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Anticolonial Amerika: Resisting the Zone of Nonbeing in an Anglo-Saxon Empire
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Anticolonial Amerika: Resisting the Zone of Nonbeing in an Anglo-Saxon Empire revives the anticolonial tradition of Black radical philosophy, drawing upon its unique understandings of race and empire, citizenship and sovereignty, gender and sexuality to contribute an original interpretation of contemporary American society. Following Charles W. Mills, I contend that Black political theory ought to move away from ideal theory toward an empirical, historically grounded approach to understanding the Black experience in modern North America. Unlike Mills, however, I argue that Black political theory ought to abandon the language of liberalism and the social contract in favor of philosophical concepts indigenous to the history of Black philosophy: the colonizer-colonized relation. Drawing on the work of W. E. B. Du Bois and Frantz Fanon, I argue that the colonial relation constitutes the fundamental social ontology of the modern global system – what I call the colonial ontology of Empire. Offering an anticolonial conceptual apparatus as an alternative to Mills’s conceptions of racial contract and whiteness, I begin with an exegesis of Du Bois and Fanon and develop a language for an anticolonial conception of social ontology. This colonial ontology of Empire understands the modern world as divided into the human (colonizer) and the non-human (colonized), a relation that is grounded in a global political economy. Next, I engage critical whiteness studies and argues that the struggle between Anglo-Saxons and white ethnics produced two different conceptions of whiteness. Building upon these foundations, I develop some central anticolonial concepts through critical exegeses of the works of Martin R. Delany and Eldridge Cleaver. Exploring Delany’s political and legal thought, which captures the dehumanization of the colonized and expresses the colonial relation through a political theory of sovereignty, I establish the relationship between race and sovereignty in the U.S. To challenge feminist and intersectional accounts of race and gender, I demonstrate the power of white womanhood over Black manhood in the colonial relation by connecting Cleaver’s anticolonial understanding of the white female/Black male relation in America to anticolonial social ontology. Using Robert L. Allen’s internal (neo)colonialism model as a framework for connecting the colonial ontology of Empire to contemporary social scientific studies of white supremacy in America, I interpret two historical trends through a neocolonial lens: the emergence of the Black middle class as the agent of indirect rule and the development of the contemporary police state as a mode of social control for the Black internal colony. Following Fanon’s rejection of European philosophy, I call for a return to anticolonial political theory among Black political theorists.
W. E. B. Du Bois
Martin R. Delany
Anderson, Patrick D (2018). Anticolonial Amerika: Resisting the Zone of Nonbeing in an Anglo-Saxon Empire. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from