Beyond Bergson

Examining Race and Colonialism through the Writings of Henri Bergson

Edited by Andrea J. Pitts & Mark William Westmoreland
Foreword by Leonard Lawlor

Subjects: Philosophy, Postcolonial Studies, Feminist Philosophy, French Studies, African Studies
Series: SUNY series, Philosophy and Race
Hardcover : 9781438473512, 274 pages, May 2019
Paperback : 9781438473529, 274 pages, January 2020

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents

Foreword: The Hope for this Volume: Sympathy
Leonard Lawlor


Introduction: Creative Extensions
Andrea J. Pitts and Mark William Westmoreland

Part I. Bergson on Colonialism, Social Groups, and the State

1. Decolonizing Bergson: The Temporal Schema of the Open and the Closed
Alia Al-Saji

2. The Language of Closure: Homogeneity, Exclusion, and the State
Martin Shuster

3. The Politics of Sympathy in Bergson’s The Two Sources of Morality and Religion
Melanie White

Part II. Bergsonian Themes in the Négritude Movement

4. Bergson, Senghor, and the Philosophical Foundations of Negritude: Intellect, Intuition, and Knowledge
Clevis Headley

5. The Spectacle of Belonging: Henri Bergson’s Comic Negro and the (Im)possibility of Place in the Colonial Metropolis
Annette K. Joseph-Gabriel

Part III. Race, Revolution, and Bergsonism in Latin America

6. Racial Becomings: Evolution, Materialism, and Bergson in Spanish America
Adriana Novoa

7. Bergsonism in Postrevolutionary Mexico: Antonio Caso’s Theory of Aesthetic Intuition
Andrea J. Pitts

8. Antagonism and Myth: Jose Carlos Mariategui’s Revolutionary Bergsonism
Jaime Hanneken

List of Contributors

Examines Bergson’s work from the perspectives of critical philosophy of race and decolonial theory, placing it in conversation with theorists from Africa, the African Diaspora, and Latin America.


Building upon recent interest in Henri Bergson's social and political philosophy, this volume offers a series of fresh and novel perspectives on Bergson's writings through the lenses of critical philosophy of race and decolonial theory. Contributors place Bergson's work in conversation with theorists from Africa, the African Diaspora, and Latin America to examine Bergson's influence on literature, science studies, aesthetics, metaphysics, and social and political philosophy within these geopolitical contexts. The volume pays particular attention to both theoretical and practical forms of critical resistance work, including historical analyses of anti-racist, anti-imperialist, and anti-capitalist movements that have engaged with Bergson's writings—for example, the Négritude movement, the Indigenismo movement, and the Peruvian Socialist Party. These historical and theoretical intersections provide a timely and innovative contribution to the existing scholarship on Bergson, and demonstrate the importance of his thought for contemporary social and political issues.

Andrea J. Pitts is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. Mark William Westmoreland is a doctoral candidate and instructor of ethics and philosophy at Villanova University.


"I found each of the authors' contributions to be valuable and insightful … this book would make an invaluable contribution to the library of any Bergson scholar, and those interested in the philosophy of race, or philosophy of liberation, among others. " — John W. August III, Eidos

"This is a valuable resource for scholars of Bergson, race, and colonialism. " — CHOICE

"This is an exceptionally strong volume that excites and inspires the philosophical imagination; it shows the centrality of questions of race and gender to philosophical inquiry and appropriation. " — Keith Ansell-Pearson, author of Bergson: Thinking Beyond the Human Condition