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Democracy's ReconstructionThinking Politically with W.E.B. Du Bois$
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Lawrie Balfour

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780195377293

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195377293.001.0001

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Six. Black World, White Nation: Remapping Political Theory

Six. Black World, White Nation: Remapping Political Theory

(p.115) Six. Black World, White Nation: Remapping Political Theory
Democracy's Reconstruction

Lawrie Balfour (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers how the worldly orientation of Du Bois's political thought might inform political theory as it turns toward the global. The central text in this case is an unlikely one. While scholars increasingly appreciate the extent of Du Bois's transnational activism and writing in the mid-20th century, this chapter concentrates on The Suppression of the African Slave-Trade the United States of America, 1638–1870 (1896). It argues that Du Bois's first book, although thoroughly American, nonetheless demonstrates the impossibility of constructing a theory of democracy that restricts its concern within US boundaries. Using a contrast between “black world” and “white nation,” it suggests how a close reading of Suppression in conjunction with Martha Nussbaum's For Love of Country reveals the unacknowledged racial politics of recent appeals to cosmopolitanism, on the one hand, and civic nationalism, on the other.

Keywords:   W. E. B. Du Bois, political theory, transnational activism, democratic theory, Martha Nussbaum, cosmopolitanism, racial politics, civic nationalism

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