American Political Thought: An Alternative View, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

American Political Thought

An Alternative View, 1st Edition

Edited by Jonathan Keller, Alex Zamalin


186 pages

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The twenty-first century presents unique political challenges, like increasing concern over racially based police brutality and mass incarceration, continuing economic and gender inequality, the rise of conservative and libertarian politics, and the appropriate role of religion in American politics. Current scholarship in American political thought research neither adequately responds to the contemporary moment in American politics nor fully captures the depth and scope of this rich tradition.

This collection of essays offers an innovative expansion of the American political tradition. By exposing the major ideas and thinkers of the four major yet still underappreciated alternative traditions of American political thought—African American, feminist, radical and conservative—this book challenges the boundaries of American political thinking about such values like freedom, justice, equality, democracy, economy, rights, identity, and the role of the state in American life. These traditions, the various authors show in different ways, not only present a much fuller and more accurate characterization of what counts as American political thought. They are also especially unique for the conceptual resources they provide for addressing contemporary developments in American politics.

Offering an original and substantive interpretation of thinkers and movements, American Political Thought will help students understand how to put American political thought into conversation with contemporary debates in political theory.


'Bringing together an impressive group of scholars, Keller and Zamalin have edited a timely and essential book that elevates several underappreciated writers and thinkers to their rightful place in the history of American political thought. They also make a persuasive case that only by including the ideas of the marginalized--particularly African-Americans, feminists, radicals, and conservatives--can we truly understand the intellectual soul of America.' - Robert J. Lacey, Iona College, author of Pragmatic Conservatism: Edmund Burke and His American Heirs

'Far too many scholars still think of American political thought as a series of variations on classical liberalism and civic republicanism. Jonathan Keller and Alex Zamalin’s American Political Thought: An Alternative View shows us how much more lively the picture really is. Bringing figures such as David Walker, George Fitzhugh, Emma Goldman, and Audre Lorde into the foreground, the book illustrates how radical and conservative, feminist and African American thinkers offered strikingly oppositional visions of the future. This collection remaps American political thought in a most productive way.' - Jack Turner, author of Awakening to Race: Individualism and Social Consciousness in America

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

List of Contributors

Introduction: American Political Thought: An Alternative View

Jonathan Keller and Alex Zamalin

Section I: African-American and Feminist Political Thought

Chapter1: African American Political Thought, Democracy and Freedom

Alex Zamalin

Chapter 2: Culture, Race, and Sovereignty: Problems in Contemporary Black Thought

Utz McKnight

Chapter 3: Audre Lorde and the Poetics of Love In the Movement for Black Lives

Laura Grattan

Chapter 4: Against Nostalgia: The Political Theory of Ida B. Wells

Jill Locke

Chapter 5: Revolutionary Pasts and Transnational Futures: "Home Lessons" from U.S. Radical and Third World Feminisms

Jocelyn M. Boryczka

Section II: Radical American Political Thought

Chapter 6: The Dispossession of the Public and the "Common Benefits" Clause: Working Against Neoliberal Oligarchy through U.S. State Constitutions

Shannon Mariotti

Chapter 7: John Dewey and the Geography of Power

Jason Kosnoski

Chapter 8: Counter-Patriotism and American Radical Politics

Maxwell Burkey

Section III: Conservative Political Thought

Chapter 9: An Alternative Tradition in Conservative Political Economy

Peter Kolozi

Chapter 10: A Rich Tapestry: Varieties of Conservative Jurisprudence

David G. Leitch

Chapter 11: The Christian Right and the American Biblical Tradition

Jonathan Keller

About the Editors

Jonathan Keller is Assistant Professor of Government at Manhattan College. His research is on American political thought, American political development and religion in American politics.

Alex Zamalin is Director of the African American Studies Program and Assistant Professor of Political Science at University of Detroit Mercy. He has written essays on topics such as politics and literature, ethics, social justice, psychoanalysis and race, and race and American politics.

About the Series

Routledge Series on Identity Politics

Group identities have been an important part of political life in America since the founding of the republic. For most of this long history, the central challenge for activists, politicians, and scholars concerned with the quality of U.S. democracy was the struggle to bring the treatment of ethnic and racial minorities and women in line with the creedal values spelled out in the nation’s charters of freedom. We are now several decades from the key moments of the twentieth century when social movements fractured America’s system of ascriptive hierarchy. The gains from these movements have been substantial. Women now move freely in all realms of civil society, hold high elective offices, and constitute more than 50 percent of the workforce. Most African-Americans have now attained middle class status, work in integrated job sites, and live in suburbs. Finally, people of color from nations in Latin America, Asia, and the Caribbean now constitute the majority of America’s immigration pool.

In the midst of all of these positive changes, however, glaring inequalities between groups persist. Indeed, ethnic and racial minorities remain far more likely to be undereducated, unemployed, and incarcerated than their counterparts who identify as white. Similarly, both violence and work place discrimination against women remain rampant in U.S. society. The Routledge series on identity politics features works that seek to understand the tension between the great strides our society has made in promoting equality between groups and the residual effects of the ascriptive hierarchies in which the old order was rooted.

Some of the core questions that the series will address are: how meaningful are the traditional ethnic, gender, racial, and sexual identities to our understanding of inequality in the present historical moment? Do these identities remain important bases for group mobilization in American politics? To what extent can we expect the state to continue to work for a more level playing field among groups?

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / History & Theory
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Ideologies / General