Today is the official release/publication date of my book I coedited with Paul Mocombe: “Reconstructing the Social Sciences and Humanities: Anténor Firmin, Western Intellectual Tradition, and Black Atlantic Tradition” (Routledge, 2021).
Good people & friends: this is the first academic book in the English language on the writings and ideas of the great Haitian anthropologist, Egyptologist, and global thinker Joseph Anténor Firmin.
In 1885, Firmin published “The Equality of the Human Races: Positive Anthropology,” a path-breaking (scientific) book at the emergence of the field of anthropology in the West. This interdisciplinary and ambitious text interrogates Eurocentric epistemologies and theories of knowledge, as well as the Eurocentric view of human history, universal civilization, and the concept of race—as observed in the intellectual and scientific writings of European thinkers and writers. Firmin rejected the contemporary belief and foundational intellectual systems associated with the origin of Western civilization and the beginning of Europe. He challenged the ideological construction of Western Social Sciences and the Humanities and their corresponding paradigms and intellectual foundations. Also, Firmin interrogated the conventional boundaries of research methods in the social sciences and humanities in the eighteenth century and the nineteenth century, respectively—although the social sciences came to be recognized as distinct disciplines of thought until the nineteenth century.
According to Firmin, the West is not the telos of human history nor does Europe define what it means to be human and have dignity. By doing so, he rejected the radical doctrine of his time about the natural superiority of the White/Aryan race and the natural inferiority of the Black race. In other words, for Firmin, Western civilization is not the end of human reason and that the belief in racial hierarchies and the division of the races according to their intelligence and achievement in global history contradicts the very nature of positive anthropology and what we know scientifically and epistemologically about evolutionary theory connected to scientific evolution and knowledge, the complexity of human nature, and the origin of human beings in the world. He was the first “Black anthropologist” and “Black Egyptologist” to do so in 1885. Arguably, Joseph Anténor Firmin is the forgotten founding father of Western anthropology and the neglected founding father of Black anthropology. For Firmin, all the races are naturally equal and “Tous les hommes sont l’homme.”
*** Do not forget to order the book, recommend it to your friends and libraries, and assign it in your courses!