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Chapter 21 - Science and Technology

from Part IV - Philosophy

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 June 2021

Michaël Roy
Affiliation:
Université Paris Nanterre
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Summary

This essay explores Frederick Douglass’s lifelong engagement with science and technology. In line with other historians, it argues that while Douglass mounted a decades-long critique of scientific racism, he often reified negative racial stereotypes when repurposing racial science for integrationist ends. The essay also highlights Douglass’s emphasis on the liberatory potential of new technologies like steamboats, the telegraph, and photography. In an age enthralled with science and technology, Douglass framed technology’s emancipatory potential as an antidote to antiblack scientific racism. In doing so, he refused to allow scientific knowledge, vis-à-vis scientific racism, to be viewed primarily as a tool for black oppression and instead cast science as a source of black liberation.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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