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Black Nationalism in the New World: Reading the African-American and West Indian Experience

By
Robert Carr
Robert Carr

Robert Carr is Lecturer in the Department of Sociology, Psychology, and Social Work at the University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica. He is a management consultant to a number of government and nongovernmental organizations specializing in culture-specific Caribbean responses to HIV/AIDS. He has a doctoral degree in English and has translated, along with Ileana Rodríguez, her book House/Garden/Nation: Space, Gender, and Ethnicity in Postcolonial Latin American Literatures by Women, published by Duke University Press.

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Duke University Press
ISBN electronic:
978-0-8223-8388-8
Publication date:
2002

From nineteenth-century black nationalist writer Martin Delany through the rise of Jim Crow, the 1937 riots in Trinidad, and the achievement of Independence in the West Indies, up to the present era of globalization, Black Nationalism in the New World explores the paths taken by black nationalism in the United States and the Caribbean. Bringing to bear a comparative, diasporic perspective, Robert Carr examines the complex roles race, gender, sexuality, and history have played in the formation of black national identities in the U. S. and Caribbean—particularly in Jamaica, Trinidad, and Guyana—over the past two centuries. He shows how nationalism begins as an impulse emanating "upwards" from the bottom of the social and economic spectrum and discusses the implications of this phenomenon for understanding democracy and nationalism.

Black Nationalism in the New World combines geography, political economy, and subaltern studies in readings of noncanonical literary works, which in turn illuminate debates over African-American and West Indian culture, identity, and politics. In addition to Martin Delany’s Blake, or the Huts of America, Carr focuses on Pauline Hopkins’s Contending Forces; Crown Jewel, R. A. C. de Boissière’s novel of the Trinidadian revolt against British rule; Wilson Harris’s Guyana Quartet; the writings of the Oakland Black Panthers—particularly Huey Newton, Bobby Seale, and Eldridge Cleaver; the gay novella Just Being Guys Together; and Lionheart Gal, a collection of patois testimonials assembled by Sistren, a radical Jamaican women’s theater group active in the ‘80s.

With its comparative approach, broad historical sweep, and use of texts not well known in the United States, Black Nationalism in the New World extends the work of such theorists as Homi Bhabha, Paul Gilroy, and Nell Irwin Painter. It will be necessary reading for those interested in African American studies, Caribbean studies, cultural studies, women’s studies, and American studies.

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