Between Nationalism, Internationalism, and Transnationalism: Post-1968 Afro-diasporic Movements

AHA Session 173
Saturday, January 8, 2011: 11:30 AM-1:30 PM
Room 308 (Hynes Convention Center)
Komozi Woodard, Sarah Lawrence College
Komozi Woodard, Sarah Lawrence College

Session Abstract

The past decade has witnessed a wave of scholarly work in a range of disciplines that examines the nationalist, internationalist, and transnationalist impulses at the core of articulations of diaspora and blackness.  For the field of history – and for the historiography of the post-World War II era in particular – this has meant a deepening of our understanding of the international and transnational dimensions of the Civil Rights, African anti-colonial, and African diasporic literary and cultural movements (from Jazz to the Black Arts). And yet, there remains a dearth of work that extends such analyses to the Black Power movement and the post-1968 period more broadly.  This panel gathers a group of papers that seeks to unravel the very mechanisms of the local articulation and application of (Black) nationalism emerging from international and transnational movements spanning across three continents and across three decades.

Russell Rickford's paper traces the emergence and flourishing of a range of private, independent, black nationalist schools around the United States in the immediate post-1968 period.  In detailing how internationalist and anti-colonialist ideologies permeated the curricular and pedagogical aims of these schools, Rickford argues that a global vision figured centrally in much of the local institution-building that characterized American Black Power.  Highlighting activities on the African continent itself, Seth Markle's paper takes as its case-study the historic Sixth Pan-African Conference, widely known as "6PAC."  Held in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania in 1974, this conference brought together independent African states, anti-colonial movements, and activists from across the diaspora.  Markle examines the debates that erupted between nationalist and internationalist tendencies at the conference, arguing that the nation state form ultimately constrained the possibilities for a global black solidarity.  And broadening the panel's scope to include the African diaspora in Europe as well, Samir Meghelli's paper reveals how the arrival of the Hip Hop Cultural Movement in France in the early 1980s laid the groundwork for the cultivation of a collective Black (inter)nationalist identity among the first large generation of Afro-French youth born in the metropole.  Meghelli argues that through their participation in this transnational cultural movement, Afro-French youth forged an identity that was simultaneously national and international in character, thereby pushing back upon the increasingly neo-nationalist constructions of French identity that sought to equate Frenchness with whiteness.

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