Juliet Hooker

Theorizing Race in the Americas

Douglass, Sarmiento, Du Bois, and Vasconcelos

Oxford University Press 2017

New Books in African American StudiesNew Books in American StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Latin American StudiesNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Political ScienceNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network August 28, 2017 James P. Stancil II

In 1845 two thinkers from the American hemisphere – the Argentinean statesman Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, and the fugitive ex-slave, abolitionist leader, and orator from...

In 1845 two thinkers from the American hemisphere – the Argentinean statesman Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, and the fugitive ex-slave, abolitionist leader, and orator from the United States, Frederick Douglass – both published their first works. Each would become the most famous and enduring texts in what were both prolific careers, and they ensured Sarmiento and Douglass’ position as leading figures in the canon of Latin American and U.S. African-American political thought, respectively. But despite the fact that both deal directly with key political and philosophical questions in the Americas, Douglass and Sarmiento, like African-American and Latin American thought more generally, are never read alongside each other. Still, as Theorizing Race in the Americas: Douglass, Sarmiento, Du Bois, and Vasconcelos (Oxford University Press, 2017) contends, looking at the two together allows one to chart a hemispheric intellectual geography of race that challenges political theory’s preoccupation with and assumptions about East / West comparisons, and questions the use of comparison as a tool in the production of theory and philosophy.

By juxtaposing four prominent nineteenth and twentieth-century thinkers – Frederick Douglass, Domingo F. Sarmiento, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Jose Vasconcelos – Theorizing Race in the Americas will be the first to bring African-American and Latin American political thought into conversation. The book stresses that Latin American and U.S. ideas about race were not developed in isolation, but grew out of transnational intellectual exchanges across the Americas. In so doing, she shows that nineteenth and twentieth-century U.S. and Latin American thinkers each looked to political models in the ‘other’ America to advance racial projects in their own countries. Reading these four intellectuals as hemispheric thinkers, the author foregrounds elements of their work that have been dismissed by dominant readings, and provides a crucial platform to bridge the canons of Latin American and African-American political thought.

Juliet Hooker is a Professor of Political Science at Brown University. She earned her undergraduate degree from Williams College, and her M.A. and Ph.D. from Cornell University. In addition to Theorizing Race in the Americas: Douglass, Sarmiento, Du Bois, and Vasconcelos she is also the author of Race and the Politics of Solidarity. Hooker’s research interests have focused on theories of multiculturalism, Latin American political thought, and Afro-descendant and indigenous politics in Latin America.


James P. Stancil II is an educator, multimedia journalist, and writer. He is also the President and CEO of Intellect U Well, Inc. a Houston-area NGO dedicated to increasing the joy of reading and media literacy in young people. He can be reached most easily through his LinkedIn page or at [email protected]org.

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