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Abstract

There has been a recent revival of black aesthetics unprecedented since the 1960s. Some is happening inside academic philosophy, including in this journal (Volume 7, 2009). But there are more examples of black esthetics across other disciplines. A key, controversial concept in transdisciplinary black aesthetics is autonomy. Modern Western aesthetics was racist when it was established in the eighteenth century because blacks were not considered to be capable of autonomy, necessary to have taste. Now that this anti-black racism has been exposed, but until critics are convinced that aesthetics today is free of such racism, autonomy will be viewed as an ideological disguise for racism and even black aesthetics will be under suspicion. Simon Gikandi details the anti-black racism of early aesthetics yet argues at the same time that there was a black counter-aesthetic enacting its relative autonomy. I show that relative autonomy is enacted throughout modern and contemporary black art and aesthetics.

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