Charisse Burden-Stelly


Charisse is an Assistant Professor of Africana Studies and Political Science at Carleton College. She was the 2016-2017 Postdoctoral Research Fellow in African American Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She received a PhD in African Diaspora Studies in 2016 from the University of California, Berkeley. Her areas of specialization include race and political economy, antiblackness and anti-radicalism, and Black radical political theory. She has published several journal articles including “Culturalism, Development, and the Crisis of Socialist Transformation: Identity, the State, and National Formation in Thomas’s Theory of Dependence and Transformation” (with Percy Hintzen) in the CLR James Journal (Fall 2016) and “Cold War Culturalism and African Diaspora Theory: Some Theoretical Sketches” in SOULS (April–June 2017).

Project Title:

The Radical Horizon of Black Betrayal: Toward a Theory of Antiradical/Antiblack Subjacency

Project Synopsis:

My proposed research project is an interdisciplinary analysis of the response of the U.S. capitalist State Apparatus to political crises that emerged immediately following World War II and continued through the rise of Neoliberalism globally. The project aims to theorize and analyze the inextricability of antiblackness and antiradicalism—what I call antiblack/antiradical subjacency—that is an enduring feature of American nationhood and liberal capitalist modernity. The analysis is primarily focused on the period between 1944-1984, an epoch bookended by the inauguration of the Bretton-Woods system, or embedded liberalism, and the ascendance of Reaganism/Thatcherism and Neoliberalization on a global scale.

The W.E.B. Du Bois Collection, along with the Bertha Strong Cooley Collection, 1901-1949, will be especially useful. Materials from these archives will shed important light on the intersections of antiblackness and capitalist exploitation; forms of radicalism constituted by Pan-Africanism, socialism, antiracism, and anti-capitalism; and the disciplining of the latter in the McCarthy Era. The Aronson collection in particular will also illuminate the special forms of repression to which DuBois and other socialist and antiracist radicals were subjected throughout the 1950s. The Communist Party of Massachusetts Collection, 1924-1954 will also be useful for understanding the McCarthyist foreclosure of civil rights and civil liberties to socialists, communists, and other radicals. Additionally, the voluminous correspondence between W.E.B. Du Bois and other Black radicals, found in Series 1A- General Correspondence, 1877-1965 of the W.E.B. Du Bois Papers, 1803-1984, will present first-hand insight into challenges to racial capitalist exploitation, on the one hand, and the real effects of state repression on the other hand. These archival materials will ground my theory of antiblack/antiradical subjacency.