Biko on non-white and black: improving social reality

In George Hull (ed.), Debating African Philosophy: Perspectives on Identity, Decolonial Ethics and Comparative Philosophy. New York: Routledge. pp. 97-117 (2018)
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This paper examines Steve Biko’s distinction between black and non-white as a project in the “amelioration” of social concepts and categories. Biko himself—it has been persuasively argued by Mabogo More and Lewis Gordon—writes in the tradition of existential phenomenology. More and Gordon explore Biko’s continuity with Frantz Fanon, and in this paper I draw on their interpretations, attempting to complement and elaborate on these continuities. I also, however, attempt to show how Biko moves beyond Fanon in crucial ways, solving problems that Fanon confronted. By examining Fanon’s and Biko’s categories in light of recent work in social metaphysics, I explore the ways Biko attempts to transform an existing set of oppressive social categories in the world into new social categories.

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Brian Epstein
Tufts University


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