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Africa in Europe: Studies in Transnational Practice in the Long Twentieth Century
 9781846318474

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Africa in Europe

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MIGRATIONS AND IDENTITIES Series Editors Kirsty Hooper, Eve Rosenhaf, Michael Sommer Tis series ofers a forum and aims to provide a stimulus for new research into experiences, discourses and representations of migration from across the arts and humanities. A core theme of the series will be the variety of relationships between movement in space – the ‘migration’ of people, communities, ideas and objects – and mentalities (‘identities’ in the broadest sense). Te series aims to address a broad scholarly audience, with critical and informed interventions into wider debates in contemporary culture as well as in the relevant disciplines. It will publish theoretical, empirical and practice-based studies by authors working within, across and between disciplines, geographical areas and time periods, in volumes that make the results of specialist research accessible to an informed but not discipline-specifc audience. Te series is open to proposals for both monographs and edited volumes.

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Africa in Europe Studies in Transnational Practice in the Long Twentieth Century

Edited by

Eve Rosenhaf and Robbie Aitken

Liverpool University Press Downloaded from . , on , subject to the Cambridge Core terms of use, available at .

First published 2013 by Liverpool University Press 4 Cambridge Street Liverpool L69 7ZU

Copyright © 2013 Liverpool University Press Te authors’ rights have been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher. British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication data A British Library CIP record is available ISBN 978-1-84631-847-4

Typeset in Minion by R. J. Footring Ltd, Derby Printed and bound by CPI Group (UK) Ltd, Croydon CR0 4YY

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Contents



Acknowledgements vii List of Illustrations ix List of Abbreviations x List of Contributors xii

1 Introduction Eve Rosenhaf and Robbie Aitken

1

I. Enacting Identity: Individuals, Families and Communities 2 Prince Dido of Didotown and ‘Human Zoos’ in Wilhelmine Germany: Strategies for Self-Representation under the Othering Gaze Albert Gouafo

19

3

Schwarze Schmach and métissages contemporains: Te Politics and Poetics of Mixed Marriage in a Refugee Family Eve Rosenhaf

34

4

‘Among them Complicit’? Life and Politics in France’s Black Communities, 1919–1939 Jennifer Anne Boittin

55

5

‘In this Metropolis of the World We Must Have a Building Worthy of Our Great People’: Race, Empire and Hospitality in Imperial London, 1931–1948 Daniel Whittall v

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76

vi  Contents II. Authenticity and Infuence: Contexts for Black Cultural Production 6 Féral Benga’s Body 99 James Smalls 7

‘Like Another Planet to the Darker Americans’: Black Cultural Work in 1930s Moscow S. Ani Mukherji

120

8

‘Coulibaly’ Cosmopolitanism in Moscow: Mamadou Somé Coulibaly and the Surikov Academy Paintings, 1960s–1970s Paul R. Davis

142

9

Afro-Italian Literature: From Productive Collaborations to Individual Afrmations Christopher Hogarth

162

III. Post-colonial Belonging 10 Of Homecomings and Homesickness: Te Question of White Angolans in Post-Colonial Portugal Cecilie Øien 11 Blackness over Europe: Meditations on Culture and Belonging Donald Martin Carter IV. Narratives/Histories 12 Middle Passage Blackness and its Diasporic Discontents: Te Case for a Post-War Epistemology Michelle M. Wright 13 Black and German: Filming Black History and Experience John Sealey

183 201

217 234

14 Excavating Diaspora: An Interview Discussing Elleke Boehmer’s Novel Nile Baby 248 John Masterson with Elleke Boehmer 15 Aferword Susan Dabney Pennybacker

261



Bibliography 269



Index 292

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Acknowledgements

Most of the chapters in this volume originated as presentations at the conference ‘Africans in Europe in the Long Twentieth Century’, held in Liverpool in October 2009. Te conference was organised in the context of a research project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (Grant no. 112228) and it was fnanced by subventions from the School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies at the University of Liverpool and from the German History Society UK. We acknowledge the support of all three a­ gencies with thanks. At the conference, the spirit of open exchange which we hope is refected in the volume was facilitated by the hospitality of the Kuumba Imani Millennium Centre and the participation of Dorothy Kuya of Presence Africa (Liverpool). We are grateful to them and to those participants in the conference who were not able to contribute to the volume. In particular we thank Sara Lennox, Stefanie Michels and Lisa Shaw for permission to cite their work in progress and in press. We are grateful to the respective organisations and individuals who have given permission for us to reproduce images: Hilke Tode-Arora (Munich), the British Library Board, Art Resource New York, the Newark Museum, the Estate of George Platt Lynes, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Emory University, the Museum of Performance and Design (San Francisco), the family of Mamadou Somé Coulibaly (Bamako) and the Banque Centrale des États de l’Afrique de l’Ouest. Finally, we thank our editors at Liverpool University Press, Alison Welsby and Helen Tookey, and all the authors of the volume for their patience and collegiality.

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Illustrations

Figures 1 Samson Dido in Berlin I 2 Samson Dido in Berlin II 3 Richmond Barthé, Féral Benga, 1935. Bronze 4 Waléry, Féral Benga, c.1935. Photograph 5 George Platt Lynes, Féral Benga, c.1934. Photograph 6 Homer Smith 7 Chen Si-lan barefoot in pants holding a sword and striking a pose 8 Mamadou Somé Coulibaly in Red Square, Moscow, late 1960s 9 Mamadou Somé Coulibaly in his studio holding two paintings 10 Te enunciated subject: a point-of-view shot from the position of the black soldier entering the prisoner of war camp 11 Te constructed (constricted) subject: the black soldier with armed guard 12 Te Buñuel-ian moment: the black soldier leaves the camp dressed as a German commanding ofcer

25 28 100 106 112 125 131 143 156 236 239 246

Plates 1 Waléry, Féral Benga (Folies-Bergère), c.1934. Promotional postcards I 2 Pavel Tchelitchew, Deposition (Féral Benga), 1938. Oil on canvas II 3 James A. Porter, Soldat Sénégalais, 1935. Oil on canvas III 4–5 Untitled drawings, 1961–72 IV, V 6 Study of industrial dockyard in Riga, Latvia, 1963 VI 7 Le repos, 1971. Oil on canvas VII 8 La jalousie, 1968. Oil on canvas VIII ix Downloaded from . , on , subject to the Cambridge Core terms of use, available at .

