Ella Myers provides an account of W. E. B. Du Bois's nuanced analysis of the sense of entitlement among whites in the United States. Drawing from Du Bois's Black Reconstruction and other writings, Myers draws attention to both the concept of a compensatory "wage" that elevates the social status of lower class whites in ways that bind them to white capital, but also to the irrational aspects of antiblack racism. Myers's essay complements the earlier Reading Racial Conflict essay by J. Phillip Thompson on Black Reconstruction, and also makes a direct connection to debates on the role of the white working class in Trump's electoral victory.
Nancy L. Rosenblum
Nancy L. Rosenblum is the Senator Joseph Clark Research Professor of Ethics in Politics and Government at Harvard University. Her field of research is historical and contemporary political thought. Her latest book, Good Neighbors: The Democracy of Everyday Life in America, was published by Princeton University Press in 2016. On the Side of the Angels: An Appreciation of Parties and Partisanship (Princeton University Press, 2010) received the Walter Channing Cabot Fellow Award from Harvard in 2010 for scholarly eminence. She is the author, among other books, of Membership and Morals: The Personal Uses of Pluralism in America (Princeton University Press, 1998), which was awarded the APSA David Easton Prize in 2000. Her recent edited works include Breaking the Cycles of Hatred: Memory, Law, and Repair (with Martha Minow; Princeton University Press, 2002), Obligations of Citizenship and Demands of Faith: Religious Accommodation in Pluralist Democracies (Princeton University Press, 2002), and Civil Society and Government (coedited with Robert Post; Princeton University Press, 2002). She is editor of Thoreau: Political Writings, Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought. Rosenblum is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Science. She is past president of the American Society for Political and Legal Philosophy, past vice president of the American Political Science Association, and a past board member of the Russell Sage Foundation. She is coeditor of the Annual Review of Political Science. She served as chair of the Harvard Department of Government from 2004 to 2011.
In the late 1980s, the Council launched a new program focused on urban poverty in the United States. The Council's program on the Urban Underclass brought together a wide range of disciplinary expertise, and focused on understanding the connections between macroeconomic change, deindustrialization, neighborhood attributes and processes, and individual and family outcomes. In the first of several Items features on the program, its leading staff―Martha Gephart and Robert Pearson―describe its origins and rationale.
When the problem of violence against women during and after conflict is discussed, it is often in reference to non-partner-perpetrated sexual violence. Intimate partner violence is, however, another form of violence that plagues the lives of women in conflict-affected settings with harmful physical, psychological, and social consequences.
Reflecting on the recent US electoral campaign and its aftermath as the most recent and powerful evidence for the existence of a “post-truth” age, Duncan Watts and David Rothschild argue that we have entered a legitimacy crisis—“whom and what to trust,” as they put it—in relation to knowledge claims and the institutions that validate them. The authors discuss why information technologies have exacerbated the problem, and offer some suggestions for compensating for and perhaps restoring lost legitimacy.
Black and Woke in Capitalist America: Revisiting Robert Allen’s Black Awakening… for New Times’ Sakeby N. D. B. Connolly
In a new contribution to the Reading Racial Conflict series, N. D. B. Connolly analyzes an early gathering of black supporters in the new Trump administration, and much more about the contemporary political economy of race, through Robert Allen’s 1969 Black Awakening in Capitalist America. Drawing on Allen, Connolly makes a strong case for the relevance of (neo)colonialism—and its emphasis on both violence and the co-opting of sections of the elite among the “colonized”—as an essential framework for understanding America’s present.
In this 2006 essay from the Items archive, Paul Silverstein and Chantal Tetreault examine the social history out of which the November 2005 riots in the suburbs of Paris (and across France) arose. In their analysis, they discuss the use of colonial era laws and broader parallels with overseas French colonial rule that constitute a form of internal colonialism with regard to migrant communities in France itself. The parallels with N. D. B. Connolly’s new essay on the contemporary relevance Robert Allen are clear—i.e., one way of understanding racial and ethnic marginalization and discrimination (in the United States or France) is through the lens of colonial relations and structures.
Adom Getachew engages in a close reading of Eric Williams’s Capitalism and Slavery in our latest essay in the "Reading Racial Conflict" series. Getachew connects Williams’s classic argument for how the institution of slavery fueled capitalist development in the global North to recent demands, emerging from the Caribbean and other regions devastated by the slave trade, for reparations.
Why has climate change been so difficult to address through democratic institutions and processes? The SSRC’s Anxieties of Democracy program established a working group to engage this question. Robert O. Keohane and Nancy L. Rosenblum, cochairs of the working group, provide a sense of the issues that have animated its work thus far: mobilization for climate change, the politics of mitigation strategies, and the often neglected role of emotion in democratic participation.
In this contribution from the Items archive from 2007/8, Eda Pepi and Peter Sahlins reflect on an earlier Council program from the 1990s on the intersection of the environment with human action. In many ways ahead of its time, the SSRC’s Global Environmental Change program connected social scientists and climate scientists, and developed agendas that have shaped today’s interdisciplinary research on the human causes and consequences of environmental change.
Early proponents of the power of digital publishing celebrated the ways in which the Internet, and in particular the world wide web, democratized both access to information and the ability to disseminate knowledge to wide audiences. News organizations might evade government controls of the press by publishing on servers outside their nations’ borders. Dissidents could organize in the digital public sphere, evading controls that prevented freedom of assembly in the physical world. Scholars could disseminate work in progress directly to the web either outside of the process of peer review or under the aegis of new types of online journals.