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Introduction: In Pursuit of Du Bois’s “Second-Sight” through Diasporic Dialogues

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Abstract

In Souls of Black Folk, sociologist W. E. B. Du Bois elaborates on the notion of “double-consciousness,” a concept that captures how racial marginalization shapes the perspectives, experiences, and identity of blacks in American society. He characterizes blacks’ positionality as one marked by clashing dualities that create “two warring souls, two thoughts, two un-reconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body” (Du Bois 1903 [1996], 5). But he also notes that when this unique positionality is stimulated and directed, it can ultimately give way to heightened awareness and discovery, what he refers to as “second-sight.” Du Bois’s prolific and pioneering contribution to the social sciences, unmatched by those in his time or ours, is perhaps the best example of the manifestation of this “second-sight” (Morris 2015). His assertions about “double-consciousness” are cited profusely in interdisciplinary and international contexts, but his statements about “second-sight” have not garnered nearly as much attention despite their implications for black researchers’ knowledge production.

Keywords

  • Black Woman
  • Knowledge Production
  • African American Culture
  • Identity Negotiation
  • Black Folk

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

[T]he Negro is a sort of seventh son, born with a veil, and gifted with secondsight in this American world—a world which yields him no true selfconsciousness, but only lets him see himself through the revelation of the other world. It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. (Du Bois 1903 [1996], 5)

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© 2016 Elizabeth Hordge-Freeman and Gladys L. Mitchell-Walthour

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Hordge-Freeman, E., Mitchell-Walthour, G.L. (2016). Introduction: In Pursuit of Du Bois’s “Second-Sight” through Diasporic Dialogues. In: Mitchell-Walthour, G.L., Hordge-Freeman, E. (eds) Race and the Politics of Knowledge Production. Palgrave Macmillan, New York. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137553942_1

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