Deborah Thomas

Andrew W. Mellon Penn Faculty Fellow in the Humanities

20132014 Forum on Violence

Deborah Thomas

Professor of Anthropology and Africana Studies

The Problem with Violence: Exceptionality, Politics, and Prophecy in the New World

Often we have imagined alternative formations of the political among black Atlantic populations in terms of how they exceed the boundaries of the nation. I have been interested, however, in thinking about other avenues for political potentiality. As such, I have begun to ethnohistorically explore the relationships among race, religion, and notions of sovereignty with a (now largely disbanded) community called the International Peacemakers Association, established by the Reverend Claudius Henry in Jamaica in 1968. I am interested in how Henry's reconceptualization of the liberal democratic state might provide us with a way to imagine how repositioning contemporary problems, such as political violence, within the framework of prophetic redemption may generate new insights into the foundational parameters of New World phenomena.