Convivial research and insurgent learning projects begin with shared questions. Who gets to ask and answer questions can maintain dominant knowledge practices and, as a consequence, inequality. The manner and type of questions generated can also reveal how a community of struggle can be converted into an object of study or a self-organized force. Questions can subvert taken for granted dogmas and ways of producing knowledge or, if not managed carefully, can reinforce dominant knowledge systems.
In response to criticisms directed at the Black Power movement, C.L.R James reappropriated a traditional approach to inquiry and prioritized the role of questions to address the strategic significance of Black Power. Drawing from Immanuel Kant’s “famous questions,” James countered dismissals of Black Power, and in particular Stokley Carmichael, by reworking Kant’s framework and situating struggles in a longer process of historical transformation. Insisting that investigation should always be in service of strategic concerns, James’s appropriation of Kant’s key “philosophical” framework examined Black Power around three strategic questions: a) what do we know; b) what must we do; and c) what do we hope for?