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“All Black Politics is Guyanese Here”: Afro-Asian Origins of Black Internationalism in the Post-WWII Atlantic

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Abstract:

As the saying went in London, ‘all black politics was Guyanese.' This paper explores the movement of Black Internationalism from its place in nationalist and worker’s movements in Guyana to its prominence among postcolonial migrants and political exiles in Britain and beyond. Beginning with the multiple political conditions that led Walter Rodney and Howard University educated Cheddi Jagan to understand Blackness as a political condition that Africans and Asians faced in Guyana and across the Caribbean, this paper will argue for the effectiveness and portability of black internationalism as an organizing theory in Guyana and other racially stratified contexts. Constructed in the context of the Worker’s Party in Guyana, the political logic of black internationalism shaped the cultural outlooks of Guyanese in Guyana and abroad. This paper will then trace the ways Black internationalism gained an additional foothold among the postcolonial migrants moving to rebuild the United Kingdom’s infrastructure after the ravages of World War II and many of these migrants were also exiled party activists who reconfigured their Afro-Asian blackness from the Caribbean to conditions in East London. The paper will then explore the ways Jamaican, Malaysian, Indian, and Pakistani found the Guyanese articulation of ‘Blackness’ to be an effective description of their situation and a productive organizing tool for colonial and post-colonial migrant workers migrants in the political center of the British empire.

Walter Rodney’s 'groundings with my brothers' was one of the most influential articulations of afro-asian blackness theory. It helped build the political ground across the Caribbean, Malaysia and India for subsequent intellectual developments, most notably Steve Biko’ articulation of Afro-Asian blackness in the seminal essay, 'what is black consciousness' which forged a similar politics in South Africa.

Black Internationalism shaped post-colonial radical politics in Malaysia. When in his British exile, Walter Rodney spent extended periods of time with C.L.R. James, Ambipavaler Sivanandan, and Malaysian radical Cecil Rajendra. Rajendra and Rodney partnered in London in the black and third world movements, and became good friends, leading Rajendra to memorialize Rodney’s life in the poem, ‘Night of the Assassins'. Rajendra returned to Malaysia and became a poet, human rights lawyer, and labor activist, translating Black Internationalism to the post-colonial Malaysian context. Black Internationalism, forged in the Afro-Asian communities of Ghana, was transformed in the Afro-Asian crucible brought into being in London’s post-war black communities. This paper highlights the scalar transformation of Black Internationalism from its roots in Afro-Asian Guyanese politics to its structural place in community organizing in the United Kingdom and Britain’s multi-ethnic postcolonies, explaining why post-World War II colonial migrants called their politics Guyanese.
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Association:
Name: American Studies Association Annual Meeting
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http://www.theasa.net


Citation:
URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p657138_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Ambikaipaker, Mohan. "“All Black Politics is Guyanese Here”: Afro-Asian Origins of Black Internationalism in the Post-WWII Atlantic" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Studies Association Annual Meeting, Hilton Washington, Washington, DC, <Not Available>. 2014-12-10 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p657138_index.html>

APA Citation:

Ambikaipaker, M. "“All Black Politics is Guyanese Here”: Afro-Asian Origins of Black Internationalism in the Post-WWII Atlantic" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Studies Association Annual Meeting, Hilton Washington, Washington, DC <Not Available>. 2014-12-10 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p657138_index.html

Publication Type: Internal Paper
Abstract: As the saying went in London, ‘all black politics was Guyanese.' This paper explores the movement of Black Internationalism from its place in nationalist and worker’s movements in Guyana to its prominence among postcolonial migrants and political exiles in Britain and beyond. Beginning with the multiple political conditions that led Walter Rodney and Howard University educated Cheddi Jagan to understand Blackness as a political condition that Africans and Asians faced in Guyana and across the Caribbean, this paper will argue for the effectiveness and portability of black internationalism as an organizing theory in Guyana and other racially stratified contexts. Constructed in the context of the Worker’s Party in Guyana, the political logic of black internationalism shaped the cultural outlooks of Guyanese in Guyana and abroad. This paper will then trace the ways Black internationalism gained an additional foothold among the postcolonial migrants moving to rebuild the United Kingdom’s infrastructure after the ravages of World War II and many of these migrants were also exiled party activists who reconfigured their Afro-Asian blackness from the Caribbean to conditions in East London. The paper will then explore the ways Jamaican, Malaysian, Indian, and Pakistani found the Guyanese articulation of ‘Blackness’ to be an effective description of their situation and a productive organizing tool for colonial and post-colonial migrant workers migrants in the political center of the British empire.

Walter Rodney’s 'groundings with my brothers' was one of the most influential articulations of afro-asian blackness theory. It helped build the political ground across the Caribbean, Malaysia and India for subsequent intellectual developments, most notably Steve Biko’ articulation of Afro-Asian blackness in the seminal essay, 'what is black consciousness' which forged a similar politics in South Africa.

Black Internationalism shaped post-colonial radical politics in Malaysia. When in his British exile, Walter Rodney spent extended periods of time with C.L.R. James, Ambipavaler Sivanandan, and Malaysian radical Cecil Rajendra. Rajendra and Rodney partnered in London in the black and third world movements, and became good friends, leading Rajendra to memorialize Rodney’s life in the poem, ‘Night of the Assassins'. Rajendra returned to Malaysia and became a poet, human rights lawyer, and labor activist, translating Black Internationalism to the post-colonial Malaysian context. Black Internationalism, forged in the Afro-Asian communities of Ghana, was transformed in the Afro-Asian crucible brought into being in London’s post-war black communities. This paper highlights the scalar transformation of Black Internationalism from its roots in Afro-Asian Guyanese politics to its structural place in community organizing in the United Kingdom and Britain’s multi-ethnic postcolonies, explaining why post-World War II colonial migrants called their politics Guyanese.


Similar Titles:
Struck by the Color of Their Skin”: Afro-Cuban Women, International Politics, and the Making of a Black Radical Tradition

The Federalist Papers in the Black Atlantic: The Origins of Post-colonial Federations in the West Indies and Africa


 
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