Christopher Taylor considers C. L. R. James’s sojourn in the United States from the perspective of a series of articles that James wrote while assisting Missourian sharecroppers striking in 1941. While James’s work has been foundational to postnational Americanist scholarship, Taylor argues that the northern-centrism of both James’s scholarship and postnational American studies more broadly has elided flows of transnational interaction not mediated by the urban North. This elision is complicit with those modernization ideologies that organize both Marxist and non-Marxist understandings of agrarian politics, which suggest that sharecropping is a transitory phenomenon that will disappear with the full subsumption of rural economies into capital. Interrupting this narrative, Taylor adopts a transnational perspective oriented toward the southern United States and global South, emplotting James’s engagement with the Missourian sharecroppers within a deeper, circum-Caribbean history of agrarian revolt. Taylor argues that although rural subalterns might be fated to disappear from narratives of national capitalist development, James’s writings show how their scripts of resistance continue to circulate in a shared postnational time.
Christopher Taylor; Sharing Time: C. L. R. James and Southern Agrarian Movements. Social Text 1 June 2012; 30 (2 (111)): 75–98. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01642472-1541763
Download citation file: