Diasporic Identities: The Science and Politics of Race in the Work of Franz Boas and W. E. B. Du Bois, 1894-1919

by Julia E. Liss, W. E. B. Du Bois, Franz Boas
Diasporic Identities: The Science and Politics of Race in the Work of Franz Boas and W. E. B. Du Bois, 1894-1919
Julia E. Liss, W. E. B. Du Bois, Franz Boas
Cultural Anthropology
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Diasporic Identities: The Science and Politics of Race in the Work of Franz Boas and W. E. B. Du Bois, 1894-1919

Julia E. Liss

Department of History

Scripps College

In February 1995, researchers at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) meetings announced, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times, that "the concept of race . . . has no basis in fundamental human biology" (Hotz 1995b:Al). At a moment when debates about multiculturalism, affirmative action, and racial and ethnic differences and identities occupy much time and space in public discourse in the United States, scientists question the very categories these arguments presuppose. "The scientific case against race has been building quietly among population geneticists and anthropologists for more than a decade," a follow-up article declared (Hotz 1995a:AI). For a good 100 years, however, scientists and scholars-anthropologists and activists among them-have waged their own battle against the scientific underpinnings of racial thought, in much the same terms as today's challenge. Academic proclamations notwithstanding, it is clear that the social and political meanings of "race" have not lost their currency.

The connection of past debates with present-day controversies has not gone without notice. Franz Boas has made cameo appearances in recent discussions about race and culture, nature and nurture (Degler 1991 :61-83; Ehrenreich and McIntosh 1997: 12; Freeman 1983: 19-33; Tucker 1994:91, 138, 149, 155, 158-159, 165), and has been the subject of increasing interest in his own right (Hyatt 1990; Liss 1995, 1996; Stocking 1996; Williams 1996). For his part,

W. E. B. Du Bois has garnered a stunning amount of attention (Bell et al. 1996; Du Bois 1986a; Early 1993; Gooding-Williams 1994; Harrison 1992; Harrison and Nonini 1992; Lewis 1993, 1995; Massiah 1995; Rath 1997; Reed 1997; Sundquist 1993,1996; Zamir 1995). In one of the recent turns in the cycle of cul- ture wars, Dinesh D'Souza links Boas, his students, and Du Bois with the rise of cultural relativism, the civil rights movement, multiculturalism, and affirmative action, which have, he contests, convinced Americans that racism, rather than

Culrurol Anrhropoiog) 13(2): 127-166. Copyright 01998, American Anthropological Assoclat~on.

antiracism, is the main obstacle to equality (D'Souza 1995:xii-xxv, 144-161, 190,194,344-345,184-190,196-199). Boas andDu Bois have become, as Mi- caela di Leonardo's clever title states, the "synecdoche for all that ails us" (di Leonardo 1996). In light of these references, Boas's and Du Bois's engagement in the culture wars of their own time reminds us of the history of these positions on racialism and makes it worth reconsidering their arguments about the mean- ings of race, culture, and national identity. I will argue that the apparent lacuna in their legacy points to the difficulties of resolving social questions with scien- tific evidence, in general, and of undermining assumptions about race, in par- ticular. These ongoing struggles to undermine assumptions about race suggest the importance of asking why their arguments have not taken hold more effec- tively or consistently and why we are poised, at our own fin de siecle, to look back to them specifically as lightning rods in our debates over race, relativism, and culture (see Figures 1 and 2).

Both Boas and Du Bois placed a critique of "race" at the center of their sci- entific and political agendas, and both drew on a particular sensitivity to prob- lems of identity formation. At the heart of their attacks on contemporary racial- ism, Boas and Du Bois criticized provincial and essentialist forms of identity and proposed modernist perspectives on both race and politics as solutions to the burdens of modernity. By this I want to suggest that they situated the contin- gency of modernist consciousness-particularly the multiple, often fragmented, and shifting sense of identity-in the historical formation of modernity with its increasingly interconnected, global society, particularly the economies of capi- tal and nationalism and the mass migrations of peoples.' By relating modernist consciousness to modernity in this way, they challenged both narrow (provin- cial) and fixed and reductive (essentialist) forms of identity.

However, they ultimately took different positions on the efficacy of scien- tific arguments against racial ideologies. Whereas Du Bois responded to the First World War by relinquishing his faith in science as the basis for social change and pursuing Pan-Africanism more resolutely, Boas responded to the war by redoubling his efforts to make science an instrument against racism and nationalism. Their different trajectories illustrate, in turn, a substantial differ- ence in how they conceptualized politics and issues of power more broadly. Boas based his political vision-his arguments for social change and racial jus- tice-on his view of scientific authority and legitimacy. This foundation, com- bined with the argument to disclaim the inherence of "race," required instead a more complete recognition of racism and race as political problems (Omi and Winant 1994:65). Du Bois, on the other hand, engaged arguments about the problems of racial meanings precisely to address the political issues. This con- trast speaks to the often unacknowledged contribution of Du Bois and to how the neglect of African American anthropologists has impoverished our considera- tion of race and culture (Baker 1994:200; Harrison 1992; Harrison and Nonini 1992:233-234; Lange 1983).

Roughly of the same generation-Boas lived from 1858 to 1942, Du Bois from 1868 to 1963-they shared problematic efforts to define an alienated self

[1974c]); the formulation of modernist antiracialism in the 191 1 Universal Races Congress, to which they both contributed; and the crisis of the First World War. These moments demonstrate the extent to which their careers intersected, how they contributed to an emerging antiracialist discourse, and the extent to which their ideas ultimately diverged. In light of current debates on identity politics and nationalism, Du Bois and Boas help define both a community of in- tellectual work against racism and the different formulations of the politics of race and modernism. Their work also reveals how the very meaning of "race" was a live issue around the turn of the century, subject to a great deal of debate and evidence of both confusion and flexibility in usage not entirely lost on us today (Stocking 1994).

The Formulation of Antiessentialist Race Theory

In an address to the AAAS in August 1894--an uncanny century before the most recent critiques of the scientific basis of "racev-Boas proposed a twofold argument on "Human Faculty as Determined by Race" (1974b).' The first argu- ment concerned, as the title of his talk implied, the question of achievement and race; the second stressed racial difference and the history of human contact. Ar- guing against the tendency to confuse "the achievement and the aptitude for an achievement" (1974b:222), Boas claimed that history, rather than innate "fac- ulty," had created civilizations (1974b:223-227). "It follows," he said, "that achievements of races do not warrant us to assume that one race is more highly gifted than the other" (1974b:227). At this point, Boas still spoke in terms of "civilization," rather than cultures, and he was still inclined to admit the impor- tance of anatomical differences and the possibility of racial inequality. But these factors, in his view, were not the crucial ones. Instead, he emphasized the pro- cess of "historical events," particularly the contact of peoples and diffusion of ideas which made racial identity more contingent and human variation greater (1974b:223-227). When he spoke of ancient civilizations, therefore, Boas cau- tioned his audience,

we must bear in mind that none of these civilizations was the product of the genius of a single people. Ideas and inventions were carried from one to the other; and, although intercommunication was slow, each people which participated in the ancient civilization added to the culture of the others. Proofs without number have been forthcoming which show that ideas have been disseminated as long as people have come in contact with each other and that neither race nor language nor distance limits their diffusion. As all have worked together in the development of the ancient civilizations, we must bow to the genius of all, whatever race they may represent: Hamitic, Semitic, Aryan or Mongol. [1974b:223]

Boas still held to the importance of "genius"-although it applied to "all," of "whatever raceu-and to the significance of racial difference, but his concepts of race and racial difference were not necessarily equated with hierarchies of superiority, and they were not primarily essentialist ones: "The variations inside any single race are such that they overlap the variations in another race so that a number of characteristics may be common to individuals of both races" (1974b:227).4 Therefore, he continued, "The overlapping of variations is sig- nificant in so far as it shows that the existing differences are not fundamental" (1974b:227). There might be differences and inequalities of races, he con- cluded, but these variations suggested that "we may expect many individuals of all races to be equally gifted . . . " (1974b:242). Moreover, even an under- standing of social groups as historically constructed, not naturally given, did not explain individual variation or individual capabilities.

In his 1897 address to the American Negro Academy, "The Conservation of Races" (1986b), Du Bois picked up where Boas left off, using evidence of hu- man variation to interrogate the science of racial difference. Like Boas, he could not define what "race" might mean. Out of a variety of physical characteristics which seemed to point to racial distinctions, Du Bois found little consistency al- lowing one to "classify mankind." As he continued, "Unfortunately for scien- tists, however, these criteria of race are most exasperatingly intermingled" (1986b:816). Historical differences could not be reduced to physical character- istics, which were actually less significant than similarities. The central points here, for Du Bois, as for Boas, were that statistically valid classifications were not consistent with categorization into racial groups and, moreover, that like- nesses between racial groups were even more prominent than the differences such classifications were supposed to delineate.

Unlike Boas, however, Du Bois did not end his argument here but pushed the conflicting view of race and racial identity further still. Advocating what might be called "anti-anti-racism" against the tendency to obliterate differences, Du Bois acknowledged the importance of racial differences and divisions (1986b:815). In other words, the emphasis on similarities and likenesses did not necessarily mean the absence of meaningful variations. The "real meaning of Race" must account for such distinctions because they were fundamental to hu- man difference and experience (1 986b: 8 15). Instead of emphasizing physical characteristics, however, Du Bois stressed the commonality of "a vast family of human beings, generally of common blood and language, always of common history, traditions and impulses, who are both voluntarily and involuntarily striving together for the accomplishment of certain more or less vividly con- ceived ideals of life" (1986b3817). Du Bois continued to employ categories of racial types, including those based on "blood" and "genius" (1986b:815, 817-820), while he was undercutting the normative and largely biological sig- nificance of "race." To conventional, racialized terminology, he added "deeper differencesw-perhaps indicated by his capitalization of "Racem-which were "spiritual, psychical differences-undoubtedly based on the physical, but infi- nitely transcending them." At the same time, Du Bois immediately altered his terms, searching not just for the meaning of "race" but also for the "real distinc- tion between these nations" (1 986b: 8 17-8 19). This slippage, at once retaining mystical notions of "blood" and introducing more modem ideas of nationhood, took him beyond Boas's discussion of the place of history in race formation. If, as Lucius Outlaw has argued, Du Bois used the term race "as a cluster concept which draws together under a single word references to biological, cultural, and geographical factors thought characteristic of a population" (1996:20, em- phasis in original; see also 28), then collective and often conflicting meanings of the word also had a particular historical significance. Du Bois's usage marked the transition between 19th- and 20th-century biological conceptions of race and ones that deemphasized biological essentialism precisely to heighten cul- tural, nationalist ones.' That Boasian and Du Boisian arguments about geo- graphical and cultural diffusion played such a central role in the reconfiguration of meanings of race is precisely the point (Gooding-Williams 1996:45,48-50).

