Date of Award

2014

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

English

First Advisor

David Kazanjian

Second Advisor

John L. Jackson

Abstract

This dissertation examines the print world of color that emerged from the circulation of anti-racist periodicals in the Anglophone world of the British and US Empires: from London to the Golden Coast, from Boston to Manila, and from the West of England to South Africa. By placing African American journalists, writers, and activists within a trans-imperial, anti-racist network, this project seeks to bridge postcolonial and Africana studies. In my readings of four anti-racist periodical archives: Anti-Caste, Fraternity, and the African Times and Orient Review in Britain, Izwi Labuntu in South Africa and the Colored American Magazine in the US, I trace the global engagement of African American readers and writers in the two decades leading to WWI. I argue that these trans-imperial anti-racist periodicals were key sites for anti-imperial and cross-racial coalition-building. They show that after the failure of Reconstruction in the US, African American writers turned their focus outwards from the nation state, and cast their lot with the millions of imperiled peoples of color living under European and American colonial rule worldwide. Indeed, not only were journals such as The Colored American Magazine announcing their turn towards "international issues," but African American readers were actively participating in the print publics of foreign journals, such as Anti-Caste, Fraternity and The African Times and Orient Review. Readings these periodicals as sites of inter-cultural assembly and exchange between African American, Black British, Caribbean, Balkan, North and South African, and South Asian readers and contributors illuminates the transnational roots of the African American canon. I contend that these non-American Anglophone periodicals are crucial to our understanding of the global scope of turn-of-the-century African American politics and literature, as they testify to a Black cosmopolitanism from below, mediated through the circulation of print rather than people. In the words of an African American reader of the British African Times and Orient Review, the inter-imperial traffic of periodicals and newspaper brought "brothers and sisters in all parts of the world to each other's door" and thus generated a global community of color ("Race Unification" 178). I argue that to think of these readers as an engaged global citizenry of color is to come to a new understanding of cosmopolitanism- that is a cosmopolitanism without moving.

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