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Nahum Dimitri Chandler with Hortense J. Spillers and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak

August 5 @ 6:00 pm

Nahum Dimitri Chandler in conversation with Hortense J. Spillers and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak

This discussion will explore the theoretical determination of an idea of difference amongst the human in the early thought of W. E. B. Du Bois.

The book which it celebrates and makes reference to is:

Annotations: On the Early Thought of W. E. B. Du Bois
by Nahum Dimitri Chandler
published by Duke University Press

In Annotations Nahum Dimitri Chandler offers a philosophical interpretation of W. E. B. Du Bois’s 1897 American Negro Academy address, “The Conservation of Races.” Chandler approaches Du Bois as a generative and original philosophical thinker-writer on the status and historical implication of matters of human difference, both the fact of and the very idea thereof. Chandler proposes both a close reading of Du Bois’s engagement of the concept of so-called race and a deep meditation on Du Bois’s conceptualization of historicity in general. He elaborates on the way Du Bois’s thought in this address can give an account of the organization of the historicity that yields the emergence of something like the African American, at once with its own internal dimensions and yet also as an originary articulation of forces and possibilities that have world historical implications. Chandler refigures Du Bois’s thought as a vital theoretical resource for rethinking our concepts of differences among humans and, so too, our understanding of modern historicity itself.

Nahum Dimitri Chandler is Professor in the School of Humanities at the University of California, Irvine, and author of “Beyond This Narrow Now”: Or, Delimitations, of W. E. B. Du Bois, also published by Duke University Press, and X: The Problem of the Negro as a Problem for Thought.

Hortense J. Spillers is a Black Feminist scholar and the Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of English Emeritus at Vanderbilt University. Her book Black, White, and In Color: Essays on American Literature and Culture, published by the University of Chicago Press in 2003, with seventeen definitive essays from the first thirty years of her career, is now widely considered among contemporary generations a decisive work for literary scholarship after the watershed era of the1960s. For three generations her work has been decisive in proposing and elaborating the fundamental character and implication for contemporary thinking of a feminism from and by African American women intellectuals, writers and activists. Marked by the international reach of her writing, including Germany, Japan, and Brazil, for example, as well as the United States, there is no other living thinker whose concepts and formulations has been as decisive in its impact as Spillers’s for present day thought and activism in African American studies or on general practitioners in their efforts to address matters African American and its implications. She has held positions at Haverford College, Wellesley College, Emory University, and Cornell University, as well as numerous invited special appointments and lectureships, in Germany, Japan, Canada, and England, among others.

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak is a University Professor at Columbia University. She is also a founding member of that university’s Institute for Comparative Literature and Society. In 2012 she was the recipient of the Kyoto Prize in Arts and Philosophy. A scholar, literary theorist, and feminist critic and thinker, she has taught at numerous universities which include University of Iowa, University of Chicago, University of Texas at Austin, Emory University amongst others. Of her many writings and accomplishments, one may note of her published work with regard only the past quarter century, An Aesthetic Education in the Era of Globalization (2012) and A Critique of Postcolonial Reason: Toward a History of the Vanishing Present (1999), both from Harvard University Press, as well as Who Sings the Nation-State?: Language, Politics, Belonging (co-authored with Judith Butler)(Seagull Books, 2007). Three early essays are still especially widely read: “Subaltern Studies: Deconstructing Historiography” (1985), “Three Women’s Texts and a Critique of Imperialism” (1985), and “Can the Subaltern Speak?” (1988). She is considered by many as one of the most influential intellectuals of our time. From her early disciplinary and critical formation as a scholar of “the long 19th century” (1789-1920) in British, French and German literary production, she has initiated and cultivated groundbreaking thought in the politics of culture, feminism, globalization, post-Kantian literary theory, and on questions of climate change, as well as the thought of Karl Marx and Jacques Derrida. Professor Spivak is completing a much-anticipated study on the work, writings, and legacies of W. E. B. Du Bois.

Praise for the work of Nahum Dimitri Chandler

“In Annotations, Nahum Dimitri Chandler turns his extraordinarily well-honed orientation to and capabilities for close readings of texts to W. E. B. Du Bois’s essay ‘The Conservation of Races.’ Scholars will welcome Chandler’s attentive, deliberate, and immersive reading of this signal text, through which he offers a nuanced and intricately fashioned interpretation. In short, for me Chandler is the foremost scholar on the writings of Du Bois.” — Lucius T. Outlaw Jr., author of On Race and Philosophy

“Nahum Dimitri Chandler’s Annotations is a major contribution to the study of Du Bois’s early philosophical thought and an invaluable meditation on the 1897 essay, ‘The Conservation of Races.’ Few if any Du Bois scholars have approached Du Bois’s writing with the patience and nuance that Chandler insistently shows it demands. His detailed discussions of DuBois’s words, sentences, and paragraphs are invariably challenging and always insightful.” — Robert Gooding-Williams, author of In the Shadow of Du Bois: Afro-Modern Political Thought in America

“A complex and detailed philosophical analysis of W.E.B. Du Bois’ early thought. … Chandler’s a sophisticated thinker and crafty wordsmith with broad knowledge, a vast vocabulary, and a writing style ripe with complex analytic musing and artistic stylization.”
— Sean Elias, Ethnic and Racial Studies

Made possible by support from the City Lights Foundation