For Du Bois, the questions were intrinsically personal. Anticipating the idea of double-consciousness that he would articulate a few years later, Du Bois asked in 1897,

What, after all, am I? Am I an American or am I a Negro? Can I be both? Or is it my duty to cease to be a Negro as soon as possible and be an American? If I strive as a Negro, am I not perpetuating the very cleft that threatens and separates Black and White America? Is not my only possible practical aim the subduction of all that is Negro in me to the American? Does my black blood place upon me any more obligation to assert my nationality than German, or Irish or Italian blood would? [1986b:821]

Although he was persistently ambivalent about the process of identity (Posnock 1995), Du Bois's answers to these questions were less equivocal than this soul-searching might suggest: no, to the tendency to "absorption by the white Americans" in response to racism; yes, to the need for a new sense of respon- sibility among "the advance guard of the Negro people"; yes, to joining "the van of Pan-Negroism" (1986b:820-822). Not only was Du Bois concerned with the dilemmas of identity and the pressures to claim singular allegiance, but he also challenged whether the mark of color-what divided black from white America-made him more obligated to choose and announce his nationality than were Americans of European descent. While affirming what he called simply "American" identity, therefore, Du Bois saw the limits imposed by race:

We are Americans, not only by birth and by citizenship, but by our political ideals, our language, our religion. Further than that, our Americanism does not go. At that point, we are Negroes, members of a vast historic race that from the very dawn of creation has slept, but half awakening in the dark forests of its African fatherland. [1986b:822]

Du Bois was moving toward a more fully articulated argument of the effects of "such incessant self-questioning" and the place of race identity in modern society, ideas that he developed in 1903 in The Souls of Black Folk (1986~).

Questions on the Meanings of Race and Modernity

Among the many great achievements of The Souls of Black Folk is the in- novative way Du Bois explored both the alienating effects of prejudice and the affirming possibilities of alternative forms of self-definition. Both are rooted in a modernist sense of the contingencies of identity in a fragmented and global world.6 Just as he ended "The Conservation of Races" with a series of questions, Du Bois began The Souls ofBlack Folk with another, now well-known but then "unasked" one: "How does it feel to be a problem?" (1986c:363). The answers Du Bois proposed involved searching the nature and sources of debilitating self- consciousness, on the one hand, and analyzing the history of race contact, on the other. These two issues were connected because the historical circumstances gave rise to the institutions of exploitation and racism that confounded him and because the experience of what he called "the restlessness of the savage, the wail of the wanderer" and the "voice of exile" (1986c:542, 539) produced both the psychological predicament of alienation and the possibilities for renewal and re- volt.'

Du Bois's words about the alienated self reiterate the intertwined problems of racial taxonomies, "American" identity, and marginality. Like Boas, Du Bois drew on customary racial grouping^,^ but these identifications only labeled him as a "Negro," an outsider, creating in turn a crisis of self-understanding:

After the Egyptian and Indian, the Greek and Roman, the Teuton and Mongolian, the Negro is a sort of seventh son, born with a veil, and gifted with second-sight in this American world,-a world which yields him no true self-consciousness, but only lets him see himself through the revelation of the other world. It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one's self through the eyes of others, of measuring one's soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. 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.

The history of the American Negro is the history of this strife,-this longing to attain self-conscious manhood, to merge his double self into a better and truer self.. . . He simply wishes to make it possible for a man to be both a Negro and an American, without being cursed and spit upon by his fellows, without having the doors of Opportunity closed roughly in his face. [1986c:364365]

Drawing on Hegelian notions of world-historical development, Du Bois's veil metaphor separates worlds of racial and economic difference while creating an alienated self. This alienation derives not just from segregation but also from the prejudice that presupposes and supports it-that prevents the subject from having an integrated identity. Du Bois appeared to emphasize the re-creation of a whole self, made from "dawning self-consciousness, self-realization, self-respect," for the purpose of escaping from the "disparagement" that results from incessant "self-questioning" (1986c:368, 369). At the same time, however, he also rec- ognized the "gift" of "second sight" this alienation affords. Much like the anthropologist whose participant-observation affords a peculiar perspective on others, Du Bois traveled south to find himself and to locate black culture in the United States. But he found instead the constraint of prejudice (the bottom line that he too "rode . . . in the Jim Crow car" [1986c:414, also 4401) and the prospect of the "ideal of human brotherhood, gained through the unifying ideal of Race" (1986c:370). In answer to his earlier question-"What am I?"-he now proclaimed more directly the need to unify "American" and Negro identi- ties, returning to the other biological essentialism of "Race," meaning the human race. He also joined the dilemma of personal identity with objectives of an intellectual project on the meanings of race and race relations. The question "What am I?" found the answer in an assertion of "two-ness"; the individual burdens of this divided self found a broader meaning in the "history of the American Negro," a history that Du Bois himself helped to write, so that the alienating effects of race found relief, expression, and even reward in the promise of future work.' Extending his earlier thoughts on the importance of race difference, Du Bois found the basis for historical self-consciousness and social responsibility.'"

To his analysis of the possibilities of the alienated self, Du Bois joined an argument on history, not the mystical history of Hegelian triumphalism but a materialist sense of economic and social developments that figured in the crea- tion of global systems of exploitation and contact." Du Bois pointedly used the arguments on diffusion and destabilizing of racial categories that both he and Boas had been developing to challenge the violence of conquest and to expose cultural contact as the problem of modernity. At the beginning of the chapter in The Souls of Black Folk entitled "Of the Sons of Master and Man," for instance, Du Bois criticized the reigning ideology of "civilized" imperialism:

The world-old phenomenon of the contact of diverse races of men is to have new exemplification during the new century. Indeed, the characteristic of our age is the contact of European civilization with the world's undeveloped peoples. Whatever we may say of the results of such contact in the past, it certainly forms a chapter in human action not pleasant to look back upon. War, murder, slavery, extermination, and debauchery,-this has again and again been the result of carrying civilization and the blessed gospel to the isles of the sea and the heathen without the law. [1986c:475]

Du Bois, whose terminology had earlier combined biological and cultural meanings of race, now criticized more explicitly the very assumptions of superiority that contrasted the civilized with the uncivilized. Interestingly, Du Bois employed social evolutionary notions in his reference to "undeveloped peoples," but his references to the "survival of the fittest" implicitly undercut contemporary racial hierarchies by calling for "truer" standards of civilization. To extend the process of globalization in different directions and to respond to what he had earlier called "the problem of the Twentieth Century . . . the problem of the color-line" (1986c:359), Du Bois called on

all honorable men of the twentieth century to see that in the future competition of races the survival of the fittest shall mean the triumph of the good, the beautiful, and the true; that we may be able to serve for future civilization all that is really fine and noble and strong. . . .To bring this hope to fruition, we are compelled daily to turn more and more to a conscientious study of the phenomena of race-contact,-a study frank and fair, and not falsified and colored by our wishes or our fears. [1986c:475-4761

Only defining the history of "race-contact" as the object of intellectual study would, as he suggested earlier, make an intellectual project that would address both the question of modern life and personal identity.

Du Bois's invitation to Boas to visit Atlanta University in 1906 was, there- fore, timely (see Figure 3).12 Both men were at crucial junctures in their thinking

beg in vain for the paltry sum of $500 simply to aid us in replacing gross and vindictive ignorance of race conditions with enlightening knowledge and system- atic observation. [1904:86]'3

For Boas, on the other hand, this period solidified his older work on physical anthropology with newer questions of social policy, but he was stymied in his efforts to institutionalize the study of American race relations to include African Americans and European immigrants (Stocking 1992: 101 ). The 1906 meeting in Atlanta therefore signaled the degree to which their work converged and prompted an association, although sporadic, that continued until Boas died in 1942.14 Boas's remarks at Atlanta University, delivered as the commencement address for 1906, played an important role in these contributions because they made an enormous impression on Du Bois, even as they substantiated concerns that Du Bois was already developing. Many years later, Du Bois remembered his

own rather sudden awakening from the paralysis of this judgment [that the "Negro has no history"] taught me in high school and in two of the world's great universities. Franz Boas came to Atlanta University where I was teaching history in 1906 and said to a graduating class: You need not be ashamed of your African past; and then he recounted the history of the black kingdoms south of the Sahara for a thousand years. I was too astonished to speak. All of this I had never heard and I came then and afterwards to realize how the silence and neglect of science can let truth utterly disappear or even be unconsciously distorted. [Du Bois 1939:viiI1'

In his remarks, Boas drew clearly the connections between his challenge to racial essentialism, the history of cultural contact, and the importance of both for his African American audience. It is striking, for instance, that he moved eas- ily among these issues of contemporary and historical importance. Boas began by providing what he called an anthropological view of race and its relation to "our own everyday problems." He then turned to the demands of "modern life," particularly "our capacity as well as our duty," which involved both a knowl- edge of the history of "cultures different from ours" and the demands placed on members of "communities where diverse elements live side by side . . . " (1974c:3 10-3 1 1). After establishing this context of modernity, Boas addressed the particular concerns of his audience: "You have the full right to view your la- bor in an entirely different light" than the usual emphasis on charity and uplift, he began (1974~3 11). In words that struck Du Bois for the silence they broke on the African American past, Boas then embarked on a discussion of the history of the contribution of African peoples to the "development of human culture," enu- merating advances in iron smelting, agriculture, military and political organiza- tion, economic and judicial systems, and the arts (1 974~3 1 1-3 13). To counter claims of moral, psychological, or mental inferiority, Boas said, "You may con- fidently look to the home of your ancestors and say, that you have set out to re- cover for the colored people the strength that was their own before they set foot on the shores of this continent" (1974c:313). "Material inferiority," Boas also claimed, was not supported by the evidence of history. Here, like Du Bois, he carefully separated argument.s on inequality from those on differences:

The physical inferiority of the Negro race, if it exists at all, is insignificant when compared to the wide range of individual variability in each race. .. .That there may be slightly different hereditary traits seems plausible, but it is entirely arbitrary to assume that those of the Negro, because perhaps slightly different, must be of an inferior type. [1974c:313-3141

Armed with "impartial scientific" evidence on contact and conquest that brought peoples of different cultures and physical types together, Boas encour- aged his audience to "take up your work among your race with undaunted courage" (1 974~3 1 4).j6 These comments, by emphasizing contact, variation, and difference instead of racial purity, social inequality, and superiority, paved the way for a reconceptualization of the meaning of race as situated in the dynamics of diasporic modernity.

