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Sylvia Wynter and the Decolonization of Political Theory

Instructor(s): Adom Getachew, Linda Zerilli
Spring 2023

Beginning in the 1970s, the Cuban-born, Jamaican philosopher Sylvia Wynter has developed a radical critique of the colonial foundations of our conceptions of the “human” even as she has sought to reanimate the meanings and possibilities of humanism. The course tracks the development of her political thinking from its emergence in the context of decolonization in the Caribbean, to her reconsideration of the history of “1492,” and her effort to reinvent humanism. Along the way we will encounter Wynter in a range of genres from the novel and play to the theoretical essays for which she is best known. We will also situate her in relation to her interlocutors in Caribbean political thought and in wider transformations of social and political philosophy. Above all we will be interested in what it means rethink the tasks of political theory with the resources Wynter provides. We will engage, in this regard, examples of contemporary theory that engage Wynter as a critical interlocutor.

PLSC 41111 | CCCT 41111