W.E.B. Du Bois in South Africa: Tracing What it Means to be Black


African Humanities Program Postdoctoral Fellowships


W.E.B. Du Bois’ contribution to scholarship is often neglected in the academy. Morris echoes this sad reality in his book, "The Denied Scholar" (2015). This reality is also pervasive in the South African Academy: seldom academics rigorously use his work to understand the present context. This tragic reality is worth lamenting, especially since Du Bois’ work strongly informed some of the prominent intellectuals in the African National Congress (ANC). In tracing his legacy and reviving the important role he played in shaping South African politics, this project proposes to use Du Bois’ work as an entry point to delineating articulations of what it means to be Black that have emanated from some prominent South African intellectuals. Through archival material, the project will draw on the writing and correspondence he had with South African leaders to map out the alternative worlds imagined. Additionally, the project will consider how their shared vision of liberation links to the present realities of South Africa.