This book interrogates the nature and state of African American citizenship through the prism of Social Contract Theory. Challenging the United States’ commitment to African American citizenship, this book explores the idea of Social Nullification, the decision to reject, revoke and re-define the social contract with a state and society. Charles F. Peterson surveys the history of Social Contract Theory, examines Nullification as political and legal theory, argues public policy as a measure of the state’s commitment to the contractarian relationship and frames the writings and activism of Martin R. Delany, Ida B. Wells-Barnett and the African American Reparations Movement as examples of Social Nullification and challenges to the terms of Black life in America.
1. Citizenship and Its Discontents: Introduction to Beyond Civil Disobedience—Social Nullification and Black Citizenship
2. “’Is It Not Wrong, a Balance Which Tilts, a Plummet Which Deflects”: A Survey of Social Contract Theory
3. Crises of Legitimacy and Social Nullification Theory
4. The Severed Bond: Policy and the Materiality of the Failing State
5. “To Establish a Different Order of Things”: Reconstructions of Afri-Civic Identity
6. Conclusion: The Call of a Different Drummer
Charles F. Peterson is an Associate Professor of Africana Studies at Oberlin College, USA. Dr. Peterson writes on Africana political theory and aesthetics, and is a co-editor of Sons of Lovers: An Anthology of Poetry by Black Men (2000) and De-Colonizing the Academy (2003), and author of DuBois, Fanon and Cabral: The Margins of Anti-Colonial Leadership (2007). He lives in Oberlin, OH where he has served as a five-term City Councilperson.
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