Abbreviations

AGEFOM AHDA AN ANdM-H ANS AOF BAB BCEAO BME CAMM CAOM CDIRN CDRN CO DWP

Agence économique de la France d’outre-mer African Hostel Defence Association Archives Nationales, Paris Archives Nationales du Mali-Hamdallaye Archives Nationales de Sénégal, Dakar Afrique occidentale française Bundesarchiv Berlin Banque Centrale des États de l’Afrique de l’Ouest black and minority ethnic Conservatoire des arts et métiers multimédia Centre des archives d’outre-mer, Aix-en-Provence Comité de défense des intérêts de la race noire Comité de défense de la race nègre Colonial Ofce Dorothy West Papers Schlesinger Library, Cambridge, Massachusetts FMSGT Fonds ministériels, Série géographique Togo-Cameroun GARF State Archive of the Russian Federation, Moscow IAFA [International] African Friends of Abyssinia IASB International African Service Bureau IKKI Ispolnitelnyi komitet Kommunisticheskogo Internatsionala [Executive Committee of the Communist International] ILD International Labor Defense INA Institut National des Arts JUS–RDA Jeunesse de l’US–RDA x Downloaded from . , on , subject to the Cambridge Core terms of use, available at .

Abbreviations  xi KUTV

Kommunisticheskij universitet trudjashhihsja Vostoka [Communist University of Toilers of the East] LCP League of Coloured Peoples LDRN Ligue de défense de la race nègre LMCLH Loren Miller Collection of Langston Hughes, Te Huntington Library, San Marino, California LT Leipziger Tageblatt LTPP Louise Tompson Patterson Papers Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia MPE Middle Passage epistemology NAACP National Association for the Advancement of Colored People NARA National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland NIANKP Research Association for the Study of National and Colonial Problems PAAA Politisches Archiv des Auswärtigen Amts, Berlin PALOP Países Africanos de Língua Ofcial Portuguesa PCF Parti communiste français PROM Notes sur la propagande révolutionnaire intéressant les pays d’outre-mer PWE post-war epistemology RAPP Rossysskaya assotsiatsia proletarskikh pisatelei [Russian Association of Proletarian Writers] RG Record Group RGALI Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi arkhiv literatury i [Russian State Archive of Literature and Art], Moscow RGASPI Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi arkhiv sotsial’no-politicheskoi istorii [Russian State Archive of Social and Political History], Moscow SCLP Si-lan Chen Leyda Papers, Tamiment Library, New York University Slotfom Service de liaison avec les originaires des territoires français d’Outre-mer SNN Syndicat des navigateurs nègres SOAS School of Oriental and African Studies, London TNA UK Te National Archives, London TRAM Teatr rabochej Molodezhi [Workers’ Youth Teatre] US–RDA Union Soudanaise–Rassemblement Démocratique Africain UTN Union des travailleurs nègres VGIK Vsesoiuznyi gosudarstvennyi universitet kinematografi [Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography] VOKS Vsesoiuznoe obshchestvo kul’turnoĭ sviazi s zagranitseĭ [AllUnion Society for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries] WASU West African Students Union

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Contributors

Robbie Aitken is a senior lecturer in Imperial History at Shefeld Hallam University, UK. He has published on the construction of racial categories in the German colonies as well as on the African diaspora in Germany. He is the author of Exclusion and Inclusion: Gradations of Whiteness and SocioEconomic Engineering in German Southwest Africa 1884–1914 (2007) and is currently completing a monograph on the lives of Cameroonians in Germany together with Eve Rosenhaf. Elleke Boehmer has published four novels: Screens again the Sky (1990), An Immaculate Figure (1993), Bloodlines (2001) and Nile Baby (2008), and the short story collection Sharmilla. Her other publications include Colonial and Postcolonial Literature (1995 and 2005), Empire, the National and the Postcolonial (2002), Stories of Women (2005), Nelson Mandela (2008), Scouting for Boys (2004) and Te Indian Postcolonial (2010). Elleke Boehmer is the Professor of World Literature in English at the University of Oxford. Jennifer Anne Boittin is Associate Professor of French, Francophone Studies, and History at Te Pennsylvania State University. She is the author of Colonial Metropolis: Te Urban Grounds of Anti-Imperialism and Feminism in Interwar Paris (2010) and co-editor of a special issue of French Historical Studies, with Tyler Stovall, on ‘Intersections of Race and Gender in French History’ (2010). Donald Martin Carter is Professor of Africana Studies and Chief Diversity Ofcer at Hamilton College, New York. He is author of States of Grace: Senegalese in Italy and the New European Immigration (1997) and Navigating the African Diaspora: Te Anthropology of Invisibility (2010). xii Downloaded from . , on , subject to the Cambridge Core terms of use, available at .