The Universal Races Congress and Modernist Antiracism

Boas's visit to Atlanta signified the degree to which his work and Du Bois's converged, presenting by the early decades of the 20th century some of the most forceful statements on race, science, and politics. It also signified a turning point, solidifying Boas's influence on public antiracist arguments and on Du Bois's own changing views on the meanings of race.17 Looking forward to the Universal Races Congress scheduled for the summer of 191 1, Du Bois wrote that "the chief outcome of the Congress will be human contact-the meeting of men; not simply the physical meeting, eye to eye and hand to hand of those ac- tually present, but the resultant spiritual contact which will run round the world" (1910: 17; see also 191 1 d:207, 208; 1986e:743-744). Unlike other meetings with high-minded purposes, moreover, the Races Congress would be inclusive: "Only the man himself can speak for himself. . . . The voice of the oppressed alone can tell the real meaning of oppression and, though the voice be tremu- lous, excited and even incoherent, it must be listened to if the world would learn and know" (1910: 17; see also 191 1d:200). When in 191 1 Boas and Du Bois con- tributed to the Universal Races Congress in London-Du Bois and Felix Adler, the leader of the Ethical Culture Society of New York, were co-Secretaries rep- resenting the United States-they also played central roles in an emerging dis- course on race that itself transcended national boundaries.lK Because the confer- ence focused on "inter-racial problems" and included papers by such renowned scholars as the German anthropologist Felix von Luschan, the sociologist Fer- dinand Tonnies, and the writer Israel Zangwill, author of The Melting Pot (1909), Du Bois thought that it "would have marked an epoch in the cultural his- tory of the world, if it had not been followed so quickly by the World War" (1986e:722). The self-proclaimed object of the gathering was

to discuss, in the light of science and the modern conscience, the general relations subsisting between the peoples of the West and those of the East, between so-called white and so-called coloured peoples, with a view to encouraging between them a fuller understanding, the most friendly feelings, and a heartier co-operation. [Spiller 1911:v]

In keeping with this questioning of criteria of color, Boas wrote a paper entitled "The Instability of Human Types" (191 lb), material he expanded upon in Changes in Bodily Forms ofDescendants of Immigrants for the U.S. Immigra- tion Commission (191 la). Du Bois's paper "The Negro Race in the United States of America" (1 91 1 b) traced the history and condition of African Ameri- cans. Because of its "special value," Du Bois's unusually long paper was published in its entirety in smaller type to accommodate its "great length" (Spiller 191 1:348, note 1).IY In the broadest sense, both Boas's and Du Bois's papers addressed the Congress's mandate to reexamine and reform contempo- rary race relations, Boas's by challenging assumptions of physical anthropology and the orthodoxy of race, and Du Bois's, perhaps acting on the epiphany caused by Boas's Atlanta remarks, by reconstructing a history of African Americans. More particularly, the papers demonstrated the state of Boas's and Du Bois's current thinking on the meaning of race, the question of race relations, and how scientific knowledge might illuminate them both.

Boas's paper continued the line of reasoning he had developed earlier in "Human Faculty as Determined by Race" (1974b). This time, however, he chal- lenged views on racial superiority by stressing the "plasticity" of bodily charac- teristics under the pressure of environment. "The assumption of an absolute sta- bility of human types is not plausible," Boas proclaimed, undercutting views of human physical anthropology and heredity as permanent and hierarchical meas- ures of type and the social policies and practices that they supported (1 91 1 b:99). Suggesting the possibility that "concomitant changes of the mind may be ex- pected" in new conditions as well, Boas went further to state that "the old idea of absolute stability of human types must . . .evidently be given up, and with it the belief of the hereditary superiority of certain types over others" (191 lb: 102, 103). The implications of these findings-an antideterminist view of difference that, combined with Boas's own assimilationist leanings, suggested a new basis for coexistence-were as ignored at the time as they were revoluti~nary.~~'

Du Bois's essay, more empirically detailed and more explicit in its imme- diate social and political pointedness, documented the history, growth, phy- sique, social condition, and religious and cultural worlds of the "so-called 'Ne- gro' population of the United States" (191 1 b:349). Anticipating his 1915 publication The Negro (1 970), Du Bois stressed the historical meeting and mix- ing of peoples in the African diaspora as well as the severity of the "Negro prob- lem" in the United States. Describing what he had earlier called life "within the veil" (1986c:359), Du Bois stressed the persistence of "discrimination . . . based primarily on race" and concluded with the high stakes at hand: "Whether at last the Negro will gain full recognition as a man, or be utterly crushed by prejudice and superior numbers, is the present Negro problem of America" (191 1b:362-364). The "problem" had shifted from the internalized one of self-perception and self- hatred to the larger societal one of racial justice and survival. Although these sociological concerns were not new, Du Bois now had begun to question the ef- ficacy of science as a means to social action and, at the same time, to doubt the usefulness of "Negro" identity in favor of Pan-Africanism. This shift-a differentiation of color from culture, separating physical from mental characteristics and innate capacity from civilization (Appiah 1985:30; 1992:34)-paralleled closely, if it did not derive from, Boas's arguments concerning the meanings of race. It also marked a significant departure in Du Bois's own thinking about the relative meanings of race, individual consciousness, and history. In the wake of challenges to the meaning of race, for instance, his very focus was a slippery one: "the so-called 'Negro' population." The uncertainty was not so much one of iden- tity-the older equivocation of consciousness-but one of the social and historical realities and opportunities that defined American life.

The First World War and the Conflict of Races and Nations

Both Du Bois's and Boas's notions of race, nation, culture, and power were put to the test during World War I. In typical fashion, Boas applied anthropolog- ical arguments and perspectives to the problem of war. Although he saw the con- flict as a realization of the irrational impulses of cultural loyalties, he still thought that emboldened scientific reason would explain and thereby resolve these dangerous and misguided ideas. In other words, for Boas, social problems primarily devolved from ignorance and emotion. Similarly, Du Bois saw the war as an opportunity to address the changes he had envisioned for society in the United States. In his disillusionment following the conflict, however, Du Bois shifted his faith from science to politics, by which he meant the distribution of economic and social power and a reconfiguration of cultural identity through Pan-Africanism. In other words, for Du Bois social problems arose primarily from exploitation. Initially, both men saw the problem of war as a mirror of their social agendas, although they used these understandings at first to take opposite positions on the conflict itself. Subsequently, however, they used their shared disillusionment with the war effort to formulate social analyses that took ac- count of the impediments to progress and social change. For Boas, this involved greater attention to the problem of racism and to the formulation of what has be- come known as the concept of culture.*' For Du Bois, this involved a recourse to nationalism and Pan-Africanism against a failed American promise of equal- ity and opportunity.

Boas swiftly met the challenge of wartime rhetoric. In "Race and Nation- ality" (1915b), an article published by the American Association for Interna- tional Conciliation which had appeared in shortened form in Everybody's Magazine in 191 4,Boas connected his earlier arguments about race to the press- ing issues of the war. These publications are important precisely because they gave Boas a more popular venue to articulate his ideas. Against the view that "the struggle that is now devastating Europe . . . [was] . . . an unavoidable war of races, . . . an outcome of the innate hostility between Teutonic, Slav, and Latin peoples" rooted in a permanent " 'racial instinct' "(191 5b:3), Boas argued that there was no "scientific proof'(1915b:4) of the identity of local types with races and languages. "Scientific investigation does not countenance the assumption that in any one part of Europe a people of pure descent or of a pure racial type is found, and careful inquiry has failed completely to reveal any inferiority of mixed European types" (1915b:5-6). To this point in his argument, his discus- sion was entirely consistent with all that he had said before; only now it found immediate and pointed application, connecting scientific and historical consid- erations with present-day dilemmas. To fill the intellectual vacuum left by the absence of racial explanations, Boas deployed alternative ideas on nationalism and group solidarity-what would be more explicitly formulated as the culture concept but which were now sharpened under the exigencies of war-and on the relationship of nationality to internationalism and other kinds of interconnec- tions.

In proposing alternative explanations for nationalism, Boas argued that one must turn beyond the fiction of race to understand the community of emotional life that made up a nation and that could explain the extent of passions the con- flict aroused. "It is clear that the term race is only a disguise of the idea of nationality, which has really very, very little to do with racial descent; and that the passions that have been let loose are those of national enmities, not of racial an- tipathies" (191 5b:8, emphasis in original). According to Boas, these antipathies were largely emotional, evidenced partly in the appeals of linguistic solidarity and most powerfully in the passions aroused by nationalism. In the context of the war, the persistence of particularities and their appeals demanded greater at- tention, while the claim to scientific solutions was both more problematic and more urgent. Indeed, until his death, Boas continued his life work against "race" and racialism, but he now also addressed the problems of racism and of cultures. This shift itself marked a refinement of Boas's thinking about the problem of "race" from a more inchoate argument about the intersection of race, culture, and society to a more specific charge against racial typing as a form of prejudice.

Before the war, as part of efforts to further world peace, Boas had sketched out a history of human societies which explained conflict and provided an opti- mistic prediction of greater harmony. In An Anrhropologisr's Vie~s of War (1912), Boas presented a scenario that he would draw on consistently during the war years (1919c, 1945b, 1945c, 1945d).22 In this view, human societies had de- veloped from "the most primitive form of society," in which "hordes" regarded every stranger as an enemy to be fought in self-defense, to ever-larger units of social organization. Greater contact and diversification over time had provided for greater cooperation and greater "unification" (191 256, 8). These broad- scale, evolutionary changes were the same ones that Boas had also argued pro- vided the historical conditions undermining a fixed accounting of racial types. There were still survivals of these earlier tendencies, such as the persistence of racism (191 2: lo), but the overall direction toward "more advanced types of so- ciety" continued. As evidence of this, Boas cited the demise of present-day primitive peoples, such as the Bushmen of South Africa, and the survival of the Iroquois and the Zulu, who had succeeded in enlarging their social spheres (1912:7, 8). From the vantage point of 1912, the future promised greater peace and cooperation between peoples.

Boas's social evolutionism is striking here, but it also had significant limits and reflected his argumentative strategy as much as it did his theoretical out- look. On the one hand, Boas related a story of progress from primitive to civi- lized, with movement from irrational conflict to reasoned cooperation and with exceptions marked as survivals of the past. On the other hand, Boas also stressed a nonlinear path of development: survivals were not only exceptions, they were also the primary burden against which humans, who in general were unenlight- ened, always struggled. This meant that the modern age was deeply connected with its primitive roots and not exemplary of the high point of civilization: "The modem enthusiasm for the superiority of the so-called 'Aryan race,' of the 'Teu- tonic Race,' the Pan-German and Pan-Slavish ideals" was merely "the old feel- ing of specific differences between social groups in a new disguise" (1912: 10). In addition, despite the universalizing of his narrative, Boas went to great lengths to elucidate the wide variations in human experience that characterized the ways in which people had organized their lives.

