SAT NOTES: Global Du Bois: Empire and Anticolonial Thought
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Du Boisian Scholar Network, 2019 Convening
Session Notes
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Note Taker(s):Shanelle Chambers Haile
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Email of Note taker(s):shanelle_haile@brown.edu
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Date:Sat, May 4
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I. TopicsII. Summary CommentsIII. Action Item
IV. Date of First Contact/Follow Up
V. Contact Lead Name(s)VI. Contact Lead Email
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The question of empire 1: The post-colonial imagination how do we shift our thinking from the nation as the unit of analysis to the empire?Rici Question 1: Thinking about the concept of second sight, in which the colonized subject sees something the rest of the world is not seeing. We do work in the global south but dont think about the people's perspective. If we are thinking from a global du bosian framework, how can we think about the political categories colonial thinkers have from that perspective. Rici Question 2: Also considering that a number of anti-colonial scholars see limitations in pursiing problems without considering the context in which these problems are embedded. In calling the current period "post colonial" we seem to assume that the past is behind us and that the present is in some ways beyond and disconnected from empire. How can we think outside of this restrictive framework?NOTE THAT WE DID NOT GET TO DISCUSS ACTION STEPS -
Participants asked to email Rici and we will take this further, in terms of action steps
Rici also urges sociologists in the room to join the post colonial working group to continue discussion of how sociology can think about empire and its afterlife.
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Response Comment 1: There are connections between global south's diaspora in the global north. If we can change our lens form nation state to empire, there may be potential to deconstruct any artificial boundaries that exist in the way we categorize populations. There should be a way to deconstuct these the categories created by national boundaries.
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One way to think of this is not that colonialism has ended but that we are living in a post colonial moment in which the empire has begun to fall BUT in what ways has it recreated itself. The unit of analysis we use is the nation state. In many ways, European mindsets are replicated in countries in which colonialsim has been "eradicated". Even among darker races there is a replicaiton of the white supremist mindset. The leaders who took over after colonialsim have since fallen or been killed, and with them the black solidarity movements. However, Empire does not die; it recreats itself. We dont need Dutch Trading comapny because we have Exon Mobile, we have Apple. So empire has actually expanded but manifest itself in a different form. Post colonial means not that it has ended but that we are dealing with its aftermath.
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How can we think about empire using a Du Boisian lens? In the Du Boisian notion, whenever we have a revolution, we must always consider and think about the counter revolution or counter movement of capital. Industrial empirialsims in Du Bois is discussed within the context of a counter revolution. In the pan african movement that Du Bois puts forward, we must understand the counter revolution of capital. Paget URGES US TO READ ANIBAD KAYANO (verify this name with Paget) to understand how we think about movements and counter movements. As scholars in this vein, we must consider what the new economic order is and how, what order it has replaced, and what came before it. Remember that there are ways in which the counter revolution of capital defeated all of these other movements.
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Read Anibal Quijano, he is in danger of becoming a scholar denied. We must not forget his work in the caribbean and his idea of "Coloniality of Power", his major work. Also, one of his advises wrote a book called "Colonial Subjects", a piece on geopolitics that looks at how the US has dealt with caribbean countries and their immigrants in varied ways. This will help us to understand the colonial dimensions of power. Also, Quijano was influenced by Du Bois
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We must consider language in our analysis of empire and anticolonial thought? Consider how multiculturalism as a phrase can erase the violence the state has done to people. Example: Canada can call itself multicultural and thus does not have to acknowledge its settler colonial role and history.
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CLR James Journal is very central to this panel. It is a journal that contains articles on theorists, scholars, etc that are known. it is a rich source in terms of thinking through all of these ideas and finding information and scholars writing about empire and anticolonial theory
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The quesiton of empire 2: Considerations of global vs localAs we shift from thinking about the nation state to thinking about the empire state, the way we think about racial order must change. As such, we must move from the global to the local. Consider british empirial formations and how colonies were constructed without consideration that peoples and formations already existed before their arrival. How do we think about racial groupings within this analytical framework?
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We must understand the multiple ways in which relations shifts and ways in which white suprememcy takes shape in different geopolitical realms. We must think about the ways in which many in the African diaspora cannot see themseleves as racialized subjects within their local contexts. The idea is that white supremecy manifest itself only in the presence or in relation to whites. And when whites are absent, so is white supremacy. But there are all of these ways in which white suprememcy is replicated and manifest itself even once colonialism ends and whites leave.
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We must also consider the way knowledge versus experience is priviledged. Commentor lived in the middle east and as such, her knowledge comes from that region. But her experience living in the U.S. is more extensive but she is her "expertise" in the West is considered less than in the middle east. We first need to bring together knowledge and experience and priviledge them both equally. One way to do this is to focus on themes rather than geographic spaces. For instance, nation states are geographic and contained BUT if we are looking at violence as a theme, then we can explore these issues across the global and draw comparisons and similarities. Can one compare the Kurds in Turkey with blacks in the US? How can one do that? Through analysis of common themes.
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The system of white sypremecy is the recreation of empire, when we think abou it that way, it erases the question of global vs local. What happens in American cities is directly tied to what happens in the global south. What happens in these places should spur us to reconfigure our analysis of social problems in the context of geographic boundaries.