Contributors  xiii Paul Davis is an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the Centre for the Creative Arts of Africa, University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. He earned his PhD in art history from Indiana University, Bloomington, with a dissertation examining the socio-cultural history of art education and painting in Bamako, Mali, from the colonial period to post-independence (1920s–1980s). His research projects focus on artistic produc­tion in francophone West Africa during the twentieth century. Albert Gouafo is Associate Professor of German Studies and Comparative Literature at the university of Dschang in Western Cameroon. He is currently working on African migration writing in Germany and the question of colonial memory. Recent book publications include Wissens- und Kulturtransfer im kolonialen Kontext. Das Beispiel Kamerun-Deutschland (2007); Discours topographiques et constructions identitaires (2011). Christopher Hogarth is Lecturer in French at the University of South Australia, and specialises in comparative and post-colonial literature (especially French, Italian and Senegalese). He has published articles on Senegalese literature and on authors such as Ken Bugul and Fatou Diome. He edited Gender and Displacement: ‘Home’ in Contemporary Francophone Women’s Autobiography (2008) and Tis ‘Self ’ Which is Not One: Women’s Life Writing in French (2010) with Natalie Edwards. S. Ani Mukherji is Assistant Professor of History at Nazarbayev University, Kazakhstan. He is currently working on a book manuscript on race, radicalism and exile in interwar Moscow. John Masterson is a lecturer in the Department of English at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. He has published work on Chinua Achebe, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Kiran Desai, Dave Eggers, Nuruddin Farah and Abdulrazak Gurnah, amongst others. His current research concerns representations of the Rwandan genocide and ‘post-colonial confict’. His book, Te Disorder of Tings: A Foucauldian Approach to the Work of Nuruddin Farah, will be published by Wits Press in 2013. Cecilie Øien holds a PhD in social anthropology with visual media from the University of Manchester. She worked as a senior researcher at the Fafo Institute for Applied International Studies in Oslo, Norway from 2008 to 2012. In 2006–8 she was employed as a researcher at the University of Oslo. Her work is on international migration, transnational families, post-colonial relations and visual anthropology. From autumn 2012 she will be Head of Communication at Akershus Museum. Susan Dabney Pennybacker is the Chalmers W. Poston Distinguished Professor of European History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is the author of A Vision for London, 1889–1914 (1995), and From

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xiv  Contributors Scottsboro to Munich: Race and Political Culture in 1930s Britain (2009). Her book-in-progress is entitled, ‘Fire By Night, Cloud by Day’: Exile, Refuge and Dissent in Postwar London. Eve Rosenhaf is Professor of German Historical Studies at the University of Liverpool, UK. She has published on aspects of labour, gender and ethnicity in German history of the eighteenth to twentieth centuries. Her monograph on German-speaking Cameroonians in Europe 1884–1960, co-authored with Robbie Aitken, is due for publication in 2013. John Sealey began his career making short flms and collaborating with artists. He studied flm at the University of Wales, Newport and went on to do his MA and PhD in Film by Practice at the University of Exeter. He currently teaches flm studies in the School of Art and Media at Plymouth University. James Smalls is Professor of Art History and Teory at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. His research focuses on the intersections of race, gender and queer sexuality in the art of nineteenth-century Europe and the visual culture of the black diaspora. He is the author of Te Homoerotic Photography of Carl Van Vechten: Public Face, Private Toughts (2006) and Gay Art (2008). Daniel Whittall completed his PhD thesis, entitled Creolizing London: Black West Indian Activists and the Politics of Race and Empire in Britain, c.1931­–1948, in the Department of Geography at Royal Holloway, University of London. He currently teaches Geography at Ranelagh School, Bracknell, continuing to carry out research as an independent scholar. Michelle M. Wright is associate professor in the Department of African American Studies at Northwestern University. She works on literary and philosophical discourses of black identities in the African diaspora. She is the author of Becoming Black: Creating Identity in the African Diaspora (2004), and has published and co-edited a number of articles, anthologies and special issues on theorising the African diaspora and Black European Studies. She is currently at work on a manuscript entitled Te Physics of Blackness: Reconsidering the African Diaspora in the Postwar Era.

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Chapter 1

Introduction Eve Rosenhaf and Robbie Aitken

Te essays in this volume explore the lives and activities of people of African descent in Europe between the 1880s and the beginning of the twenty-frst century. In studies of the experiences of Africans, Afro-Caribbeans and African Americans in Germany, France, Portugal, Italy and the Soviet Union, as well as in Britain, we aim to make a contribution to the growing body of scholarship that goes beyond the still-dominant Anglo-American or trans­ atlantic emphasis of Black Studies. At the same time, while studies of Africans in Europe have tended to focus on relationships between colonial (or former colonial) subjects and their respective metropolitan nation states, these essays widen the lens to consider other kinds of border-crossing: Teir subjects include people moving between European states and state jurisdictions or from the former colony of one state to another place in Europe, Africanborn colonial settlers returning to the metropolis, migrants conversing across ethnic and cultural boundaries among ‘Africans’, and visitors for whom the face-to-face encounter with European society involves working across the ‘colour line’ and testing the limits of solidarity. Moreover, the focus on the consequences of mobility for the imaginative construction of both ‘here’ and ‘there’ in a post-colonial world allows us to consider not only black but white Africans as actors in the remaking of both Africa and Europe. Te authors of the essays are scholars in social history, art history, anthro­ pology, and cultural and literary studies, as well as a novelist and a flmmaker, who refect on their own experiences of these complex histories and the challenges of narrating them. At the centre of our concerns are the ways in which our subjects have used the skills and resources they brought with them and the ones they found in each place of arrival to construct themselves and their families as subjects of their own lives, and also what new visions of self 1 Downloaded from . , on , subject to the Cambridge Core terms of use, available at .

