My dissertation concerns how political actors under conditions of oppression effectively pursue emancipation. I engage primarily with the political thought of antebellum Black abolitionists, such as Frederick Douglass and Martin Delany, in developing an account of emancipatory political agency and political practices that promote such agency. I am particularly interested in Douglass and Delany’s diagnosis of the inefficacy of antebellum abolitionist organizations—that such organizations reproduce the very same oppressive hierarchies that they mean to combat—how antebellum Black abolitionists addressed the problems posed to emancipatory politics by this phenomenon, and lessons we can draw for emancipatory politics today.
I'm also currently working on projects about the value of political participation, the connection between self-ownership and ownership of one's labor in Locke's political philosophy, and the role of humility in Locke’s epistemology.
This article draws on the antebellum political thought of Black abolitionists Frederick Douglass and Martin Delany in critically assessing the efficacy of reasonableness in advancing the aims of emancipatory politics in political discourse. I argue, through a reading of Douglass and Delany, that comporting oneself reasonably in the face of oppressive ideology can be counterproductive, if one's aim is to undermine such ideology and the institutions it supports. Douglass and Delany, I argue, also provide us with a framework for evaluating alternative discursive strategies we might wish to employ in light of the limited value of reasonableness for emancipatory politics.