The Souls of Sociology: Articulating a Du Boisian Sociology


SPEAKER: Welcome, everyone. Good afternoon. We’re so delighted
to welcome back Karida Brown for today’s
Author Meets Critics session, because Karida, for those
of you who don’t know, is a proud graduate of Brown’s
very own sociology department. And it’s very beautiful, and
emotional, and full-circle, because Karida shared
with me that yesterday was the day that she actually
defended her dissertation here. And so how remarkable to
have her back one year later, a proud graduate of
Brown’s sociology program, and now, an assistant
professor of sociology at UCLA. This is the last session in the
yearlong series on the critical sociologies of race and
empire, supported by the Center for the Study of Race
and Ethnicity in America, and co-organized by Jose Du
Jordan Camp, Kevin Escudero, Tina Park, [? Prakha ?]
[? Hall, ?] and myself. Thank you to sponsorship from
Tricia Rose and the CSREA, in addition for today’s talk to
the CSSJ, The Watson Institute, the Department of Sociology, and
the Department of Anthropology. And it’s such a great honor
to introduce Karida today, but also such a daunting task. And so I called on a friend
to ask what I should do– a fellow classmate of Karida’s,
Michael [? Rodriguez, ?] [INAUDIBLE],, who
cannot be here today. But he wanted to frame the work
with one short line of a text. And he said, “I’d like to say
that Karida’s work teaches that great sociology can
be, and indeed, must be, a heartfelt sociology,
a passionate sociology, and an apologetic sociology.” Karida is an assistant
professor in the department of sociology at UCLA,
and also, a faculty affiliate at the Bunche Center
for African-American studies. She’s a cultural
sociologist of race, whose current research
centers on the relationship between social transformation
and the racist self. Her book manuscript is entitled,
Gone Home: Race and Roots Through Appalachia,
and explores the ways in which African-American
identity was negotiated and transformed during this
era of massive demographic, political, economic,
and cultural change. But today, Karida will
present 10 to 15 minutes of an overview of her current
book, The Souls of Sociology: Articulating a Du Boisian
Sociology, coauthored with Jose Itzigsohn, and
under contract at NYU Press. I want to take this
moment also to praise this model of mentorship,
which was incredible to watch. They coauthored
a paper together, published and highly regarded
in the Du Bois Review, and has now blossomed into
this incredible book project. Our esteemed critic are Tina
Park, fellow graduate student in the department of
sociology, and Dan Hirschman, assistant professor
in the department, who we have to give
a special thank you to because he’s already served
as a distinct critic for Julian Go’s book in this series. So without further ado,
I’ll turn it over to Karida. KARIDA BROWN: Well, thank you. I just want to say, first of
all, it’s so good to be home. So thank you all for coming out. I want to thank the CSREA and
Tricia Rose for inviting me out to come and do this here. And thank you for all
of your hospitality, and to our wonderful– I won’t call you all critics. I’ll call you all
interlocutors– for this book project that
is in its early draft stage. This is actually the
first time that we shared a draft of the manuscript. So thank you so much
for engaging the work. OK, so I’m going to just
give a few broad sweeps about the book, because I’m
sure that our interlocutors will go into great detail
about what they saw as interesting, important,
or provocative about the text itself. And I want to make sure to
give good time for remarks from both Jose and I, and a
discussion amongst the group. So I’ll start with the
origin story of the book. My dissertation
project was very much situated in what I like
to call a Du Boisian tradition of sociology. So while there was no
blueprint for that for me, I definitely was thinking
deeply with Du Bois as I was formulating,
not only the research design for my project,
but in the writing itself. And I learned in my third
year of graduate school that Jose also had a deep
affinity and admiration for Du Bois’s work. So he generously invited me
to collaborate and coauthor an article with
him about Du Bois’s theory of racialized modernity. That was a wonderful
collaborative experience. It was, in fact, my
first publication in a peer-reviewed journal. So that was a
learning lesson for me that I’ll keep for
the rest of my life. But we learned that
not only did we share an interest in
Du Bois’s sociology, but that there was so
much more to be said. So Jose had had
an idea for years to write a book about
Du Bois’s sociology. And he just said,
“well, why not now?” and invited me on to
the larger book project. Fast forward to now. We have the early draft of
the four empirical chapters of the book. We will be weaving in
the intro and conclusion after we hear all
of your feedback. And the book is due to
NYU Press in November. So we have some time to really
think through the project and further develop it. So that’s why this is just such
an important opportunity for us to get this feedback. So that’s the origin
story of the book. So I want to talk about the
political context through which this book emerged. This is really important
for me to say now, and for us to
acknowledge explicitly early on in the text. There are generations
of scholars, be it sociologists and folks
across disciplines and fields, who have, for years, done the
labor of pushing for Du Bois to be properly situated in
the mainstream of sociology, and I would dare say
20th-century American thought. It’s been an uphill battle. There have been dozens of books
about Du Bois’s contributions to education, race, sociology,
visual studies, history. I could go on and on. So we are standing
on the shoulders of giants in that regard. And we really want
to acknowledge all of the work
that needed to be done to just pave the
way for the opportunity to come for this book. Because of this uphill battle,
because Du Bois was very much situated at the
margins of sociology, but many fields and
disciplines at that, so that work of bringing
him to the center had a certain politics to it. And specifically, within
the discipline of sociology, because we spent so
much time arguing, no, he should be in the center. And this is why. These are the contributions
that Du Bois made. Du Bois said that 30 years ago. There’s been really
little opportunity to articulate what is a Du
Boisian sociology, if there is such a thing? So that is really
the main aim that we are taking on for this book. We really want to
provide that blueprint of, what is a Du
Boisian sociology, both from an empirical and
theoretical standpoint? The way in which we
approached that was through a very close reading
of Du Bois’s [INAUDIBLE].. That includes his
sociological text that we’re very familiar with,
a la Souls of Black Folk, Black Reconstruction in America,
and The Philadelphia Negro, which are the most,
I’d say, widely read and cited texts within
the discipline of sociology. However, Du Bois
published prolifically over the span of
70 of his 95 years. And we wanted to make sure
not to even further elide his body of work. So we covered not only his
books and articles, but also speeches. Du Bois wrote a children’s book. Du Bois curated exhibitions. So we used all of those
forms of publication as text. And we read it closely
together as a body. So that is the work that we
did to excavate this Du Boisian sociology that he left for us. So we really just did the
work of packaging that. And the second aim of the book
is to connect that blueprint with its– I think calling forth the
contemporary implications of what this means for
us as sociologists, as scholars, particularly,
the generation of scholars who are in undergraduate
and graduate school formulating projects,
scholars, like myself, for are just starting
on the tenure track and defining myself
within a field. This book really, we
hope, will open up and add to the many pathways
and modes of sociology. So for those who do identify
with Du Bois in a tradition, it kind of gives not only
a blueprint, but something citable, to say,
OK, this exists. It’s out there. It’s established. So it’s very much
forward-looking in that way, or at
least we hope it to be. So I’ll close with just
remarking on where the book is. So like I mentioned, we have
these four substantive chapters drafted for the book. We envision having two revision
cycles, or three phases to the book project. So we’ve completed
the first phase of just getting the
ideas on the page and getting the structure
of the text together. So we feel pretty
comfortable that we’re there. This discussion will kind
of be the launching pad for us to go into that
deep revision mode. So we really will take all
of this feedback seriously. And then lastly, once we have
the manuscript fully developed and completed, we’ll
do a really close look at that form and narrativity,
because it is also important how the book reads. Du Bois was very much conscious
of his writerly voice. And I think that that’s
why so much of his work persists today and has
the appeal that it does. So we want to, in a Du Boisian
tradition also honor that. So it’s something that,
when students pick it up, they won’t want to put it down. So we hope to
accomplish that as well. So with that said, I’m sitting
at the edge of my seat. I can’t wait to hear
from Tina and Dan. And once you all
provide your remarks, Jose and I will respond. And then we can open it up
for questions and discussion. TINA PARK: I choose to stand. Good afternoon, everyone AUDIENCE: Good afternoon. TINA PARK: Thank you. First off, a big thank you to
professors Brown and Itzigsohn for inviting me to review
their book manuscript. And thank you for thinking
of Dan and I as interlocutors rather than as critics. As a graduate student, I’m
grateful for their work, as was the groundbreaking
work of other scholars to bring sociologists
back to Du Bois. For those of you who
are not sociologists, just to give you a bit of
context, a discussion like this 10 or 20 years
ago would not have been so well-supported
or well-attended. Du Bois had limited
traction in the field, often relegated to certain
subfields or subsubfields even. As a student of
sociology, you are unlikely to be Du
Bois’s work in class. If you are lucky, you might
read The Philadelphia Negro in an urban sociology
class or skim a few essays from The Souls of Black Folk
for a course on critical race studies. But for the most part, the
best of sociology thinkers can spend much of their
career without ever engaging with Du Bois. And there are many possible
reasons for Du Bois’s exclusion from the discipline. In his award-winning
book, the scholar denied, professor Aldon Morris argues
that racism kept Du Bois out of professional sociology. As a black scholar,
