Charles Mills receives the 2021 Benjamin E. Lippincott Award

The Benjamin E. Lippincott Award is presented annually by the American Political Science Association (APSA),  recognizes a work of exceptional quality by a living political theorist that is still considered significant after a time span of at least 15 years since the original date of publication. 

Charles W. Mills is a Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the Graduate Center, CUNY (City University of New York). He works in the general area of social and political philosophy, particularly in oppositional political theory as centered on class, gender, and race. He is the author of over a hundred journal articles, book chapters, comments and replies, and six books. His first book, The Racial Contract (Cornell University Press, 1997), won a Myers Outstanding Book Award for the study of bigotry and human rights in America. It has been adopted widely in hundreds of courses across the United States, not just in philosophy, but also political science, sociology, anthropology, literature, education, African American, American Studies, and other subjects. It has been translated into Korean and Turkish, with a French translation forthcoming soon. Cornell University Press will be issuing a 25th-anniversary edition in 2022, with a new foreword by Mills and an afterword by Tommie Shelby, that will also mark its attainment of sales of over 50, 000 copies. 

His second book, Blackness Visible: Essays on Philosophy and Race (Cornell University Press, 1998), was a finalist for the award for the most important North American work in social philosophy of that year. Other books are: From Class to Race: Essays in White Marxism and Black Radicalism (Rowman & Littlefield, 2003); Contract and Domination (co-authored with Carole Pateman) (Polity, 2007), which seeks to bring the sexual and racial contracts together; and Radical Theory, Caribbean Reality: Race, Class and Social Domination (University of the West Indies Press, 2010). His most recent book is Black Rights/White Wrongs: The Critique of Racial Liberalism (Oxford University Press, 2017). Currently, he is working on a manuscript tentatively titled The White Leviathan: Nonwhite Bodies in the White Body Politic. 

Mills has also co-edited the following: Philosophy: The Big Questions (Blackwell, 2003) with Ruth Sample and James Sterba; a special issue of the Du Bois Review on “Race in a ‘Postracial’ Epoch” (Spring 2014) with Robert Gooding-Williams; and Simianization: Apes, Gender, Class and Race (LIT Verlag, 2015) with Wulf D. Hund and Silvia Sebastiani. 

Mills received his Ph.D. from the University of Toronto, and previously taught at the University of Oklahoma, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Northwestern University. He was the President of the American Philosophical Association Central Division for 2017-18. In 2017, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. 

Citation from the Award Committee: 

The Racial Contract by Charles Mills is a work of exceptional quality. It is a critically important and very elegantly written book that rethinks the social contract tradition from the perspective of the majority of the world’s people, namely people of color.  In many ways, Mills fleshes out theoretically what W.E. DuBois called the global color line. It is concise but with a variety of nuanced insights into the intellectual history of contract that ultimately shows how the racial contract is both real and global. We want to encourage those who have not read the book or have not read it recently to revisit this text as it stands out as a work that marries ground-breaking insights into the role played by race in contract theory with a complex understanding of its multiple ramifications in practice. Awarding the Benjamin E. Lippincott Prize to The Racial Contract is a timely recognition of the significant contributions it has made to academic discussions about race, power, and the state. 

APSA thanks the University of Minnesota for its support of the award and the committee members for their serviceDr. Barbara Arneil (Chair), University of British Columbia; Dr. David Runciman, University of Cambridge; and Dr. Steven B. Smith, Yale University.

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