The Black October reading list is an invitation to think about the centennial of the Russian Revolution through the rich and expansive entanglements between the Black diaspora, Bolshevik Russia, and the Soviet Union. The readings below ground and expand upon the Black October online forum, which draws upon the expertise of scholars working in the fields of Black history and Soviet cultural studies. This reading list retains that interdisciplinarity, offering readings both on how Black intellectuals and activists responded to the Russian Revolution and on how Bolshevik Russia (and later the Soviet Union) imagined an international Black proletariat. Other topics include Afro-Asian solidarities (and the de-centering of Soviet Russia within global Marxism), Black Marxist feminist interpretations of the Russian Revolution (and its consequences), the impact of the Cold War on African independence movements, and the conceptualization of race (as distinct from national identity) in Russia and the Soviet Union. This list is not meant to be exhaustive but offers an introduction to the topic for readers interested in learning more. Feel free to add additional suggestions in the comments section.
The Russian Revolution in the Black Radical Imaginary
McKay, Claude. “Soviet Russia and the Negro.”
Kelley, Robin D.G. “The Negro Question: Red Dreams of Black Liberation” in
Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination.
Rodney, Walter. 1917.
Imagining the Black Diaspora in Revolutionary Russia
Blakely, Allison. Russia and the Negro: Blacks in Russian History and Thought.
Forsdick, Charles and Christian Høgsbjerg. “Sergei Eisenstein and the Haitian Revolution: ‘The Confrontation Between Black and White Explodes Into Red,” History Workshop Journal 78:1 (October 2014) 157–185.
Eds. Nepomnyashchy, Svobodny, Trigos. Under the Sky of My Africa: Alexander Pushkin and Blackness.
Black Writers, Artists, and Cultural Sojourners to the USSR
Carew, Joy Gleason. Blacks, Reds, and Russians: Sojourners in Search of the Soviet Promise.
Lee, Steven. The Ethnic Avant Garde.
Mukherji, S. Ani., “‘Like Another Planet to the Darker Americans’: Black Cultural Work in 1930s Moscow” in Africa in Europe: Studies in Transnational Practice in the Long Twentieth Century.
The Soviet Afterlives of Black Sojourners
Ismailov, Hamid. The Underground [Novel].
Johnson-Artur, Liz. “Black in the USSR: the Children of Soviet Africa Search for their Own Identity,” The Calvert Journal (June 6, 2014).
Khanga, Yelena. Soul to Soul: A Black Russian Jewish Woman’s Search for Her Roots.
African American Communists and the Red Scare
Horne, Gerald. Black Liberation/Red Scare: Ben Davis and the Communist Party.
McDuffie, Erik. “The March of Young Southern Black Women: Esther Cooper Jackson, Black Left Feminism, and the Personal and Political Costs of Cold War Repression” in Anticommunism and the African American Freedom Movement: Another Side of the Story.
Zeigler, James. Red Scare Racism and Cold War Black Radicalism.
Black Feminists and the Soviet Union
Davies, Carole Boyce. Left of Karl Marx: The Political Life of Black Communist Claudia Jones
Gilyard, Keith. Louise Thompson Patterson: A Life of Struggle for Justice.
Harris, Lashawn. “Running with the Reds: African American Women and the Communist Party in the Great Depression” Journal of African American History 94:1 (Winter 2009) 21-43.
Umoren, Imaobong. “Anti-Fascism and the Development of Global Race Women, 1928-1945” Callaloo 39:1 (Winter 2016) 151-165.
African Independence During the Cold War
Namikas, Lise. Battleground Africa: Cold War in the Congo 1960-1965.
Popescu, Monica, Cedric Tolliver and Julie Tolliver (eds). Alternative Solidarities: Black Diasporas and Cultural Alliances during the Cold War.
Popescu, Monica. “On the Margins of the Black Atlantic: Angola, the Second World, and the Cold War.” Research in African Literatures, 45:3 (Fall 2014) 91-109.
Sissako, Abderrahmane. “Rostov-Luanda.” [Film]
Afro-Asian Communist Ties
Djagalov, Rossen and Masha Salazkina. “Tashkent ‘68” Tashkent ‘68: A Cinematic Contact Zone,” Slavic Review 75:2 (Summer 2016) 279-298.
Frazier, Taj Robeson. The East Is Black: Cold War China in the Black Radical Imagination.
Ho, Fred and Bill V. Mullen (eds). Afro-Asia: Revolutionary Political and Cultural Connections Between African-American and Asian-Americans.
Etsch, Betsy and Robin D.G. Kelley. “Black Like Mao, red China and black revolution,” Souls 1:4 (1999) 6-41.
Moore, David Chioni. “Colored Dispatches from the Uzbek Border: Langston Hughes’ Relevance, 1933-2002,” Callaloo 25:4 (2002) 1115:1135.
Wilson, Jennifer. “Queer Harlem, Queer Tashkent: Langston Hughes’s ‘Boy Dancers of Uzbekistan,” Slavic Review 76:3 (Fall 2017) 637-646.
Wright, Richard. The Color Curtain: A Report on the Bandung Conference.
The Concept of Race in Russia
Cvetkovski, Roland and Alexis Hofmeister. An Empire of Others: Making Ethnographic Knowledge in Imperial Russia.
Slavic Review 61: 1 (Spring 2002) (special issue on race).
Zakharov, Nikolay. Race and Racism in Russia: Mapping Global Racisms.