widely known in later works, such as C.L.R. James’s The Black Jacobins (written in 1938) and Eric Williams’s Columbus to Castro (written in 1970). As Cooper demonstrates how ideologies of racial inequality undermined the stated ideals of the French revolution, she argues from a natural law position to not only maintain that slavery is “a supreme crime against humanity,” in her words, but also that “it is natural and just that it contains its punishment within itself.”
7. The CLR James Journal: Volume > 23 > Issue: 1/2
Lawrence O. Bamikole, Agency and Afro-Caribbean Existential Discourse
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Paget Henry’s (1997; 2000) narratives about the domains of existence in relation to human/social agency raise interesting issues about the theory and praxis of Afro-Caribbean existential discourse. In it, even when the relationships between agency and the material, social and spiritual domains of existence were thematized differently according to the different phases of Afro-Caribbean philosophical thought, the problematic of agency among the three domains raises similar questions across the different phases of Afro-Caribbean philosophy in relation to the theory and praxis of Afro-Caribbean existential discourse. The problem here relates to the charge whether enslaved and colonized people could be credited with cognitive, ethical and social agency in the face of a structure that presents different existential challenges to the ability of the Caribbean people to realise their personhood and live a worthwhile life. This paper argues that the existential issues raised by causal determinism—whether scientific, social or spiritual, rear their ugly heads across the three domains of existence and also through the historical and analytical phases of Afro-Caribbean philosophical thought. The thesis supported in this paper is that, contrary to western scholarship, the Caribbean people have always possessed agency and have used this to overcome existential challenges at different phases of their history. The question whether they have always succeeded in doing this is a different question.
8. The CLR James Journal: Volume > 23 > Issue: 1/2
Melanie Otto, Poet-Shamanic Aesthetics in the Work of Gloria Anzaldúa and Wilson Harris: A Critique of Postcolonial Reason
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Western intellectuals since the Enlightenment have tended to push non-Western forms of knowing to the margins of intellectual discourse and into the realm of myth and folklore. Although postcolonial criticism within and outside of the Americas challenges binary thinking and hegemonic political structures, it frequently does so within the framework of Western scholarly practice. The writings of Wilson Harris and Gloria Anzaldúa, while originating in different “American” contexts, are rooted in an indigenous-inflected episteme and address new ways of producing theory and critical writing through the creative arts. Contemporary literary studies and academic practice are far from the kind of imaginative participation that characterizes the work of Harris and particularly Anzaldúa, who was a scholar as well as an activist. Yet, the notion of art as thought or theory has the potential to expand our understanding of what constitutes knowledge and to enrich the kind of work we do as scholars in the academy.
9. The CLR James Journal: Volume > 23 > Issue: 1/2
Michael E. Sawyer, Undoing the Phaedrus: Melville’s Rereading of Plato
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Readers of C.L.R. James are familiar with the thinker’s careful reading of Melville’s Moby-Dick in his text Mariners, Renegades, and Castaways. In that work James proposes that Melville exposes the foundations of societal level fascism as exemplified by the monomaniacal purpose of Ahab. The purpose of this effort is to push further into the concept of societal division as exemplified by Moby-Dick by proposing that Melville is taking on the discourse of color (black vs. white) and its relationship to ontological value (bad vs. good) by imploding the internal logic of Plato’s Phaedrus. What concerns this project is the relationship between the phenotypic “blackness” of the characters of African descent in Moby-Dick and ways in which Melville endeavors to destabilize skin color in the western imaginary as a means to correct the negative consequences of this flattening of the hierarchical nature of society on the part of Ahab.
10. The CLR James Journal: Volume > 23 > Issue: 1/2
Gamal Abdel-Shehid, Zahir Kolia, In Light of the Master: Re-reading Césaire and Fanon
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While there has been significant literature concerning the relationship between Frantz Fanon and European philosophy; particularly, Marxism, psychoanalysis, phenomenology and existentialism, there has been little work addressing the influence of Aimé Césaire to Fanon’s work. In this essay we argue that Césaire’s ethical sensibility concerning freedom and transformation had a major role in shaping Fanon’s thought. We suggest that Césaire’s work cannot be reduced to an essentialist reading of blackness, or a retrograde form of African nativism. Rather, we argue his anti-colonial philosophy can be understood as an “ethics of acceptance” that seeks to journey to the inward of human consciousness in order to transcend the black’s negative self-concept under colonialism. Contrasting Césaire’s ethics of acceptance, we trace Fanon’s external ethics of confrontation through his reading of Césaire, and also the thought of Jean-Paul Sartre and Maurice Merleau-Ponty. In doing so, we argue that Fanon departs from Césaire not based on the latter’s conception of blackness, or négritude, but rather his ethics of acceptance.