Donna V. Jones shows how Henri Bergson, Friedrich Nietzsche, and the poets Léopold Senghor and Aimé Césaire fashioned the concept of life into a central aesthetic and metaphysical category, while also implicating it in discourses on race and nation. Jones argues that twentieth-century vitalism cannot be understood separately from these racial and anti-Semitic discussions. She also illustrates how some dominant models of emancipation within black thought become intelligible only when in dialogue with the vitalist tradition. Jones's study strikes at the core of contemporary critical theory, integrating these older discourses into larger critical frameworks, and she traces the ways in which vitalism continues to draw from and contribute to its making.
Donna V. Jones is an associate professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley, and has taught at Stanford University and Princeton University. Her next project is The Promise of European Decline: Race and Historical Pessimism in the Era of the Great War.
Table of Contents
Introduction: The Resilience of Life 1. On the Mechanical, Machinic, and Mechanistic 2. Contesting Vitalism 3. Bergson and the Racial Élan Vital 4. Négritude and the Poetics of Life Acknowledgments Notes Index
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Souleymane Bachir Diagne
The Racial Discourses of Life Philosophy is likely to restart the necessary rereading of Négritude under the light of the philosophies of Henri Bergson, Teilhard de Chardin, and others that Négritude engages in dialogue and through which it is constituted. Following on the heels of Léopold Senghor's centenary, this book marks the starting point of a renewed approach.