2  Eve Rosenhaf and Robbie Aitken and community (or politics) have been enabled by the crossing of borders. Life worlds that call for sustained intercultural negotiation pose with particular acuity the questions ‘How did they do it?’ as well as ‘How did it change them?’ and ‘How did it ft them to change the world?’ It is in this sense that we character­ise these essays as studies in practice. Exchanging familiar spaces for new ones in which nothing was self-evident and much was subject to unfriendly scrutiny, all of our subjects faced more or less conscious choices, day by day, of what to do to achieve their personal and collective aims – among them the choice of partners and allies.1 Te volume accordingly proceeds through a series of case-studies, organised in three sections that are also broadly chronological. Te frst section ofers explorations of some ways in which identities were constructed and asserted by colonial subjects in negotiation with the claims of European nation states and metropolitan societies, looking in turn at an individual traveller in Germany, a family formed in Germany and settled in France, and projects of community-building and political activism in the imperial cities Paris and London. Te second section focuses on the experiences of creative artists and performers and the politics of cultural production between the 1930s and the beginning of this century. Te subjects here include African and African American visitors to the Soviet Union, a Senegalese dancer in interwar Paris and African writers in contemporary Italy. Te section title ‘Authenticity and Infuence’ signals a common concern with the ways and extent to which necessary collaborations with local sponsors and patrons ofer constraints to self-expression, even as new settings and partnerships liberate the imagination. Te third section looks at two groups which are living the contradictions of post-colonial Europe: recent African immigrants in Italian cities, and white Angolans who have settled in Portugal since independence. A fourth section moves away from the ground of empirical research to make space for refection on new approaches to narrating the history and presence of Africa in Europe. Te emphasis on practice here is central to the approach we take to the other key term in our title: transnational. ‘Transnational’ is a term that has seen many applications in academic writing across the disciplines since its earliest use by scholars in the political sciences.2 In historical studies, the notion of the transnational initially gained currency in work on international exchanges between social reformers.3 By the mid-2000s, however, transnational studies were setting their sights either ‘above’ or ‘below’ the realm of the organisational, exploring the possibilities for reconfguring whole national histories or considering the meanings of transnational mobility and communication for 1 On ‘practice’ in the context of transnational black studies, see also Keaton, ‘“Black (American) Paris”’, p. 99 (citing Bourdieu, Te Logic of Practice). 2 See Clavin, ‘Introduction: Defning Transnationalism’. 3 A pioneering work on the transnational impulses in social policy-making was Rodgers, Atlantic Crossings. For its reception, see http://hsozkult.geschichte.hu-berlin. de/rezensio/symposiu/atlantic.htm.

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Introduction  3 subaltern subjects. On this increasingly well-trodden ground, ‘transnational’ bumped up against and took on some of the coloration of temporo-spatial fgures like ‘postcolonial’ and ‘global’, transactional concepts like ‘diaspora’ and ‘transfer’, and the cultural manifestations of ‘migration’ and ‘travel’.4 Te result of all this trafc has been to make the ground as difcult to map as it is to negotiate. Our approach is a pragmatic one. Te editors and many of the contributors to this volume are historians, for whom concepts like ‘transnational’ are essentially tools for (re-)adjusting our vision.5 Tey remind us what we should take into account when we are writing history. In this context the ‘national’ in ‘transnational’ invokes the continuing tendency of most historiography to take as its point of departure and return a particular nation state formation. Against this background, attention to the transnational means acknowledging entanglements, networks and relationships that cross national boundaries and then asking where this widening of the view takes us in terms of what we really want to know about the past.6 Te attention we give here to the details of practice is characteristic of the approach to transnational studies that (paradoxically) places a new emphasis on micro-histories, and particularly biography, in order to elucidate global entanglements and trends by tracing the ways in which they are worked out at the personal and local level. As the editors of a recent volume of studies of ‘transnational lives’ put it, ‘Borders have crossed lives as ofen as bodies have crossed borders.’7 At the same time, analyses that begin as transnational may lead to a re-visioning of the ‘national’. Afer all, the frst lesson that the border-crosser learns is ofen the constraining power of the nation state. Nations as objects of contest or allegiance are rarely out of the picture in these chapters. Nor should the dual focus on the local and the transnational be understood as bypassing the question of the political implications of everyday practice. Similarly, ‘transnational’ does not seek to displace other ways of naming the experience and consequences of mobility which remain current especially in Black Studies, and the contributors to this volume use a wide vocabulary to characterise their subjects. Transnationalism’s vision of dynamic and creative mobility as a constitutive feature of modern societies does invite

4 Tus James Cliford’s much-cited observations on transnational identity, formulated in response to the emerging literature on the cross-border networks of North American migrants, originally appeared in 1994 in an article entitled ‘Diasporas’ and was republished in 1997 as a chapter of the same title in a book subtitled ‘Travel and Translation’: Cliford, Routes, pp. 245–7. 5 Compare Sven Beckert’s characterisation of transnationalism as a ‘way of seeing’: Bayly et al., ‘AHR Conversation: On Transnational History’, p. 1459. 6 For similar formulations, see Saunier, ‘Circulations, connexions et espaces trans­ nationaux’; Conrad and Osterhammel, ‘Einleitung’; and Hong, ‘Challenge of Trans­ national History’. 7 Deacon, Russell and Woollacott, ‘Introduction’, p. 5.

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4  Eve Rosenhaf and Robbie Aitken refection on the relevance and stability of the categories embraced by those terms. It also reminds us that each of them has implications for the ways in which we frame our subjects and in particular what other historical actors we want to compare or afliate them to. ‘Diaspora’ situates them in a historic global community of (mainly black) people of African descent and links the unwilled character of their dispersal (through transatlantic slavery or the workings of colonial power) to a developing self-conscious afliation to that history. Michelle Wright deliberately varies this with her distinction between ­‘vertical’ and ‘lateral’ diasporas, which depends on breaking the link between involuntary dispersal and consciousness of community. ‘Refugee’ implies an active decision to move, though always under pressure. As deployed by Eve Rosenhaf to characterise a germanophone African who fed Nazi Germany for France, it sets black people among (mainly white) subjects of a crisis of the European political order. Conversely, for Cecilie Øien, ‘refugee’ is a plausible (though in the end inadequate) label for white Angolans set in motion by political transformation in Africa, which challenges a more recent image of the refugee as a Sub-Saharan African seeking entry to ‘Fortress Europe’.8 In this volume, the free-est movers, in terms equally of their motivation and the ofcial welcome they received, are the two generations of visitors to the Soviet Union, African American and Trinidadian Chinese and Malian, described by Ani Mukherji and Paul Davis. Te fact of meeting with the hosts on the ground of presumptive equality is foregrounded in the characterisations of Homer Smith, Sylvia Chen and Wayland Rudd as ‘cultural workers’ and of Mamadou Somé Coulibaly as a ‘cosmopolitan’ – though Mukherji also writes suggestively of ‘black Muscovites’. In most cases, then, the choice of terminology is meaningful. Our focus is on practices social, political and cultural, and the way in which each author chooses to characterise her or his subjects refects a considered reading of the outcomes and implications of practice.

