Angela Davis and Critical Theory, from Kant to Abolition

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2024
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Polity. University of Chicago Press. 2024, 56(2), pp. 207-229. ISSN 0032-3497. eISSN 1744-1684. Available under: doi: 10.1086/729280
Zusammenfassung

This article recovers Angela Davis’s archived dissertation project, “Towards a Kantian Theory of Force,” from 1969, and places it in conversation with her mature work on prison abolition. It begins by documenting how, as a student of Frankfurt School Critical Theory, Davis honed an immanent critique of Kant’s problem of freedom as a reflection of the historical contradiction that emerges between the moral claim to universal freedom and the socio-historical determinates that foreclose its material realization. It next reconstructs her dissertation project, showing how Davis teased this same problematic from Kant’s little-explored political philosophy to argue persuasively that the liberal constitutional state’s justified use of violence is a primary obstacle to the realization of moral freedom. By reading Davis’s early critique in the context of contemporaneous Kant scholarship and in view of her subsequent abolitionist work, the article argues that Davis’s early work can help to illuminate not just the central antagonism between freedom and state coercion that is the object of abolitionist critique, but the subjective-moral dimension inherent to its political practice.

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800 Literatur, Rhetorik, Literaturwissenschaft
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ISO 690SEBASTIAN, Cecilia, 2024. Angela Davis and Critical Theory, from Kant to Abolition. In: Polity. University of Chicago Press. 2024, 56(2), pp. 207-229. ISSN 0032-3497. eISSN 1744-1684. Available under: doi: 10.1086/729280
BibTex
@article{Sebastian2024-04-01Angel-69426,
  year={2024},
  doi={10.1086/729280},
  title={Angela Davis and Critical Theory, from Kant to Abolition},
  number={2},
  volume={56},
  issn={0032-3497},
  journal={Polity},
  pages={207--229},
  author={Sebastian, Cecilia}
}
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