Racial Foundations of Political Theory and its Critical Rearticulations

Eugene Lang College Lib Arts: Politics

Liberal Arts
Undergraduate Course
Degree Students
Race and Political Theory
Spring 2024
Taught By: Jochen Schmon
Section: A

CRN: 14654

Credits: 4

"The political theory of Western modernity has been irreducibly embedded in the colonial endeavors of European imperialism. This course will treat the established canon of modern political thought as a privileged discursive site to study the dominant ideologies of empire and colonialism—for the simple reason that these political thinkers have expressed the varying forms of racial domination in the most precise conceptual terms. In short, they have turned imperial politics into philosophy. This is why contemporary critical theorists have used this canon as an archive to study the imaginaries of racial hierarchy as well as the justifications of colonial dispossession, enslavement, and exploitation that structure the history of modern empire. And for the very same reason, the engagement with the Western canon has also served to explore the terms of decolonial and anti-racist politics. Following this twofold strategy in engaging with the coloniality of the Western canon, the first part of this course will be dedicated to study the beginning of racial modernity in Renaissance humanism and its continuation in the philosophy of the Enlightenment. Through the seminal works of Sylvia Wynter and Charles W. Mills, we will interrogate the racial foundations of early-modern Christian political theology as well as the colonial discourses of the ascending civil societies of Europe, paradigmatically crystallized in the political theories of Niccolò Machiavelli, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, or Immanuel Kant. The second part of this course will be introduced by the abolitionist and decolonial engagements of Frantz Fanon and Orlando Patterson with G.W.F. Hegel’s dialectic Of Mastery and Servitude. We will continue with Black and anti-colonial re-articulations of Karl Marx’s theory of capitalism and class struggle performed by W.E.B. Du Bois, Cedric Robinson, Ranajit Guha, or Silvia Federici. In the final section, we will engage with the tradition of anti-imperial and abolitionist thought that emerged from critical readings of Michel Foucault’s analyses of discursive and disciplinary power as well as his theorization of biopolitics, such as Gayatri Spivak, Edward Said, Saidiya Hartman, or Achille Mbembe.“

College: Eugene Lang College Lib Arts (LC)

Department: Politics (POL)

Campus: New York City (GV)

Course Format: Seminar (R)

Modality: In-Person

Max Enrollment: 18

Add/Drop Deadline: February 4, 2024 (Sunday)

Online Withdrawal Deadline: April 16, 2024 (Tuesday)

Seats Available: Yes

* Seats available but reserved for a specific population.

Status: Closed*

* Status information is updated every few minutes. The status of this course may have changed since the last update. Open seats may have restrictions that will prevent some students from registering. Updated: 3:00am EDT 7/22/2024

Meeting Info:
Days: Monday, Wednesday
Times: 4:00pm - 5:40pm
Building: 6 East 16th Street
Room: 1001
Date Range: 1/22/2024 - 5/13/2024