Thus the study of all types of people, primitive as well as advanced, shows two peculiar traits: the one the constant increase in size of the social units that believe in the same ideal; the other the constant variation of these ideals. Thus we are led to the important conclusion that neither the belief is justified that the modern nations represent the largest attainable social units, nor the other, that the ideals of the present groups-and with them the groups-will be permanent.


In the context of war, Boas was pressed to strike a new balance between what he saw as the universals that humans shared, that brought them together and connected them, and what he also emphasized as the particulars that distin- guished peoples from one another and often drove them apart. By the end of the conflict, moreover, the "modern primitive tribes" seemed to include as many Americans and Europeans as they did subject peoples (1919c:232).

The example of linguistic solidarity illustrated Boas's argument about the importance of emotional bases while it also demonstrated his insistence on the variations of historical contexts that resisted absolutist reasoning. Earlier, Boas had stated that commonality of language might encourage close emotional ties and feelings of "comradeship" and "solidarity," although this was "more an ideal than a real bond," due to differences of dialects and social classes (1912:12-13). In "Kinship of Language a Vital Factor in War" (1915a), a full- page article in the Sunday New York Times,Boas outlined the history of linguis- tic distributions and the reasonings behind their appeals. Boas thought that unlike "racev-an unstable set of distinctions-language did often form the basis for the solidarity of the group and, because of this, found "a ready re- sponse in our hearts" (19 15a: 8; see also 191 5b:9).23 In this argument, Boas applied the same logic that he had used earlier to describe the distribution of ra- cial types-that historical diffusion had led to differentiation and variation, not consolidation and uniformity-but he now also addressed the persistence of contrary claims, notably the "deep emotional value" of the desire to bring to- gether linguistic affinity and "political aspirations." The title of the article there- fore over-simplified the relationships. Although language provided the basis for shared values undergirding appeals to national unity, history had created a range of variations in the distribution of languages that did not conform to political boundaries or to the form that political aspirations took.

When Boas considered the appeals to linguistic unity, therefore, he empha- sized variation, not unidirectional development. "Notwithstanding the wide spread of this ideal," he wrote, "the particular form in which it manifests itself is by no means uniform" (1 91 5x8). For historical reasons, for instance, the form of linguistic nationalism in Germany, Russia, France, and England ranged from the dispersal of German speakers and the desire to preserve the language without political unification, to the effort to bring all Slavs under Russian control- despite the Slavs' linguistic and religious heterogeneity-to the French preoc- cupation with Alsace-Lorraine, to the English aspirations to control the seas and build a world empire. In each case, a different relationship between national as- pirations and linguistic identities was formulated; in all cases the assertions were based on strong emotions that explained why "the same events are inter- preted so differently" in each country (1 91 5a:8). These differences were crucial to Boas's larger argument about the relativity of national affinities and the pos- sibilities for overcoming them.

Boas was careful to distinguish "nationality" from "nationalism," separat- ing the issue of distinctive difference from the desire to build a political state. Whereas "nationality" represented a historical manifestation of the formation of the group, one that appeared in different ways in different times and places but with equally powerful appeals in each, "nationalism" was a particularly modern form of segregation of class interests and represented the exploitation of these sympathies for political ends (1919d:232, 236). "Nationality and state do not need to coincide" (191 9d:233); rather, the particularity of nationality had to be acknowledged for reasons of practicality as well as value, reasons that Boas specified in three variations. First, because "the permeation of nationalities" made "territorial separation . . . utterly impossible," the right and necessity of difference had to be recognized (1 91 9a: 185). Second, differences were impor- tant because they "make for that variety in cultural life that is the necessary con- dition for a life worth living" (1945e: 1 43).2Third, differences enabled us "to recognize the traditional basis of our own thought by comparison with foreign types of thought" (1 945b: 182).2s Such relativizing was important because of both the intransigence of particularities and the limits of our own perspectives:

As I grant that the patriot who cannot free himself from the prejudices of exalting his own environment may be morally as righteous as the cosmopolitan, so I grant to each nation that in a conflict of opinions we have no right to interpret their mode of thought that differs from our own, as due to moral depravity, but that we must try to understand it from the point of view of their national life and the exigencies of their situation. [1945c: 1591

Nationality was, in short, a test case for the theoretical orientation of Boasian anthropology.

In making these distinctions between "nationality" and "nationalism," Boas separated what he saw as an unavoidable and valuable form of particularity from one that was exploitative and against the common good. In particular,

Modern nationalism is based on the dogma that political power and national individuality are inseparable; that a people that is politically weak cannot develop a strong national individuality; that a people that is politically strong must also be a strong nationality. The history of civilization proves this belief to be entirely erroneous. [1919c:235]

Nationalists used appeals to racial and linguistic solidarity to promote these ends, relying on false and affecting sentiments to further their own interests. In other words, Boas separated power from nationality. In contrast to nationalism, then, "The background of nationality is social individuality that neither brooks interference from other groups nor possesses the wish to deprive other nation- alities of their individuality" (3919d:236). Warning against the kind of "intol- erant nationalism" that "taught not . . . the nationalism of ideas but the imperi- alistic nationalism of political and economic power," Boas worried about the "uniformity of patterns of thought" that discouraged critical thinking about our own way of life and others' (1919d:237). At the same time, he hoped to separate "ideas" from the realms of "power." Particularly culpable were intellectuals who, due to greater education, were more inculcated in official dogma than were the masses and thus less capable of freedom of thought (1918: 146-148; see also 1986: 1 97).26

As he had earlier challenged scientific racism with evidence of historical interconnections and contingency, Boas now countered nationalism with ap- peals to the greater interests of humanity, which were also based on what people had in common and on recognition of the continuous flux of history. In the pro- cess, Boas linked his criticism of political power and intellectuals as a class, his recognition of the distinctiveness of "cultural achievements" (1919d:235), and his advocacy of science, art, and commerce as models for transnational interac- tions (1919d:232,233; 1945e: 141). In place of patriotism-a kind of unreflec- tive, emotional nationalism-Boas advocated what he saw as the interests of all of mankind: "It is my opinion that our first duties are to humanity as a whole, and that in a conflict of duties our obligations to humanity are of higher value than those towards the nation; in other words, that patriotism must be subordinated to humanism" (194%: 156). This humanism operated on "fundamental principles" such as justice and freedom which should take precedence over the demands of a particular group or individual (1945a) by basing decisions on neutrality in in- ternational law (1916b) and on freedom of thought such as in science (1919d:235; 1945b; 1945e).

There was a built-in tension in Boas's position, resolved only by a claim to superior reason. As a scientist who was part of no political group (1915c), "as a thinking American" who criticized U.S. war rationales (1 91 6a), and as an anthropologist for whom "the position of the non-conformist" was central (1945b: 179), Boas placed himself on the side of disinterested thought in the in- terests of human progress and reason.*' Against all odds, he hoped for an inter- national allegiance of common interests and efforts that, based on rational argu- ment and scientific evidence, would provide for an interdependent world of peace and cooperation. Ironically and most significantly, the war confirmed Boas's views on the power of nationalist loyalties, especially those built on in- vented racial identities, but it also resisted the power of his analysis and persua- sive argumentation to redirect nationalist antipathies.

This contradiction helped generate a change in focus in Boasian anthropol- ogy and in Boas's self-conception as an "American." Although all the compo- nents for analyzing the particularities of human solidarities had been present earlier, the imperative for doing so-for anthropology as a science of cul- ture-became greater after the war, and such analysis was legitimated by Boas's explanation for the war itself and by his frustrations with intellectuals' capitu- lation to the war effort (Stocking 1992:102-106). Significantly, Boas also al- tered his view of "Americanism" to account for this outlook while he reaffirmed his own allegiance to science. Whereas earlier he had warned that "American- ism is but one form of nationalism," he had also held up "American" ideals- especially equal rights and social justice-as fundamental to "progressive Americanism" and its potential contribution to the world, in distinction to Euro- pean traditionalism (1 945a: 165). For nations, as for individuals, the right to ex- ist had to be balanced against the rights of the international community or of hu- manity as a whole. In this larger arena,

Americanism has no solution to offer, because in international affairs American- ism is but one form of nationalism. The only solution that can be found must be looked for in a form of international administration, in which the principles of justice as developed for the individual are applied to nations. [1945a: 1671

These essentially liberal principles included the right of a nation "to develop in its domain according to its own ideals," with limitation "to its own affairs, . . . restraint from any attempts to interfere in the affairs of others [and] resistance against interference by others" (1945a: 167, see also 1916a). In this way, Boas defined "Americanism" as a particular form of national identity that also had potentially much wider applications and, in cultural terms, as a set of shared ideals and values. Consistent with this, Boas's searing criticism of Woodrow Wilson focused on his selective use of international law (1916~) and his imposition of "American" standards as absolute (1 91 6b, 1945a). While Boas called himself "an American of German birth" (1 919a), thereby reasserting his right to speak as well as his dual allegiance, this multiple identity deferred to and enabled his position as a scientist, transcending all boundaries and particularities.

Boas's views on colonialism, which he articulated in an article in The Nation (1919b), demonstrated how at war's end he combined an increasing radical- ism with scientific internationalism and a particularist politics. Concerned with the possibility that the peace settlement would institute a new form of annexation of colonies and that Germany was unfairly singled out for criticism, Boas cited the gains to science from German colonialism-including Germany's ethnographic and natural history museums-and the larger "difficulties that . . . are inherent in the system [of colonialism], and are not peculiar to any one nation" (1919b:247,248). Boas endorsed a proposal to preserve the "economic basis of the life of the natives" in order to prevent the destruction of natural resources and the annihilation of the "natives." As he concluded, "The only solution lies in the most radical application of the programme of the English Labour Party: international protection of the colonies of all countries against exploitation, and their government in the interest of the natives and of humanity" (1919b:249; Stocking 1992: 104).

