Sun, Feb 28 at 3 p.m. | 75
Olios: Drop-in classes led by professors
I am not, as I hope is clear, speaking of civil liberties, social equality, etc., where, indeed, a strenuous battle is yet carried on; I am speaking, instead, of a particularly shallowness of mind, an intellectual and spiritual laxness, a terror of individual responsibility and a corresponding terror of change. This rigid refusal to look at ourselves may well destroy us; particularly now, since if we cannot understand ourselves we will not be able to understand anything. -
An intellectual icon of the civil rights movement and beyond, James Baldwin is one of the most notable commentators on race and democracy in the United States. His searing appraisals of the many failures of civil society in the U.S. are currently being revisited in light of anti-racist struggles for social justice and the active dismantling of racist systems of oppression.
Drawing mostly from his essays, we will ask how Baldwin understands the demands for a multi-racial democracy in the United States. How do the democratic ideals of liberal democracy, ideals such as individualism, liberty, and equality, reckon with the foundational racism of the United States? And what is the source of democracy’s moral authority? This questioning calls for an engagement with the radical humanism of James Baldwin.
Ruth Mas is a scholar of critical theory and modern Islamic thought. She received her PhD (Religious Studies) in 2006 from the University of Toronto. Her research areas include: crisis and secular criticism; power, subjectivity and temporality; critiques of liberalism and secularism; and, more recently, on racialization and the plight of refugees.
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