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In thinking about analysis of the global and local, we also need to study and understand the differences between the subjects of empire
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In thinking through the national vs global, consider also the ways in which distinctions are important in terms of how power is enacted on different peoples. Remember that some scholars are a bit skeptical about moving beyond the nation as a unit of analysis because it can erase some of these distinctions of power. Suggests that scholars read "Connected Sociologies" by Bhambra
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Also on connecting the global and the local, we must consider violence as an organizing concept. Also note that violence is not just physical--Lynchings, genocide, assasination, hunger, health. It is any violence that is inflicted on bodies. However, what we have done in sociology is erase the violence that connects the experience of people of color around the global. Violence really is the connecting theme that can allow research across boundaries and across peoples. Through violence we can examine similarities between Kurds in Turkey and blacks in Alabama
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In terns of violence, we thus must think about how people and ideas become the instruments of war. War often happens in the name of freedom, democracy. We must consider the ideas under which people are killed
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Question: What are the ways we can think about anti-blackness as operating different from anti-indigeneity? We must consider how these operate through similar and divergent mechanisms.
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Question (similar to the question above): What are the difference between descendents of different populations - those who are descendents of slavery and those who are descendents of refuges? How can we use Du Bois to understand the different logics that people use to do violence to diffrent populations of people?
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Question: Expansion on Dr. Meek's introductory remarks on Marcus Garvey. Can we expand upon the ideological tensions between Du Bois and Garvey? Why did these movements not converge?We are overly personalizing the relationship between Du Bois and Garvey. Du Bois' conclusion is that black people would never leave in droves and go back to Africa. This has proven partially true. To some extent, Du Bois and Garvey were fighting over the leadership of African Americans. Also there was some territorial bias on Du Bois' part against Garvey as a West Indian.
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Intellectual geneology is important and Garvey influenced of Malcolm X and others. We must talk about colonial subjects and disciplines, we must consider the invisible hand that structures the knowledge we put forward as most prominent. We also must not reduce Garvey to the back to Africa movement. He has done significant work on movements around black empowerment. Finally, although blacks did not go back to Africa in droves on boats; they are going back on planes. Let us not forget about Ghana's "right to abode" law for African Americans. Don't forget that Du Bois moved to Ghana, died and is buried there.
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Scholars debating this issue should read letters between Amy Garvey and Du Bois to truly understand this deep seeded issue (this comment was made after the session but I thought it important)
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Question: (1) in thinking about the movement of physical bodies, can we think about data as bodies and the movement of our data as bodies? (2) Colonialism is rooted in the exploitation of bodies but now our bodies move through technology and in ways that are virtual, as such, the transnational is now beyond the physical. So What is the implication of this in digital realm? (3) Can we think about race as technology and imagination, both in terms of the technological components and the ways race is infused in our lives (I admit he lost me here - Shanelle). So how do we percieve the social shifts that technology is makingIn addition to considering the role of technology in our analysis, we are forgetting things that are also material but not technical. Examples are lwater, air, etc and their impacts on peoples in the global south. These other theories and ideas are great but lets not forget that the issue some people face across the globe is clean water and we must find ways to work that back into our conversation.
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Question: How much are we attached to disciplinary boundaires? For instance, some here are in Af Am studies, Sociology, etc. I have always wondered why sociology and anthropology different disciplines? Are disciplines inherently colonial? The only answer received so far is that sociology studies the metropole and anthropology studies the "global south". How much do we attach disciplines and colonial geographies? Are we doing this within the Du Boisian network? We must understand how these boundaries are made and and what the implications of these boundaries between disciplines are.In terms of your question about the Du Boisian network, sociologists created this network and so that's why it has been so sociology-centered. That is something the founding committee recognizes as a problem but they are working on ways to recruite and ensure that Du Bois is open to scholars in all discipliones. (Partial answer to this question)Suggestion: Perhaps an award can be given across for scholars who do work on Du Bois accross disciplinary boundaries
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Agreement around the room is that disciplinary boundaries need to be broken down in order to do this work as scholars in the Du Boisian vein.
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Summary Comments from the session: These inititial comments capture introductory remarks and how the session was framed - Rici opens with a reminder to be mindful of gender erasures (let's not ignore prefered pronouns) as well as a reminder to situate the convening within local and global considerations of empire. She also reminds the group to consider Du Boisian contemporaries, all of whom should be considered within the context of this conversation. Brian Meeks follows with opening comments. Large attendance in the room shows the extent to which global du boisian sociology is becoming a movement. Africa, panafricanism and empirialism are the themes of this session. Du bois identifies and carries us beyond the story of capitalism. "The problem of the 20th century is the problem of the color line". There is the recognition throughout his work that capital has a flavor, it is born of black blood. Dr. Meeks closes by urging scholars to understand and analyze the context (notions, culture, etc) in which these works were written. Also, today we must acknolwedge Du Bois' role in the creation of pan African movements, in the way he moved from ideas to practice by organizing the early stages of this movement. He strongly believed in the unification of Africa and the diaspora, to fight for economic independence, freedom and the end of white domination. All of these considerations foreground how we move forward with these themes in the 21st century. These latter comments capture summary themes of the the end of the session - (Meeks) The reaction of capital as a counter movement is crucial to understanding the post colonial period. Thinking through this in the transnational sense, what does a counter revolution look like in the 20th century. Final Question to consider: What will revolutions of the future look like? Drawing on Du Bois, they will have to be transnational. They will have to bridge national boundaries. We will have to find ways to move from the local to the transnational. The digital also comes into play here in thinking about the ways in which we shift our analysis to one that is transnational
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