Critical cosmopolitanism and the intellectual work of Alain Locke
Olidge, Kara Tucina
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The purpose of this study is to explore how Alain Locke's educational experiences and sexuality influence his deployment of critical cosmopolitanism in his work as a Negro educator and cultural activist. As an interdisciplinary study, the method of investigation is a historical and intellectual biography constructed through a content analysis of Locke's writings, correspondence, and secondary sources regarding his education and cultural work. In contrast to arguments by Nathan Huggins and Henry Louis Gates Jr. that Locke was an elite integrationist, my research characterizes Locke as an educator and cultural activist whose lifework was to dismantle racial inequality. This research is important because it addresses two key gaps in work on Alain Locke. First, the study examines cosmopolitanism as a philosophical foundation for Locke's work. As praxis, it allows us to understand much of Locke's work as critique and instruction , demonstrating the full measure of how to use lived experiences, history and education as self-problematizing and transformational tools. Second, it re-presents Alain Locke as a black queer educator and cultural activist. This study follows the trajectory of studies of African American intellectuals that examine intersections of race, gender, sexuality and education.