Black (Re)visions: African American Political Thought in the 21st Century

Brandon Terry, Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences

Kierstan Carter, Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences

“Black (Re)visions: African American Political Thought in the 21st Century” will produce the first comprehensive, interdisciplinary scholarly volume concerning the transformation of Black political debates and ideas since the turn of the 21st century. A time of profound confusion and contradiction, there have been portentous changes in the political life of Black Americans, including Barack Obama's election, Black Lives Matter, a renaissance in Black feminist and socialist politics and criticism; Black nationalism becoming online masculinist and nativist discourse; and the emergence of powerful Black conservatives in art, commentary, and elected and appointed office. Such developments reflect deeper changes in the “problem-spaces” and structural conditions of Black political life that distinguish this period even from the longer “post-Jim Crow” era. These include the significance of digital media, intensifying class stratification (even in incarceration), gender role expectations, the decline of the Black church, and demographic and political shifts wrought by intermarriage and migration. Studying and teaching problems of race and politics require a serious rethinking of Black political ideas in light of the changes above, and discarding older scholarly frameworks: American creedalism, accommodation vs. protest, and integration vs. nationalism. These being glaringly obsolete, our goal is to gather an interdisciplinary group of leading scholars to theorize and debate the fundamental categories at stake in the study of Black political thought now, focusing on overlapping questions of historical interpretation and explanation, philosophical reconstruction, normative judgment, and empirical demonstration and analysis.