W. E. B. Du Bois’ Scholarship and the Case for Canonization

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 13:30
Oral Presentation
Aldon MORRIS, Northwestern University, USA
Aldon Morris’s study, The Scholar Denied, significantly rewrites the history of modern sociology by revealing the primacy of W. E. B. Du Bois’ work in the founding of the discipline. Calling into question the prevailing narrative of how American scientific sociology developed, Morris probes the ways in which the history of the discipline has traditionally given credit for the founding of scientific sociology to Robert E. Park, who worked with the conservative black leader Booker T. Washington and to the Chicago School of Sociology. However, by using power and racial privilege, these forces rendered Du Bois’ groundbreaking scientific sociology and his Atlantic School invisible. Morris uncovers the seminal theoretical work of Du Bois in developing a “scientific” sociology through his pioneering of a variety of innovative empirical methodologies and examines how the leading scholars of the day disparaged and ignored Du Bois’ work. Morris’ presentation will be based on The Scholar Denied which is anchored in extensive, rigorous primary source research. In so doing, Morris sheds new light on the role that power, economics, and ideology play in the production and transmission of knowledge. By placing Du Bois’ work at the center of sociology over a century ago, Morris’ presentation will make a powerful argument that Du Bois’ body of sociology works need to be canonized. Only through such canonization can contemporary scholars discover and reclaim the intellectual bounty embedded in Du Bois’ wide ranging scholarship.