Readings on Black Women’s Internationalism

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In recent years, the field of black internationalism has grown in leaps and bounds. Scholars are moving further away from a nation-state level of analysis, paying closer attention to the global dimensions of the long black freedom struggle and drawing parallels between the experiences of people of African descent in the United States and the challenges facing people of color in Africa, Asia, Europe and other parts of the globe. Significantly, these works highlight the myriad strategies black activists deployed in their struggle against global white supremacy, underscoring the shared strategies of resistance and the political exchanges and historical connections between people of African descent in the United States and other nonwhites globally. Although these foundational works capture the global visions of people of African descent in the United States and abroad, many de-emphasize women’s roles and the politics of gender in shaping black internationalist movements and discourses.

Thankfully, scholars are increasingly moving away from male-centric historical narratives, concentrating instead on the gendered contours of black internationalism and foregrounding the voices of black women activists and intellectuals. My own research grapples with these concerns, highlighting the creative and critical ways women articulated black internationalism during the twentieth century. While there is still more work to be done, the following list includes some of the most crucial works in the burgeoning sub-field of black women’s internationalism. Representing a variety of academic fields—including History, English, and Political Science—these works highlight the writings, speeches, performances, activism, and overseas travel of a diverse group of black women activists and intellectuals, thereby moving women from the margins to the center of historical narratives on black internationalism.

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Keisha N. Blain

Keisha N. Blain is the Senior Editor of Black Perspectives. She is a historian of the 20th century United States with broad interdisciplinary interests and specializations in African American History, the modern African Diaspora, and Women’s and Gender Studies. Her first book, Set the World on Fire: Black Nationalist Women and the Global Struggle for Freedom (University of Pennsylvania Press), will be published in Spring 2018. Follow her on Twitter @KeishaBlain.

Comments on “Readings on Black Women’s Internationalism

  • Can I add a small modest personal contribution?
    Geri Augusto, “Language Should Not Keep Us Apart!: Reflections Towards a Black Transnational Praxis of Translation.” Callaloo. Summer 2014 37.3. Print and Online.

  • Thanks for this wonderful bibliography, Keisha.

    In addition to Gerald Horne’s book listed above, I’d include the following works related to Shirley Graham Du Bois:

    Gerald Horne and Margaret Stevens, “Shirley Graham Du Bois: Portrait of the Black Woman Artist as a Revolutionary,” in Want to Start a Revolution?: Radical Women in the Black Freedom Struggle, eds. Dayo F. Gore, Jeanne Theoharis, and Komozi Woodard (New York: New York University Press, 2009), 95-114.

    Yunxiang Gao, “W. E. B. and Shirley Graham Du Bois in Maoist China,” Du Bois Review 10:1 (2013) 59-85.

  • A few historical pieces that are not widely known :

    Hill, Sylvia .Facing Social Reconstruction in Zimbabwe. The Black Scholar ,Vol. 11, No.5, May/June 1980.

    Counts, Cecelie, Hill, Sylvia, Hill, Sandra. Notes on Building International Solidarity in th US. The Black Scholar, Vol 15, No. 6

    Hill, Sylvia. Lessons from the “Mozambican Women’s Struggle. Transafrica Forum, vol 2, No. 1 summer 1983. ( this issue includes AA women scholars like.Lynn Bolles, Gwen Mikell and others.
    Hill, Sylvia. Connecting the Struggles :,Solidarity work in the African -American communities. International Symposium on Amilcar Cabral. January 17-20, 1983. Cabo Verde.

    Thank you for this wonderful reference list. I do have copies of these articles if you can’t find them online.

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