The Revolution Will Not Be Theorised: Du Bois, Locke, and the Howard School’s Challenge to White Supremacist IR Theory

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This article briefly examines the contributions to International Relations (IR) theory of W.E.B. Du Bois and Alain Locke. Taking as a point of departure the recent work of Robert Vitalis1 on the ‘Howard School’ of IR of which these two were prominently associated, I both embrace and challenge Vitalis’ thesis on the importance of these two African American scholars to the academic field of IR. Embracing Vitalis’ invaluable articulation of the Howard School’s critique of white supremacist arguments prevalent in IR at its founding and well beyond, I also challenge Vitalis’ apparent disassociation of these scholars from the formulation of IR theory. Instead, I discuss how Du Bois and Locke provided some of the earliest theoretical arguments on the role of ‘national imperialism’ in modern war, as well as theses of cultural change and its impact on international relations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)492-510
Number of pages19
JournalMillennium: Journal of International Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations

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