Transnational/Black/Colonial It is in the context of Black European Studies that ‘transnational’ has most explicitly and emphatically entered the vocabulary of Black Studies.9 It appears in the subtitle of Dominic Tomas’ seminal work Black France, and

8 Tis media image refects the reality of a continental refugee crisis in Africa, but overlooks the extent to which this involves displacement within Africa. Similarly, the pressure on EU borders from sub-Saharans feeing the political upheavals in North Africa in 2011 (in particular the Libyan revolution, as cited by Susan Pennybacker) is a secondary consequence of labour migration within Africa. See Milner, Refugees and Nascimbene and Di Pascale, ‘Te “Arab Spring”’. 9 Te growth of scholarly and activist networks in Black European Studies is surveyed by Michelle Wright in this volume.

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Introduction  5 in the 2008 volume Transnational Blackness it signals the presence of new studies focusing on Europe, Asia and francophone Africa among chapters still largely devoted to the global connectedness of African American subjects. It is used by Tina M. Campt, T. Sharpley-Whiting and Tifany Ruby Patterson, prominent scholars respectively of the black German, French and North American experiences, in their work showcased in the 2009 Black Europe and the African Diaspora.10 In this sense the invocation of ‘transnational’ is associated with an international scholarly project of recovering, analysing and making visible the historical presence of black people in Europe (and especially on the European continent). In its multiple meanings of the physical and imaginative crossing of oceans and borders, some sense of the transnational is intrinsic to current understandings of the condition of black people in modernity. Te metaphor of the global colour line as something to be navigated or crossed invokes both the fact of a black presence in a white-dominated world created by forced mobility and the power of a global imaginary with discourses of race and resistance at its centre.11 Scholarship on ‘transnational blackness’ accordingly retains a strong emphasis on the circulation of political ideas and the creation of political networks; ‘transnational’ sometimes looks like a simple substitute for the ‘international’ in black internationalism. Typically, though, the focus has shifed from ideas to practices and from received notions of common cause to the problems of identifying what is common and what is particular in the global black experience.12 Paul Gilroy’s construct of a Black Atlantic was groundbreaking not least in drawing our attention to the empirical fact of mobility and thus adding a spatial dimension to refections on black identity and modernity.13 Brent Hayes Edwards in his aptly titled Te Practice of Diaspora placed Europe at the centre of emerging black internationalism, examining Paris as a place in which physical and intellectual trajectories converged and in which cultural and political actors had to engage actively in practices of ‘translation’. In Black European Studies, transnational approaches have been closely associ­ated with colonial and postcolonial studies. Dominic Tomas pointed out in 2007 that in the French case, at least, the presence of native Africans in the former colonial metropole, ofen seen as a post-decolonisation p ­ henomenon,

10 Tomas, Black France; Marable and Agard-Jones (eds.), Transnational Blackness (­especially chapters 13, 14, 15 and 21); Campt, ‘Pictures of “US”?’; Sharpley-Whiting and Patterson, ‘Conundrum of Geography’. 11 Cf. Marable and Agard-Jones (eds.), Transnational Blackness and, for a more ­elaborated historical approach, Lake and Reynolds, Drawing the Global Colour Line. 12 See, for example, Boehmer and Moore-Gilbert, ‘Introduction’; Marable and AgardJones, Transnational Blackness. 13 For a critique of Gilroy’s anglo-centrism, see Chrisman, Postcolonial Contra­ventions, pp. 79–80.

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6  Eve Rosenhaf and Robbie Aitken is of longer standing and was in fact a willed consequence of colonialism. While global commerce brought blacks to metropolitan France in the natural course of things, the mission civilatrice called for them to be invited in as students, soldiers and workers – though always in the expectation that they would return to the colonies.14 Tis was also true for Germany, whose policy in the frst decade and a half afer establishing its colonial presence in Africa in 1884 was to encourage the training of young natives in the metropole for manual and clerical work back home. In the background to the ‘Human Zoos’ and the ambiguous visit of Samson Dido of which Albert Gouafo writes in this volume, the travelling African and ‘Cameroonian student’ were familiar fgures in German cities in the late nineteenth century. Tat particular fow was barely interrupted by a reversal of policy precipitated by fears of mis­ cegena­tion and only cut of by the First World War and the removal of the colonies from German administration under the Versailles Treaty.15 For good reason, then, ‘transnational’ in Black European Studies has commonly referred to displacement or travel from a non-European homeland to Europe in the context of current or past colonial relations. Te frame in which the travelling or transnational subjects have been located has been the empire as extended nation state, such that the travellers share to a considerable extent the linguistic and political culture of the part of Europe in which they arrive. Tat even under these conditions new encounters and transformations occur of the kind implied by ‘transnational’ is illustrated by the contributions of Jennifer Boittin and Daniel Whittall in this volume. Tey explore what happens when colonial subjects in the metropole face up to negotiating the diferences of culture and expectation among themselves, shaping political programmes and institutions that will serve their common needs and triangulating among diferent native patrimonies and the shared stresses of metropolitan life under the divisive pressures of ‘race’ and empire. Cecilie Øien’s subjects, too, remain within the geographical and cultural ambit of the former Portuguese colonial empire, but the move from Angola to Portugal, understood as a return, triggers a new set of negotiations around the question of what is ‘here’ and what is ‘there’, who is African and who European. Te twenty-frst-century characters in Elleke Boehmer’s Nile Baby, children of the British Empire, learn to see themselves afresh in the mirror of another empire in which Britain was a colonised outpost and Africans arrived as conquerors bearing the culture of another (pre-)European people. 14 Tomas, Black France, pp. 41–2. Even in 2007 his assertion that this aspect of the story has been under-examined was an overstatement, given the growing ­historical literature on colonial troops and administrators and the well-established study of francophone African travel writing and literary life in France. Cf. Echenberg, Colonial Conscripts; Lawler, Soldiers of Misfortune; Mann, Native Sons; Lawrance, Osborn and Roberts, Intermediaries, Interpreters, and Clerks; Miller, Nationalists and Nomads. 15 Aitken, ‘Education and Migration’.

