Africa and the Atlantic Imagination: An Intellectual History of Empire and Black Internationalism in the Twentieth Century


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




Between 1890 and 1930, more than 500 people from the Caribbean joined the British and French colonial administrations in West and Central Africa. These Caribbean colonizers were typically two or three generations removed from slavery, but most identified as British and French and looked down on Africans, even as they were attracted by a symbolic Africa. Once in Africa, however, they were excluded by their white European colleagues and unwelcome among the Africans they were subjugating. The intellectual effects of this middle position were profound. This project illuminates how experiences with migration and racism, interactions with Africans, and exposure to African languages and cultures led Caribbean colonizers to rethink empire and black racial unity and to imagine alternative futures and geographies of the world.