Resistance in Action: Protest Reimagined through the Lens of Black Resistance


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Innovation Fellowships




The philosophical literature on protest has been limited by two dogmatic trends: first, the conflation of protest with (un)civil disobedience; second, the focus on protest as a tool to advance other ends. These trends have prevented exploration of a crucial and undertheorized feature of protest: resistance. As an oppositional orientation held to structural, social, and ideological domains, resistance fundamentally shapes how we engage with the world around us, inseparable from manifestations of power and oppression within our social reality. To understand what it means to protest, then, requires us to understand what it means to “resist.” The history of Black protest provides ample evidence for this necessary relation and underscores the need for a new account of protest that can capture its political, social, and expressive value. This project provides such an account informed by the rich legacy of Black resistance and Black thought beyond the philosophical canon.