Du Bois was kept out of the leading institutions
on the forefront, which we’re constructing American
sociology at that time. His social scientific
research, which emphasize the social problems
affecting black community as being tied to
structural phenomena, refuted the more common
claims of innate biologically determined black inferiority
and white superiority. Now, today, most
sociologists would not deny Du Bois’s place in the
discipline because he’s black or because his research
diverges from prevailing views. But this is not to say, however,
that Du Bois has been fully embraced, just because
we, as sociologists, are a bit more open-minded. As I described earlier, Du
Bois is present in the field, but only marginally so. He’s recognized as a
sociologist of race, perhaps an urban sociologist. But that tends to be it. He’s far from being recognized
as a canonical figure, as a founding father
of American sociology. Now, Karida and Jose pick
up the baton from professor Morris to show us that Du
Bois is a canonical figure, not only because he was one
of the first professional sociologists in
the United States, but because his
work reflects a set of paradigmatic social
theories distinct from, but complementary to, our other
canonical social theorists. And thus, before them are
a set of ambitious tasks. So in order to claim Du Bois
on the foundational social theorists, they first have
to show that Du Bois even has a unified social theory. Second, they must convince us
that Du Bois’s social theory is innovative and provide scholars
with a basis and approach to sociological inquiry
that is actually different from theories like,
Marx, Durkheim, or Weber. And last, they must convince us
that Du Bois’s social theory, in addition to being different,
is necessary to the discipline. In other words,
they need to show us that the project isn’t
just about making amends for past mistakes,
reincorporating a sociologist who
has been ostracized, but about reintroducing the
discipline to a theorist whose work will contribute to
its growth and relevance. Now, I’m not going to
comment on the worthiness of these undertakings,
because I don’t think we would be in this room
if we didn’t already believe in the importance
of this project. Rather, I’m ging to focus on
the ways in which they meet these goals in their
manuscript, as well as the ways in which they
may improve their argument. Now, Karida and Jose argue that
a clear and unified set of sort of social theories is
present in Du Bois’s work. But– and this is key–
to fully grasp this, one must examine his
full body of work, and not just selections
from his early period Philadelphia and Atlanta. Now this poses a few challenges. Pre-imaging a few of them, Du
Bois was a prolific scholar. He was always writing,
orating, curating. And he was an active scholar
through his entire adult life. And he outlasted– I think
he outlasted most people just generally. He was writing for a period
that spanned over 70 years. And to make matters
more difficult, he worked in a
variety of mediums. He published in
Academic publications. He prepared voluminous
community-based research studies, scholarly
works of nonfiction, as well as inspired
works of fiction in the form of short
stories, novels, and poems. He edited scholarly journals and
mass-circulation periodicals, including a children’s magazine. He curated a photography
exhibit and patents. Then there are his
speeches, his letter correspondences with
other leaders and scholars of the time. Simply put, they need to attend
to a very large and diverse opus to chase the
articulation and evolution of his social theories. As you note in their
manuscript, there is disagreement about
whether, as sociologists, we should even be concerned
with all of his work. Some critics, like
sociologist Martin Bulmer, make sharp distinctions between
Du Bois’s sociological work and his public activist work. Now, Jose and Karida are
unequivocal about their stance on this issue. Of course you have to
consider all of his work, because Du Bois was
always a sociologist, and he was always doing
sociological work. By not engaging in this
debate about what is or is not proper sociological, they’re
able to give greater attention to the insights that Du Bois’s
full range of work offers. And to be clear, I
agree with with them. One cannot prima facie know what
does or does not fall within the boundaries of
sociological work. I also appreciate that
they sidestep this debate. Too often, debates over what
is or is not are a destruction. And this focus keeps
us from engaging in relevant and interesting
sociological work. But at the same time, this
debate is at the heart as to why Du Bois
continues to be excluded from the sociological
cannon and why it has taken so long to develop
a Du Boisian social theory. Yes, we no longer
exclude Du Bois because he’s a black scholar
or because he operated from a different
set of assumptions in his sociological work. However, we do continue to
marginalize him because of how he does his sociological work I suspect that no one
would dispute the notion that his work is always
concerned with the social– these questions of how
social structures operate, and how they are constituted,
perpetuated, and reshaped, how the historical and
current structure of society affects individuals
similarly or differently, and how individuals shape
the structure of society. But like I said,
his work was not always published in academic
journals or presses. Sometimes he was speaking
directly to other scholars, while other times, he spoke to
public intellectuals, artists, or even more generally,
to the public. He spoke to adults. And he even spoke to children. And as critics like
Bulmer might argue, these are the
particular instances where his work is
not immediately recognizable as
scholarly, or academic, or meant for an
academic audience. Du Bois is not a sociologist. He’s an activist, which
begs the question, is, sociology a matter of form? Is it a matter of intent? That is, must the scholar
write specifically for sociological audience
to count as sociology? Must a scholar explicitly
outline her social theory as sociological
theory in a manner that would be
generally recognized as academic and theoretical
writing in order to count? And while these questions seem
orthogonal to their project, it is precisely
all these questions of what is or is not
physiological which their whole book hinges. One must readily accept that
sociology is a discipline based on plurality– a plurality of
methodological approaches, a plurility of
topics, a plurality of definitions of even
social, as a concept. And we have to believe
in this in order to believe that Du Bois has
enough sociological work from which to derive a theory. Now, this isn’t
an issue that can be reconciled in one book
or even a set of books. However, if their
book is able to attend to some of these concerns– tell us why, and
show us how sociology can be sociology, no
matter what its form, it will go a long way
to push the mainstream of our discipline to
one side of this debate. For example, the chapter on
Du Bois’s public sociology can be strengthened
by clear articulation of what is inherently
sociological about his public-facing projects. You mentioned the
reference one, which is the Paris Exposition where he
profiles a bunch of photographs of black middle class. So there is a lot of reasons why
this photography exhibit would be sociological
other than the fact that it’s produced
by a sociologist. So alongside these photographs
of middle-class black Americans, Du Bois
presented sociological data about black Americans
through charts. Now, these charts, which are
artistic in their own right– I’m a quantitative person, so
I really like pretty charts– they also summarize the
historic economic impact of black folks in Georgia,
like their income expenditures, their tax contributions,
and the assessed valuation of all taxable property owned. What could just be a visual
exploration of the other side of the veil is transformed
into an empirically grounded and organized account
of black America. So turning back to
the question of, if we can accept
that Du Bois has a large body of sociological
work from which to draw on, does he actually have a
unified social theory. I already discussed
how much he’d written during his lifetime. So you can imagine
it’s no easy feat to go to Du Bois’s
whole corpus to trace his sociological thinking. Plus, because he wrote in
so many different styles and to so many
different audiences, there’s no one
central text that’s explicates his social theory, Delineating a Du
Boisian social theory requires careful
interpretation of many works over a period of 70 years. And I will say that the
authors do all of this. Their attention to all the
various forms and the way that they evoke them
throughout the manuscript indicates that
they didn’t really pay attention to everything. So what did they find? According to Karida and
Jose, the major tenants of a Du Boisian social
theory are as follows. And I’m paraphrasing
much of their words here. So please don’t give
me credit for that. First, the origins and
effects of capitalist system can be understood by centering
the analysis on race and class and the formation of
their linked structures. Second, capitalist
relations are global. For example, capitalism is
not occurring in the metropole and being exported to
the colonies later. Rather, the colonies
have always been part of the capitalist
project of the metropole. And you cannot understand
the economic, political, and cultural processes
of one without the other. And as an aside, a point
I think is underrecognized in their assessment
is that Du Bois also considered the presence of
non-European empires shifting away from the Euro-centric
view that sociology can have. Third, in order to understand
the formation, reproduction, and mechanization of
racialized colonial capitalism, it’s necessary to examine
the lived experience of being racialized and colonized. The individual
experiences shed light on the different ways
the structures operate, while the structures
can help explain the experiences of individuals. Furthermore, just as social
structures affect the formation and experience of
individuals, individuals can react to the
structures, and they can do so in a variety of ways. The choices are not simply to
assimilate or be destroyed. Self-assertion against
the social structure is one option, while outright
rebellion is the other. Finally, this theory is
historically contingent. Like Marx, Du
Bois’s social theory is drawn from a
particular moment. And it’s not necessary meant
to explain every moment. The character of
the relationship between race, class,
and capitalism changes in different periods
and geographies. These channgs in themselves
are worthy of [INAUDIBLE],, and can tell us a lot about
the shifts in stratificfation, inequality, identity,
