A plea for Black radical intellectual autonomy

∞ “A Plea for Black Radical Intellectual Autonomy” (pdf) – Norman Ajari (2022)

Abstract: From the end of the 2010 decade, academic discourse on race faced a major political and mediatic backlash in the Western world. In countries with a major history of slavery or colonial expansion such as France, the United States and the United Kingdom, governments endeavored to delegitimize, if not outlaw, Critical Race Theory and decolonial discourse. This paper interprets the conjuncture as an assault on the expression of Black people’s pessimism towards the emancipatory potential of Western liberal democratic institutions. Far from seeking to reassure conservative and liberal critics, this text argues for a rediscovery of Black intellectual and political autonomy, far from the irenic dreams of coalition and reform that are too often offered as the only prospect of liberation for Black people.

Norman Ajari is Lecturer in Francophone Black Studies at the University of Edinburgh. He is the author of Dignity or Death: Ethics and Politics of Race (Polity, 2022), Afro-decolonial Manifesto (Seagull, 2023) and Noirceur: Race, genre, classe et pessimisime dans la pensée africaine-américaine au XXIe siècle (Divergences, 2022).