Gurminder K Bhambra
BA (Sussex), MA (LSE), DPhil (Sussex)
Professor of Sociology
Visiting Fellow (2014-15), Department of Sociology
Princeton University and Visitor at the Institute for Advanced Study
R2.35, Ramphal Building
**NEW ARTICLE** A Sociological Dilemma: Race, Segregation, and US Sociology
Abstract: US sociology has been historically segregated in that, at least until the 1960s, there were two distinct institutionally organized traditions of sociological thought – one black and one white. For the most part, however, dominant historiographies have been silent on that segregation and, at best, reproduce it when addressing the US sociological tradition. This is evident in the rarity with which scholars such as WEB Du Bois, E Franklin Frazier, Oliver Cromwell Cox, or other ‘African American Pioneers of Sociology’, as Saint-Arnaud calls them, are presented as core sociological voices within histories of the discipline. This article addresses the absence of African American sociologists from the US sociological canon and, further, discusses the implications of this absence for our understanding of core sociological concepts. With regard to the latter, the article focuses in particular on the debates around equality and emancipation and discusses the ways in which our understanding of these concepts could be extended by taking into account the work of African American sociologists and their different interpretations of core themes.
- My research addresses how, within sociological understandings of modernity, the experiences and claims of non-European ‘others’ have been rendered invisible to the dominant narratives and analytical frameworks of sociology. In challenging the dominant, Eurocentred accounts of the emergence and development of modernity, I have put forward an argument for the recognition of ‘connected histories’ in the reconstruction of historical sociology at a global level. While my research interests are primarily in the area of postcolonial historical sociology, I am also interested in the intersection of the social sciences more generally with recent work in postcolonial studies. For further details, see:
- 2007 Rethinking Modernity: Postcolonialism and the Sociological Imagination Palgrave MacMillan: Basingstoke.
- 2007 Sociology and Postcolonialism: Another “Missing” Revolution? Sociology Special Issue: ‘Sociology and its Public Face(s)’ 41(5): 871-84.
- 2011 Historical Sociology, Modernity, and Postcolonial Critique American Historical Review 116 (3): 653-662
- These arguments have been further developed in the context of understandings of ‘global sociology’. This involves engagement not just with the changing conceptual architecture of globalisation, but also with recognition of the epistemological value and agency of the world beyond the west. I suggest that it is only by acknowledging the significance of the 'colonial global' in the constitution of sociology historically, that it is possible to understand and address the postcolonial (and decolonial) present of a ‘global sociology’. For further details, see:
- 2013 ‘The Possibilities of, and for, Global Sociology’ Political Power and Social Theory Vol 24, pp295-314
- 2012 Reframing Colonialism and Modernity: An Endeavour through Sociology and Literature Journal of Contemporary Thought summer pp78-81
- 2011 ‘Cosmopolitanism and the Postcolonial Condition' in Maria Rovisco and Magdalena Nowicka (eds) The Ashgate Companion to Cosmopolitanism. Aldershot: Ashgate.
- A related strand of my research engages with the African American tradition in US sociology. The rarity with which scholars such as WEB Du Bois, E. Franklin Frazier, Oliver Cromwell Cox, or other ‘African American Pioneers of Sociology’ (as Saint-Arnaud calls them) are presented as core sociological voices within university curricula is a matter of great significance from the point of view of histories of our discipline. However, it is not simply an issue of the presence of African American sociologists, but how mainstream sociological concepts have been structured in the absence of an address of African American sociology and its different interpretation of canonical themes. For further details, see:
- 2014 A Sociological Dilemma: Race, Segregation, and US Sociology Current Sociology
- 2011 Tocqueville, Beaumont and the Silences in Histories of the United States: An Interdisciplinary Endeavour across Literature and Sociology Journal of Historical Sociology 24 (1): 116-131 (co-authored with Victoria Margree)
- More recently, I have begun to address contemporary understandings of citizenship, arguing that citizenship is not only to be understood in terms of abstract categories and the contemporary struggles to achieve it, but also in terms of the historical narratives that frame its conceptualisation. Following Said, I suggest that the failure to address the historical complexity that is the condition for the emergence of conceptual categories leads to a problematic contemporary politics; including, in this case, a problematic politics of citizenship. I focus on the histories of indigeneity and settler colonialism as well as enslavement and forced labour as constituting the wider context for the emergence of ideas and practices of modern citizenship. Publications from this theme are currently in process.
Other Recent Publications
(For full details of my publications, click here).
- 2012 The Attack on Education as a Social Right South Atlantic Quarterly April 111 (2): 392-401 (co-authored with John Holmwood)
- 2011 Talking among Themselves? Weberian and Marxist Historical Sociologies as Dialogues without “Others” Millennium: Journal of International Studies 39 (3): 667-681
- Director of the Social Theory Centre
- Series Editor of 'Theory for a Global Age', Bloomsbury Academic
Gurminder welcomes applications for doctoral supervision in her areas of expertise.
Current students supervised:
- Carl Mallett ‘Cross-Racial Solidarities: a Sociological Examination and Analysis’
- Roxanne Burke 'Race in Modernity: The Dialectic of Possession and Dispossession'
- Katy Harsant 'Responsibility and Human Rights'
- Martina Paone 'From Civilizing Mission to Civilian Power: Rethinking EU Peacebuilding from a Postcolonial perspective'
Past students supervised:
- Rodrigo Cordero Vega 'Diremptions of the social: The ideas of crisis and critique in contemporary social theory'
Passed October 2011
- Lucy Mayblin 'Historical Institutional Orders and the Development of British Asylum Policy'
Passed May 2013
Nov 2014 ‘Connected Sociologies: From Modernity to Postcolonial Critique’ Annual Edward Westermarck Memorial Lecture, Helsinki, Finland
Mar 2015 ‘Empire and Sociology: Postcolonial Reconstructions’ Annual Marshall Lecture, University of Southampton
Epistemologies of the South, ERC Project
Keynote on Rethinking Epistemologies - listen here.
Citizens and Others: Beyond Orientalism
Talk at the Symposium on 'Deorientalising Citizenship?' - listen here.
Whose Island Story?
Roundtable discussion on competing narratives of what constitutes British history - listen here.
I contributed to Radio 4's programme, Thinking Allowed, on 'Black Emancipation' - listen here.
Postcolonialism: An Interdisciplinary Dialogue
Together with Prof Shirin Rai (Politics & International Studies) and Prof Neil Lazarus (English & Comparative Literatures), I took part in a roundtable discussion on 'Postcolonialism'. The podcast of this discussion is available here.
'Theory for a Global Age' Series
Department of Sociology
University of Warwick
Coventry, CV4 7AL
Tel: +44 (0)24 765 28178
Fax: +44 (0)24 765 23497