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Creolizing Political TheoryReading Rousseau through Fanon$
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Jane Anna Gordon

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780823254811

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823254811.001.0001

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Delegitimating Decadent Inquiry

Delegitimating Decadent Inquiry

Chapter:
(p.18) 1 Delegitimating Decadent Inquiry
Source:
Creolizing Political Theory
Author(s):

Jane Anna Gordon

Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823254811.003.0002

This chapter offers the rationale for reading Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Frantz Fanon together by suggesting that while divided by continents and centuries they shared the geopolitical world of the Francophone empire. Both articulated what it was to be shaped by aspirations emanating from a center to which one was peripheral. Still while European political thinkers could stave off the fully creolizing effects of their empires on the continent itself, the Caribbean could not. As a result, while Rousseau offered scathing criticisms of European Enlightenment, he could not in fact think beyond it. To avoid the decadence of his scholarly contemporaries he therefore positioned himself as a “backward outsider.” To do this, he pinned much theoretical significance on colonized “savages” who rejected the supposedly irresistible allures of Europe’s offerings. While he was not himself a creolized thinker in the sense for which the book argues (instead formulating an anti-European Eurocentrism), Rousseau introduced orientations toward political reflection that invited productive creolization by others. Therefore, in spite of his entering the intellectual history by problematizing the possibility of progressive inquiry he became one of the progenitors of contemporary social science (including ethnomusicology), articulating paradoxes only fully and adequately explored centuries later.

Keywords:   Rousseau, Enlightenment, method, paradoxes, “savages”, backward outsider, anti-European Eurocentrism, ethnomusicology

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