Race as Political and Cultural: Du Bois' Dusk of Dawn
In recent work, I have argued that, when thinking about race as a social construction, it is important to distinguish between political constructionism, according to which differential relations of power are what is fundamental to the social construction of race, and cultural constructionism, acccording to which socialization into distinct identities and ways of life is what is fundamental. In this paper, I will argue that we find in W.E.B. Du Bois' 1940 book, Dusk of Dawn, the fascinating drama of one of history's greatest theorists of race experiencing and displaying the pull of both types of social constructionism. Focusing especially on the sixth and then the fifth chapters, I will argue that this pulling in different directions is, on the one hand, meant to lead us to confront the complexity and mysteriousness of race but also, on the other hand, ultimately able to suggest to us the path toward properly balancing political and cultural dimensions in our theorization of race.