- political theory
- John Rawls
- Tommie Shelby
- social sciences
- Michael Walzer
- Cornel West
- Wilhelm Windelband
Do you consider that your work belongs to the field of "political theory", and why? If so, what has drawn you to do political theory and to describe your work as belonging to the field?
It is easiest to answer these questions in reverse order, since what draws me to political theory both explains my conception of it and makes evident why some of my work belongs to the field conceived in that way.
So: my interest in academic research in political theory grew originally out of my pre-occupation with two sets of issues that interested me for personal reasons. One was the theoretical underpinnings of Pan-Africanism as a movement. My father was active in that movement and participated in the struggle for national independence and decolonisation in Ghana, in particular, and in Africa more generally. He was much influenced by W. E. B. Du Bois, whom he had met at the Fifth Pan-African Congress in Manchester in 1945, and by Kwame Nkrumah, whom he represented in London in the early 1950s. The first course I taught at Yale, where I had my first job as an Assistant Professor, was on Pan-Africanism. The accident of my beginnings in Medical Sciences made me skeptical of the sorts of biological reductionism about racial identity that were still quite common at that time. But it also seemed obvious to me that the Black identity that had been created in the African Atlantic Diaspora was not limited to people whose ancestry lay entirely in the African Continent. (This was to some extent a personal matter for me, of course, because my mother came from England…
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