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African American Anti-Colonial Thought 1917-1937

Edited by Cathy Bergin

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An investigation of interwar African American critiques of racism and colonialism

This volume re-publishes key texts produced by African American anti-colonial activists between 1917-1937. Some of these texts remain well-known, but many have disappeared from view and are once again re-inserted in their original polemical contexts. The context for these writings is the turbulent politics of ‘race’ in the US in the interwar years and the emergence of a particular ‘race’/class politics. The framing of the material in the book stresses those texts which are specifically concerned with finding connections between the plight of African Americans and those who suffer colonial oppression in order to emphasise the dialectical nature of anti-colonial struggle. The intention of many of these writers was to create a space for interracial class politics. Despite, or because of, the complexities of negotiating ‘race’, class and colonialism, this material gives us access to an historically specific attempt to create a ‘race’/class politics attuned to the challenges of confronting racism of the USA and beyond.

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Part I: Red, Black and Green: The emergence of Left Black Radicalism 1918-1929
1. The Bolshevik Revolution: Dynamics of Race and Class
2. Irish Anti-Colonial Struggle and Black Radical Politics
3. The New Negro: Anti-Colonialism/Anti-Capitalism
4. Responses to Garveyism
Part II: Anti-Colonial ‘Race’ Politics During the Depression,1930-1939
5. Pan-Africanism and the Popular Front
6. Anti-Colonialism and Anti-Fascism
7. The Cultural Politics of ‘Race’ in the 1930’s

About the Author

Cathy Bergin is a Senior Lecturer in the Humanities Programme at The University of Brighton. She is the author of Bitter with the Past, but Sweet with the Dream: Communism in the African American Imaginary (2015).


This important collection will help to encourage a much-needed reconfiguration of the field of postcolonial studies. Some of these documents are in print in scattered sources, but many others have never been made available beyond their original form, and scholars in disparate fields will welcome the availability of Bergin's well-organised and expertly annotated collection.

- Brian Kelly, Queen's University Belfast

"The strength of this collection is that it provides a representative sample of radical black thought during a seemingly unparalleled period of international collaboration."

- David Mastey, University of the West Indies-St. Augustine, CRCL March 2018

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