Anthony Bogues, whose work leading the CSSJ has impacted the global conversation on legacies of slavery, will discuss the black intellectual tradition.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Anthony Bogues, Brown professor and director of the University’s Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice (CSSJ), will deliver a Presidential Faculty Award lecture on Thurs., March 1, titled “Black Critique: Toward an Alternative Genealogy of Critical Thought.”

Bogues — a professor of humanities and critical theory, professor of Africana studies and affiliated faculty member with the history of art and architecture department —  says his talk represents a way of thinking about the African and African diaspora’s intellectual tradition and how it challenges our understanding of the present.

“In this lecture, I am thinking about the entanglement of life and critical thought in the black intellectual tradition, the work of African intellectuals and those in the African diaspora, and how their observations and deep critical understanding of society also posit a critique about our present,” Bogues said. “So I will discuss how the intellectual resources of black critique posit an idea about the possibilities of a different world.”

Understanding black critique can strengthen critical thinking about the present world, Bogues says.

“Part of the work of black critique is the deployment of the capacity of the radical imagination to think anew,” Bogues said. “In our times, I think this is a very necessary element of critical thought.”

As director of the CSSJ, a research center that confronts the legacies of slavery and the way those legacies work in our contemporary world, Bogues has written about the need to be alert to the ways the past impacts feelings and understandings of the present. In his lecture, he says, he will show how not only the history of thought, but also how African diasporic art allows us to approach such historical questions.

The lecture is an extension of Bogues’ scholarly work, which includes research, writing and curation as well as convening research clusters of scholars and thinkers.

Last August, Bogues convened a group of scholars —including Brown faculty and graduate students as well as colleagues from or working in Africa — in Johannesburg, South Africa, for a four-day workshop designed to examine the state of discourse in the humanities, social sciences and sciences about Africa. The purpose, Bogues says, was to both assess the ways in which knowledge formation and production operate with regard to Africa and to develop an alternative network of scholars, artists and thinkers.

In September, Bogues will build on that work as co-convener of a group of leading scholars in the fields of intellectual history and political thought at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences at Tsinghua University, China. The group will focus on the historical and contemporary meanings of sovereignty.

The Presidential Faculty Award lecture takes place on Thursday, March 1, at 4:30 p.m. in the John Carter Brown Library. The event is free and open to the public.

About the Series

The Presidential Faculty Award was established in 2013 by Brown University President Christina Paxson to recognize members of the faculty who are conducting especially important and innovative scholarship and to create an opportunity for recipients to present their work to colleagues in other disciplines. Two recipients are selected for the academic year, one for each semester. Previous presenters include Nitsan Chorev, David Kertzer, Charles Larmore, Jesse Shapiro and Bonnie Honig.