or collective action. So to the question
of whether or not Du Bois’s social
theory is distinct, I really believe that they
show the emphasis on race, coloniality and relationality
already distinguishes it from the thinking of Marx’s
favorite and Durkheim. And they show that, while these
other canonical theorists may have acknowledged the
relevance of these things, they did not fully explore
the explanatory power of some of these concepts. We have to remember,
however, that this is an interpretation of Du
Bois’s work provided by them. And just as we have debated
intents and interpretations of many other social
theories, we will, I hope, debate the veracity of their
interpretation of Du Bois’s work. And hopefully, in
the future, we’ll see other scholars offering
their own reading of Du Bois. And finally, I turn
to our last task– how they convince us that
Du Bois’s social theory, in addition to being
different, is actually necessary to the discipline. Processors Brown and
Itzigsohn described what a Du Boisian sociology is. And I’m quoting here again. “It places an
emphasis on agency, with a focus on historically
constructed forms of power and structure that
constrain and constitute the context for agency and a
multimethod strategy of data collection.” As a sort of a
thought experiment, I considered the
kinds of questions that might emerge from
a De Boisian sociology and whether they’re
actually markedly different from what the
mainstream is already asking. Now, if we accept the
centrality of race and class in a capital social system, we
may ask your questions about whether or not race matters
and more questions about what elements of race and class
matter in a given context. If we accept that
a rich world exists on the other side of the
veil, that marginalized people construct worlds that are beyond
the view of the dominant, when we focus less on why people
are or are not assimilating into dominant society,
and focus on the ways that people construct viable
alternatives to assimilation, if we accept that sociological
inquiry and interpretation can be expressed in a
variety of platforms, we may focus less on maintaining
certain disciplinary boundaries and focus more on assessing
whether these platforms provide additional insights and what
these insights might actually give us. If we accept that,
as sociologists, we are subject to the same
social structures we study, we may worry less about
achieving true objectivity or perfect laboratory-like
conditions for our studies, and be more
attentive to the ways in which our own sociological
insights are limited, and ask what gaps remain
or could be explored. Now, whether these are
the kinds of questions we want to be asking, I
think is subject to debate among sociologists,
both in the mainstream and on the peripheries. I think, as initiators
of this debate, Jose and Karida can
do more to tell us why these types of questions for
different approaches to inquiry are indeed sociological. This does not mean
that they need to wedge Du Bois into the
language or definitions of mainstream sociology. I think they can actually draw
from Du Bois’s own definition of sociology to do this. But it has to be done. There is a part of
me that is tempted to demand more of the book. I want more textual
evidence from Du Bois, more attention to why we
should think broadly about what is sociological, more discussion
about the role of gender in a Du Boisian sociology. But I catch myself,
and I realize that this is a
commencement of all of these conversations
and debates, and not the culmination. So with this in
mind, I come back to the three questions I
posed in the beginning. Do they show us that Du Bois
has a unified social theory? Do they convince
us that his theory is paradigmatic and innovative. Do they convince us
that his social theory is necessary to the discipline? I think yes. Their articulation of a
Du Boisian social theory is clear, and is
certainly different from the other canonical thinkers. In addition to informing
questions relating to race and black
subjectivity, Du Bois’s theory has a capacity to
inform a diverse set of sociological questions. And his theory
invites us to reorient our sociological
imagination to ask a different set of questions
from different standpoints. Whether you are a critic or an
enthusiast of the social theory that they propose, I
think they certainly have given us enough
material to serve as a basis for a
substantive discussion. Their book also
provide the impetus to debate the content
of Du Bois’s work, as opposed to debating his
inclusion or exclusion. So really, truly,
I thank the authors for the tremendous
labor of love that they have put into writing this
book and for kicking off a very different kind of conversation. DAN HIRSCHMAN: Thank you
all so much for coming. Thank you so much for
[INAUDIBLE] with us and for inviting me to
speak at this forum. It was a pleasure read
and to have a chance to think with you
and with Du Bois. As this is a workshop in helping
improve a work in progress, I’m going to spend
most of my time on criticism not
because I am in any way critical of the overall
project, because I want to try to offer the
most valuable feedback I can. One thing I realized I don’t
think any of us have done yet is to spell out what
the four chapters are. And I refer them by numbers. I’ll just take a
second to do that. So chapter 2 is about the theory
of double consciousness, which is based on the earlier
article they published. Chapter 3 is about sort
of Du Bois’s dialogue with both Marxist
theory and with theories of global capitalism. Chapter 4 focuses on his
more traditionally understood empirical work The
Philadelphia Negro and the statistical studies. And then chapter 5 is this
really interesting take on his public intellectual work and
how that fits into his ideas as a sociological
theorist, in particular, as alluded to, this fantastic–
that I had never heard of– story about his work on
a children’s magazine and children’s books,
which is super interesting. That’s the four
chapters we had to read. I’ll focus my comments on a
set of three problematics that can be loosely summarized
as questions of purpose and emphasis of
the book, questions of theoretical definitions
and boundary work, and questions about status and
their character of sociology itself. Put differently, I’m going
to ask, who is this book for? Given, who is this book for,
will be the most useful way to write it. And then I’ll ask, what
does it mean to argue that Du Bois was a theorist? Why does it matter,
if the purpose is the argument of the book,
whether Du Bois was writing as a sociologist or
a public intellectual at different points
of his career? And finally, I’ll
ask about whether we think [INAUDIBLE] sociology
even has a mainstream. And if it does, whether or
not Jose and Karida’s proposal for Du Bosian sociology
falls inside or outside of that mainstream, So first, the genre question– what kind of a book is this? What kinds of arguments
is it trying to make? I see some tensions
in the current draft between approximately three
kinds of book or kinds of argument. Some of these, I think, are not
what the book intends to be, that arguments in
this direction may distract from the real
purpose of the book. And here, actually, Tina
and I think picked up on some of the
same conversations, but I think read the slightly
difference [INAUDIBLE] conversation. So the three possible
genres I see, for the souls of
sociology– first, I see history of sociology. It is a book like
Morris’s [INAUDIBLE],, one which [INAUDIBLE] to
recover Du Bois, in this case, as a founding social
theorist in complement to Morris’s argument of
Du Bois that [INAUDIBLE] scientific sociologist. Option one. Second, is it a work of
theoretical exegesis? That is, this book about
explaining to a modern audience what Du Bois really meant. This would be a work
of natural history. and deep interpretation,
but one that would be less
focused on unpacking the social political
history of the thinker, as say Morris does,
but also, less focused on diagnosing the ills
of contemporary sociology, and providing solutions
to those ills, and instead, just [INAUDIBLE]
the text themselves in their own terms. Or third, is this a work
of social theory itself? I would put Julian Go’s
work on postcolonial theory in this camp. We talked about it
in a previous session of this fantastic series. Gi identifies certain problems
in contemporary sociology and urges us to adopt new
theoretical tools in order to solve those problems. Go’s approach combines a kind
of sociology of sociology that is identification of
systematic problems in their structural groups
in the way discipline is done with
synthetic theorizing, drawing on a collection
of ideas from other fields to offer new ideas
with sociology. My sense in that is
that Jose and Karida are aiming for the third model. And please correct me
if that’s not the case. That is, I think
they want to offer the contemporary profession
of Du Boisian social theory, to guide, a Du Boisian approach
to empirical sociology. But along the way, I
think they get, well, distracted occasionally,
by arguments that fit more into history of sociology
question about priority disputes and boundary
maintenance in the book. Was Du Bois a social theorist? Was Du Bois a sociologist
or an intellectual in 1920s, 1930s, et cetera? They assert that these
debates resolved or important. But I think they
still get bogged down with them sometimes. Priority disputes can
be incredibly important. I don’t want to deny
that importance. But it has to be explained,
and the right evidence has to be brought to bear to
make the case for priority. That’s exactly the
task that Aldon Morris takes on on his analysis
of Park and Du Bois as [INAUDIBLE] sociology. And he does this in order to
make a broader intervention in the history of sociology,
and a broader argument also about the
sociology of knowledge using historical data to do so. The argument Jose and
Karida want to make, on the other hand, I
think these debates end up being a bit under-evidenced in
the book, and more importantly, beside the main point. On the other side, I
think Jose and Karida may spend a little too
much time explaining Du Bois in his own words and
not enough time telling us what to do with Du Bois or
what thinking with Du Bois can help us do. That is, I would like to
see more of Jose and Karida theorizing, and less
exoduses to Du Bois’s work. The second chapter, derived
from their published article on double-consciousness,
does this the best right now, I think. Jose and Karida begin
from a few passages on souls of black
folk, and derive from them, a much
more satisfying theory of double-consciousness. This is not simply a matter of
uncovering what Du Bois really meant in those
[INAUDIBLE] passages. But if theorizing
with those texts, and bringing them into dialogue
with all the other developments and social theory in