In contrast to Boas's responses to the war, Du Bois was fast giving up his faith in science as the basis for social change, and he applied his developing ideas on diaspora politics to argue in favor of the war and "Americanism" in ways that greatly differed from Boas's views. In distinction to Boas's dismay at war rationales, Du Bois stressed the potential for African American citizenship in a war combining racial conflict and imperialist struggle. Du Bois's support for the war indicated his optimism that social movements, without scientific un- derpinnings, could reconcile conflicts of national, group, and "racial" identities and could challenge the "red ray" of racial violence that "calm, cool, detached" science could not (1986e:602-603),28 By the end of the conflict, however, amidst both the persistence of racism at home and the promise of decolonization abroad, Du Bois reformulated his ideas on race, politics, and internationalism to include support for African nationalism and Pan-Africanism for Negroes in the United States.29

Du Bois's support for the war effort mirrored Boas's dissent. When Du Bois asked, "Where should our sympathy lie?", he answered, even before the United States entered the conflict, "Undoubtedly, with the Allies" (1 91 4:28). Although he thought all European powers guilty of imperialism, Du Bois never wavered in his charge that Germany posed a particular threat to world peace and racial justice: "The triumph of Germany means the triumph of every force calculated to subordinate darker peoples. It would mean triumphant militarism, autocratic and centralized government, and a studied theory of contempt for everything ex- cept Germany . . . " (191 4:29; see also 191 8b; 191 8d: 164; 1919d: 13). Unlike Boas, who held in abeyance all U.S. arguments for the war, including charges against German militarism and imperialism, Du Bois maintained a position con- sistent with wartime propaganda while mounting additional arguments to sub- vert the racial status quo.

Consistently, Du Bois thought the war an opportunity for and a reaffirma- tion of African American loyalty to the United States. "This is Our Country," he declared in "A Philosophy in Time of War" (1918d), and added, "If this is OUR country, then, this is OUR war. We must fight it with every ounce of blood and treasure" (191 8d: 164). Much later, even after many years of doubt and rethink- ing, Du Bois remembered that "I felt for a moment during the war that I could be without reservation a patriotic American" (1986e:739). Such statements of allegiance-so striking in their contrast to Boas's strong support for U.S. neutrality and the right to dissent--came not just from Du Bois's patriotism but also from his grasp of the war as a special opportunity to achieve national and international social change. In this he was no different from other Progressives, like John Dewey (1918), who also thought the war would serve their reform agenda^.^" Even Du Bois's infamous editorial, "Close Ranks" (191 8b), where he called on African Americans to set aside their "grievances" and join with white Ameri- cans in the war effort, now appears to have been written to earn Du Bois an of- ficer's commission (Ellis 1992; Lewis 1993:555-557). Despite the duplic- ity-amidst an onslaught of criticism, he never admitted his manipulations-Du Bois thought that his appointment would provide leadership and equal opportu- nities for African Americans.

This involvement in the war effort was important precisely because Du Bois hoped that the war would force a revolution in U.S. race relations. Along with his championing of the U.S. cause, Du Bois also challenged the degree to which the United States fell short of its ideals. This strategy, not unlike Boas's tactic of showing the faults in the ideology of American exceptionalism, made Du Bois's endorsement of the war strategic and allowed him to point, from within, to the contradictions of American life. This was particularly important when the United States entered the war officially in 191 7. In "Awake America," he wrote,

Let us enter this war for Liberty with clean hands. . . . The New Freedom cannot survive if it means Waco, Memphis, and East St. Louis. We cannot lynch 2,867 untried black men and women in thirty-one years and pose successfully as leaders of civilization. .. . No land that loves to lynch "niggers" can lead the hosts of Almighty God. [1917a:216-2171

The goals of racial justice and the aims of the war were therefore mutually dependent. Consequently, after the armistice, Du Bois articulated his frustration with continued and increased racism, transforming the rhetoric of war by interjecting lyrical phrasing into an editorial:

We return.

We return from fighting.

We return fighting.

Make way for Democracy! We saved it in France, and by the Great Jehovah,

we will save it in the United States of America, or know the reason why.

[ 19 19d: 14, emphasis in original]

Du Bois came increasingly to the conclusion, which he expressed in much more damning terms the next month, that "A nation with a great disease set out to rescue civilization; it took the disease with it in virulent form and that disease of race-hatred and prejudice hampered its actions and discredited its finest professions" (1986d:921-922).

From the beginning, Du Bois saw the war as a racial conflict of a particu- larly modem kind. Like Boas, he thought that "It is not merely national jealousy, or the so-called 'race' rivalry of Slav, Teuton, and Latin, that is the larger cause of the war" (1914:28). Yet Du Bois drew more broadly on the arguments he had been developing as early as The Souls of Black Folk (1986~)to proclaim that "It is rather the wild quest for Imperial expansion among colored races" by the European powers that explained the war and its worldwide scope (1914:28). In dismissing the use of fallacious racial particularism in favor of a broader racial- ism of color, Du Bois refocused the arguments about the war's origins while re- inforcing the rhetoric of its larger purpose. As he wrote in "The African Roots of War,"

[I]n a very real sense Africa is a prime cause of this terrible overturning of

civilization which we have lived to see; and these words seek to show how in the

Dark Continent are hidden the roots, not simply of war to-day but of the menace

of wars to-morrow.

Always Africa is giving us something new or some metempsychosis of a

world-old thing. On its black bosom arose one of the earliest, if not the earliest,

of self-protecting civilizations. . . . Out of its darker and more remote forest

fastnesses, came, if we may credit many recent scientists, the first welding of iron,

and we know that agriculture and trade flourished there when Europe was a

wilderness. [I915:707]

Du Bois's argument here combined Boas's observations at Atlanta about the achievements of Africans with his own use of Africa as a presence of both mythic proportions and historical significance." Unlike Boas, who saw racism as a survival of a primitive tendency of hatred of the stranger, however, Du Bois thought that racism and color conflict were modem predicaments tied to the distinct development of "modern world commerce, modem imperialism, the modem factory system and the modern labor problem [which] began with the African slave trade" (1917b:141). At the same time, he accompanied his analysis of the economic motivations of imperialism that exploited the peoples and resources of "the darker nations of the world" with an appeal to Africa as the "Dark Continent" with "black bosom" (1915:707, 709-71 1; see also 1914:28-29; 1917b). This duality of economic realism mixed with emotional romanticism, consistent with the multivocality of his earlier writings, also underlay Du Bois's view of Africa as at once instrumental in the history of world imperialism and symbolic as a reference point for peoples of color, at once central to the war as a political event and representative of a mythic (inter)na- tionalism.

Although Du Bois's disillusionment with race relations in the United States precipitated his increased alienation from the U.S. mainstream and put him on the defensive later in explaining his enthusiasm for the Allied cause, Du Bois had always seen the war in the context of both domestic and international rela- tions. A particular characteristic of Du Bois's claim to "Americanism" was this wider perspective, considering the American, African American, African, and Pan-African permutations of identity, loyalty, and interrelations. One challenge he faced, therefore, was convincing the NAACP and its supporters that it was provincial to think that only domestic race problems mattered (1914:28; 1919c:7; 1986e:755). In contrast to Boas's dismissal of "race" as a factor in the war-by which he meant, largely but not exclusively, distinctions within Europe-Du Bois always saw "race" as central, especially in the context of an international, racialized Pan-Africanism as an alternative to the racist imperial- ism that he saw underlying the conflict. This diasporic identity of exclusion and exile, combined with claims to "Americanism," gave Du Bois's wartime argu- ments about "civilization" multiple meanings. At times, he talked about the betrayal of civilization, as when the United States contaminated the fight for civilization with its racial violence at home (1 91 7a, 1986d). This might seem to be just a charge of hypocrisy, but Du Bois indicated that he still believed in "civilization" and thought the war could set more inclusive standards for it. In " 'The Battle of Europe,' " for instance, the irony of the brutality of sophisti- cated warfare among the "civilized" led Du Bois to proclaim, "Well, civilization has met its Waterloo" (1916:216). At the same time, he argued in universal terms: "Brothers, the war has shown us the cruelty of the civilization of the West. History has taught us the futility of the civilization of the East. Let ours be the civilization of no man, but of all men" (1 91 6:217, emphasis in original)." By the end of the war, however, Du Bois discussed "civilization" as something rela- tive: "Is a civilization naturally backward because it is different?" (1 91 9a: 165). Du Bois's shifting emphases here were part of his strategy of criticism of war- time rhetoric-not unlike Boas's use of evolutionism-which undercut the hi- erarchy of values that supported the war effort while introducing a new relation- ship to Africa itself.

The delineation of nationalism and Pan-Africanism in Du Bois's thought marks the formative influence of the war and, more generally, his place in the genealogy of these political movements. Most histories connect the two and as- sociate Du Bois with late 19th- and early 20th-century black nationalism (Geiss 1974:229; Lively 1984:220-228; Moses 1978:9, 17). Given the significance of the unstable meanings of race and nation to Du Bois-and Boas-it is important to ask, however, just what was nationalistic about Pan-Africanism (see Appiah 1992:40; Omi and Winant 1994:37-39).'%s one of the principal organizers of the Pan-African Congresses of 191 9, 1921, 1923, and 1927, Du Bois wanted the war settlement to address the questions of the Color Line in an international con- text. While the political and economic objectives of self-determination may be central to nationalism, the anti-imperialist thrust of Du Boisian Pan-Africanism emphasized the contact and cooperation of diverse peoples of African descent, in cooperation with other peoples of color, without claiming any kind of unity in language, religion, or custom, and without calling for political unity in a na- tion-state based on such particularities (1 921, 1986e:755). Rather, the tension remained between, on the one hand, self-determination and exclusion, which encouraged nationalism and other forms of particularism, and, on the other hand, a unity that peoples of color were forced into by virtue of discrimination and that also made them exemplary citizens of the world (1919b, 1986e:732). In addition, Du Bois's emphasis on an intellectual vanguard aligned him with the elite form of Pan-Africanism and connected his earlier elitism with his newer political agendas (Fredrickson 1995:94-136, 143-152). Racialist Pan-African- ism was not so much an end in itself but persisted as a way to understand inter- relations and power in new ways.

