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Annette Joseph-Gabriel. Reimagining Liberation: How Black Women Transformed Citizenship in the French Empire
2019, University of Illinois Press
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Publisher’s Note: Black women living in the French empire played a key role in the decolonial movements of the mid-twentieth century. Thinkers and activists, these women lived lives of commitment and risk that landed them in war zones and concentration camps and saw them declared enemies of the state. Annette K. Joseph-Gabriel mines published writings and untapped archives to reveal the anticolonialist endeavors of seven women. Though often overlooked today, Suzanne Césaire, Paulette Nardal, Eugénie Éboué-Tell, Jane Vialle, Andrée Blouin, Aoua Kéita, and Eslanda Robeson took part in a forceful transnational movement. Their activism and thought challenged France's imperial system by shaping forms of citizenship that encouraged multiple cultural and racial identities. Expanding the possibilities of belonging beyond national and even Francophone borders, these women imagined new pan-African and pan-Caribbean identities informed by black feminist intellectual frameworks and practices. The visions they articulated also shifted the idea of citizenship itself, replacing a single form of collective identity and political participation with an expansive plurality of forms of belonging.

Comment: Useful for discussing concepts of citizenship and belonging in the decolonial movements of the mid-twentieth century. Prior knowledge of these themes is required for an in-depth discussion of the book. However individual chapters can constitute a good starting point for questions of gender, race, and postcolonialism without prior advanced knowledge.

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Annette Joseph-Gabriel. Suzanne Césaire: Liberation beyond the Great Camouflage
2020, University of Illinois Press
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Abstract: Suzanne Césaire's essays in Tropiques make an important intervention in imagining a new Martinican and ultimately Pan-Caribbean identity during World War II. This study examines Césaire's joint politics and poetics of liberation in the context of dissidence in Martinique. A close reading of her essays alongside previously uncited personal correspondence reveals Haiti to be central to her vision for a Caribbean cultural renaissance after the death and destruction of the war.

Comment: Useful for discussions on belonging, citizenship, and nation-building, and expanding knowledge of Suzanne Césaire. Prior knowledge of key concepts of political history is needed, as well as some knowledge of French decolonization. Can be used to expand knowledge of French education in the former colonies.

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Brent Hayes Edwards. The Practice of Diaspora: Literature, Translation, and the Rise of Black Internationalism
2003, Harvard University Press
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, Contributed by: Emma Johnson
Publisher’s Note: A pathbreaking work of scholarship that will reshape our understanding of the Harlem Renaissance, The Practice of Diaspora revisits black transnational culture in the 1920s and 1930s, paying particular attention to links between intellectuals in New York and their Francophone counterparts in Paris. Brent Edwards suggests that diaspora is less a historical condition than a set of practices: the claims, correspondences, and collaborations through which black intellectuals pursue a variety of international alliances. Edwards elucidates the workings of diaspora by tracking the wealth of black transnational print culture between the world wars, exploring the connections and exchanges among New York–based publications (such as Opportunity, The Negro World, and The Crisis) and newspapers in Paris (such as Les Continents, La Voix des Nègres, and L’Etudiant Noir). In reading a remarkably diverse archive—the works of writers and editors from Langston Hughes, René Maran, and Claude McKay to Paulette Nardal, Alain Locke, W.E.B. Du Bois, George Padmore, and Tiemoko Garan Kouyaté—The Practice of Diaspora takes account of the highly divergent ways of imagining race beyond the barriers of nation and language. In doing so, it reveals the importance of translation, arguing that the politics of diaspora are legible above all in efforts at negotiating difference among populations of African descent throughout the world.

Comment: Discusses the practices of black diaspora in the 1920s and 1930s in a transnational context. Requires some prior knowledge (more suitable for graduate students) but offers a good overview of topics and key figures in black internationalism. Utilizes a wide range of historical sources and methods.