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Introduction  7 In this context, the valences of ‘transnational’ have tended to vary with the respective ways in which colonialism and a black presence in the metropole relate to processes of nation building in diferent European countries. For France, Dominic Tomas argues persuasively under the rubric ‘transnationalism’ that the way in which relations between the metropole and the colonies were rhetorically and institutionally constructed reinforced nation state values in a singular bond between francophone black and/or African subjects and metropolitan France. One feature of this is the historically unique approach to political assimilation through the selective enfranchisement of colonial subjects that is at once rooted in and transformative of the French Revolution republican tradition. In German studies, by contrast, a focus on the pathologies of a nation state which was made, challenged, unmade and remade between 1870 and 1990 has meant that transnational approaches implied a radical resituating of the national experience. Historians of modern Germany have had to re­ discover the fact of a German colonial empire and a germanophone Africa or black Germany (or remove them from the footnotes to the core narratives of German history) in order to understand that even Germany has always been implicated in global processes and networks. Tat this took some time is understandable, given Germany’s late and in some respects accidental arrival among colonial powers in the 1880s and the early end to its colonial empire in 1919. Tis meant that the numbers of African migrants to reach and remain in Germany before the Second World War were relatively small, the growth of a settled community an unanticipated and largely unrefected consequence of empire which was cut short in its turn by the rise of Nazism. Today’s black Germans are heirs to a history that is difuse and discontinuous and increasingly detached from the colonial past. Te consequence of this for scholarship was that even where the fact of German colonialism was acknowledged its exceptional trajectory long served to throw attention back on the insularity of the Germans and reinforce preoccupation with questions of Germanness that obscured the possibilities of cosmopolitanism. Transnational studies have substantially enriched this picture. Among other things, the interactions between metropolitan Germans and not only Africans but more generally the ‘third world’ and its peoples since 1919 have come to be read as a refection of Germany’s precocious if involuntary entry into the post-colonial world.16 Portugal, whose colonial empire was among the frst to be established and the last to be dissolved, provides a third case. Tere, a cultivated myth of ‘Lusotropicalism’ proved less efective in cementing afective ties between

16 See Conrad and Osterhammel, Das Kaiserreich transnational; Geyer, ‘Where Germans Dwell’; Lennox, ‘Transnational Approaches and their Challenges’; Hong, ‘Challenge of Transnational History’ (and the other contributions to the forum in which this ­appeared); Schilling, Postcolonial Germany.

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8  Eve Rosenhaf and Robbie Aitken colonial subjects and metropole than the French model of assimilation and global union, while de-colonisation came only in the 1970s and coincided with the overthrow of an authoritarian state and a process of democratic nation-building in Portugal itself. Cecilie Øien is one of a small number of scholars who are refecting explicitly, as she does here, on the implications of post-colonial mobility for the emergent nation state. What prompted the conference from which this volume grew, though, was the fact of a diferent kind of transnational mobility, namely movement between the spheres of infuence of the respective metropolitan nation states. Tis can include travel from the former colony of one European state to a diferent part of Europe or the Americas, and one of the central themes in this volume is the way in which, at various stages in the twentieth-century history of European colonialism, ruptures of colonial hegemony have led to ‘transcolonial’ ex­periences: colonial empires and post-colonial common­ wealth arrangements have channelled the (former) subjects of empire into Europe and to a greater or lesser extent equipped them for mobility within Europe. As Stephen Howe puts it, ‘Colonialism was a vastly more power­ ful transnationalizing force than was anti-colonialism. And it was the transnationalism of empires which made possible all the things now rather indiscriminately lumped together as “postcolonial hybridity” – including resistance to Empire.’17 Te rapid increase in recent decades of travel of this kind, whose consequences are documented in this volume by Christopher Hogarth and Donald Carter’s studies of Italy and commented on by Michelle Wright, is good reason to look more closely at the phenomenon, its meanings and consequences. But amid presentist talk of economic globalisation and the opening of borders within the EU – both sometimes credited with precipitating the whole discussion of transnationalism – it is easy to lose sight of its ­historical dimensions. Te past reveals a multiplicity of ways and directions in which people of African descent were set in motion as a consequence both of colonialism and of the reconfgurations of Europe’s nation states in the long twentieth century. Samson Dido stands at the beginning of this volume as a reminder of the cosmopolitan skills and attitudes that Africans brought with them when they visited Europe as a consequence of encounters with Euro­peans on their home ground. Te members of the Duala élite from which Dido came were among the West Africans whose trading links with Europe were centuries old when the Berlin Conference confrmed their direct subjection to German colonial rule. Decades of association with British and Northern European merchants and English-speaking missionaries from Britain and the Caribbean had made them full members of what Stefanie Michels has called

17 Howe, ‘Aferword’, p. 85.

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Introduction  9 an ‘Atlantic cosmo­politan class’.18 Geographical mobility and intercultural competence – including the capacity to negotiate between diferent European contexts – were thus a matter of course. As Albert Gouafo says, Samson Dido knew his German interlocutors better than they knew him. In the record of the experiences of other and later African-born migrants and travellers in Europe, trauma emerges at the point where the very diferent degrees of sophistication with which ‘African’ and ‘European’ see each other becomes apparent. Donald Carter draws out some of the wider implications of this persistent question of visibility, or who sees what in the African subject, in his essay. For Dido, arriving as a ‘prince’ in the capital of a young empire, the cultural capital inherent in his cosmopolitanism still had currency. From this point of view the vision of the colonial imperium as a closed extension of the nation state was always a chimera. At the same time, the centrality of the colonial to the national project meant that no empire remained uncontested – particularly in Africa. Te origins of the First World War in geopolitical contests emerging from colonialism conventionally defne the begin­ning of the long twentieth century. Te Versailles settlement that followed it entailed the transfer of millions of people between national juris­ dictions, in the colonies as on the European continent. Administration of Germany’s former colonies in Africa fell to the victorious powers; exercising a League of Nations mandate, France controlled Togo and most of the former Cameroon protectorate, Britain the former German East Africa and a part of western Cameroon, and the Republic of South Africa the former German South West Africa. Former German colonial subjects thereby became sub­ ject to the laws and jurisdictions of other states, even if they remained in Germany – though just what their relationship was to their new masters remained unclear. Te transnational condition was for them one of abiding uncertainty, though it also provided them with options and escape routes in times of crisis. Te paradoxical possibility that under these circumstances sentimental allegiance to one imperial nation state could be a way of dealing with the stresses generated in the feld of force between competing forms of metropolitan racism is explored in Eve Rosenhaf’s chapter here. And, as other chapters in this volume show, the political revolutions of lef and right that the First World War and its afermath precipitated on the European continent also set Africans and people of African descent in motion: as political exiles and circulating activists, in search of new and more ideologically congenial homelands or as invited guests of a new kind of world power, the Comintern and the Soviet Union. Finally, both the world wars brought men and women of African birth and descent as conquerors in the name of one nation state

