Race & Ethnicity


Date: Mon, 2 Aug 1993 13:57:30 LCL
From: Ron Cantor
Subject: Gramsci and DuBois
To: Multiple recipients of list HIST-L

Thank you to all who responded to my original inquiry about a quote from W.E.B. DuBois. I found the discussion that ensued very interesting. Although I can add nothing to the discussion of the antecedents of the "double consciousness" concept, I have run across a strikingly similar, post-DuBoisian concept of "contradictory consciousness."

For those with any interest in theories of hegemony, I highly recommend T.J. Jackson Lears' "The Concept of Cultural Hegemony: Problems and Possibilities," (_The American Historical Review_, 90 [June 1985]). Reviewing the work of Gramsci, Lears states that controlled groups find it difficult "to locate the source of their unease, let alone remedy it...Consent, for Gramsci, involves a complex mental state, a 'contradictory consciousness' mixing approbation and apathy, resistance and resignation" (pg. 590).

Immediately, I was reminded of DuBois' 1903 description of "double conscious- ness:" "one ever feels his two-ness--an American, a Negro--two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder."

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