empirical sociology the last hundred years
from feminist standpoint theory just involved
interactions. With what Jose and
Karida can offer us is not Du Bois’s sociology,
but a Du Boisian sociology. One of the reasons why I
want to push Jose and Karida in this direction is
that because I think it accords better with our
understanding of how theory actually impresses
in sociology and even what theory is in physiology. Here, I’ll switch from
questions of genre to questions of boundaries. Was Du Bois a social theorist? What would it mean to
answer that question. What does theory mean
for Jose and Karida? And what should it mean
for sociology more broadly. I would assert that
we, collectively, it’s beside the answer
to those questions. Social theory as a
field, as a canon, as I’ve said in conversation,
is not a matter of essences, but of deployments. Let me try to explain what
I mean by way of analysis by Stefan Bargheer of the
reception of Erving Goffman’s Presentation of Self
in Everyday Life. This work is now recognized
as a classic of social theory. It’s in [INAUDIBLE] prelim
exams for social theory, it’s taught [INAUDIBLE]
classes, and we even get the adjective
“Goffmanian” to identify the style of theorizing. But Bargheer shows that
earlier views of the book treat it as an theoretical
empirical study. Goffman– not theoretical. How could this be? What Bargheer argues is
that works we identify now, as kind of foundational
social theory texts, come into broad camps– theory by design
and theory by use. Theories by design are works
like Parsons’ Social System or Giddens Constitution
of Society. These works put forward some
broad, abstract understanding, interconnecting a set of
ideas, a logical system, all that jazz. The second category
is what Bargheer calls “theories by use”. Theories by use are
typically empirical projects that generate some sense
of ideas or insights that are picked up and
modified for deployment in other context. Goffman’s Presentation of
Self is a theory by use. It became a theory
when other authors saw transposable
insights in the text and adopted them to make
sense of their own research. So was [INAUDIBLE]
for that matter? Do Bois’s is an argue,
primarily a theorist by design in the mold
of Parsons or Giddens. Du Bois, rather, is a perfect
case for generative power of theory by use. Du Bois was deeply invested
in empirical research, as Jose and Karida, show nicely,
especially in chapters 3 and 4. His empirical research,
like all empirical research, was [INAUDIBLE] by various
implicit and explicit theoretical priors,
understanding what the world is made of and how it moves. The preface of [INAUDIBLE] the
most powerful instance that I know of– Du Bois showing the
power of these priors. I’m going to read it in length
just because I love it so much. I think that’s OK. So Du Bois writes the preface– It would only be
fair to the reader to say, frankly in
advance that the attitude of any person towards
this story will be distinctly influenced by
his theories of the negro race. He believes that the
negro in America, in general, is an average,
ordinary human being, who under given
environment, develops like other human beings,
then he will read this story and judge it by
the facts deduced. If, however, he
regards the negro as a distinctly
inferior creature, who could [INAUDIBLE] emancipation
and enfranchisement against nature, then
he will need something more than the sort of
facts that I have set down. But this latter person,
I’m not trying to convince. I’m simply pointing out
these two points of view, so obvious to Americans, and
then without further ado, assuming the full
truth of the first. In fine I’m going to tell
a story as though negros are ordinary human
beings, realizing this attitude from the
first certainly [INAUDIBLE] my audience. Here, we see how Du
Bois’s theory of race– social constructionist
focused on how environmental
history [INAUDIBLE],, not biology or essence,
shaped his research. But Du Bois merely
flags his assumption before proceeding with
hundreds of pages of detail in rich history. So stepping back, is
black reconstruction a work of theory? I wonder if this is
the wrong question. What if we ask instead,
can we theorize with black reconstruction? Clearly, yes. Part of the work
of theorizing will involve uncovering
the assumption which Du Bois specifically
brought to his work– some explicit specific,
taking that preface, so much more implicit requiring
the kind of exegesis that Jose and Karida
excellently do in the [INAUDIBLE] manuscript. But much of that work
involves building on Du Bois, both the assumptions
and his actual findings, [INAUDIBLE] the work done since
that influences our [INAUDIBLE] those assumptions and findings. We must recognize this is an
act of creating theory by use, not explaining by design. Jose and Karida are
fantastic at this task when, they set themselves to it. And I hope that they
revise the manuscript, they go further
in this direction, not resting on just trying to
tell us what Do Bois meant, but elaborating what
we can do with Du Bois. Here, I think chapter 3
could particularly do more. Rather than just uncovering
how Du Bois analyzed race and global capitalism
together, and coupling together what feels like a
fairly standard list of theoretical [INAUDIBLE]
for post-colonial theorists, like foregrounding some
alternate agencies. What can Jose and
Karida tell us about how we can analyze race and
global capitalism differently by reapplying Du Bois’s ideas
and findings and approaches in new contexts? I’m not convinced
by the text so far that Du Bois himself proposed
a novel theory of capitalism. I am convinced that
Jose and Karida can point us to a novel
theory in capitalize by way of Du Bois. But right now, things
end with things like, we should be more
relational than [INAUDIBLE],, but more structural
[INAUDIBLE],, which gives us only a vague heading
and not a clear path forward. Where does following
that path take us? What debates will
help us to clarify? By engaging in this
task, Jose and Karida, and their fellow travelers,
will make Du Bois a foundational social theorist. As [INAUDIBLE] taught us,
Khafka and his precursors. We moderns decide which
pasts are relevant. Du Bois may not have been
important to mid-20th century, or even late 20th century
sociology for all reasons more [INAUDIBLE] and as
Tina just talked about. But we can make him
important now somewhat seamlessly because our
precursors are, in fact, retrojections. The theory canon, as we
know from [INAUDIBLE] and [INAUDIBLE] and many others,
is a political construct. The canon is an act of an even
present relatively [INAUDIBLE] from the actual past. The same political
story that elevated Durkheim but not
Tard or Marx but not [INAUDIBLE] or et cetera. If we combine [INAUDIBLE]
insights with [INAUDIBLE],, I would argue that we– and
more specifically, you– can make Du Bois part
of our collective canon of foundational social
theory by theorizing with him rather than by simply
announcing that you have found [INAUDIBLE]
social theory already there [INAUDIBLE]. So what would it mean to
theorize with Du Bois? I think chapter 2 offers one
excellent example of this, but they can go further
throughout the rest of the book. For example, one of the biggest
debates in sociological theory in general– and the debates
about race in the US for racialized global capitalism
in specific– concerns what we all call the
[INAUDIBLE] problem. There are as many
variations to this problem as there are sociologists,
probably, if not more. But Jose and Karida seem to
imply that Du Bois will give us new ways to tackle this issue. I would like to hear more. To start with, I want
to know how they define the problem in the first place. Theorizing with Du
Bois, what is structure? What is agency? If you take
[INAUDIBLE] say, it’s the model for
understanding [INAUDIBLE] agency, what can
we learn about how we should define those
terms and, how we should analyze the larger problem. I should have mentioned
somewhere along the way, I’m nowhere near an
expert on Du Bois. This is me trying to fill in
through the lens of their book. For me, one of the striking
aspects of black reconstruction is how the importance
of some alter agency is an empirical question. That is, Du Bois’ theoretical
[INAUDIBLE] shape his approach and guide him to look
for the possibility that the actions of slaves
and recently freed slaves would be consequential to
the outcome of the Civil War. But he empirically tests that
question with historical data. It’s not simply a
matter of asserting the potential for
agency or foregrounding that agency a new abstract,
but in concretely identifying sets of consequential choices by
relatively disempowered actors that collectively
reshape larger outcomes. Theory led him to look. Data showed him the answer. Another way to phrase
this line of commentary would be a sort of social
theorist-specific version of [INAUDIBLE],,
show, don’t tell. Chapter 3 has a lot telling us
what Du Bois’s global sociology is like, but not
a lot of showing, and not a lot of showing
what we can do with it. In both chapter 3 and
4 spent a lot of time asserting that Du
Bois does it better or can help us do it better, but
not so much explicitly telling us what’s already
being done wrong and how do we go
about fixing it? Jose and Karina seem, I would
say, uncharacteristically unwilling to call out
specific authors or theories they believe get
it wrong, where it is the analysis of racism in
the US or global capitalism, and then to explain
how the with Du Bois would show why those other
approaches or findings are wrong and how we
can do it better. Let me name a couple potential
targets for Du Boisian critique, which might be
usefully explicit, showing how they’re currently still
important to the field, and then how Du Boisian thinking
can help us surpass them. The first item on mind
is modernization theory, kind of an easy target,
but still present. It’s working theological
[INAUDIBLE] development. Another [INAUDIBLE] certain
assimilationist approaches that assume a kind of
unilinear corporation classes in migration. We get a smidgen of
this in Jose’s session of his own work on the
[INAUDIBLE] brought out more. I think perhaps the third one
could be the recurrent debates on the culture of
poverty, which we have a new version of in
the last five or ten years. As a person understanding
racial inequality and especially segregated from black
urban neighborhoods, which would nicely
tie back empirically with Du Bois’s central work. What can thinking
with Du Bois tell us about how this resurgent
approach, cultural [INAUDIBLE] poverty is or isn’t a big payoff
with what the dangers are, et cetera? Are we recreating past
mistakes we could avoid? Or are we already doing a
kind of Du Boisian sociology, we just don’t know it? Finally, [INAUDIBLE]
