Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: April 25, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963879 | Print ISBN: 9781412926942 | Online ISBN: 9781412963879| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Meghan A. Burke
The term double consciousness is used in reference to W. E. B. Du Bois's The Souls of Black Folk, when referring to a dual awareness developed by Black Americans in the United States: knowledge of one's own individual identity, as well as knowledge about how one will be read through a racial lens. This duality is also frequently interpreted as a dual and sometimes conflicting sense of being both American and not fully American, and likewise as the dual sense of being both American and African. Each interpretation has had its own trajectory in U.S. and international philosophy and thought, but they all reference the same basic theme of contradiction and complexity in the African American experience, as this entry describes. The phrase double consciousness itself stemmed from a passage in the first chapter of Du Bois's The Souls of Black Folk, called “Of Our Spiritual Strivings.” In this selves—American ...