Black Prometheus: Race and Radicalism in the Age of Atlantic Slavery

ISBN : 9780190272586

Jared Hickman
448 ページ
156 x 235 mm

Black Prometheus addresses the specific conditions under and the pointed implications with which an ancient story about different orders of gods dueling over the fate of humanity became such a prominent fixture of Atlantic modernity. The Prometheus myth, for several reasons-its fortuitous geographical associations with both Africa and the Caucasus; its resonant iconography of bodily suffering; and its longue duree function as a limit case for a Platonic-cum-Christian political theology of the Absolute, became a crucial site for conceptualizing human liberation in the immanent space of a finite globe structured by white domination and black slavery. The titan's defiant theft of fire from the regnant gods was translated through a high-stakes racial coding either as an "African" revolt against the cosmic status quo that augured a pure autonomy, a black revolutionary immanence against which idealist philosophers like Hegel defined their projects and slaveholders defended their lives and positions. Or as a "Caucasian" reflection of the divine power evidently working in favor of Euro-Christian civilization that transmuted the naked egoism of conquest into a righteous heteronomy-Euro-Christian civilization's mobilization by the Absolute or its internalization of a transcendent principle of universal Reason. The Prometheus myth was available and attractive to its eighteenth- and nineteenth-century revivalists and reinventors-from canonical figures like Voltaire, Percy Shelley, Frederick Douglass, and Karl Marx to anonymous contributors of ephemera to abolitionist periodicals-not so much as a handy emblem of an abstract humanism but as the potential linchpin of a racialist philosophy of history.


Introduction Black Prometheus: Race and Radicalism in the Age of Atlantic Slavery
Chapter 1 Globalization and the Gods: A Theory of Race and--or as--Modernity
Chapter 2 The Terms of Prometheus's Liberation: Romanticism, Slavery, and the Titan's Triumph
Chapter 3 Africa versus the Absolute Idealism and Its Others
Chapter 4 The Afro-Promethean Science of the Stars
Chapter 5 Re-binding Prometheus to the Caucasus: Idealism's Other Solution
Chapter 6 Imam Shamil or, the Modern Prometheus of Caucasus
Chapter 7 Rebellious Fictions: Black Prometheus and the Undoing of the Novelistic Form
Chapter 8 Byronic Abolitionism


Jared Hickman is Assistant Professor of English at Johns Hopkins University.