Special Journal Issue on Black Internationalism

Martin Luther King, Jr. (left) and Eslanda Goode Robeson (right) attending a gathering at the African Unity House, sponsored by the Afro-Asian West Indian Community, in London, England, on October 30, 1961 (Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture)


 Reconceptualizing the History of Black Internationalism

Guest Editors: Keisha N. Blain and Quito Swan

The Journal of African American History (JAAH) is planning a “special issue” on the history of black internationalism, broadly defined as a global political, intellectual, and artistic movement of African descended people engaged in a collective struggle to overthrow global white supremacy in its many forms. In 1928, Martinican intellectual Jane Nardal published a pathbreaking essay, “Internationalism noir,” in which she called for the cultural rise of Afro-Latin and Francophone “New Negro” artists and writers across the globe. Inspired by the New Negro Movement, she argued that this new generation of black men and women would study the history of “the black race.” With time, Nardal’s notion of “Black internationalism” would come to signify much more.

By the mid-1940s, activists, scholars, and intellectuals engaged the ideas of black internationalism in more expansive ways—as an insurgent political culture emerging in response to slavery, colonialism, and white imperialism; to describe the political and cultural ways Black communities collectively raised questions of struggle and liberation on a global scale; to underscore how Black people across the diaspora envisioned themselves beyond the boundaries of colonialism and European nation states; and finally, to capture how people of African descent articulated global visions of freedom and forged transnational collaborations and solidarities with other people of color. Even before the term became used in common parlance, numerous writers—W.E.B. Du Bois, Amy Jacques Garvey, Kwame Nkrumah, and Merze Tate, among them—engaged such ideas through various lenses including Pan-Africanism, Garveyism, socialism, and Black Power.

Almost a century since the publication of Nardal’s crucial essay, black internationalism has grown from a phrase into a vibrant field of study—one that is bursting with debate, promise, and new revelations. The past few decades alone have witnessed a striking growth of critical studies framed under the banner of black internationalism, including works that grapple with gender, sexuality, class, religion, space, and place. This “special issue” highlights the complexities, variations, roots, routes, and diverse expressions of black internationalism. It also seeks to grapple with the theoretical underpinnings of black internationalism as a movement and idea during different time periods and phases of the black historical experience, examining its strengths as well as its limitations.

Topics and subject matter constituting black internationalism include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • African Americans and Africa
  • Afro-Asian solidarity
  • Women, gender, and black internationalism
  • African Americans, Travel, and Tourism
  • Environmental Justice
  • Global soundscapes
  • Garveyism and Pan-Africanism
  • The Communist International
  • Black internationalism in the Indian and Pacific Ocean worlds
  • Global Black Beauty Culture
  • Anti-colonial and Anti-imperial discourses
  • Expressions of cosmopolitanism
  • Global dimensions of the Civil Rights, Black Arts, and Black Power Movements

Authors should submit essays via the Editorial Manager® system at www.editorialmanager.com/ucp-jaah. Manuscripts, including footnotes, must be between 10,000 and 11,500 words (approximately 35 to 40 pages). For “Instructions for Authors,” see https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/journals/jaah/instruct. For inquiries, please contact: JAAH@msu.edu or Guest Editors Keisha N. Blain (Keisha.Blain@Pitt.edu) and Quito Swan (Quito.swan@umb.edu). Manuscripts must be submitted by July 31, 2020.

**Link to PDF: https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/pb-assets/docs/journals/jaah-cfp-black-internationalism-1575388849770.pdf