this latter point, I want ask if there is a
sociological mainstream and whether or not Du Boisian
approaches fall inside or outside if there is one. As I mentioned, I think of
the Julain Go discussion, I’m not convinced that
sociology has its accord. I’m not convinced
it has a mainstream, and the authors in
a couple of places elude to the fractured
nature of the field. If there is a mainstream, we
don’t get a lot of evidence for who’s in it,
who’s out of it, and what it means in this
book or most of the places where it’s discussed. So what does that mean? What would it mean to think
about sociological mainstream, and who’s in it, who’s out? There is, I think, in sociology,
a status hierarchy, one that clearly maps onto
journals, universal presses, and departments. But I’m not sure how
well it can really be defined by content
or theoretical approach, or methodological
approach, or any of the axes we tend
to fall back on when we dispute the fractured
nature of the field. If we were to do a
Du Boisian sociology of contemporary sociology,
what sort of evidence we bring to bear on
what sorts of questions to determine how Du
Boisian approaches or compatible approaches
[INAUDIBLE],, like [INAUDIBLE] are received. We might, for example, look
at the list of exemplars Jose and Karida identify as
the fellow travelers, and ask about how their
work has been received and where those authors teach,
where they publish, et cetera. For example, in one of
the few explicit mentions in the book of an actual
debate between a Du Boisian approach to a non-Du
Boisian approach, they signal a discussion
between Winant and Wimmer in interracial studies, I think. And they argue that Wimmer
is more central to the field. I’m not so sure. For example, [INAUDIBLE]
special formation has almost 10,000 citations, as
many as all Wimmer’s writings combined. Now, we can debate
value citation counts. And I’m totally on board. But they do suggest
a recognition, if not authentic incorporation. And so what would
it mean to think about the contemporary
field of sociology from this perspective? What kind of [INAUDIBLE]? We could list the other fellow
travelers by name, many of whom are high-status
cases, wining awards. Some of this is new. Some of this is a very
successful outcome of the kind of social
movement that Tina described, having really
taken hold in last five years. And that’s great. But what does it
really mean, if you think about the success
of these approaches in high-status
venues, but now we’re going to call it the mainstream. I was trying to
think if I could find a single top-20 [INAUDIBLE]
sociology department that didn’t have someone you
could identify as being they are in this tradition
or a clear ally of it. But I’m not sure. That’s not to say it’s
dominant or anything. But it’s just to say I
think it’s somewhat more pervasive in high-status
places than sometimes we give it credit,
which is not to say we don’t need Jose
and Karida’s book, nor that the universities
are already mainstream. I think a Du Boisian
approach should also lead us to take very seriously
the experiences of the scholars in those positions with,
those halls of status, which Jose and Karida allude to with
a really interesting discussion of graduate students’
difficulties in receiving support for
projects in this tradition. That said, I do think this
relatively broad presence in the field means there’s
an opportunity for this book to rally together a loose
collection of authors already well-positioned and give
them a way to produce a more sustained conversation about
the theoretical underpins of their approaches, and to
identify which approaches fail in these terms and why. Thank you very much,
again, for the opportunity to read the book. I look forward to
our conversation. SPEAKER: Thanks so
much, Dan and Tina, for sharing those very engaging
close readings of the text, but as well as
contextualizing them within the past and potential
futures of sociology. And I just want to give
some empirical evidence to the top 10
sociology department. I graduated from UCLA. And prior to Karida and Marcus
Hunter joining that program, we had no Du Bois
in my curriculum. So I do think it’s changing. But that’s something
that had happened after I graduated in 2014. So without further ado, I’d like
to invite Karida up to respond. And then we’ll
open up to Q and A, where Jose will also try to– OK, good. OK, are these double
mics going to feedback? I guess not. KARIDA BROWN: So Tina
and Dan, thank you for those amazing,
thoughtful comments. I’m going to respond with
some generalizations, because there’s so
much in what you said, I want Jose and
I to really think deeply about all of the comments
and suggestions that you gave. So I want to start by a response
that kind of brings together a point that Tina raised, and
I think that Dan contextualized in a different way. But they were talking
to each other. And that is this question
of what Tina raised– what is and is not sociology? And Dan frames this is his
question of, the three genres. And I’ll repeat
those three genres as I heard you state them, Dan. Is this a work of recovery,
of historical sociology in the vein of Aldon Morris? Is it a theoretical
exegesis where we are excavating what is said,
and packaging it, and giving it to an audience for them
to do with what they will? Or is this book a genre
of social theory itself? And the way in which I’m
thinking about these two provocations
together, is that this is at the crux of
what makes this work political in a certain way. Because there are– I love the title of the
Alden Morris’s book, “The Scholar Denied.” Du Bois is not the
only Scholar denied. That’s why we have a discipline. We discipline ourselves with
producing these boundaries. And this question of what
is and is not sociology we can export that to
various disciplines. I hear that over and over
again from graduate students. When I was in
graduate student, I think that that question
troubled me deeply and made me hesitate about my own work. And I know that that was not
a unique experience to myself, to my peers here at
Brown, because now, as I’m on the other side
as an assistant professor at UCLA, I deal
with the same thing. The first thing that
I’ve got to get through with graduate students
who come into my office is, before they can even
talk about their work, they have to frame it
with, well, I’m not sure that this is really
sociology, but, and then they then elaborate
this brilliant idea. So there’s a politics there
that is historically located, that is very much in vein
of exactly what Do Bois went through biographically, through
his journey as an intellectual. And so when I think
about these genres, and I really like
the way that you framed that, I would say while
I wrote down horizontally, is this historical, a
theoretical exegesis or a social theory
itself, I want to change that into something
that’s more vertical. And I think about the book
and its meta structure. So the response to
that is all of them, but not necessarily all at the
same time to the same extent, depending on who the reader
is, where they are located, and what the book is doing. So I’ll unpack what I mean
by this in terms of the meta structure of the text. Is it a work of
historical sociology? Jose and I are
intentional about– the reason why we acknowledge
that decades of scholars who did the work of resituating
Du Bois within the discipline, we’re grateful for that
word, because we really want to get to the meat
and potatoes of the theory and Du Bois’s program itself. So no, this is not– what we came up
with is we really want to desegregate Du Bois
the man from a Du Boisian sociology, and those are
two different things. So I hope that you
all can see that there and will be sure to
exercise that explicitly in the introduction. But with that said,
there’s no way to disembody Du
Bois and his works, so that historical,
biographical trail that looms over the entire text has
to be there because Do Bois was pushed to the margins of
not only the discipline, but in his career,
because of his race, because he embodied blackness. So we have to trace
historically Du Bois’s biography along with the work he was
doing because otherwise, I feel there would be an
opportunity for a certain type of disingenuous slippage. Is it a theoretical exegesis? Yes. So the intention there– Dan mentioned that there are
a lot of block quotes in, what’d you say, tell don’t show? Well we, we’re like a peep show. We want to show in this book. So I came up with a
heuristic this morning, it’s an exegesis in
that way because we want this to be
like an Easter egg hunt for undergraduate
and graduate students. Because Du Bois’s work
is not a represented in a broadly and
sociological syllabi, or if that is occurring, it’s
definitely a new phenomenon, I’d say over the last 10 years
where it’s become a mainstream thing to do. We want to leave those nuggets
of what Du Bois was saying, how his thought was evolving
as he articulated it, across these seven
decades of productivity. Because we are kind of stuck in
this loop of The Souls of Black Folk, Philadelphia Negro,
and Black Reconstruction in America, that
covers 1903 to 1935. Du Bois published his last
work in 1957 and then two books came out posthumously,
after he died, in 1963. So we leave those nuggets there
to, while we can’t focus deeply on each and every piece
of work that he published, we can leave traces for
folks to pick up on. And I don’t want to reserve
that just for students, but also there are
many faculty who want to incorporate Du
Bois into their curricula, and also expand their
reading of Du Boise, but it’s like,
where do you start? So there’s that
intentional work that we’re doing there by
sometimes just dropping a thick block quote for you. So we’ll continue to think
about, it in terms of, when we get to that stage of the
form and the voice of the book, how much of Du Bois’s voice
makes it into this book and how much of it
is us telling you. So I like that show and tell. But that’s definitely a tension
that we want that to be there. And I’d love to hear
everybody’s thoughts on that. So your third genre was,
is it social theory itself? Yes, and I think that
both Dan and Tina hit the nail on the point. Chapter two is the
most developed, the chapter on
phenomenology, Du Bois’s theory of double consciousness. That is the chapter that started
off as a peer reviewed article. So it’s further along
than the other chapters. Yes, we want to
theorise with Du Bois, but I would hesitate to
say theorising with Du Bois with thinking with
him and articulating a framework, an intellectual
framework with which to engage with Du Bois, because there is
no articulation of a Du Boisian sociology at this point. That’s concise. So I think it’s really
important to show. We want that showing to really
be front and center, however, there are plenty of areas
for us to theorise up. I think the opportunity
