W. E. B. Du Bois: A Life of Critical Engagement

Photo of W.E.B. Du Bois

The Havens Wright Center for Social Justice is hosting Michael Burawoy to give a series of lectures about the life of W. E. B. Du Bois.

  1. Critical Engagement vs. Public Sociology. Tuesday, April 2 at 2:00 – 3:30 pm
  2. Race, Class and Capitalism. Thursday, April 4 at 3:00 – 4:30 pm
  3. Decolonizing the Canon. Wednesday, April 10 at 12:00 – 1:30 pm
  4. Black Marxism. Friday, April 12 at 12:00 – 1:30 pm

Each of these lectures will take place in the Sewell Social Science Building in room 8417. It will also be possible to attend these lectures virtually; links are forthcoming.

W. E. B. Du Bois (1868-1963) was one of the great US public intellectuals of the 20th century. Educated at Fisk, Harvard (first African American PhD), and the University of Berlin, he became a leading historian and sociologist. As a literary figure he was a novelist, critic and a poet as well as for 24 years (1910-1934) the founder and editor of The Crisis, the popular magazine of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. As a political activist he was a socialist, a Pan-Africanist, a civil rights advocate, and a leader of the international peace movement. For much of his life and afterwards, his race, his intellectual scope, and his intrepid independent radicalism marginalized him within the academic world. His public stances against imperialism and capitalism would make him an enemy of the US state, leading him to take up exile in Ghana for the last two years of his life. While other disciplines have engaged his life and work, sociology has been slow to adopt him and when they have, their attention has been focused on his early, more conservative writings rather than his later Marxism. The lectures will address the significance of the totality of his oeuvre, how and why they shift over the 20th century and with what implications for contemporary social science.

For nearly 50 years Michael Burawoy taught sociology at the University of California, Berkeley. He has been an ethnographer of workplaces in the US, Zambia, Hungary and Russia. In various books, including The Color of Class on the Copper Mines (1972), Manufacturing Consent (1979), The Politics of Production (1985), The Radiant Past (with Janos Lukács) (1992), Public Sociology (2021), he has advanced theories of advanced capitalism, state socialism and postcolonialism, while developing the distinctive methodology of The Extended Case Method (2009).