This article examines the representation of surveillance in Claude McKay’s Romance in Marseille and the influence of surveillance on the novel’s aesthetics. It uses McKay’s 1929 novel Banjo as a prior representation of Marseille that establishes the historical constraints under which characters in Romance navigate the social world of Quayside, the city’s international working-class quarter. The article argues that McKay depicts an important moment in which state and corporate actors create networks of transnational surveillance that aim at securing an advantageous global distribution of labor for capital. McKay’s novel examines the mechanisms through which surveillance controls the mobility of racialized and gendered bodies, and depicts the strategies of resistance that such characters deploy more and less successfully against these often-violent mechanisms.

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