Race-ing the Canon

American Icons, From Thomas Jefferson to Alain Locke

Authored by: Jacoby Adeshei Carter

The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Race

Print publication date:  December  2017
Online publication date:  November  2017

Print ISBN: 9780415711234
eBook ISBN: 9781315884424
Adobe ISBN:


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The American racial canon does not lie in some pristine past waiting to be discovered. Instead, the canon is what it has been made to be; which has in part to do with what its contributors have intended it to be, though it is not exclusively that, in part to do with what it has and is currently understood to be, and in part to do with what its current interpreters and contributors both understand and intend it to be in the future. Canons are in a sense a codification of an intellectual tradition. In this regard they share with intellectual traditions the fact of being constructions; that is, canons do not exist ready-made. To be sure, there need be no prevailing consensus on any of these points, which is to say that canons are as much contested as they are constructed.

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