18 Michels, ‘Emma and Andrea Manga Bell’. Michels rejects the more familiar term ‘Atlantic creole communities’ (cf. Berlin, ‘From Creole to African’) as too Americacentric. On the Duala, see Austen and Derrick, Middle­men of the Cameroons Rivers.

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10  Eve Rosenhaf and Robbie Aitken onto the territory of others: francophone African, African American and Afro-Caribbean soldiers shared in the defeat and occupation of Germany in both 1918 and 1945.

Forms of Practice I: Self, Community and Culture between the Personal and the Political We began by conceiving ‘transnational’ in spatial and material terms and asking one another how our subjects constructed their lives under circumstances of physical displacement. A number of the resulting studies turned out to be about the way in which the political imagination was released by the fact of mobility. Tis was true even where the purpose of travel or the presenting context of our subjects’ activity was political. Te debates over providing hospitable spaces for blacks in London which Daniel Whittall outlines, informed as they were by explicit (and as it turned out contending) attitudes to imperial power, mobilised shared rhetorics of ‘home’ that addressed the existential stresses of everyday life. While interracial liaisons seem a matter of the everyday in Jennifer Boittin’s black France, the accounts of Eve Rosenhaf, Ani Mukherji and James Smalls revolve to a considerable extent around utopian visions developed by their subjects that called for the erasure of the global colour line through systematic transgression – or radical border-crossing. For Langston Hughes, Sylvia Chen and Ekwé Misipo, hope for the future resides in a literal and entirely physical process of amalgamation or métissage. Te transgression of gender boundaries is central to visions of emancipation and self-fulflment among the cosmopolitan homoutopians for whom Féral Benga became an icon. It is present, too, as a key to the critical re-visioning of black history that Michelle Wright proposes; her call for a new epistemology is based on the promise that a look away from the AngloAmerican axis and ‘vertical diasporas’ (or diasporas of genetic descent) will bring into view ‘lateral diasporas’ arising from place-specifc and elective afnities and including same-sex afliations of various kinds. Cecilie Øien reveals another moment that calls for imaginative transformation: the emergence of the fgure of the white African in the literal return of African colonial relations to the European metropole. Te incapacity of post-colonial nation states to accommodate discursively the multiple transgressions (or paradoxes) implicit in the fgure of the post-colonial returnee has led to their characterisation as ‘invisible migrants’ in Europe.19 In fact, Øien’s subjects become visible as ‘internal strangers’ at the point where their liminal character makes itself known in their dress, habits of life or choice of sexual 19 Smith, Europe’s Invisible Migrants.

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Introduction  11 and life partners.20 But Elleke Boehmer’s presence among our contributors reminds us that white people settled on the African continent for generations constitute neither a new nor a numerically insignifcant group. Te case of white Southern Africans is a reminder also of the role played in anti-colonial, black and third world liberation struggles by Europeans and Asians settled in Africa as well as by people of many colours, including exiles from Africa, in Europe.21 Tis underlines again that (contrary to the ideological construct of a global colour line) there is no place in the modern world where black people have not shared their space with others. At the same time, it is clear that the business of fnding a way in a new environment generates new kinds of interactions. Among the resources that transnational subjects have to acquire is a heightened capacity for forming networks and alliances in everyday life that cross the borders of social and cultural famili­ arity, including not least those of ‘race’. For colonial subjects this is a process that begins at home, as the visitor or merchant becomes an occupier and the grounds of negotiation shif. Here, again, we can see Samson Dido in Germany fnding ways to go on engaging as partners and equals people who now stood in a relation of colonial dominance to him – and in that historical moment we can see Germans quite explicitly negotiating the same tran­ sition. Te political community-building projects of black people in Jennifer Boittin’s Paris and Daniel Whittall’s London required that they construct commonalities of interest and discursive practice in interaction with white and Asian co­adjutors, allies and neighbours. Te Moscow of Ani Mukherji’s black cultural workers provided a milieu in which common interests were taken as read but remained to be realised and tested in practice. Cultural producers are in a privileged position to articulate the impact that these interactions have on people’s sense of themselves and others, and to make an impact in their turn. Among the most interesting recent developments in Black Studies has been scholarship on the role of transnational actors in the transmission of performance cultures (such as popular music and dance), where blackness itself comes to be redefned and re-valorised through multiple fltrations in ways that are meaningful both for the black subjects and for visions of multiracial nation states. Here, Josephine Baker is a key vehicle for blackness-as-Americanness, Brazil an exemplary political culture.22 Te individuals who fgure in the second section of this volume can be seen in this light. As purveyors of blackness, however, they are ambiguous fgures. We see them performing ‘race’ – but we also hear them thinking aloud about escaping or transcending it, and doing both in concert or conversation with others they encounter in their travels. Sylvia Chen sets

20 Te phrase ‘internal strangers’ is that of Lubkemann, ‘Race, Class, and Kin’. 21 See Pennybacker, From Scottsboro to Munich and Prashad, Te Darker Nations. 22 See Shaw, ‘Afro-Brazilian Popular Culture in Paris in 1922’ and the literature cited there.

