Link to What's New This Week Lewis Gordon's Existentia Africana

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Lewis R. Gordon's

Africana Thought
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Created: June 25, 2000.
Latest update: January 22, 2001; July13, 2003.
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Existentia Africana
  • Review Essay: Understanding Africana Existential Thought

    Notes, waiting to go up: January 23, 2001. jeanne. Still waiting: July 13, 2003.

  • The Questions of Existential Thought: Caliban Studies - pp.1-21 passim
  • "as written by himself" - p.23
  • the "lived experience" - passim
  • anguish = angoisse passim
  • Why Sartrean and Not Fanonian? - p.31
  • The Meaning of espistemic closure - p.88

Existentia Africana:
Understanding Africana Existential Thought


This essay is based on the discussion of "black theorists" in Lewis R. Gordon's Existentia Africana: Understanding Africana Existential Thought. Routledge. New York and London, 2000. ISBN: 0-415-92643-0 (pbk).

Much of sociological theory is drawn from philosophy and theology, for social life, draws on issues, since the days of Plato of "how shall I live?" and what shall I believe? What do I know? These questions are still the "big ones" today, in a much different world. Lewis Gordon, in Existentia Africana, raises questions about "What it means in the late 20th early 21st Centuries to be Black". Gordon draws on existential philosophy, but he differs markedly from Sartre. He draws extensively on Fanon, also, and notes in frustration and anger that he is often referred to as "Sartrian," though much of his work is devoted to Fanon and W.E.B. Du Bois.

. . . More soon, I hope. jeanne

Discussion Questions

  1. The title of Gordon's book, based on his dissertation, as I recall, includes the words "existential" thought. He refers extensively to Sartre's work on existentialism. So why does he object to having his work described as Sartrian?

    Consider that his primary concern is about what it means to be Black today. W.E.B. Du Bois first raised many of the issues Gordon is raising. And Frantz Fanon perhaps holds the greatest influence in his description of and reaction to colonization. Yet no one mentions Gordon's work as based on Fanon and W.E.B. Du Bois. That suggests that Sartre, a white and a Westerner, is granted greater privilege than the two Black men who pursued the same field and issues. That speaks to the "privilege" of being white, and to the meaning of that privilege today. More whites will know who Sartre is than will know who Fanon and W.E.B. Du Bois is. And so the legacy of domination and exploitation continues.

    Why Sartrean and Not Fanonian? - p.31

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