Race and the Human in Anticolonial Thought

Autumn 2016-2017


Sonali Thakkar

This course will consider the vexed status of the human—and of the corresponding terms, humanism and humanity—in midcentury anticolonial thought and postwar antiracist discourse. Our way into this question will be some of the various attempts, after World War Two, to reconstitute “humanity” as a political and moral constituency, both in literature and philosophy but also in the work of institutions such as the UN and UNESCO. We will examine these textual and historical scenes alongside a close consideration of midcentury anticolonial prose concerned with the enduring violence of fascism, slavery, and empire, and the attenuated hopes and false promises of liberal humanism, but invested too in the trope of “humanity” and in the refiguration of radical new humanisms. (20th/21st)