New Perspectives on Black Women's Internationalism

AHA Session 107
Friday, January 4, 2019: 1:30 PM-3:00 PM
Crystal Room (Palmer House Hilton, Third Floor)
Keisha Blain, University of Pittsburgh
The Audience

Session Abstract

This panel highlights some of the most recent and innovative works on black women’s internationalism. It captures the range and complexity of black women’s global engagements and centers their experiences as key historical actors in shaping internationalist movements and discourses during the twentieth century. By analyzing the gendered contours of black internationalism during this period, this panel engages two key questions: how was black women’s engagement in internationalism similar to and/or different from their male counterparts? And to what extent did black women merge internationalism with issues of women’s rights and/or feminist concerns? The panel also calls for a re-conceptualization of black internationalism by asking how black women’s lives and experiences alter the ways narratives of the global black freedom struggle are articulated. It is both an assessment of the field as well as an attempt to expand the contours of black internationalism theoretically, spatially, and temporally.

Annette K. Joseph-Gabriel’s paper centers on Eslanda Robeson and her engagements with Africans on the continent as well as her efforts to forge transnational networks during the 1940s. Kim Gallon’s essay demonstrates the ways that black newspapers, in this case the Chicago Defender, chronicled the journeys of a group of women to Haiti during the “golden age of tourism.” Tiffany Florvil's paper shifts focus to Germany, centering the ideas and activism of Afro-German intellectual May Ayim, a pioneer in Afro-German studies, who used her attendance at various international gatherings and the relationships she built with Africana feminists such Guadeloupean-born author Maryse Conde and Caribbean-American poet Audre Lorde. Finally, Erin Wood’s paper examines the internationalist activities of women in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) during the 1960s and highlights their 1964 trip to Guinea. Collectively, the papers grapple with the myriad ways black women in the United States and across the diaspora advanced an internationalist agenda in the twentieth century.

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