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To Build an Anticolonial International: Katayama Sen, M.N. Roy, and Undoing of the Exclusion of Asian American Radicalism

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Abstract:

The Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 enthused critics of empire around the world, as they witnessed a successful revolution led by V.I. Lenin, a Marxist renowned for his landmark study Imperialism as the Highest Stage of Capitalism. Among those attracted to Lenin’s anti-imperialist message were two Asian migrants living in the United States, Katayama Sen and Manabendranath Roy. Both of these migratory intellectuals had undergone major political and personal transformations during their American sojourns, and both faced political persecution during the First Red Scare, sending them into exile. Along with a number of American socialists, Katayama and Roy fled to Mexico, then in the wake of its own revolution, before taking up residence in Moscow where they began to move among the leading socialists and revolutionaries of the world as guests of the Communist International (Comintern). This paper considers the intellectual and political contributions of these two major anticolonial theorists who sought to translate Leninist theory into a specific set of political analyses, practices, and institutions in the early years of the Comintern. In Moscow, Roy was a consistent voice pushing forward an agenda of class-based struggle in the colonies as a priority for the Comintern. He worked to construct a university that would train colonial cadres and to connect the work of exiled revolutionaries in America and Europe with their “home countries.” Like Roy, Katayama also stressed the importance of work in the colonies and anti-racist work in the American South (where Katayama had attended Maryville College), producing a series of under-examined texts that reconsider the revolutionary possibilities among the colonized. One of his most remarkable analyses was the pamphlet "America and Japan," a work that deftly connects problems of foreign policy, migration, and empire. I argue that the efforts of these two anticolonialists were essential to incorporating a program of struggle against empire in the Communist International; furthermore, I contend that these men's experiences in the United States positioned them to undertake this task as they came to a more global understanding of migration, labor exploitation, racism, and colonial rule. Finally, I claim these migratory voices as exilic articulations of Asian American radicalism, attempting to “undo” their erasure by the exclusionary nation-state and to reconfigure our understandings of political space of Asian America.
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Name: American Studies Association Annual Meeting
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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p487898_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Mukherji, S. Ani. "To Build an Anticolonial International: Katayama Sen, M.N. Roy, and Undoing of the Exclusion of Asian American Radicalism" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Studies Association Annual Meeting, Grand Hyatt, San Antonio, TX, <Not Available>. 2014-11-26 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p487898_index.html>

APA Citation:

Mukherji, S. "To Build an Anticolonial International: Katayama Sen, M.N. Roy, and Undoing of the Exclusion of Asian American Radicalism" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Studies Association Annual Meeting, Grand Hyatt, San Antonio, TX <Not Available>. 2014-11-26 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p487898_index.html

Publication Type: Internal Paper
Abstract: The Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 enthused critics of empire around the world, as they witnessed a successful revolution led by V.I. Lenin, a Marxist renowned for his landmark study Imperialism as the Highest Stage of Capitalism. Among those attracted to Lenin’s anti-imperialist message were two Asian migrants living in the United States, Katayama Sen and Manabendranath Roy. Both of these migratory intellectuals had undergone major political and personal transformations during their American sojourns, and both faced political persecution during the First Red Scare, sending them into exile. Along with a number of American socialists, Katayama and Roy fled to Mexico, then in the wake of its own revolution, before taking up residence in Moscow where they began to move among the leading socialists and revolutionaries of the world as guests of the Communist International (Comintern). This paper considers the intellectual and political contributions of these two major anticolonial theorists who sought to translate Leninist theory into a specific set of political analyses, practices, and institutions in the early years of the Comintern. In Moscow, Roy was a consistent voice pushing forward an agenda of class-based struggle in the colonies as a priority for the Comintern. He worked to construct a university that would train colonial cadres and to connect the work of exiled revolutionaries in America and Europe with their “home countries.” Like Roy, Katayama also stressed the importance of work in the colonies and anti-racist work in the American South (where Katayama had attended Maryville College), producing a series of under-examined texts that reconsider the revolutionary possibilities among the colonized. One of his most remarkable analyses was the pamphlet "America and Japan," a work that deftly connects problems of foreign policy, migration, and empire. I argue that the efforts of these two anticolonialists were essential to incorporating a program of struggle against empire in the Communist International; furthermore, I contend that these men's experiences in the United States positioned them to undertake this task as they came to a more global understanding of migration, labor exploitation, racism, and colonial rule. Finally, I claim these migratory voices as exilic articulations of Asian American radicalism, attempting to “undo” their erasure by the exclusionary nation-state and to reconfigure our understandings of political space of Asian America.


Similar Titles:
Asian Indian Exclusion in the Americas: A Case Study of Inter-American and Transnational American Studies

Internalized Gendered Racism in Asian American Women’s Accounts of Asian and White Masculinities

(Dis)placing/(Re)locating American Studies as Heterotopia: Undoing American International Relations

International Students’ Information-Seeking Behaviors in the US: A Cross-Cultural Comparative Analysis of American Graduate Students and International Ones from Far East Asian Countries


 
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