Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
X-The Problem of the Negro as a Problem for Thought

X-The Problem of the Negro as a Problem for Thought

Douglas R. Anderson
Jude Jones
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: Fordham University Press
Pages: 288
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    X-The Problem of the Negro as a Problem for Thought
    Book Description:

    X: The Problem of the Negro as a Problem for Thought offers an original account of matters African American, and by implication the African diaspora in general, as an object of discourse and knowledge. It likewise challenges the conception of analogous objects of study across dominant ethnological disciplines (e.g., anthropology, history, and sociology) and the various forms of cultural, ethnic, and postcolonial studies. With special reference to the work of W. E. B. Du Bois, Chandler shows how a concern with the Negro is central to the social and historical problematization that underwrote twentieth-century explorations of what it means to exist as an historical entity referring to their antecedents in eighteenth-century thought and forward into their ongoing itinerary in the twenty-first century. For Du Bois, "the problem of the color line" coincided with the inception of a supposedly modern horizon. The very idea of the human and its avatars the idea of race and the idea of culture emerged together with the violent, hierarchical inscription of the so-called African or Negro into a horizon of commonness beyond all natal premises, a horizon that we can still situate with the term global. In ongoing struggles with the idea of historical sovereignty, we can see the working out of then new concatenations of social and historical forms of difference, as both projects of categorical differentiation and the irruption of originary revisions of ways of being. In a word, the world is no longer and has never been one. The world, if there is such from the inception of something like "the Negro as a problem for thought" could never be, only, one. The problem of the Negro in "America" is thus an exemplary instance of modern historicity in its most fundamental sense. It renders legible for critical practice the radical order of an ineluctable and irreversible complication at the heart of being its appearance as both life and history as the very mark of our epoch.

    eISBN: 978-0-8232-5410-1
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xvi)
  4. Note on Citations
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
    (pp. 1-10)

    We must desediment the dissimulation of a war.

    Yet, no speech can pretend to offer a commensuration with the massive violence of thedisasterthat was in Los Angeles.²

    How can we speak of the massive violence that preceded what has been called the rebellion or riots in the streets of Los Angeles? How can we speak of the violence of a beating that had occurred before it had occurred? How can we find words, fashion a discourse responsible to the unnameable sense that overtakes one in hearing of the utter verdict inCalifornia v. Powell? That is, how can...

  6. CHAPTER ONE OF EXORBITANCE: The Problem of the Negro as a Problem for Thought
    (pp. 11-67)

    When speaking of the question of the situation of the Negro American as a matter of thought, we must begin by recognizing the historical problem, or the historical form of the problematization of existence, the kind of problematic, that has organized its emergence and rendered both its necessity and its possibility.³ That problematization is, in a word, since the sixteenth century, the double and reciprocal articulation of the institution of modern slavery and its aftermath, including colonialism, in continental Africa, in the Americas, and in the Caribbean, on the one hand, and the emergence of a global practice of distinction...

  7. CHAPTER TWO THE FIGURE OF THE X: An Elaboration of the Autobiographical Example in the Thought of W. E. B. Du Bois
    (pp. 68-111)

    In some considerations on what is given inThe Souls of Black Folk: Essays and Sketches, John Edgar Wideman adduces the order of the problematic that we must bring into focus when we approach the matter of the autobiographical in the writing of W. E. B. Du Bois.

    Like Freud’s excavations of the unconscious, Einstein’s revelations of the physical universe, Marx’s explorations of the economic foundations of social organization, Du Bois’s insights have profoundly altered the way we look at ourselves. The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color-line. With this utterance the unconscious, relativity, class...

  8. CHAPTER THREE THE SOULS OF AN EX-WHITE MAN: W. E. B. Du Bois and the Biography of John Brown
    (pp. 112-128)

    Death always comes at least twice to one whose life is marked by greatness, once in life and again in biography. And, more radically, if death is at least double, then it most assuredly is never only double. One death always begets another death. If death, however, is understood first of all or only as loss, then the rich drama, the generosity, of this incessant doubling will most assuredly remain closed up and withdrawn. The difficulty of tracking some of the modalities of this irruptive doubling of death always shows itself in the scene of biography.

    There is perhaps no...

  9. CHAPTER FOUR ORIGINARY DISPLACEMENT: Or, Passages of the Double and the Limit of World
    (pp. 129-170)

    It is widely believed that a real thing called “America” exists. Yet, it is precisely this ideaofAmerica in itself that we should not accept without examination. Is “America” in its truth the anchorage point that supports the social-cultural practices of African Americans? Or, is it rather a complex idea formed inside the (historical-transcendental) movement of the constitution of the African American as material idea? Perhaps it can be shown how this idea of “America” took form in different operations of power and the definite role it played in them.²

    I can restate, in a more explicit fashion, the...

    (pp. 171-178)

    There is no given horizon of thought or critical practice that is, or can be rendered, in its contemporary formation, commensurate with the problematic named under the heading of the problem of the Negro as a problem for thought.

    In a word, this conundrum has yielded what may be called the problem of theory with regard what has often been called by the names—Afro-Afra-Negro-Colored-Black-African-American—or that is to say, if we allow to stand in here, an even more brief short-hand annotation, the so-called African Diaspora.

    Within my own formation—which is to remark the privileged problematic and the...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 179-248)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 249-272)
  13. Index
    (pp. 273-284)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 285-286)