Black History is World History. Speaker – Daniel James, TU Dresden

Thursday 26th October

Join speaker Dr Daniel James for a public philosophy event titled ‘Black History is World History’, in celebration of Black History Month.


In the face of Hegel’s assertion that Africa had no historical significance, numerous black intellectuals have reappropriated his philosophy to challenge and reshape his ideas. One such transformative figure is historian and Marxist theorist C. L. R. James. James’s journey into Hegel’s speculative thought began with his exploration of the Haitian Revolution in “The Black Jacobins” in 1971. He saw, in Hegel’s ideas, the unfulfilled potential for African liberation. A decade later, in “Notes on Dialectics,” he revisited this thought, intertwining it with Hegelian dialectics to reinterpret the history of the labor movement. This talk delves into how James’s Hegel-inspired perspective on world history retroactively influences his portrayal of the Haitian Revolution. His account already serves as a paradigm for his worldview. James posits the Haitian Revolution as a world-historical event that transcends its French counterpart, universalizing the Enlightenment’s freedom ideal beyond Europe. In doing so, he subverts Hegel by positioning the struggles and triumphs of African descendants at the forefront of global development, rewriting the narrative of freedom’s evolution by placing black quests for universal liberty at its core. Black history is, undeniably, world history.

About the speaker

Dr Daniel James teaches philosophy at Technische Universität Dresden. His research focuses on classical German philosophy (especially Hegel), social philosophy (especially the philosophy of race), and the philosophy of social science. He is also interested in Africana and feminist philosophy, as well as in Marx and Marxism. His forthcoming monograph Hegel and Colonialism (co-authored with Franz Knappik) investigates racism and colonialism in Hegel’s philosophy. He has done empirical work to investigate how talk and thought about ‘race’ and ‘Rasse’ differ in the United States and Germany. He is also exploring how a conception of racism in terms of racialization (as opposed to race) can account for structural racism, with a focus on the European context.

The public philosophy event is organized to celebrate Black History Month. It is kindly sponsored by the Royal Institute of Philosophy. UCL Philosophy is a local partner of the Royal Institute of Philosophy. The event is organized in collaboration with the UCL Sarah Park Remond Centre for the Study for the Study of Racism and Racialisation and the EDI team of UCL Arts & Humanities.

There will be light refreshments after the event. Everyone is warmly welcome.

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