AJC: Theorist or Not?
It is without question that Anna Julia Cooper led a remarkable life centered around service to her community and the betterment of her people, but after reading some of her work I would not classify her as a social theorist. As a sociologist, yes. As a social activist, yes again. Cooper certainly lead her life in an admirable way, but from my experience with her I do not see a clear enough development of theory to classify her as a classical sociological theorist.
My major problem with classifying Cooper as a social theorist is that she seems to lack a centralized theme or concept that ties her writing together. She certainly deals with issues of race and gender, but there is no umbrella concept that ties the writings in her critical “Our Raison d’Etre” together with her reflections in “Sketches from a Teacher’s Notebook”. I think that this was well illustrated when our class tried to highlight her key concepts during discussion and had a very difficult time doing so.
I think Anna Julia Cooper’s work served to reflect upon society’s injustices and proposed solutions to these injustices, but I don’t think that it contributed as much to theoretical perspectives as the other theorists we have studied this semester. What Cooper did was important and admirable, but was it theory? I personally don’t think so.