Dr Nathaniel Coleman

Dr Nathaniel Coleman

Dr Nathaniel Coleman
Senior Teaching Associate

2.02, 10 Priory Road,
11 Priory Road, Clifton, Bristol
BS8 1TU
(See a map)

natcphd@bristol.ac.uk

Telephone Number (0117) 92 88436

School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies

Personal profile

 

Schooled in Oxford (Double First in Greats), Paris (Entente Cordial Scholar), and Michigan (MA and PhD in philosophy), Dr Coleman taught social philosophy at University College London and Wadham College, Oxford, where he participated in the decolonial social movements (a) asking 'Why is my curriculum white?', (b) answering that 'Philosophy was whitewashed by eurocratic empire', and (c) arguing, as a consequence, that 'RHODESian social relations MUST FALL!'. 

Thereafter, back home in Birmingham, Dr Coleman taught sociology for Birmingham City University's Black Studies Research Cluster and researched local history for the University of Birmingham's Centre for West Midlands History. Now, as honorary researcher in sociology at the University of Warwick, Dr Coleman is currently coproducing, with colleagues in the Global Warwickshire Collective, 'Windrush Strikes Back: Decolonising Global Warwickshire’.

Research

My book-project has grown out of my PhD in Philosophy—earned in 2013, supervised at Michigan by Elizabeth Anderson—in which I specialised in Ethics and Moral, Social, and Political Philosophy.

Racial and sexual stigmatisation is what interested me as a graduate student, and my early published work, ‘What? What? in the Black Butt’, explored this from my own Disabled Black Queer perspective. However, my interests in how sexual stigmatisation was constructed in law and written onto women led me to explore this from Black Feminist perspectives.

Most doctoral dissertations gather dust. Mine, ‘The duty to miscegenate’, was, for Reihan Salam, writing in Slate, ‘one of the more provocative PhD dissertations I've ever read’. Attracting 2,000 comments and 11,000 shares, Salam summarised my argument that ‘the fundamental problem with the prohibitions against “race-mixing”...on the books in...the United States until the late 1960s is that they strengthened the social stigmatization of people of African descent—not just that they were discriminatory’.

In explaining how to understand and how to dismantle social stigmatisation, I drew upon Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar’s criticism of Brahminical Patriarchy. Indeed, on my speaking tour of India, I argued that we should recognise the similarity of the libels oppressing persons categorised as Black Women and persons categorised as Dalit Women—‘black libel’, a type of reputational damage, is the constructive contribution I am building, to explain why “slavery” is (for us, most urgently) wrong. Yet, my explanation turns out to be just one of the many competing explanations historically offered. Thus, in ‘Why is slavery wrong?’,I recover, analyse, and evaluate the arguments historically used to explain the wrongness of “slavery”.

When identifying these arguments, it is tempting to focus on authors whom universities recognise as “philosophers”. However, these “philosophers” who argued against “slavery” had never themselves been enslaved and, in fact, bore more resemblance to the enslavers of their time: persons classed-racialised-and-gendered-as-wealthy-white-men. For this reason, I listen deferentially to the arguments of enslaved and (self-)emancipated persons against white domination and black genocide. It turns out that many of those who have historically made arguments explaining the wrongness of “slavery” enjoy an association with the city (my hometown) of Birmingham, England, or with that English city's scion, set up in its imperialist industrialist image, Birmingham, Alabama. My work is, therefore, an exercise in forging a decolonised canon of, to use Erasmus Darwin’s words more broadly than in 1765 he intended them, ‘Birmingham Philosophers’.

Teaching

I am the unit owner of SOCI20072: Sexuality and Society.

I am the unit co-owner of SOCI30097: Modern Slavery: Issues and Debates.

Fields of interest

slavery, sexuality, colonialism, antislavery, Black Feminism, afrofuturism

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