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date: 23 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

After briefly reviewing some of the ways in which Dewey’s pragmatism has been discussed by contemporary philosophers of race, this essay examines Dewey’s views on race and colonialism via his analyses of World War I. The chapter argues that Dewey’s assessment of the war is shaped by conceptual whiteness: it reflects an unacknowledged white perspective that tends to ignore, overlook, and make invisible matters of race and racism. To detect the conceptual whiteness of Dewey’s work and the white privilege it supports, Dewey is read in conversation with W.E.B. Du Bois on the war. Their radically different analyses of (a) the war’s meaning, (b) the importance of the (white) working class for global stability, and (c) the solution for preventing future world wars help reveal Dewey’s complicity with the white colonialist domination of his time. Their analyses also could help contemporary pragmatists avoid similar complicities in future work on Dewey.

Keywords: Dewey, Du Bois, race, colonialism, white supremacy, white working class, World War I

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