In this work, Cynthia Willett puts forward a novel theory of ethical subjectivity that counters the pathology of sexist, racist, Eurocentric culture. Weaving together accounts of the self drawn from African-American and European philosophies, psychoanalysis, slave narratives and sociology, Willett interrogates what Hegel locates as the core of the self: the desire for recognition. What a subject experiences as "social death", "cultural alienation" or "spirit murder" according to Willett are problems in the social and psychological dynamics of recognition. A colonized subject suffers from sources of oppression that cannot be fully understood through traditional liberal or Marxist analyses. Developing her theory of ethical subjectivity, Willett questions the misogynist fantasies projected onto the mother-child relationship, finding instead a sensuality that is repressed in Western culture. She also examines rites of passage into manhood in the work of Frederick Douglass and their relation to the `master/slave' dialectic.