Obama as Text: The Crisis of Double-Consciousness

Obama as Text: The Crisis of Double-Consciousness

Comparative American Studies
Volume 10, Issue 2/3 (August 2012)
pages 211-225
DOI: 10.1179/1477570012Z.00000000016

Simon Gikandi, Robert Schirmer Professor of English
Princeton University

The argument of this essay is that given the unique circumstances of his life, including his location in multiple spaces of cultural identity, Obama is an indeterminate signifier. To textualize Obama, we must account for how the narrative of his life is structured by need and demand as he tries to comprehend his own location and dislocation in American culture and to give meaning to the gap between the idea of what he is and what others assume him to be. In this regard, Obama is probably the quintessential subject of what W. E. B. Du Bois famously described as ‘double-consciousness’.

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