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Lecture

2040 Dubois.doc

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Department
Sociology
Course
SOCI 2040
Professor
Philip Walsh
Semester
Fall

Description
SOCI-2040 – G Sociological Theory st Lecture, November 21 , 2013 The sociological theory of W.E.B. Du Bois Overview and background, theory of ‘race’ and racism; theories of the color line, double consciousness and the veil; theory of emancipation I. William Edward Burghardt Du Bois: Background and biography  Born 1868, Great Barrington, MA  1895: Doctorate from Harvard  1895-96 Studies in Berlin under Max Weber  1897-1910 Teaches economics at Atlanta University  1908-1934 Founding and board member editor of NAACP  1919 Organizes the first Pan-African Congress in Paris  1961 Joins the American Communist Party, renounces American citizenship  1963 Dies in Ghana, at 95 II. Some major works:  The Suppression of the African Slave Trade (1896)  The Philadelphia Negro (1899)  The Souls of Black Folk (1903)  Darkwater (1920)  The Souls of White Folk (1920)  The Crisis essays (1908-1934)  Black Reconstruction in America (1935)  The World and Africa (1947)  Against Racism: Unpublished Essays 1887-1961 (1985) III. Fundamental themes of Du Bois’ theories:  Modernity, ‘race’ and racism  The color line  The experience of black identity in America  Equality and emancipation IV. Modernity, ‘race’ and racism  Racialized societies (meaning and historical examples)  Racial slavery in the Americas  Racial stratification in the United States (The Philadelphia Negro) V. Theory of the color line “The problem of the 20 century is the problem of the color line…. the question as to how far the differences of race – which show themselves chiefly in the color of the skin and the texture of the hair – will hereafter be made the basis of denying to over half the world the right of sharing to their utmost ability the opportunities and privileges of modern civilization” (Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk) “The color line: Hierarchically organized attitudes, systems of meaning and social structures revolving around skin color and ‘race’” (A&E, glossary)  As structure: classes and laws  As attitudes: norms, expectations  As systems of meaning: ideologies “In a wee wooden schoolhouse, something put it into the boys’ and girls’ heads to buy gorgeous visiting-cards – ten cents a package – and exchange. The exchange was merry, till one girl, a tall newcomer, refused my card, – refused it…with a glance. Then it dawned upon me with a certain suddenness that I was different from the others…[and] shut out from their world by a vast veil” (Du Bois, Souls of Black Folk, quoted page 272). *** break VI. The experience of black identity in America  Against ‘scientific sociology’ (The Souls of Black Folk) o Structure and style o Key chapters:  Of Our Spiritual Strivings,  Of the Dawn of Freedom,  Of Mr. Booker T. Washington (his theory of amancipation)  Others, Of the Faith of Our Fathers (the importance of Christianity to African americans, and what he thought was the likely future of Christianity. He acknowledge the importance of Christianity in the lives of black folk)  Double consciousness o What does he mean? Look at the 2 quotations “…the Negro is…gifted with second sight…It is a peculiar sensation, this double- consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape (a measure) of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. (clearly talking about what it feels like, the self, the experience of being perceived as different and inferior) One ever feels his two- ness, – an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder (apart)…(he’s using very emotional and poetic language, trying to deliver the experience, help describe it) “The history of the American Negro is the history of this strife (trouble, conflict), – this longing to attain self-conscious manhood, to merge his double self into a better and truer self. In this merging he wishes neither of the older selves to be lost. He would not Africanize America, for American has too much to teach the world and Africa. He would not bleach his Negro soul in a flood of white Americanism, for he knows that Negro blood has a message for the world” (Du Bois, Souls of Black Folk). - 2 interpretations of what he means by double consciousness - 1) African americans should not assimilate, they need to maintain their own distinct identity. He’s embracing the idea of separate but equal. Embracing and advocating black separatism, simply not going to be possible for African Americans to become American in the white sense, and they need to maintain their own nationality - 2) 1rst quote: negro is gifted with second sight …. The idea is the experience of racial oppression is actually enlightening, it gives African Americans a special perspective. They can see the truth, if your white and privileged and never had to experience racism and oppression, you will never understand it. - 3) the veil, third interpretation. The veil has a shifting meaning. Appears in two works, souls of black folk a
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