EssaysFeatureRace

Monuments to Men

Legal historian Martha S. Jones’ epilogue to her recent book 'Birthright Citizens: A History of Race and Rights in Antebellum America'

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EssaysFeatureLiberal Democracy in QuestionRaceRace/isms

Against Exceptionalism, Beyond Triumphalism

A Review of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture

On 13 April 1943, on the 200th anniversary of Thomas Jefferson’s birth, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt dedicated the Jefferson Memorial to the nation’s third president. Facing a sharp wind blowing in from the Potomac, the president admired the heroic statue and read the famous words that grace the interior walls of the building: “All Men Are Created Equal.” In the midst of a global war against fascism, Roosevelt proclaimed that the Jefferson Memorial would stand as “a shrine to freedom,” dedicated to a man who bent his entire life to the proposition that “men are capable of their own …

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CapitalismEssaysRaceRace/isms

Slaves: The Capital that Made Capitalism

A re-post

This post, adapted from a lecture in the team-taught course “Rethinking Capitalism” at The New School for Social Research and first published last year, is being reposted today to provide critical insight into today’s headlines. Slavery was central to the development of the American political economy. Ott reviews the recent scholarship that shows how it came to be that Black lives haven’t mattered. -J.G.

Racialized chattel slaves were the …

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EssaysRaceRace/isms

Actually Essential Reading About the Confederacy

Understanding the historical context of the massacre in Charleston and the debate about the Confederate battle flag

The massacre at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston and the subsequent debate about the Confederate battle flag have sent Americans scrambling for historical context. The shortlist of introductory readings on the Confederacy recommended by John Williams in the New York Times ArtsBeat, however, is an embarrassing catalog of dated scholarship that emphasizes the experiences and reflections of white elites. Histories of the lives of Confederate generals that date to the 1930s may have their virtues. The impact of the Civil War on the planter class is surely worth knowing. And no one ought to discount smart literary analyses of Harriet Beecher Stowe or Albion Tourgee. But scholarship that predates the Carter Administration and centers on a small segment of the slaveholding class hardly provides a starting point for understanding our current moment. …

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EssaysPsycheSex & Gender

Human Trafficking

A psychoanalytic and socio-historical view

I am going to think and write about human trafficking through a perspective both psychoanalytic and socio-historical. In fact, part of my quest and my thinking about this matter is to find the right disciplinary mix to speak from and to. This essay is situated in a problem. It may be an intractable problem. At the very least it is a very difficult one. How is it that there is not the social or political will to fight a social problem of great magnitude, great trauma, and great criminality: slavery in the 21st century? There was an abolitionist movement in the 19th century. Why not now? …

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