there really lies with that
conversation about the contemporary implications. What can we do with a
Du Boisian sociology? Now we can just stop
with the argument or was he a sociologist
or not, right? That’s squash. So thank you Aldon
Morris, and everyone else who’s done that work, Earl
Wright, and Olivia [INAUDIBLE].. But this question of, well, if
you want to pick this book up, we, I think, need to get
to the point in the test where we expand those
examples that we have and really give some
suggestive arguments, be more prescriptive in that way. Because, I think, as
the text reads now and from what I’ve heard
from your comments, it’s something
where it’s exciting, and pick it up and work with it. However, now what
I think, is an area that we really should
push forward with. I also want to comment
on this question of, who is this book for? Congratulations. Right? So the book is largely for– Jose, how do I speak
selfishly here? So this book, for
me, emerges out of– because I feel like
something was stolen from me. So when I was in
graduate school, there was nothing
like this for me. And had I had it, it would’ve
just eased a lot of angst that I had about how I was
approaching my research. It also would have given me
an intellectual community of interlocutors. I would have been able to find
that much more quickly than I was able to do, and I
was able to do it here, in a space like
Brown, but I just think of all of those
as yet scholars. That produce brilliant work, who
run the risk of being scholars denied. Like So for me, that
is first and foremost who this book is for. I would say it’s
graduate students and undergraduate
students who are looking to either think
about graduate school or pursuing
independent research. So the writing is very
much geared towards a, this is what we would call,
in the vein of a Du Boisian sociology, we was an
emancipatory scholar. So we wrote this text
in an emancipatory mode. And we want to push
that even further. So if you are stuck, we’re
trying to get you unstuck, if you are asleep, we
try to get you woke. That is what this book is
trying to do and who it’s for. Does it fall in or outside of
the sociological mainstream, is there a sociological
mainstream, and does that even matter? So, Dan, I disagree, yes,
there’s a mainstream sociology. Is there plurality
in the discipline? Is the discipline
capacious enough to hold a body of disparate
and/or overlapping veins of research, or sub-fields? Absolutely. I think that’s one of the draws
of sociology as a discipline. However, that power
structure that you alluded to reproduces
itself very much, to me, as an insider/outsider
type of structure. And that matters
because what we know is that there are
types of work, there are scholars who are
intentionally pushed out of that mainstream, who
have not historically had the opportunity to enter the
pearly gates of what my friend Mark [INAUDIBLE]
calls the pantheon of the sociological canon. Right? So it’s not the work itself
that created a slippage, it is all the -isms. Right? So I think this move of
speaking to the mainstream, situating in the mainstream,
attacking the mainstream, or critiquing the mainstream
is really important because it’s an invention. And so this is also a
truth telling project. So that’s up for
debate, but when I walk into ASA every
summer, I understand there’s a mainstream sociology
and those hierarchies are very much a byproduct
of that mainstream. So that’s my response there. Tina, I’m going to
respond to your last point where you said that in reading
the book you want more. You want to see gender, you
want to see more quotes. Dan wants to see that you
have some more, right? So this is also
really important and I think will be central to
the framing of the book. Yes, I want you to want more
because then you go do it. That’s the point. You know, this is
not an argument that Du Bois not only was
the first to do everything but he solved every
problem, he did not. But what he did was leave us
with a framework to think with. He left us with a sociological
apparatus, a mode of being and a discipline. So Du Bois, to me, was horrible
with his gender analysis. However, this theory of double
consciousness and the veil has been used for
infamous theorising to bring new analysis of gender. And there are lots of examples
of how scholars have picked up a concept of theory of Du
Boise, and taken it, and ran with it, asking the
different set of questions that Du Bois originally asked. So what we hope to do is
bring together that Voltron. So you have the whole
thing and you go do it. And that’s really the
crust of the book. So there are so many great
comments and questions, but I’m going to stop there. Jose and I will field
questions and we’ll open the discussion up. And as I pick through
more of what you said, I’m probably going
to interrupt and jump in and say some more stuff. So thank you. SPEAKER: OK, great, leaves us
with about 20 minutes for Q&A, and Jose, I’ll let you
field the questions. I want to learn. JOSE ITZIGSOHN: One
at a time, please. Yes, [INAUDIBLE]. AUDIENCE: Something
I wasn’t considering but now, after hearing the
comments between Dan and Karida about the existence of intrinsic
sociology, I’m wondering– I ask all of you– how would one define, I
guess in Karida’s sense, what constitutes that
mainstream that you see? And what doesn’t constitute the
mainstream that you don’t see? I’m wondering [INAUDIBLE]. [SIDE CONVERSATION] KARIDA BROWN: Oh, sure. I’ll start that. So from my perspective, I
think that this mainstream, it is like a veil. So Du Bois has a
famous little story that he opens the first
essay of Souls of Black Folk where he talks about
playing outside with a group of young children. He’s a young boy of
five or six years old, and they have these
beautiful greeting cards that the kids are exchanging. And there was a newcomer
to the group of children, and one young girl–
and Du Bois grew up in Barrington, Massachusetts,
in an all white neighborhood. So all of his
friends were white. So a newcomer comes to the
group, and he passes her a card and she doesn’t really
want to take it. But it was just such a
slight, nanosecond experience, and that’s when the veil
emerged for Du Bois. And he then realized
that it had something, he sensed, this has
something to do with my race. And from that story,
he gives us the theory of double consciousness,
with double consciousness, second side in-tuneness. So I say all that to say that
I’ve had that exchange card moment within the discipline. And we can think about
the way in which– if we think of sub
fields as those cards that you’re exchanging with
the friends in the field, the way in which certain methods
are privileged and performed as a, more or less,
rigorous endeavor. And those things play
out in human action. Right? So they’re not just boundaries
out there in the ether, in the abstract, they very
much influence the way in which we are with each other
as an intellectual community. So for me, that mainstream
is a reproduction of these card exchange moments,
this veil of the discipline. TINA PARK: If I could chime in. KARIDA BROWN: Sure. TINA PARK: That
question caught me. It’s a profound one. And I was thinking
about it in terms of being a graduate student
and having that moment of, can I ask this question? Can I do it in a way that I
think will be the right way to answer that question? And then, suddenly, having
that moment to be like, will it be recognizable
by other people? Will it be accepted? Can I get published? Will I get a job? And in that way, I think we
this double consciousness around being sociologists. That there are some who don’t
fit whatever this nebulous mainstream is and are constantly
thinking about what I’m trying to do being reflected back on
by the gatekeepers constantly telling us we should be doing
it a slightly different way. And so I think if you surveyed
a bunch of graduate students and asked them,
what are you anxious about in terms of your work? That will give us
the contours of what the mainstream is in terms of
what they think is not allowed. But I do think it’s there. There’s something present there. It’s not necessarily
a sub-field, it’s not necessarily
a set of people or a set of institutions,
it covers all of it. KARIDA BROWN: And
just to riff off of that, situating this
question within the field, the institutional
field, it’s not just– it’s all of the
actors, including, you know, we’ve got
to publish, right? So our main journals,
our pantheon journals, the American Journal
of Sociology, and the American
Sociological Review, are indicators of
what sociology is. That’s the mechanism,
one of the main ones, through which we are
articulating ourselves as a discipline. And I find it really
interesting and important to point out that
in, what was it, 2012 when Omar
Lizardo took over ASR? DAN HIRSCHMAN: Oh, no,
[INAUDIBLE] know in 2016. KARIDA BROWN: Oh, even
more recent than this. So the journal ASR recently
moved to, at Notre Dame, under editorship
of Omar Lizardo, and the first thing that
he did as an editor was convene a group of
leading qualitative and quantitative sociologists,
and did a deep analysis of the ways in which qualitative
research is systematically rejected from our
mainstream journals. So what does that say about
folks who use that method? Is it mainstream or not? That’s an indicator that
there’s something going on. And this task force
that he convened, their mission was to publish a
set of standards, a criteria, upon which qualitative research
would be reviewed in the ASR journal, which was
supposed to open up a pathway for that
type of research to make it into what I
would call the mainstream. So that’s just one example of
when we’re saying mainstream sociology, I think
we’re thinking of this both interactionally,
but at the institutional level with how that privilege
then is structured. DAN HIRSCHMAN: A
little bit of pushback. So I probably keep
saying, I don’t want deny, for example, the
presence of power, of status, of hierarchies,
of whiteness, or genderness playing huge issues. But I think that cut across
in weird ways sometimes. And I was trying to think about
it explicitly in the context that a Boisian sociology
you’re proposing, which isn’t linked to a
particular method, for example. Because, you’re
right, there are ways in which journals reproduce
methodological hierarchies. Clearly. And some have gotten
better at this. AJS was never as
bad as ASR in terms of value in say,
urban ethnography, AJS has been doing
that for 100 years, ASR comes and goes
in different ways. But when I look at the
list of actual people you called on as
fellow travelers, or already doing
things that saw fit in this approach, many people
like Massey and Denton. Massey’s at Princeton, trained
like half of the migration sociologists in the US, their
book won the best [INAUDIBLE] book award. Kimberly [? Quamma, ?]
