Imperial Reconstructions: Black Soldiers and the Conquest of a Continent, 1865–80
This paper examines the experience of black regulars in the aftermath of the Civil War. It looks in particular at the non-combat labor black troops performed. Key players in the twin dramas of emancipation and conquest, black soldiers did work that helped fuel the global expansion of capitalism and imperialism. Drawing on insights from W.E.B. du Bois’ Black Reconstruction, the paper argues that black soldiers highlight both the promise and limitations of what is best understood as the “Imperial Reconstruction” of the United States in the late-nineteenth century.
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