Arguing that the processes of racial slavery and colonialism were “historically catastrophic,” thereby creating the grounds for different sets of questions about the human and the meanings of freedom, this essay maps some of the ways in which these questions have been posed from within the framework of the “traditions of the oppressed.” Working through the question of the human as a distinctive figure that emerges from the radical anticolonial and the radical black intellectual tradition, the essay makes the point that freedom is a set of creative human practices which are different from various forms of emancipation and liberation. The essay also argues that central to freedom practices is the work of the radical imagination as critical thought.

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