Cosmopolitanism within a Nation : Alain Locke's Cosmopolitanism and The New Negro

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  • アメリカ国内のコスモポリタニズム : アラン・ロックのコスモポリタニズムから読み直すThe New Negro
  • アメリカ コクナイ ノ コスモポリタニズム : アラン ・ ロック ノ コスモポリタニズム カラ ヨミナオス The New Negro

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Abstract

Alain Locke (1885-1954), a seminal African American intellectual of the early twentieth century, is today best known as a midwife of the Harlem Renaissance and editor of The New Negro (1925). His multi-faceted contributions to the artistic and intellectual landscape of the Harlem Renaissance are widely recognized, but the depth of his philosophy-specially his pragmatism, cosmopolitanism, and multiculturalism-remains underappreciated. This essay aims to fill that gap by examining Locke's philosophical works, arguing that cosmopolitanism is an important philosophical foundation both for Locke and The New Negro. In addition, this essay seeks to provide a detailed account of Locke's relationship with Horace Kallen, another important philosopher of cultural pluralism, and William James, a pragmatist philosopher. Their relationships reveal the way in which Locke's cosmopolitanism builds on the cultural pluralism fostered by these important philosophers. The beginning of this article investigates why Locke's cosmopolitanism has been misunderstood for a long time. One reason is that the term "cosmopolitanism" in the early-to-mid twentieth-century was associated with the ideal of the universal human community, one that requires a person to transcend all particular racial, ethnic, and local differences and divisions. This sense of cosmopolitanism was problematic for African Americans; cosmopolitanism for African Americans meant abandoning their racial differences and assimilating into the dominant group. As a result, at the time when Locke articulated his ideal of cosmopolitanism, he was criticized by other African American artists and critics for espousing cosmopolitanism as an assimilation strategy. However, this was only a partial understanding of Locke's cosmopolitanism. By closely examining his unpublished manuscript "Cosmopolitanism" (1908), this essay reveals that, rather than theorizing cosmopolitanism as a way to assimilation, Locke created what can be called multicultural cosmopolitanism (or critical cosmopolitanism). Locke's cosmopolitanism articulates a vision of a multicultural America, in which ethnic and racial differences are part of a shared national community. Locke's critical cosmopolitanism, in this sense, resonates with Horace Kallen's "cultural pluralism," which rejected the melting pot theory and expectations of conformity during the great wave of European immigration. By juxtaposing Locke with other contemporary multiculturalists in this way, this essay analyzes what is unique about Locke's cosmopolitanism. The latter half of this essay argues that Locke's theory of multicultural cosmopolitanism opens up a new understanding of The New Negro. Traditionally, critics have identified this anthology as a cultural nationalist text that forged a new racial consciousness among African Americans. At the same time, however, the scope of The New Negro is actually far larger. In this anthology, Locke collects a variety of contributions that support his view of multicultural cosmopolitanism. Among the selections in The New Negro, John Matheus's short story "Fog," winner of the 1925 Opportunity prize, is of great importance for this essay. The story foregrounds American cultural pluralism-or what Locke calls a "cosmopolitanism within a nation" and "unity through diversity"-in the context of the modern urban landscape. Describing a variety of immigrants and racial minorities sitting side by side in a single train car, "Fog" represents Locke's multicultural-cosmopolitanism that sought an inter-racial, inter-ethnic, and intercultural communication.

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