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Critique of Black Reason
a John Hope Franklin Center Book
In Critique of Black Reason eminent critic Achille Mbembe offers a capacious genealogy of the category of Blackness-from the Atlantic slave trade to the present-to critically reevaluate history, racism, and the future of humanity. Mbembe teases out the intellectual consequences of the reality that Europe is no longer the world's center of gravity while mapping the relations among colonialism, slavery, and contemporary financial and extractive capital. Tracing the conjunction of Blackness with the biological fiction of race, he theorizes Black reason as the collection of discourses and practices that equated Blackness with the nonhuman in order to uphold forms of oppression. Mbembe powerfully argues that this equation of Blackness with the nonhuman will serve as the template for all new forms of exclusion. With Critique of Black Reason, Mbembe offers nothing less than a map of the world as it has been constituted through colonialism and racial thinking while providing the first glimpses of a more just future.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
"The book is a must for neoliberal and postmodern theory enthusiasts looking for insights on social constructs and perceptions of race relations. . . . The book is a challenge for the world to shift its thought pattern towards what has been disconnected traditionally as black history, to an incorporated collective human history bearing its roots in black history." -- Mary Abura * Journal of Contemporary African Studies * "An outstanding intellectual contribution to the state of the art of race scholarship. It is a beautifully written work that begs for every sentence to be quoted. . . . Critique of Black Reason is an inescapable and vital work of race scholarship that animates the reader to imagine new radical possibilities for humanity. As such, the book is the must-read for scholars interested in critical race studies, colonial and postcolonial studies." -- Mante Vertelyte & Morten Stinus Kristensen * Ethnic and Racial Studies * "Critique of Black Reason is an illuminating and brilliant addition to Mbembe's corpus. It is the kind of book, I suspect, that will become compulsory reading for undergraduate and graduate classes worldwide." -- Manosa Nthunya * The African Independent * "Critique of Black Reason constitutes an important move in bringing together francophone and anglophone postcolonial thought and is a timely demonstration of the re-invigorating potential of both critical thought and translation." -- Hannah Grayson * Postcolonial Text * "[I]ncontrovertible reading on the complex dynamic between race and belonging in twenty-first century societies. Though global in reach, the work is primarily infused with insightful analysis and perspectives on the United States, South Africa, and France, spaces in which the historical legacies of slavery, apartheid, and colonialism remain of pertinence to this day, while also being locations in and from which, the author himself has gained particular familiarity as integral components of his intellectual journey and trajectory. . . . [B]rilliant and pioneering. . . ." -- Dominic Thomas * Europe Now * "A captivating and simultaneously vexing mixture of historical lecture and political-philosophical manifesto." -- Andreas Eckert * Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung * "Achille Mbembe has returned with a work that will surely prove provocative: Critique of Black Reason. This nod to Kant's philosophic classic is, however, devilishly well-chosen since this work speaks to the never-ending tendency to place Europe at the world's 'center of gravity.' Achille Mbembe . . . fights against established ideas and lazy thinking." * Am Magazine * "For me the most important African thinker today, Achille Mbembe has published the Critique of Black Reason. A very great book, encompassing the perspectives of the African continent as well as the political challenges facing the whole world." -- Jean-Marie Durand * Les inrockuptibles * "A lucid, thoughtful and sometimes poetic work, with phrases you want to underline on every page. Mbembe is a voice that needs to be heard, in the current discussion about racism and immigration in Europe." -- Peter Vermaas * NRC Handelsblad * "Achille Mbembe is one of the paradoxical optimists who predict the worst without ever losing their faith in the future. . . . Admittedly, slavery has been abolished and colonialism is a thing of the past. But today new forms of alienation have arisen, the Other continues to be stigmatized, and the monster of capitalism reaches for its dream of an limitless horizon. An inevitability? Not necessarily, shoots back this thinker, who invites us to reimagine the geography of the world." -- Maria Malagardis * Liberation * "Achille Mbembe's Critique de la Raison Negre . . . [is] a book that you want to shout about from the rooftops, so that all your colleagues and friends will read it. My copy, only a few months old, is stuffed with paper markers at many intervals, suggesting the richness of analysis and description on nearly every page. . . . This is certainly one of the outstanding intellectual contributions to studies of empire, colonialism, racism, and human liberation in the last decade, perhaps decades. . . . A brilliant book." -- Elaine Coburn * Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society * "A very demanding yet incredibly powerful book." * Augsburger Allgemeine *