[INAUDIBLE] Chicago, he won the best eduction award. I would put Chris
Miller in this group. Someone who does quantitative
research, but explicitly, using the Du Bois’s data
and Du Boisian framework, unpacked the history
of racial [INAUDIBLE].. Won the best eduction
award at Berkeley. So I agree with
you there are lots of ways in which these
cross-cutting, status hierarchies disadvantage certain
kinds of work and certain kinds of scholars, like
Massey and Chris Miller, they’re the white dudes. Right? Probably matters. But I think there are ways
in which the Du Boisian sociology you’re
proposing, in some sense, doesn’t naturally fall
into the same category as exclusion of what
we’re constituting here as [INAUDIBLE],, whether you
call it mainstream or not. I think there’s something
semi-methodical about it, which may be sort of powerful
and useful, because I think the mainstream isn’t
so cohesively defined. It’s defined in kind of a
loose network [INAUDIBLE] of methods, and journals,
and actors, and presses, and things, that a lot fits
in it in varying degrees. And I’ve heard grad
students basically from every part of this planet
ask me how is my [INAUDIBLE].. I had a friend who
published in ASR, could not figure out if she
was doing sociology or not, and let the field to
go into [INAUDIBLE].. So it’s mysterious
to a lot of people because we’re such
a weird field. That plays out differently
in terms of career outcomes, et cetera, [INAUDIBLE]. I think it’s worth at
least putting to evidence and trying to figure what
you really mean by that. What’s the essence
of it, and how does it [INAUDIBLE] on to
the project you’re proposing. KARIDA BROWN: Got it. DAN HIRSCHMAN: Does that make– KARIDA BROWN: It does. JOSE ITZIGSOHN: Yeah,
I mean, you know, if I could say something. First, I want to thank Tina
and Dan for a wonderful job. This is the second
time I’ve asked Tina to comment on things, and
she does such a wonderful job that I’m afraid
that you’re going to be asked more to do it. And this is the second time
that Dan comments for us. He was in the [INAUDIBLE],,
and if we invited him again, it’s because he’s such a
generous person, and such a thoughtful person, and because
he’s not afraid to push back. Thoughtful criticism
and thoughtful push back is the best
criticism one can get. So thanks, Dan. I mean, you will get a
signed copy of our book, and if it would compensate
you for your travel. Because they’ve read drafts. I mean, it’s not like
a finished product. Thank you, very much. You did a wonderful job. I mean and related
to mainstream, is there a mainstream or not? Yeah, I mean, there are ways in
which people in the mainstream do work that could be
close to us with limits, but we’re trying to set up– and you’re right, it’s not there
because it’s not there yet. But we are trying to determine
what is a DuBoisian theory and what is both? Because basically,
we are ambitious. And I don’t know. We want to start
a social movement. We want this to be a book that
will be read by young scholars and would expand the
boundaries of sociology. Not replace the mainstream,
not replace sociology, but will allow to ask a series
of questions that, today, may not be defined in sociology. And for example, two
current luminaries of sociology, [INAUDIBLE]
and [INAUDIBLE] start their book
on theories of race saying that there was no
theory of race before them. And we want to say yes, there
was a theory of race 100 years ago, a theory of
modernity that put race at the middle of
it, and that started to look at it from the
perspective of race. And that was 100 years ago. So in a sense, the move
is to expand the canon, because if everybody
has to read the words, then nobody can say there
was no theory of race. There was an
approach to modernity that, in the same way that
[INAUDIBLE] puts bureaucracy and rationalization,
Marx puts class, Durkheim puts solidarity,
Du Bois centers race and its intersections. So that way, everybody
has to study race. That’s the move. Take race from being
a subfield to make it center to the
study of sociology. And in that way, and also to– and that’s why we
work so hard to prove that there was such a theory,
and that’s part of our goal, to prove that the
reason Du Bois– that Du Bois had a sociology. So that’s one move. The other move is to
do the social theory part, which is the part that
currently is less developed. Which is, what does it
mean for us in the present? And in that, yes, we
want to do all the work that you pointed at. I mean, you were right on
the spot on what is missing and what we need to do. You know, what all Du
Bois means needs to think, what is Du Bois methodology. We think he had a methodology
that was distinctively meant Du Boisian. What does it mean to think about
capitalism as based in racism and coloniality in the present. It’s the same thing as
Julianne [? Roh ?] proposed, or is it something else? We think that Du Bois
was the first in dealing with this question
of micro and macro and subjectivity in the
certain subject content and it did better
than many or most. So that’s the part that is
lacking that we are working on. And you were right on
the spot and you gave us the task of what is lacking in. And that will be the conclusion. And in expanding the
conclusion of each chapter exactly with those questions. But before that,
we needed to prove that there is such a thing as
a Du Boisian social theory. And there is such a thing
as a distinctive Du Boisian approach to empirical research. Because if there
is not, then there is no distinctive Du
Boisian sociology. So we are ambitious. And I think you point out
to some of the tensions that we need to manage,
and it’s very important that we can convince you
of that at some point. KARIDA BROWN: Now you
just signed yourself up to read the next draft. JOSE ITZIGSOHN: That’s the goal. The goal is to, so young
scholars, young Karida, graduate students and
their road that they’re starting to have a
tool to say, ah ha, I can ask a number of
questions that I may not be able to ask today. We think that there
is such a boundary and we want to push
it a little bit. Not replace the others. And in that sense,
it’s something that at least I have been
thinking, because yeah, you are right. We try not to get in too much
argument with what there is, because if you try to get to in
too much arguing what there is, then the discussion becomes
what is that argument, did you describe it correctly,
and me, my personal sense is better avoid that. Let people discuss Du Bois
and our reading of Du Bois. It may not be the
right strategy, but that’s the kind of
thing we need to think. She also has a– AUDIENCE: If possible,
I have two questions, and you can choose which
one you want to answer. The first one is, is
there a limitation to calling it a Du
Boisian sociology and who you can allow into that
advanced method canon? And so is there an
Anna Julia Cooper that is allowed into that
sociological structure, even though she was
before Du Bois, right? So how do we navigate
those waters? And I think that’s the way you
can gender, but to say for– I’m sorry, for all the
non-Black people in this room– but to have to say there is
a Du Boisian sociology, is that a power dynamic, is that
a structural rhetorical choice that you’re trying
to make in the field, to say that there is
a Du Boisian and not just a critical race, a critical
theory of racialized sociology. And so that’s the
first question. And then the second
one is, I kind of want to get into the text of
the globalization of capitalism and race and how that fits into
a current paradigm of the way that neoliberalism is structured
in the racialized state. So you can choose which
one you want to answer. Or you can answer
both or whatever. KARIDA BROWN: I’ll take
one and Jose can comment. So yes, so in the
text responding to the first question about
is a Du Boisian sociology exclusive and/or capacious
enough to invite other thinkers and types of scholars who
move in a certain mode, I would say absolutely yes. One thing that we addressed in
the last chapter of the book that I will expand upon
and elaborate further is Du Bois very explicitly
gives this famous speech that then gets printed in
The Crisis about the– it’s called the
criteria of Negro Art. He’s talking to– this is
an NAACP award ceremony and he’s talking to is largely
comprised of scholars, poets, artists, writers,
novelists, and he is telling that
group of folks, he says, you have to keep doing
your work for the work’s sake, because a hundred years from
now, someone might pick it up. And if you don’t produce
it, then the only stories about black people
that will be out there is what white
folks wrote about us. And this was in 1924, we
really don’t like that. But he also cautions
that you have to keep producing anyway
because acknowledging that this system was made
for none of us to make it. So the few that do,
we seem exceptional, but really, that’s
the paradox of what he calls the Black
Artist, which kind of fits into that whole genre. But he very much is aware of
the constraints and this tension between constraints and– structural constraints
and chance, and he thinks about that
in terms of what intellectual and
scholarly production looks like when one person
seems to be producing ideas, but really, people
been saying it forever and there are a
collective of folks. And I also say that
there are several moments throughout his career, several
works that Du Bois didn’t, he intentionally didn’t work alone. And he was very much in that who
New Negro Movement, Post-Harlem Renaissance way of
producing, where he was producing with
other sociologists, but other artists,
other thinkers, to produce studies
and other works. So I say absolutely,
because that’s the way that he worked anyway. JOSE ITZIGSOHN: I mean, yeah. To your questions, two things. And I don’t know if
Karida agrees with this, but this is my own vision. We said we want to
start a social movement, and opening the doors. And Du Bois, because of his
great work under recognition is the first, but I would like
to open the door so Anna Julia Cooper, Fanon, and other people
can walk behind him, and create a space in which all
these people are discussed and thought. And you can Anna Julia Cooper
really to build the failed Du Bois analysis of
gender, to really do the Du Bois
analysis of gender by looking at the
work of her analysis. The other question, if
I understood correctly, Du Bois, again, you know,
what’s the body of setting in Du Boisian sociology theory? You know, the concept
of the variation state is a concept that is
established in critical studies, humanities, but it was
central to Du Bois. And if we can make the case that
Du Bois was economic and social theory, then the
concept of racial state comes to the center
of sociology. But the question is,
back to Dan’s question, how do you think with
it in the present? Because obviously,
when Du Bois is talking about the
racial state, he’s talking about the end
of Reconstruction. I think it’s eerie, the
parallels between then and now and the time in which– but that’s the question, really,
of what do you do with Du Bois. How do you take the ideas of
Du Bois about the racial state and the racial basis
of power to look at contemporary neoliberalism,
Trumpism, whatever. But those are the challenges
of contemporary Du Boisian sociology. But in order to do that,
first you have to say, OK, yes, we do have these
tools that are ours. And I say the racial state
because you mentioned it, but there are others. KARIDA BROWN: I want
to pick up on this– oh, go ahead, Lydia. AUDIENCE: Go ahead. KARIDA BROWN: And I just, I
really want this to be on tape, so it’s why I don’t want
us to run out of time. How Jose says that he hopes that