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Celeste Day Moore. Soundscapes of Liberation. African American Music in Postwar France
2021, Duke University Press
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Publisher’s Note: In Soundscapes of Liberation, Celeste Day Moore traces the popularization of African American music in postwar France, where it signaled new forms of power and protest. Moore surveys a wide range of musical genres, soundscapes, and media: the US military's wartime records and radio programs; the French record industry's catalogs of blues, jazz, and R&B recordings; the translations of jazz memoirs; a provincial choir specializing in spirituals; and US State Department-produced radio programs that broadcast jazz and gospel across the French empire. In each of these contexts, individual intermediaries such as educators, producers, writers, and radio deejays imbued African American music with new meaning, value, and political power. Their work resonated among diverse Francophone audiences and transformed the lives and labor of many African American musicians, who found financial and personal success as well as discrimination in France. By showing how the popularity of African American music was intertwined with contemporary structures of racism and imperialism, Moore demonstrates this music's centrality to postwar France and the convergence of decolonization, the expanding globalized economy, the Cold War, and worldwide liberation movements.

Comment: Useful for students of history interested in sound production and its relation to Black Internationalism. Can be used as an introduction into new methods and sources. Prior knowledge of Black Internationalism is recommended but not essential if the focus is on methods.

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Nicholas Grant. Winning Our Freedoms Together: African Americans and Apartheid, 1945-1960
2017, University of North Carolina Press
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Publisher’s Note: In this transnational account of black protest, Nicholas Grant examines how African Americans engaged with, supported, and were inspired by the South African anti-apartheid movement. Bringing black activism into conversation with the foreign policy of both the U.S. and South African governments, this study questions the dominant perception that U.S.-centered anticommunism decimated black international activism. Instead, by tracing the considerable amount of time, money, and effort the state invested into responding to black international criticism, Grant outlines the extent to which the U.S. and South African governments were forced to reshape and occasionally reconsider their racial policies in the Cold War world. This study shows how African Americans and black South Africans navigated transnationally organized state repression in ways that challenged white supremacy on both sides of the Atlantic. The political and cultural ties that they forged during the 1940s and 1950s are testament to the insistence of black activists in both countries that the struggle against apartheid and Jim Crow were intimately interconnected.

Comment: Discusses the perseverance of black activism from an international perspective and its relation to foreign policy. Requires prior knowledge of the US and South Africa during the Cold War as well as knowledge of anticommunism and apartheid during this period.

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Rabasa, José. Inventing America: Spanish Historiography the Formation of Eurocentrism
1993, Norman: University of Oklahoma Press (Oklahoma project for discourse and theory, v. 11).
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Publisher’s Note:

In Inventing America, José Rabasa presents the view that Columbus’s historic act was not a discovery, and still less an encounter. Rather, he considers it the beginning of a process of inventing a New World in the sixteenth century European consciousness. The notion of America as a European invention challenges the popular conception of the New World as a natural entity to be discovered or understood, however imperfectly. This book aims to debunk complacency with the historic, geographic, and cartographic rudiments underlying our present picture of the world.

Comment: This book contributes to the historiography of colonial Spanish America, and thus it is a good resource for students of this time period. It questions the epistemological grounds of the notion of the 'discovery' of the 'new' America. This text also contributes to the field of work concerning the designs placed on America by Europe, and shows that America was invented for a specific purpose, rather than being discovered.

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Sarah Claire Dunstan. A Question of Allegiance: African American Intellectuals, Presence Africaine and the 1956 Congres des Ecrivains et Artistes Noirs
2015, Australia New Zealand American Studies Associations
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Abstract: Recent scholarship has demonstrated that in the period from 1945 through to the late 1950s African American intellectuals re-oriented their activism from an internationalist and human rights framed agenda towards a domestically bound struggle. This article will contribute to this literature by mapping out a facet of African American intellectual engagement with the African diaspora during this period. Of particular focus will be African American reactions to the journal Présence Africaine and the conference sponsored by the journal in 1956, le Congrès des écrivains et artistes noirs. Iwill argue that the experiences of a select group of African American delegates to this Congrès served to emphasise the radically different objectives and strategies of nationalities within the African diaspora, thereby consolidating black American perceptions of themselves as first, and foremost, American. In interrogating this diasporan dimension of the period, this article will shed light on a neglected aspect of African American history and expand the intellectual and political boundaries of the black freedom struggle.

Comment: Useful for discussions on African American activism in the early Cold War. Shows the discrepancy between the impact of anticommunism on radical activism and American foreign diplomacy championing for human rights. Should be used as an example after having established solid background knowledge on this topic.

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