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.
A Question of Allegiance: African American Intellectuals, Presence Africaine and the 1956 Congres des Ecrivains et Artistes Noirs
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.
‘Africa’s wishlist for the Biden administration: Expectations vs reality’.
Newly elected US President Joe Biden confronts enormous challenges in Africa with regard to reversing four years of the Donald Trump administration that was largely characterised by disdain, disinterest and derision toward the continent. The change of the guard in the White House come January 2021 is expected to herald a shift in tone and style toward the continent, which has always yearned for a prime spot on a crowded US foreign policy agenda. As I argued previously, there are high expectations of his presidency because most Africans regard democratic administrations to be more closely aligned to Africa’s concerns and interests. This essay analyses growing perceptions in Africa about the Biden administration and the possibilities for it meeting some of the continent’s objectives.
The Genealogy of Culturalist International Relations in Japan and Its Implications for Post-Western Discourse
This paper aims to introduce a neglected methodology from Japanese international relations (IR) – the culturalist methodology – to Anglophone specialists in IR. This methodology is neglected not only by an Anglophone audience but also by Japanese IR scholars. I argue here that despite this negligence, the culturalist methodology has great potential to contribute to contemporary post-Western international relations theory (IRT) literature by posing radical questions about the ontology of IR, as it questions not only the ontology of Western IR, but also the IR discourses developed in the rest of the world. Consequently, in understanding and imagining the contemporary world, I clarify the importance of perceptions based on what, in Japan, are commonly called ‘international cultural relations’ (kokusai bunka) and ‘regional history’ (chiikishi). I also indicate how our perceptions of the world are limited by the Westphalian principles of state sovereignty and non-intervention among ‘equal’ nations on the basis of state borders. While historical understanding is widely recognised as an important approach to contemporary IR, its scope is limited by its universalised principles.
A Relational Theory of World Politics
Culture matters in social theory construction because the metaphysical component of the theoretical hard core is primarily shaped by the background knowledge of a cultural community. Individual rationality, a key concept abstracted from Western culture, constitutes the nucleus for much of mainstream Western International Relations Theory. This article proposes a relational theory of world politics with relationality as the metaphysical component of its theoretical hard core. It conceives the International Relations (IR) world as one composed of ongoing relations, assumes international actors as actors-in-relations, and takes processes defined in terms of relations in motion as ontologically significant. It puts forward the logic of relationality, arguing that actors base their actions on relations in the first place. It uses the Chinese zhongyong dialectics as its epistemological schema for understanding relationships in an increasingly complex world. This theoretical framework may enable us to see the IR world from a different perspective, reconceptualize key elements such as power and governance, and make a broader comparison of international systems for the enrichment of the Global IR project.