Jazz Historiography, Eurocentric Philosophy, & The Problem of Hegel & Aristotle

Educator resources


Join University of Pittsburgh Ph. D. Candidate Lee Caplan for a presentation on early jazz writing, White sexist/racist paradigms, and how Eurocentric logic justified these social maladies.


As universities publicly address their continue commitment to anti-racism, diversity, and multiculturalism both on campus and in the classroom, it is critical to explore how writing in our disciplines reproduced/reinforced White racist and sexist hierarchies. Rather than diversity statements functioning as performative speech acts (Ahmed, 2006), these statements could serve as a call to action to investigate how racism/sexism/classism operate in our disciplines during their inception. By looking at early jazz writing, we observe White racist/sexist paradigms and how Eurocentric logic justified these social maladies. Even in jazz history accounts that celebrate Black genius, it is through the problematic discourse of evolutions, high art, and teleology that grants these accounts their social prestige (DeVeaux, 1991). Additionally, investigating the boundaries of Eurocentric paradigms in jazz historiography improves our theoretical conceptions and offers ways to move forward and address these problematic issues that persist. As he discusses his article, Lee will present a methodology for jazz educators to explore the limitations of Eurocentric knowledge in jazz settings through a case study on Aristotelian/Hegelian logic formulation in jazz historiography. He will demonstrate that Aristotelian/Hegelian reasoning and White racism/sexism produce reductive exclusionary definitions in early jazz writing. To make this argument, Lee turns to Aristotelian syllogisms and teleology and Hegel’s “ideal” subject. Alongside illustrating a methodology for bringing Western philosophy into dialogue with jazz historiography in classroom settings, Lee will present concluding remarks toward extending theoretical work by proposing to flip subject-object epistemological relations in European philosophical discourse.


Plus a Q & A with the live audience.


A presentation from the Jazz Education Research and Practice Journal, a publication of the Jazz Education Network.