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A Critique of Du Boisian Reason: Kanye West and the Fruitfulness of Double-Consciousness

George Ciccariello-Maher
Journal of Black Studies
Vol. 39, No. 3 (Jan., 2009), pp. 371-401
Published by: Sage Publications, Inc.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40282568
Page Count: 31
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A Critique of Du Boisian Reason: Kanye West and the Fruitfulness of Double-Consciousness
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Abstract

This article seeks to disentangle a number of outstanding controversies regarding the radical potential of W.E.B. Du Bois's seminal notion of doubleconsciousness. The author concludes that the early Du Bois—of the 1897 "Strivings"—idealistically conflates double-consciousness with the racist veil, thereby erroneously negating the materiality of the latter. This error persists only briefly, and Du Bois's transformation is already palpable by the 1903 publication of Souls, especially "On the Coming of John." Against those who would dismiss the relevance of double-consciousness, the author demonstrates that the continued relevance of double-consciousness is simultaneously the liberation of the concept from its idealistic and middle-class content through the recognition of the veil in all its materiality. Finally, the author assesses the recent work of rap artist Kanye West, whose political progression parallels that of Du Bois before him, arguing that this progression is intimately linked to the radical potential inherent in double-consciousness.

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