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John Drabinski

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Professor, English

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Research Expertise

African American/African Diaspora

John E. Drabinski is Visiting Professor jointly appointed in the Department of English and the Department of African American Studies. He the author of four books, most recently Glissant and the Middle Passage: Philosophy, Beginning, Abyss (Minnesota 2019) and Levinas and the Postcolonial: Race, Nation, Other (Edinburgh 2012; winner of the Frantz Fanon Book Prize from the Caribbean Philosophical Association), editor of a half-dozen volumes on key figures in Atlantic thought, and has published dozens of articles of post-structuralist and black Atlantic critical theory. He is completing a book-length study of James Baldwin entitled ‘So Unimaginable a Price’: Baldwin and the Black Atlantic and a short work on the idea of “the afro-postmodern” tentatively titled What is the Afro-Postmodern?

His teaching works at the intersections of critical theory, cultural studies, and vernacular culture and politics. In particular, he is interested in how vernacular cultural practices operate as forms of resistance and world making in afro-Caribbean and African-American traditions with focus on figures such as Alain Locke, Suzanne Césaire, Édouard Glissant, James Baldwin, Albert Murray, Angela Davis, and others.

Drabinski holds an A.B. (1991) in Philosophy and English from Seattle University and a M.A. (1993) and PhD (1996) in Philosophy from University of Memphis, where he was trained in post-structuralist thought and the foundations of critical race theory. He was formerly Charles Hamilton Houston 1915 Professor of Black Studies at Amherst College and was a fellow at The W.E.B. Du Bois Institute at Harvard University in 2013-1014. He maintains a professional website jdrabinski.com, at which you can read about his research interests, teaching experience, and current writing projects.

Publications

Glissant and the Middle Passage: Philosophy, Beginning, Abyss

A reevaluation of Édouard Glissant that centers on the catastrophe of the Middle Passage and creates deep, original theories of trauma and Caribbeanness

English

Lead: John Drabinski
Dates:

Glissant and the Middle Passage establishes Édouard Glissant’s proper place as a key theorist of ruin, catastrophe, abyss, and memory. Identifying his insistence on memories and histories tied to place as the crucial geography at the heart of his work, this book imparts an innovative new response to the specific historical experiences of the Middle Passage.

Learn more about Glissant and the Middle Passage.

Levinas and the Postcolonial: Race, Nation, Other

The idea of the Other is central to both Levinas' philosophy and to postcolonialism, but they both apply the concept in different ways.

English

Lead: John Drabinski
Dates:

Now, John Drabinski asks what we can learn from reading Levinas alongside postcolonial theories of difference. Drawing on the works of Gayatri Spivak, Homi Bhabha, Edouard Glissant and Subcommandante Marcos, he rethinks ideas of difference, language, subjectivity, ethics and politics.

Edinburgh 2012; winner of the Frantz Fanon Book Prize from the Caribbean Philosophical Association.