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Week 4—Subaltern counterpublics

Week 4—Subaltern counterpublics

Main reading: Yeh (2012); Leonardo (2012)

Other reading: Bonilla and Rosa (2015)

This week, we will continue our discussion of publics and counterpublics.

For reflection: What is another empirical example of a counterpublic? What do you know about it? How did you learn about it? How is the situation in which you find it similar or dissimiliar to the one described by Yeh (2012) or Leonardo (2012)?

What is the vast despair?

W. E. B. DuBois writes:

A people thus handicapped [by systematic inequality] ought not to be asked to race with the world, but rather allowed to give all its time and thought to its own social problems. But alas! while sociologists gleefully count his bastards and his prostitutes, the very soul of the toiling, sweating black man is darkened by the shadow of a vast despair. (DuBois 1903, 9)

How do you interpret this? What is the vast despair?


Bonilla, Yarimar, and Jonathan Rosa. 2015. “#Ferguson: Digital Protest, Hashtag Ethnography, and the Racial Politics of Social Media in the United States.” American Ethnologist 42 (1): 4–17. https://doi.org/10.1111/amet.12112.

Du Bois, W. E. B. 1903. “Of Our Spiritual Strivings.” In The Souls of Black Folk: Essays and Sketches, 1–12. Chicago: A. C. McClurg.

Leonardo, Micaela Di. 2012. “Grown Folks Radio: U.S. Election Politics and a ‘Hidden’ Black Counterpublic.” American Ethnologist 39 (4): 661–72. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1548-1425.2012.01386.x.

Yeh, Rihan. 2012. “Two Publics in a Mexican Border City.” Cultural Anthropology 27 (4): 713–34. https://www.jstor.org/stable/23360323.

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