Call for Submissions: “Anténor Firmin, Western Intellectual Tradition, and Black Atlantic Thought and Culture”


Here is a call for submissions for a collection of critical essays—Reconstructing the Social Sciences and Humanities: Anténor Firmin, Western Intellectual Tradition, and Black Atlantic Thought and Culture (edited by Celucien Joseph and Paul Camy Mocombe). This volume offers a reexamination of the work of Haitian anthropologist, journalist, and politician Joseph Auguste Anténor Firmin—better known as Anténor Firmin—and its significance for contemporary research. It explores various dimensions of Firmin’s role as theorist, anthropologist, cultural critic, public intellectual, diplomat, political scientist, pan-Africanist, and humanist.

Description: Joseph Anténor Firmin (1850-1911) was the reigning public intellectual and political critic in Haiti in the nineteenth-century. Firmin was the first “Black anthropologist” and “Black Egyptologist” to deconstruct Western interpretation of global history and challenge the ideological construction of human nature and theories of knowledge in Western social sciences and the humanities—through his interdisciplinary tour-de-force De l’égalité des races humaines (anthropologie positive) (1885), translated in the English language as The Equality of the Human Races: Positivist Anthropology (2002) by Asselin Charles. In this seminal monograph, Firmin interrogated the conventional boundaries of research methods in the social sciences and humanities in the eighteenth-century and nineteenth-century, respectively—although the social sciences came to be recognized as distinct disciplines of thought until the nineteenth-century. His research was influenced by the philosophy of positivism, grounded in the ideas of the French philosopher Auguste Comte (1798–1857), to critique the traditional approaches to and the contemporary theories of human origin, civilization, history, culture, and research representation. As the 18th-century Scottish empiricist David Hume, Firmin was correspondingly concerned about the “relations of ideas” in the scientific inquiry and the underlying fundamental notions and objectives of various fields or disciplines of knowledge of that era. His political theory about the constitution of the nation-states and the formation of modern societies were equally driven by the political and sociological methods and theories of that period; yet, Firmin was discontent about the ideological impulses and epistemological presuppositions of these cultural-political phenomena and dynamics.

Through his other intellectual, political, and diplomatic writings and commentaries—such as Haïti au point de vue politique, administratif et économique : conférence faite au Grand cercle de Paris (1891), Haïti et la France (1891), Une défense (1892), Diplomate et diplomatie : lettre ouverte à M. Solon Ménos (1899), M. Roosevelt, président des États-Unis et la République d’Haïti (1905), Lettres de Saint Thomas. Études sociologiques, historiques et littéraires (1910), and L’effort dans le mal (1911) — Firmin’s intellectual motif was animated by a spirit of dispassionate and rational inquiry. He articulated an alternative way to study global historical trajectories, the political life, human societies and interactions, and the diplomatic relations and dynamics between the nations and the races. The sociological dimension of Firmin’s thought not only reassesses the history of the social thought of his period, but stresses the complex factors and forces that contributed to the (economic) development of human societies and cultures, and the concept of advanced and less-advanced civilizations in the modern world. For example, Firmin’s revisionist history makes a clarion call to acknowledge the “Black Genesis” of human origin and the manifold contribution of pre-colonial Africa to universal civilization and human flourishing, in both ancient history and modern history. The Firminian turn in social sciences and the humanities, and in anthropology in particular was a discursive discourse that questioned the ideological premises of theories of knowledge and the myth of a “superior race,” and the logic of Western interpretation of global history and the historical narrative about ancient African history and culture.

This Call for Papers is an attempt to meditate intellectually on the intellectual life, writings, and the legacy of Joseph Anténor Firmin. This project not only presents Firmin as a deconstructionist of the social sciences and humanities and theories of knowledge articulated in Western history of ideas and social thought of his era; it also accentuates his manifold contribution to these distinct fields of thought. [. . .]

If you would like to contribute a book chapter to this important volume, along with your CV, please submit a 300-word abstract by Wednesday, June 27, 2018, to Dr. Celucien Joseph at, and Dr. Paul Mocombe at

Successful applicants will be notified of acceptance on Wednesday, July 25, 2018. The first chapter draft is due Wednesday, November 28, 2018. The 17th edition of the Chicago Manual of Style is required. We are looking for original and unpublished essays for this book. Translations of Firmin’s writings in the English language are also welcome. [. . .]

For more information, see post by Celucien Joseph at


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