this starts a social movement, we just came from this wonderful
social theory forum conference, and it was a Du Bois conference. And Jose and I and a
couple other scholars, sociologists who very much call
themselves Du Boisian scholars, really, in talking about this
book, but also this moment, this window of opportunity that
was kind of inaugurated with The Scholar Denied in 2015
and has opened up a whole new conversation about Du
Bois, this book, we hope, is like a bat signal
for sociologists– and I’m looking at you– who would want to also identify
and kind of shape and define what that means to call yourself
a Du Boisian sociologist, but also so we can
find each other. So it’d be great to
organize something within the ASA, a Du Boisian
scholarly network where these conversations, you
know, it doesn’t start and end with what Jose and I say. I think that this book is
opening that conversation so we can think about in
terms of a social movement and a body of
scholarships that move– scholars that move within the
mainstream of the discipline. That’s the yellow
brick road that we’re trying to ease on down
with this project. So yes, Lydia. AUDIENCE: So I’ll make it
brief so that it gets on tape. I have more of a
comment than a question. I am not a
sociologist and I know that I am not a sociologist. I’m many other
things, but I wanted to comment that I am really
excited about this project. And I think that your book
has a lot of potential to send a bat signal not
just to other sociologists, but actually across disciplines
for many scholars of race. I’m in Africana Studies, and
even there, I don’t actually see this type of project. Typically in Africana,
we focus on Du Bois as political thought,
right, and not necessarily as social theory,
kind of in the same way that you all are
looking at him here. Or people will take
specific aspects of Du Bois and apply it. But I’m really excited about
the cross and interdisciplinary implications of the work. And I hope that,
either your conclusion or in your introduction, that
you will have an opportunity to address that aspect,
even in a paragraph, because I think part of
the mainstream of sociology also reflects a mainstream
that’s in the Academy, right. And all scholars who
are in the Academy who ask questions of race are
systematically devalued. And I think that’s the
term that I actually didn’t hear in this
conversation about mainstream that I would offer, is that
mainstreaming is really a question of value. It’s a question of value
of particular bodies who are doing work, it’s
also a question of value about which work means something
in a particular society. And so I see that this
book has the opportunity to really challenge some
of those foundations across the university,
in terms of what it means to be a scholar that
asks questions about race. DAN HIRSCHMAN:
[INAUDIBLE] Just quickly, I study economists
mostly, and one thing I was thinking about
that I should have said is that when I think about what
it means to have a mainstream or discipline, other
social sciences, it’s just so much starker. You look at political
science, look at economics, the mainstream is so much more
mainstream and so much more policing of its borders. The kind of work
we’re talking about, of people doing that in
economics, for example, is almost laughable. And that’s why I think this kind
of argument has a lot of teeth. In sociology, the boundaries
are just more porous. Not that they’re not there, but
they work a little different. And that’s what my comparative
ones are thinking about, but not explicitly stating. So thank you for bring up other
disciplines, that’s exactly the kind of thing
I think about it and there are many views,
which is more important to have some of these conversations. JOSE ITZIGSOHN:
Sophia and Michael? AUDIENCE: Yeah, I
wanted to pick up on the question of the
economization process and– JOSE ITZIGSOHN: We’ll call Rome. AUDIENCE: Because something
I’m thinking about is, even if we think of
the classical sociological theorists that we all read in
grad school, for example, Marx, through the economization
process of Marx’s work, we only read a select group
of texts from his entire work, and that’s how it gets
canonized and that’s what we all have to live
and re-reproduce that. And we don’t read all
his racist stuff and more explicitly racist
stuff, and we also take for granted, then, the
eurocentricity in his work because it becomes
taken for granted, and seen as this
objective body of work. So I’m just
wondering, as you want to canonize Du Bois, which I’m
all behind that, I’m wondering how you think about your role
in the selectivity of this 70 years of work,
which works should graduate students all read? And how are you
making those decisions about which works we should
value more than others? KARIDA BROWN: That’s
a good question. So I don’t know that I like
that word canonization, or calling what we’re
doing canonization. It might be, but I want to think
about that a little bit more before we say that. But this– so with every
constitution, with everything that we put on the table,
it’s erasing something else. So that choice
process obviously is doing a certain type of work. So I’ll address the last
part of your question first. We also want to incorporate,
as an appendix to the book, whether it be some sort
of Du Boisian syllabus or some sort of roadmap
of readings by theme. So I don’t think it’s our place
to say who should read what and what selection of readings
make it into the core of a Du Boisian sociology. But more so, just leave that
enumerated list there for folks and thematize it a
little bit so scholars can do that work themselves. Oh, yeah, I don’t know that I
ascribe to that canonization term, so you can go ahead
and take that, Jose. JOSE ITZIGSOHN: Yeah,
I want to point to– I like your comment,
I hope it’s true. I was talking to our
editor the other day about how to structure field
notes and citations, and she was telling me, well
you should follow the historians model because this book
has crossover appeal. And I said, well I don’t
know, if you want that. But it’s nice to hear that
because she might be right. The point, yeah, canonization– yeah, we can discuss
it, but what to read. And the point is
that at this point, anything is an expansion. You know, Tina wants us to
do the companion to our book. But at this point, anything
that you bring into– don’t want to call it a canon– the same people
should read this, it’s an expansion of what
they are currently reading. Part of our argument
is really, Du Bois should be read in
it’s more of a sort, because what sociologists
that need to read this, they read Black Reconstruction. No, no, no, sorry. No, no, no, no, no. They read The
Philadelphia Negro, they mention perhaps
the Atlanta Studies, they perhaps mention
The Souls of Black Folk, and Chelsea [? Mert ?]
and me, I think, are the only people who wrote
about Black Reconstruction, and now [? Dee ?] Royster
is doing that too. So anything that we read will be
more than it’s been right now. So what we choose, I mean,
we are trying to be broad. Say Black Reconstruction, The
Atlanta Studies, Dark Water. But also The World and Africa. You know, if people read that,
they reading like almost six times more than they read now. So it’s a slow process, but– KARIDA BROWN: And
this funny thing about canonization, if we
are to pick up that word and think with it, it’s funny
not only what gets canonized, when you were talking about
Marx’s selected readings, but who gets canonized. So Marx never held an academic
position at an institution, yet he’s a canonical
sociologist. So it’s so funny that
that sleight of hand of calling this argument,
that Du Bois really wasn’t a sociologist, he
was an activist, because he left the Academy for a number
of years and then came back, founded a journalist that’s
still running, The Phylon. However some folks
who have never held an academic appointment,
we have no problem, we don’t even
question who’s allowed to cross those boundaries. So I think that’s where
I feel troubled by it, because I understand
why we have canons, but I find it
deeply problematic. So I hesitate to reproduce
that voluntarily. AUDIENCE: So just quickly,
just to add something to the conversation that
I’ve never felt before, but I’ve sort of seen the
glimmer of but now I see it. I mean, Jose and
Karida, your work has always been
transformative for me, but it’s newly
transformative in the sense that it provides this
kind of synthesis that enables conversation. So it’s transformative,
but that it now travels. And the reason why I think
it travels so powerfully is that I’m now able to talk to
colleagues, for instance, Linda Gusia here from
Kosova, and we have been talking about the ways
in which your previous article on double
consciousness in a veil helps us talk in a new
way, in a productive way, about the dynamics in Kosova. So this is what I just want to
mark as something that has not been already identified. Because most of the conversation
has been around the obvious places where Du Bois is central. But I think what’s
your volume can do is to be enable
Du Bois’ relevance to be found in new spaces. And that therefore,
the third tr- word, from transformative
to traveling, is that it will
exist in translation. And as it exists
in translation, it will have even more
productive power, which sort of goes to the point. And that is that this is
Du Boisian as foundation, but it’s a Brownian
in extension. KARIDA BROWN: You
always embarrass me at the last moment, Michael,
so thank you Professor Kennedy, he is one of my dissertation
committee members and thank you for your comment,
for always coining a Brownian sociology. I don’t think that
that’s a thing, but yeah. DAN HIRSCHMAN: I want to say
one thing about Marx and canons. I understand it
wasn’t around then. Marx wasn’t in a sociological
canon until the 1960s, and I just think it’s a great
example that the canons is a constantly reformed
political construction and that’s why I’m sort of
not interested in the question of whether or not Du Bois was a
sociologist, because we decided Marx was a
sociologist in the 60s and there’s no way
we didn’t think that. And so I think that political
game is being played powerfully right now and this
is a salvo in it, but I think the
way to do that work is to show us how Du Bois
is essential to asking our questions, not just show
us that he was institutionally situated in the field. Because who cares,
we clearly don’t. We are who we pick
up and who we don’t. We all worried for
common word dieu, not because they were central
to sociology, because they were central to a particular
game we picked up, and it’s not how
our canon works. So if you’re going
to be tactical, figure out the
rules for who gets and how they get in
and play that script. SPEAKER: I want to I want
to, on behalf of the panel, thank the audience members for
your attention and these really great questions
that have generated a productive, but unfortunately,
rare conversation. I hope that we can
continue this over pastries in the back and just
two announcements. One, a reminder from 10:00
to noon tomorrow at this CSRA just across the
street at 96 Waterman, Karida will be discussing
the production of this book, but talking through the nuts
and bolts of what it’s like. What the collaboration
process has been like, I think helpful for grad
students, but also for faculty to think about how to
work through these kinds of collaborative projects. And then lastly, of course,
none of this can be done without the help of [? Kaitlyn ?]
[? Murphy ?] and Kristy [? O’Dowd, ?] so
thank you so much. And thanks, once again,
for Karida Brown, Jose Itzigsohn for
sharing this work with us, and to Dan Hirschman
and Tina Park for the wonderful comments. [APPLAUSE]