Du Bois tied his nationalist arguments to decolonization in the context of the war because the dismantling of imperialism, rather than the pursuit of na- tionalism per se, was his priority. Significantly, Du Bois made the same argu- ment for reparations on an international scale as he had made for the potential domestic rewards from the war for U.S. blacks. After the U.S. entered the war in 191 7, Du Bois hoped that blacks would be repaid for their efforts and compen- sated for the history of colonization and slavery by the creation of "a great free central African state." Du Bois continued, "I trust, therefore, that among the new nations that are to start forth after this war will be a new Africa and a new begin- ning of culture for the Negro race" (1917b: 141). Although Du Bois used the keywords state and nations, he also said that "such a state" of reclaimed former colonies "should be under international guarantees and control" (1 91 8c: 1 14). Du Bois defended this self-determination-just as Boas did-as a relativistic right to existence and the measure of human freedom. To those who worried that an independent Africa would "go back" to some precivilized state, Du Bois re- minded them of Africans' achievements and Europeans' sins:

Is a civilization naturally backward because it is different?. .. . But even suppos- ing that these [European] masters had been models of kindness and rectitude, who shall say that any civilization is in itself so superior that it must be superimposed upon another nation without the expressed and intelligent consent of the people most concerned. The culture indigenous to a country, its folk-customs, its art, all this must have free scope or there is no such thing as freedom for the world. [1919a:165]

Unlike Boas, however, Du Bois admired aspirations in the name of the "nation," although he never fully explained what the basis for unity on the continent of Africa might be.34

More than on any specific and particularist idea of an African nation-state or of a politics of cultural or linguistic nationality, such as Boas described, Du Bois focused on the idea of racial unity that underlay a more general idea of Af- rican independence. "The Black Soldier," for instance, appeared in The Crisis the month before "Close Ranks," in an issue that Du Bois dedicated to the "men of Negro descent who are today called to arms for the United States. It is dedi- cated, also, to the million dark men of Africa and India" (1918x60) fighting for Great Britain, France, and the other Allies:

You are not fighting simply for Europe; you are fighting for the world, and you and your people are a part of the world. . . . Out of this war will rise, soon or late, an independent China; a self-governing India, and Egypt with representative institutions; an Africa for the Africans, and not merely for business exploitation. Out of this war will rise, too, an American Negro, with the right to vote and the right to work and the right to live without insult. [1918a:60]

In part, Du Bois argued that the war provided an opportunity for subjugated peoples to claim a world historic role that had been ignored and brutalized throughout modem history. In part, he also argued that the struggle of Americans of African descent was one with the struggle of peoples of color throughout the world. "It is the question of the reapportionment of this vast number of human beings [from former European colonies] which has started the Pan-African movement. Colored America is indeed involved," Du Bois wrote at the close of the war (1919a:165). This history, however, also meant that the claim to unity was based on a shared experience of exploitation, preserved, as he had argued earlier, by the "Color Line" as well as by a shared future of liberation: "The sympathy of Black America must of necessity go out to colored India and colored Egypt. Their forefathers were ancient friends, cousins, blood-brothers, in the hoary ages of antiquity. . . . But we are all one-we the Despised and Oppressed, the 'niggers' of England and America" (1 919b:62; see also 1986e: 640). This hatefulness, like the burdens of double-consciousness, was now imbued with a new force. The doubleness was not so much psychological and debilitating as full of political possibilities. With the racial diaspora providing a basis of unity and social change, moreover, the idea of doubleness never disclaimed "Americanismw--quite the contrary, "There is nothing so indige- nous, so completely 'made in America' as we" (1919a:166). Instead, Du Bois proclaimed what might be called now a double allegiance:

The African movement means to us what the Zionist movement must mean to the Jews, the centralization of race effort and the recognition of a racial fount. To help bear the burden of Africa does not mean any lessening of effort in our own problem at home. Rather it means increased interest. [1919a: 166]35

The power of diasporic identity, therefore, lay in its potential for organized movement from these multiple connections, loyalties, and homes.

Du Bois's conceptions of nation, race, and politics, as they emerged out of the context of World War I, were full of the possibilities to sustain multiple iden- tities as U.S. citizens, African Americans, and people of the diaspora joined with others dispersed throughout the world. In the years that followed, especially in the context of the Depression's erosion of hope of economic equality in the United States, Du Bois increasingly focused on African Americans as segre- gated from the rest of society, "A Negro Nation within the Nation" (1935; see also 1933x200). Because of this segregation, he saw the necessity of "deliberate propaganda for race pride" (1 933a:200), including the organization of "intelli- gent and earnest people of Negro descent for their preservation and advance- ment in America, in the West Indies and in Africa" (1933x200). This interna- tional unity and racial pride had to arise from necessity-economic need and the unfulfilled promises that U.S. patriotism would contribute to "the day of the In- ter-nation, of Humanity, and the disappearance of 'race' from our vocabulary" (1933a: 199). If racism and class distinctions made equality impossible, he ar- gued a short time later, then these problems "can and must be seen not against any narrow, provincial or even national background, but in relation to the great problem of the colored races of the world and particularly those of African de- scent" (1933b:247). Even though "most of our racial distinctions" are "idiotic" (1933b:247), and the American black was American, "there are interests which draw him nearer to the dark people outside of America than to his white fellow citizens" (1933b:247). The more quickly the call to "Pan-Africa" for "the indus- trial and spiritual emancipation of the Negro peoples" was heeded, Du Bois thought, "the sooner we shall find ourselves citizens of the world and not its slaves and pensioners" (1933b3247, 262). By 1940, when Du Bois published Dusk of Dawn, the nationalist component of his argument, still present in fleet- ing ways in 1919, was gone: "Negroes have no Zion" (1986e:777). Pan-African unity had become a claim for racial and economic justice and survival based on a cosmopolitan view of diaspora politics.

The war years, then, were a formative moment in which Boas's and Du Bois's larger concern with problems of race diverged, not only over their posi- tions on the conflict itself, but also over the possibilities for scientific and politi- cal resolutions of racism and over how they positioned their own roles in these solutions. Du Bois and Boas had ended up in similar territory by circuitous routes over a divergent path during the war. Both men looked increasingly to transnational forms of identity while recognizing the persistent appeals of unity. In the years that followed, their ideas were sufficiently linked that in a letter dated March 19, 1920, William Rose Benet asked Boas to review Du Bois's autobiography, Darkwater (1920)-composed in part from earlier writings-for the New York Evening Post.36 However, in a response dated March 22, 1920, Boas declined because the "book is so much an emotional literary prod- uct" (Franz Boas Papers)." Characteristic of Boas's scruples as a scientist, his refusal to engage arguments he perceived as nonscientific drove a wedge be- tween his social reform aims and Du Bois's self-proclaimed propagandizing. Boas's decision also signifies the extent to which they formulated their identi- ties in different, even opposite ways.

For Du Bois's identity as "black," it became important to challenge the aca- demic social scientific view on race. In his 1939 introduction to Black Folk: Then and Now, a reworking of the 191 5 publication The Negro (1 970), Du Bois defended his complicity in his subject matter:

I do not for a moment doubt that my Negro descent and narrow group culture have in many cases predisposed me to interpret my facts too favorably for my race; but there is little danger of long misleading here, for the champions of white folk are legion. The Negro has long been the clown of history; the football of anthropology; and the slave of industry. 1 am trying to show here why these attitudes can no longer be maintained. I realize that the truth of history lies not in the mouths of partisans but rather in the calm Science that sits between. Her cause I seek to serve, and wherever I fail, I am at least paying Truth the respect of earnest effort. [I 939:ixl

Consequently, Du Bois identified the history of U.S. racial violence with his own reconceptualization of the "Negro problem," with his disillusionment with the promise of the United States, and ultimately with his sense of the global nature of the issues. He ended Black Folk: Then and Now with words echoing his own of almost 40 years earlier: "The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line" (1939:383).3X

In contrast, Boas's primary self-definition as a scientist came in response to being Jewish, not to being "white." As David Hollinger has argued for a some- what later time period, Jews transformed the academy, particularly the sciences, with their "cosmopolitan, enlightenment inspired" outlook and refusal "to be Jewish parochials" (1996:19). Similarly, in his time, Boas also persisted in the belief that science could offer a cosmopolitan answer to the particularism of prejudice. This different self-concept encouraged Boas to continue his faith in science by separating the cultural self from the intellectual problems he ad- dressed, to evade, in effect, a racialized view of self-quite the opposite of Du Bois's ~trategy.~' What frustration Boas did feel, especially in the wake of the First World War, he saw more as a failure of communication than as a shortcom- ing of the medium of science itself.


The parallelism and divergence of Boas's and Du Bois's critiques of "race" and racism provide the evidence of both their achievements and their more trou- bling legacies. On the one hand, we owe much to them for mobilizing intellec- tual efforts against the rising tide of race science and for providing articulate am- munition in the service of antiracist science and politics. As we face many of the same problems today, Boas and Du Bois remind us of earlier efforts and argu- ments that we too often forget when we indulge the conceit that we have in- vented our own conflicts. On the other hand, the very persistence of these con- flicts raises the important question of why so little has changed, why we are now, as I suggested at the beginning of this article, poised in battles over the very same issues of race, racism, and nationalism, and why Boas and Du Bois have become increasingly central to these debates.

The distinction between Boas's recourse to science and Du Bois's insis- tence on politics helps, in part, to explain the difficulty of offering workable and lasting solutions to the most pressing world catastrophe they had yet faced. Nei- ther succeeded in reorienting the war into what William James might have called a moral equivalent of anthropology (for Boas by avoiding bloodshed and for Du Bois by turning the war into a path for racial justice). The difficulty lay less in their abilities to apply their theories to contemporary realities than in the short- comings of their vision of diasporic connections. In this sense, the promising challenge to what Paul Gilroy has called "ethnic absolutisms" (1993:3, 5, 223) did not translate well into a workable politic^.^ We need only look to recent evi- dence of ethnic cleansing and nationalist genocide to see that these terrors re- main, justified in disturbingly the same terms. To note that serious scientific challenges to the meaning of race are again surfacing does not alter the political ho- rizon, nor does it offer much heartening news on the promises of enlightenment.

Part of the problem lies in the attractiveness, in recent times, of "authentic" forms of identity, of which race-based nationalism has been among the most powerful. At the very least, appeals to alternative forms of identity that are rooted in conceptions of fluidity, multiplicity, and antiessentialism have appeared to have a much harder row to hoe. Despite their sense of the power of emotions, Boas's and Du Bois's abiding faith in reasoned argument did not ultimately end even the most egregious evidence of prejudice and ethnocentrism. Boas, his stu- dents, and the subsequent reception and uses of their work may, ironically, have contributed to essentialism by formulating a holistic concept of culture to under- stand the intransigence of nationalism and cultural-centrism. Similarly, Du Bois's mystical Pan-Africanism easily appealed to many forms of racial chau- vinism less tolerant than his. The adaptability of the culture concept and the ne- glect of Boas's and Du Bois's ideas of diffusion and historical interconnections, for instance, aided and abetted the national character studies during the Second World War, just as they may also contribute to a search for folkloric origins in invented cultures in the new European ethnic nationalisms.

