Transnational and Biographical Connections between African, African American, and Global Histories
This session engages the discussion recently opened by the February 2013 AHR Forum, “Transnational Lives in the Twentieth Century,” by exploring the potential of transnational biography for the interdisciplinary field of Africana Studies. Each of the included papers introduces a biographical narrative that derives from the period between 1890 and 1930 and connects at least three geographical dimensions of Africana Studies: a region of the African continent, the United States, and either Europe or the Caribbean. Tshepo Masango Chéry’s paper examines the differing expectations of African identity that were confronted by a Martinican-born reverend from South Africa during his visit with fellow leaders of the African Orthodox Church in the United States. Jeremy Pope’s paper follows a cohort of five Tuskegee graduates who traveled to the Nubian region of northern Sudan in order to supervise a cotton cultivation project sponsored by a white American capitalist under the aegis of British colonial authorities. The paper jointly presented by Robert Vinson and Benedict Carton investigates how the politics of race and gender in America drove an African American Baptist missionary to South Africa with a paradoxical hope that the British Empire would offer African Americans opportunity and equality. The juxtaposition of these papers aims to launch a discussion of the ways in which transnational lives can illuminate the intertwined histories of Africa, the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean.