Lawrie Balfour

Passages of slavery and freedom. Toni Morrison's political thought

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Toni Morrison; Freedom; Slavery; Race.

When Toni Morrison observes that «modern life begins with slavery», she reconceives «the truly modern person» as one who devises ways of acting and creating community in the face of «predatory Western phenomena». Thus, revising the relationship between modernity and freedom, Morrison's writing exemplifies what Charles Mills and Thomas McCarthy call the alternative tradition of modern political thought or what Robert Gooding-Williams describes as Afro-modern political thought: a genre centrally concerned with the operations of racial power and the potential for black emancipation. What is Morrison's distinctive contribution to this tradition? Thick with historical detail, Morrison's novels open windows into the individual acts and forms of collective life through which African Americans have attempted to create livable lives from the era of New World colonization in A Mercy (2008) to the contemporary U.S. in "God Help the Child" (2015). In both her fiction and criticism, furthermore, Morrison explores the impact of modern race on white imaginations, exposing the false freedom of mastery and conquest and disturbing American dreams of limitlessness and innocence.

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