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Imperial pasts and migrant presence: Africa in the metropole

Today, mass African migration has been contructed as a global -- and especially a European -- crisis. But it is hardly a novelty. In the shadow of imperialism, Jim Crow and the Cold War, individuals from across the African continent and African diasporas explored the hegemonic powers that shaped their homelands.This week we will look at the expectations and experiences of African and African American migrants to the great imperial metropoles of the long twentieth century, including Paris, London, and Moscow.


Required Readings:

  • Jennifer Anne Boittin, '"Among them Complicit"? Life and Politics in France's Black Communities, 1919-1939', in Eve Rosenhaft and Robbie Aitken, eds, Africa in Europe: Studies in Transnational Practice in the Long Twentieth Century (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 213), 55-75. E-Book
  • Paul Davis, '"Coulibaly" Cosmopolitanism in Moscow: Mamadou Some´ Coulibaly and the Suricov Academy Pailtings, 1960s-1970s', in Eve Rosenhaft and Robbie Aitken, eds, Africa in Europe: Studies in Transnational Practice in the Long Twentieth Century (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 213), 142-161. E-book.
  • Slava Tynes, ‘Skin Color Creates No Barrier To Africans In The Soviet Union’, THE AFRO-AMERICAN, 17 February 1973.


Discussion Questions:

  • What might African travellers, migrants and sojourners have expected from the destination cities to which they travelled, and why?
  • Can we reasonably compare imperial and post-colonial/Cold War migrations, expectations, and outcomes?


Background Reading:

Hakim Adi, ‘The Comintern and Black Workers in Britain and France, 1919–37’, Immigrants and Minorities, 28(2–3) (2010): 224–45.

Robbie Aitken, ‘From Cameroon to Germany and Back via Moscow and Paris: The Political Career of Joseph Bilé (1892–1959), Performer, “Negerarbeiter” and Comintern Activist’, Journal of Contemporary History, 43(4) (2008): 597–616.

Alison Blakely,‘The Emergence of Afro-Europe: A Preliminary Sketch’, in Darlene Clark Hine, Trica Danielle Keaton and Stephen Small (eds.), Black Europe and the African Diaspora (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2009), pp. 3–28.

Jennifer Anne Boittin, ‘Black in France: The Language and Politics of Race during the Late Third Republic’, French Politics, Culture and Society, 27(2) (2009): 23–46.

Kelly Duke Bryant, ‘Black but Not African: Francophone Black Diaspora and the "Revue Des Colonies," 1834-1842’, The International Journal of African Historical Studies 40, no. 2 (2007): 251-82. http://www.jstor.org/stable/40033913. Non white, Arfrican and Caribbean origin populations reflecting on African diaspora in 19th c. France and colonies.

Alessandra Di Maio, ‘Black Italia: Contemporary Migrant Writers from Africa’, in Darlene Clark Hine, Trica
Danielle Keaton and Stephen Small (eds.), Black Europe and the African Disapora (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2009), pp. 119–48.

Julie Hessler, ‘Death of an African Student in Moscow: Race, Politics, and the Cold War’, Cahiers du Monde Russe, 47(1–2) (2006): 33–64. JSTOR

Trica Danielle Keaton, ‘“Black (American) Paris” and the French Outer-Cities: The Race Question and Questioning Solidarity’, in Darlene Clark Hine, Trica Danielle Keaton and Stephen Small (eds.), Black Europe and the African Diaspora (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2009), pp. 95–118.

Trica Danielle Keaton, Muslim Girls and the Other France: Race, Identity Politics and Social Exclusion
(Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2006).

David Killingray, ‘“A Good West Indian, a Good African, and, in Short, a Good Britisher”: Black and British in a Colour-conscious Empire, 1760–1950’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 36(3) (2008): 363–81.

Maxim Matusevich (ed.), Africa in Russia, Russia in Africa: Three Centuries of Encounters (Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2007). MULTIPLE USEFUL ESSAYS HERE --THIS IS A PRINT BOOK IN SEVERAL COPIES.

Maxim Matusevich, 'Black in the USSR: Africans, African Americans, and Societ Society', Transition 100 (2009) 55-75. JSTOR.

Maxim Matusevich, 'An Exotic Subversive: Africa Africans, and the Soviet Everyday', Race and Class, 49.4 (2008), 57-81.

Maxim Matusevich, 'Journeys of Hope: African Diasora and Soviet Society', African Diaspora, 1.1-2 (2008), 53-85. JISC/Brill e-journal.

Marc C. McLeod, ‘Undesirable Aliens: Race, Ethnicity, and Nationalism in the Comparison of Haitian and British West Indian Immigrant Workers in Cuba, 1912-1939’, Journal of Social History 31, no. 3 (1998): 599-623. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3789716 .

Carina E. Ray, ‘“The White Wife Problem”: Sex, Race and the Contested Politics of
Repatriation into Interwar British West Africa’, Gender & History, 21(3) (2009): 628–46.

Eve Rosenhaft and Robbie Aitken, eds, Africa in Europe: Studies in Transnational Practice in the Long Twentieth Century (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 213). E-book.

Daniel Whittal, '"In this Metropolis of the World, We Must Have a Building Worthy of Our Great People": Race, Empire and Hospitality in Imperial London, 1931-1948', in Eve Rosenhaft and Robbie Aitken, eds, Africa in Europe: Studies in Transnational Practice in the Long Twentieth Century (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 213), 76-95. E-book.