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The reproduction of canonical silences: re-reading Habermas in the context of slavery and the slave trade

Willems, Wendy ORCID: 0000-0002-9185-4268 (2022) The reproduction of canonical silences: re-reading Habermas in the context of slavery and the slave trade. Communication, Culture & Critique. ISSN 1753-9129

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Identification Number: 10.1093/ccc/tcac047

Abstract

Recent discussions on ‘decolonizing’ knowledge production have often foregrounded the importance of centering ‘marginal’ perspectives, which is crucial but insufficient as it risks leaving the canon untouched. Jürgen Habermas’ book on the bourgeois public sphere is one of the most frequently cited and debated canonical texts in media and communication studies. Drawing on the case of London’s coffee houses and newspapers, this article argues for a critical re-engagement with canonical thinkers. It examines what the emergence of a bourgeois public sphere in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Britain looks like if we re-read it within the context of slavery and the slave trade. The article demonstrates that race does not simply provide another ‘prism’ to examine the bourgeois public sphere but instead enables and is constitutive of it. The reproduction of canonical silences through the continued circulation of influential texts has implications for how we conceptualize racialized publics in contemporary times.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: https://academic.oup.com/ccc
Additional Information: © 2022 The Author
Divisions: Media and Communications
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
Date Deposited: 14 Nov 2022 17:00
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2023 16:09
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/117338

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