Abstract

By reading Pan-African writing with anti-caste writing together, this article examines the uses of “conscience” and “consciousness” across Third World solidarity movements. By drawing out the relationship between “consciousness” and “conscience” in political writing, this essay reveals the intertwined intellectual genealogies of Global South political theory. This genealogy is indebted to sociological projects in the early twentieth century. This article focuses particularly on Ghanaian Pan-Africanist Kwame Nkrumah and Indian anti-caste activist B.R. Ambedkar. By connecting these the two thinkers, and by tracing their shared intellectual genealogies, I illuminate the sociological experimentation at the center of anticolonial philosophy. For early twentieth-century sociology, these were normative claims about “society” as a heteronomous and egalitarian collective. By tracing these experimentations through the Global South, I show that the most ground-breaking sociologists in the North Atlantic world were, in fact, anticolonial thinkers who used the field to reimagine human emancipation.

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