We as intellectuals should ask if part of the difficulty in resolving these problems lies in the way that we have framed the issues, and if we might do things differently. Despite their genuine concern to put theories into action, nei- ther Boas nor Du Bois acknowledged how their elitism-their ideas on differ- ence and "distinction" (Posnock 1995)-made it more difficult to disseminate their messages or to anticipate the limits of their appeal. In a sense, this chasm exemplifies the great void that exists between academic discourse (in the United States, on the Left in particular) and the broader public. That the politics of the Right seem to be able to engage at least a certain spectrum of political debate, even while silencing a larger political discourse, makes it extremely difficult for the political insights of intellectuals on the Left to work along with a broader agenda of political and social change. When such change does occur, as in the case of the civil rights movement, it is not usually intellectuals who lead the way, but other activists whose political and legal struggles extend earlier intel- lectual work (see Baker 1994:200). This is not to say, however, that Boas's and Du Bois's arguments were not worth making. In actuality, it begs the question of reestablishing the connections between intellectual work and public life. Du Bois's own disaffection with scientific solutions and affirmation of politics helped enable the translation of these concerns over the course of his very long life.

By taking into account a broader range of difference, intellectual debate can be enlivened and more effectual. Du Bois's emerging class analysis, for in- stance, adds to current discussions that tend to privilege difference~ marked by race, ethnicity, and gender without comparable attention to political economy. In this respect, the materialism of his arguments on diasporic connections, along with Boas's discussion of the vast history of the diffusion of peoples and cul- tures, can help sharpen our own understandings of racialism in a global perspec- tive. Marginalization of African American intellectuals like Du Bois also meant that those most positioned to offer arguments against the depoliticized nature of social science often went unheard (Harrison and Nonini 1992:231). This is an especially significant loss, because as problematic, conflicted, and ambivalent as Du Bois's views may have been, they still offered some of the most important, consistent, and inspiring counters to a consensus on racial hierarchy and violence. The very power of Boas's and Du Bois's critiques explains, in part, why they re- main touchstones for such challenges in our own time and why it is so important to remember accurately their arguments and struggles. Du Bois's words toward the beginning of Dusk ofDawn serve as a reminder of how we are all embedded in history, yet strive to overcome its limitations: "Crucified on the wheel of time, I flew round and round with the Zeitgeist, waving my pen and lifting faint voices to explain, expound and exhort; to see, foresee and prophesy, to the few who could or would listen" (1986e:555). The current explosion of interest in Du Bois and the symbolic, if misguided, use of Boas and Du Bois as representative men in the culture wars by such commentators as Dinesh D'Souza remind us of the political importance of their work, including their insights into the inelucta- ble nature of "race," the resistant powers of racism, the importance of dissent and variety, and the possibilities for social transformation. These are the lega- cies of W. E. B. Du Bois and Franz Boas, as threatening and tantalizing in their own day as in ours.


Acknowledgments. Portions of this article will appear, in somewhat different form, in my forthcoming book, The Cosmopolitan Imagination: Frani Boas and the Devel- opmenr ofAmerican Anthropology, to be published by the University of Chicago Press. Thanks to the publisher for approving prior publication here. Earlier versions of this article were presented at the Organization of American Historians meeting in Atlanta, April 1994; the Social Science History Association meeting in Chicago, November 1995; the American Studies Association meeting in Kansas City, November 1996; and the American Ethnological Society meeting in Seattle, April 1997. I am indebted to the following individuals for their astute and generous comments, although remaining, stubborn errors of fact and interpretation are, of course, my own: Daniel Segal, Lee Baker, Nahum Chandler, Richard Handler, David Levering Lewis, Herb Lewis, Michael Roth, George W. Stocking Jr., Pauline Turner Strong, Cheryl Walker, and the anony- mous referees for Cultural Anthropology. Scott DeHaven and Beth Carroll-Horrocks of the American Philosophical Society, Linda Seidman of the W. E. B. Du Bois Library, and Jennifer Karson helped locate photographs.

  1. In this respect, I depart from the argument of the "revolt against formalism" by contextualizing the reorientation more directly in the development of modern society. Similarly, unlike Eric J. Sundquist's provocative use of Boas's 1889 essay "On Alter- nating Sounds" (1974a) as a "paradigm for the relationship of two conflicting yet coalescing cultural traditions" (1993:6), I see the relationships as more particularly historical. On modernity and modernism see also Calinescu 1977 and Gilroy 1993. On formalism see White 1957 and Stocking 1982a.

  2. The introduction to The Oxford W. E. B. Du Bois Reader, entitled "W.E. B. Du Bois and the Autobiography of Race," seems to miss this distinction (Sundquist 1996:6-8). See also note 28 below.

3. A different version of this piece appeared in Boas 191 1c.

  1. It is worth noting the Boasian nature of Anthony Appiah's arguments (1985:21-22, 30; 1992:34-37) on the science of human variability and genetics and their influence on Du Bois.

  2. For a useful discussion of Du Bois's complicated and perhaps contradictory use of both biological and cultural conceptions of race to challenge racialism see Outlaw 1996, Gooding-Williams 1996, and Appiah 1992. They all appear to miss Du Bois's insistence on ideas of nationhood, which would envelop conceptions of "blood" and spirit while criticizing contemporary ideas of racial essences and hierarchies. See also Omi and Winant 1994 for an argument, against Appiah, that Du Bois combined "racial solidarity and a commitment to social equality" (1994: 184, note 32). George Stocking discusses the inclusive meanings and usage of "race" at the turn of the century that combined physical, linguistic, and cultural elements, along with environmental, egali- tarian, and racialist conclusions (Stocking 1994: 15-16).

  3. Sundquist 1993: 15, 461, 487 links this "diaspora aesthetic" to the "problem of the color line." Gilroy 1993:30, 115, 126 emphasizes the "polyphonic form" of The Souls ofBlack Folk and the connection of double-consciousness and the diaspora.

  4. On the power of alienation for radical critique in Du Bois's writings see Holt 1990. Gilroy 1993: 110 also emphasizes affirming the "curse of enforced exile."

  5. Gilroy 1993:134-135 suggests that Du Bois's taxonomy ("the Egyptian and Indian, the Greek and Roman, the Teuton and Mongolian, the Negro. .." [1986c:364]) was derived from Hegel. On the influences of German and American romanticism and the psychology of William James on Du Bois's idea of double-consciousness see also Bell 1996, Bruce 1992, and Zamir 1995.

9. Nahum Chandler (1997) suggested these connections to me.

  1. In my view, Du Bois was still grappling with American and African American exceptionalism here and not, as Eric Sundquist has argued (1993: 15), with American and African or Negro identities.

  2. Significantly, when Du Bois wrote of his life as a "race concept" in Dusk of Dawn, the birth of this alienated self coincided with the development of "Progress with a capital P" (1986e:572-573), marked by population growth, improvements in trans- portation, technology, commerce, markets, and colonialism, all factors in the formation of a modern, global world. What Ross Posnock (1995) calls "distinction," an effort to combine senses of privilege and difference, appears in this way to reflect the peculiar pairing of Du Bois's elitism with his emerging class analysis.

  3. Du Bois had originally written to Boas on October 11, 1905, to ask for "the best and latest works bearing on the anth[r]opology of the Negro-particularly his physical measurements, health, etc." He went on to invite Boas to the next conference at Atlanta on "Negro Physique" on May 29, 1906, promising "a great opportunity here for physical measurement of Negroes." After Du Bois repeated the invitation on March 31, 1906, Boas finally accepted at the eleventh hour, ir, a letter dated April 25, 1906 (Franz Boas Papers). In a letter dated May 21, 1906, Edward T. Ware, the acting president of Atlanta University, later confirmed that Boas would deliver the commencement address, although it is not clear who issued the invitation (Franz Boas Papers).

  4. Du Bois went on to describe the promise of the Atlanta studies to uncover the history of racial contact:

There is no question before the scientific world in regard to which there is more guess work and wild theorizing than in regard to causes and characteristics of the diverse human species. And yet here in America we have not only the opportunity to observe and measure nearly all the world's great races in juxta-position, but more than that to watch a long and intricate process of amalgamation carried out on hundreds of years and resulting in millions of men of mixed blood. And yet because the subject of amalgamation with black races is a sore point with us, we have hitherto utterly neglected and thrown away every opportunity to study and know this

vast mulatto population and have deliberately and doggedly based our statements and conclu- sions concerning this class upon pure fiction or unvarnished lies. [1904:86]

  1. Boas published "The Real Race Problem" (1910) in the first volume of The Crisis, the official publication of the NAACP; and in a letter dated February 13, 1929, Du Bois solicited an article from Boas for The Crisis on one of a range of topics: "Is there a new American Negro race being developed? What has intelligence testing proven concerning Negro ability? What recent studies or investigations throw light upon the African Negro?" Boas responded on February 14 that he was working on a study of "the significance of intelligence testing among Negroes" in order "to investigate a commu- nity in detail in regard to its social background and to prepare tests accordingly, so as to be able to correlate social environment and, what psychologists please to call, intelligence" (Franz Boas Papers). Zora Neale Hurston worked on this study with Boas. Apparently nothing came of Du Bois's request. On September 10, 1935, Du Bois also asked Boas to contribute to an Encyclopaedia of the Negro that he was organizing. Although Boas wrote on October 7 that he supported the idea, he declined because he was too busy to take on new projects at his age. He was then 77 years old (Franz Boas Papers).

  2. See Hutchinson 1995:63; Rampersad 1976:229; Lewis 1993:251-252; Geiss 1974: 114. For Boas's influence on Du Bois see also The Negro (Du Bois 1970) and "Race Friction between Blacks and Whites" (Du Bois 1908:836), in which he quoted Boas's "dictum" against racial inferiority from "The Negro and the Demands of Modern Life" (Boas 1905:87). Du Bois also repeatedly cites the volume from the 191 1 Universal Races Congress (Spiller 191 I). The question of Du Bois's influence on Boas remains an open one. At the very least, Du Bois was more scrupulous in citing Boas as an authority than Boas was in return. This was characteristic of Boas's tendency to stress European over American influences. In "The History of Anthropology" (1904), for instance, Boas gave a selective list of the history of the discipline, emphasizing those Europeans who were his intellectual ancestors but leaving out American scholars. As Harrison and Nonini (1992:244) address, the question of Boas's neglect of Du Boisian influences contributed to an incomplete and imbalanced recognition of those contribu- tions and a failure to incorporate their critical insights.

16. His other example was of Jews (1974c:314).

    1. On Boas's influence on the shift from the 19th-century racialist nationalism of Alexander Crummell and Du Bois to 20th-century culturalist understandings of national and other group identities, see Hutchinson 1995:65 and Appiah 1992:28-46. On the influence of Boasian anthropology more broadly on the cultural agenda of the Harlem Renaissance, see Hutchinson 1995:62-77. The Boasian nature of the Races Congress conclusions, as summarized in The Crisis, is striking (Du Bois 191 1x402-403; 191 Ic: 157-158). It also illustrates the extent to which Boas's argu- ments were part of a larger, international community of antiracial science (see also Du Bois 191 la; 191 ld:202).

