Black Skin, Red Masks: Racism, Communism and the Quest of Subjectivity in Ralph Ellison’ Invisible Man
This essay aims at proposing a study of Ralph Ellison’s novel Invisible Man (1952), where the author focuses on the difficult journey of black intellectuals in quest for a strong black identity in post-war America. The theoretical reflection in this paper is based, in a first phase, on the philosophical and political perspectives of thinkers such as Jean-Paul Sartre, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Frantz Fanon, whose works and debates have articulated an important source to understand the quest of subjectivity and intellectual consciousness in the 1950s, a period marked not only by the emergence of civil rights movement and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but also the progressive replacement of Communism by alternative emancipatory currents such as existentialism, postcolonialism and (post-) structuralism. From this discussion, the essay indicates, how (post-) Marxist thinkers, like Etienne Balibar, investigate the limits of the a priori paradigms promoted by the traditional humanistic (natural law-positive law) and communist narratives (alienation-emancipation), which lack conceptual and historical efficacy when it comes to understand and respond to new (bio-capitalist) forms of discrimination, which constantly evolve according to the epoch and the place.
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