    2. 18. According to Du Bois (191 1a:401), Boas did not attend.

  1. The Manchester Guardian said that Du Bois's paper was the best one presented (Green and Driver 1987:22-23).

  2. Boas's alone among the Dillingham Commission reports argued to keep immigration open. The reports were used as evidence for the national quota laws of 192 1 and 1924. Boas's assimilationism was expressed both as science and as social policy: first, in his view, racial types would merge and approach a middle ground ("The Real Race Problem" [ 19 101 and Changes in Bodily Forms [ 19 1 la]) and, second, the only way

to solve the problem of racialized conflict was to reach a society of complete mixture ("The Problem of the American Negro" [I92 1:384-3951).

  1. As George W. Stocking suggests in "Franz Boas and the Culture Concept in Historical Perspective" (1982b), Boas was a transitional figure in the formulation of this central idea in anthropology. Although Boas began to articulate a recognizable culture concept that was historicist, plural, behaviorist, integrated, and relativistic in the first decade of the 20th century, primarily through the work of the first generation of his students, he did not formulate it in publications until about 1930 (1982b:202-203, 219-220, 222-223, 230-231). I would argue, however, that the First World War was an important turning point in his consideration of culture that was most fully articulated in the postwar period in the work of his second generation of students, such as Ruth Benedict and Margaret Mead. Boas's own rather new emphasis on racism as opposed to racialism also reflected this interest in the influence of irrational, cultural determi- nants. See also note 39 below.

  2. That Boas repeated himself on these and other issues connected to the war suggests that he was consolidating an argument on the interrelationships of race, language, and nation, specifically within the context of wartime. By doing this, he also developed a public position on these issues which, to the extent that they were resisted or ignored, encouraged him to redouble his efforts. By the end of the war, Boas's letters to the editors of various newspapers were no longer being published.

  3. In Race and Nationality Boas wrote, "It touches the most sympathetic chords of our hearts" (19 15b:9).

  4. Boas first composed the passage quoted here as part of a letter he sent to the editor of the New York Evening Post. However, this passage, like most of Boas's argument about internationalism in the context of war, was omitted from the version published in the Post (1919~).

  5. Boas concluded with this phrase: "If it were for no other reasons, it would be for this reason, that I should want to see maintained the individuality of nations" (1945b:182).

  6. Boas's argument about intellectuals' greater attachment to tradition is surpris- ing. On the one hand, it is consistent with his earlier criticism of education for teaching official beliefs and imparting tradition rather than critical thinking (1915c:S). On the other hand, Boas sharpened his view against intellectuals "as a segregated class" (1918:146), stemming from his frustration with those who failed, in his view, to sufficiently criticize the war effort.

  7. Boas began his comments on the question "Will Socialism Help to Overcome Race Antagonisms?" (1915~) at a Socialist Press Club dinner in March, 1915, with the disclaimer "I am a scientist; I am not in politics, and as a scientist I am naturally and essentially an individualist" ( 19 15c:S).

  8. Du Bois was referring to his awakening after the lynching of Sam Hose. He went on to elaborate on the impossibility of scientific neutrality

while Negroes were lynched, murdered and starved; and secondly, there was no such definite demand for scientific work of the sort that I was doing, as I had confidently assumed would be easily forthcoming. I regarded it as axiomatic that the world wanted to learn the truth and if the truth was sought with even approximate accuracy and painstaking devotion, the world would gladly support the effort. This was, of course, but a young man's idealism, not by any means false, but also never universally true. [1986e:603]

Du Bois goes on to discuss the lack of financial support for the Atlanta studies and the ill effects of his battles with Booker T. Washington between 1903 and 1908 (1986e:603).

Although he was unclear about the exact chronology in his autobiography, Dusk ofDawn (1986e), Lewis places the events in April 1899 (1993:226). As Du Bois remembered it, this event marked a conscious departure from his earlier attempt to face "the facts of my own social situation and racial world by putting "science into sociology through a study of the condition and problems of my own group" (1986e:590). It is interesting that while Du Bois singled this moment out as a turning point, he was quite broad in his discussion, combining these particular events with the lasting soreness of his conflicts with Washington and how they marginalized him. Later, in Dusk of Dawn, Du Bois describes the shift that occurred between the time he left Atlanta in 1910 to after the First World War:

These days were the climacteric of my pilgrimage. I had come to the place where I was convinced that science, the careful social study of the Negro problems, was not sufficient to settle them; that they were not basically, as I had assumed, difficulties due to ignorance but rather difficulties due to the determination of certain people to suppress and mistreat the darker races. I believed that this evil group formed a minority and a small minority of the nation and of all civilized peoples, and that once the majority of well-meaning folk realized their evil machinations, we would be able to secure justice. [1986e:716]

There is an interesting shift here in his self-presentation, with his "autobiography of race" a "digressive illustration" (1986e:716) of these issues, in contrast to his subtitle "Autobiog- raphy of a Race Concept." Perhaps the alienating effects of race and scientific neutrality were being resolved in a story of "race" in the context of this shift to political objectives and means.

  1. I use the term Negro because it is the one Du Bois himself used and because African American confuses the very issues I am discussing-the relative and connected importance of American and African identities. Similarly, black confuses the issue of color with which Du Bois was also so concerned.

  2. Looking back on his civil rights work during the Great War, particularly considering his suspicion of war in general, his belief in the centrality of Africa in the conflict, and his ultimate endorsement of the war effort, Du Bois later found that "I have difficulty in thinking clearly" (1986e:739). When he speculated on what might have occurred had he dissented, he said in an uncharacteristic tone of confusion, "I do not know. I am puzzled" (1986e:741). Lewis 1995:SSS-556 and Ellis 1992 have explained Du Bois's uncharacteristic confusion as a sign of his inability to come to terms with his duplicity in obtaining a wartime commission, but it is just as likely that Du Bois was more honest about his loyalty to Joel Spingarn (a founding member of the NAACP), who had suggested the plan, and about the shortsightedness of his wartime reformism: "I am less sure now than then of the soundness of this war attitude. I did not realize the full horror of war and its wide impotence as a method of social reform. Perhaps, despite words, I was thinking narrowly of the interest of my group and was willing to let the world go to hell, if the black man went free" (1986e:740-741).

  3. The general terms of the title, "The African Roots of War," indicate the coexistence of broad historical and transhistorical or mythical elements in Du Bois's writings. This orientation is lost in the Lewis anthology, which erroneously reprints the article as "The African Roots of the War" (1995:642-651).

  4. See also "World War and the Color Line" on the "essential equality of all men" (Du Bois 1914:29).

  5. The nationalist and Pan-African arguments that Du Bois made during the post-World War I period once again show him as a transitional figure, this time between what Lively has called "traditional" black nationalism, a movement of the "vanguard of the race . . . in the black diaspora" which would carry the benefits of civilization to

Africans, and modem black nationalism, a critique of these very values which emphasized instead the liberatory struggles against Euro-American imperialism and its "ethnocen- tricity" (1984:207-208). Both Moses (1978: 17, 23-25) and Fredrickson (1995: 143-144, 149-152) emphasize Du Bois's position as an example of a nationalism based on racial but not geographical or linguistic unity. Although these are accurate depictions of Du Bois's Pan-Africanism, they neglect a fuller discussion of just what conception of "nation" and "race" Du Bois was using.

34. Characteristically, Du Bois used himself as an example of how Africa figured as a contingent but no less affecting source of identity, understood in anthropological ways:

Living with my mother's people I absorbed their culture patterns and these were not African so much as Dutch and New England. . . . My African racial feeling was then purely a matter of my own later learning and reaction, my recoil from the assumptions of the whites; my experience in the South at Fisk. But it was none the less real and a large determinant of my life and character. I felt myself African by "race" and by that token that was African and an integral member of the group of dark Americans who were called Negroes.

At the same time I was firm in asserting that these Negroes were Americans. [1986e:638]

  1. An interesting comparison might be made here with Randolph Bourne's "The Jew and Trans-National America" (I 91 6), also a wartime commentary on the meanings of nationalism and cosmopolitanism.

  2. "The African Roots of War" (Du Bois 1915) appeared in revised form as chapter 3, "The Hands of Ethiopia," of Darkwater (1920), and "A Hymn to the Peoples," which he had written and read before the Universal Races Congress (191 1d:209), concluded the book.

  3. Boas did agree to review the second book Benet requested, Leo Wiener's Africa and the Discovery ofAmerica (1920-1922), "an examination into the influence of the negroes upon American Civilization" (Franz Boas Papers).

  4. Du Bois preceded this notable phrase with the following, an argument that demonstrates his insights for his own time and ours:

The proletariat of the world consists not simply of white European and American workers but overwhelmingly of the dark workers of Asia, Africa, the islands of the sea, and South and Central America. These are the ones who are supporting a superstructure of wealth, luxury, and extravagance. It is the rise of these people that is the rise of the world. [1939:383]

39. When Boas was nominated to be an honorary fellow of the Jewish Academy of Arts and Sciences, "from among the most distinguished American Jews," in a letter from Abraham Burstein on October 16, 1934 (Franz Boas Papers), he accepted because he was a member of "various European Academies," but he also qualified it by saying on October 30, "As a scientist I do not feel any attachment to any particular group," and asked that there be no public ceremonies (Franz Boas Papers). See also note 27, above. Boas's and Du Bois's approaches to the problem of racism also reveal their different orientations and the analyses that derived from them. In "The Problem of the American Negro" (1921), Boas differentiated between ideas on racial hierarchies and differences, on the one hand, and "sources of race antagonism" (1921:384), or racism, on the other. This latter problem, a new area of analysis for Boas after the war, he saw as a result of

the tendency of the human mind to merge the individual in the class to which he belongs, and to ascribe to him all the characteristics of his class. . . . We find this spirit [also] at work in anti-Semitism as well as in American nativism, and in the conflict between labor and capitalism. We have recently seen it at its height in the emotions called forth by the world war. [1921:392]

In an interesting twist on Du Bois's idea of double-consciousness, Boas saw this prejudice as a result of the peculiar imposition of an outsider's view, rather than, as Du Bois saw it, as a split from within:

It is not by any means the class consciousness of the segregated group that determines this feeling [of exclusion and prejudice]. It is rather the consciousness of the outsider who combines a large number of individuals in a group and thus assigns to each the same character. The less feeling of unity the heterogeneous members of the group possess, the harder it is for them to bear the discrimination under which they suffer. [I 921 :392]

40. See also Gilroy 1993:2, 15, 31 on theories of "creolisation, metissage, mestizaje, and hybridity" that resonate with Boasian and Du Boisian ideas on the fluidity of race.

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