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12  Eve Rosenhaf and Robbie Aitken the colour line and the party line in play with ambiguous results when she observes to Langston Hughes how ‘convenient’ it is ‘to be able to change one’s nationality so easily, Chinese, Japanese, West Indian, Negro’, but adds, ‘[M]y politics don’t change, am always for the oppressed races in the fght against imperialism.’ Saidou Moussa Ba in collaboration with P. A. Micheletti creates a protagonist who propounds ‘a philosophy of the chameleon’. Te ‘authenticity and infuence’ which we invoke in the title of the second section of the volume are thus meant not to be afrmative, but rather to signal the expectations placed on black cultural producers arriving as newcomers in white Europe. In practice, they all worked as much against as within those expectations, active participants in an open-ended two-way ‘trafc in discourses of authenticity’.23 Like the new generation of black writers in Italy (and francophone African writers of his own generation) Féral Benga had to negotiate complex relationships of tutelage, patronage and friendship on the cultural market, and what ‘kind’ of African he was depended on who was looking at (or displaying) him. Each of these studies, then, shows the transnational condition dynamising the relationship between the personal and the political. Tis is because in transnational lives both the personal and the political are peculiarly subject to continuous renegotiation in the light of the multiplicity of spaces they occupy; we have already observed that people who cross borders are peculiarly subject to the attention of nation state agencies. States typically claim the right to exercise controls over the lives of migrants and incomers of a kind which they are commonly barred from exercising over citizens and the native born, such that the personalities and relationships of transnational actors are exposed to a radical degree of scrutiny.24 Tis is one of the everyday circumstances in which people are repeatedly challenged to refect on and justify their life choices, in ways that fulfl our defnition of practice. In the frst instance their answer must ofen be couched in the language of authority insofar as they are able to master it, as when they are appealing for permission to marry or claiming asylum, but explaining oneself may also become a habit that involves the active and creative work of appropriation, translation and invention, or the production of new cultures and identities.25

23 Robinson, ‘“Oh, You Black Bottom!”’, p. 20. Cf. Johnson, Appro­pri­at­ing Blackness and Favor, Authentic Blackness. 24 On documentation regimes and their consequences for everyday life, see Torpey, Te Invention of the Passport; Noiriel, Réfugiés et sans-papiers, pp. 156–240; Keaton, ‘“Black (American) Paris”’, pp. 99–100. For controls on private life, see Eve Rosenhaf’s chapter in this volume and the literature cited there. Tis kind of scrutiny is distinct from the sexual policing characteristic of colonial regimes whose workings Ann Stoler and others have elaborated, though the two are historically connected. 25 Noiriel, Réfugiés et sans-papiers, pp. 250–306; Daniel and Knudsen, Mistrusting Refugees.

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Introduction  13

Forms of Practice II: Te Poetics of Transnational Narrative If all that ‘transnational’ implies is an empirical widening of the lens to incorporate ‘here’, ‘there’ and potentially ‘everywhere’, this in itself poses a substantial challenge for scholars and other cultural producers, in terms both of the research process and of strategies for representation. Lives lived in many places leave their traces strewn about, in local, regional and national archives, in attics and footlockers and passenger lists and guest books – and in the case of our subjects over two or three or four continents. Attentive readers may see in the footnotes here an echo of the conversations that took place on the fringes of the original conference, comparing notes about the uses and accessibility of sources for the intersecting lives of these men and women. Te biographical approach adopted in many of these chapters represents one strategy for mastering a potentially boundless (or borderless) range of data and incident, while, as noted above, the emphasis on the individual life also facilitates a sustained focus on practice. We insist, though, that the transnational condition is one that applies to most of the people set in motion by European expansion and its consequences. Alongside the wellknown travellers like Olaudah Equiano or W. E. B. Du Bois, George Padmore or Josephine Baker, who star in accounts of the Black Atlantic and the Red and Black Internationals, each of our more obscure subjects has the status of an ‘exemplary individual’, transmitter, translator and networker.26 But the records of their lives are all the more fragile and difcult of access, and in danger of being lost with the passage of time. Taking some distance from the biographical, Daniel Whittall’s study of the politics of place in London, like Jennifer Boittin’s chapter, demonstrates the paradoxical utility of local studies: by bringing into focus concrete points of intersection, they provide a starting point for thinking about and retracing the far-fung trajectories that brought the respective actors together; both of them also allow us to see communities growing around their points of intersection and new transnational connections radiating out from them. A new way of seeing also challenges us to fnd ways new of telling, as we go about the business of showing our subjects at work in more than one place and comprehending a multitude of nested ‘heres’ and ‘theres’.27 Many of the chapters in this volume ofer accounts which problematise generic boundaries. Eve Rosenhaf attempts to read her subjects’ lives and literary texts in terms of one another. Jennifer Boittin opens with a collage of ‘voices’, led by that of the poet Léon-Gontran Damas. Donald Carter writes of wanting 26 George Shepperson’s observation of twenty-fve years ago that too ofen studies of the black presence in Europe fx on ‘striking but isolated individuals, once seen and soon forgotten’ remains true: Shepperson, ‘Introduction’, in Martin Kilson and Robert Rotberg, Te African Diaspora: Interpretive Essays. 27 See Pamela Scully’s refections on this in ‘Peripheral Visions’.

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14  Eve Rosenhaf and Robbie Aitken to ofer ‘the portrait of the present that as a social scientist I am not quite able to paint’, refers extensively to literary texts both French and Italian, and in the end opts for a refective essay. Accordingly, it was not solely in the fashionable spirit of mixed media that we invited a novelist and a flmmaker to contribute to the original conference and to this publication. In her most recent novel Nile Baby (2008), Elleke Boehmer sends her twelve-year-old, black and white British protagonists – each with a personal link to contemporary Africa – on a journey in which they uncover the presence of ‘there and then’ in the ‘here and now’. With the children’s thef from the school storeroom of a preserved foetus which they imagine to be the child of a black First World War soldier there begins a process of tracing the layered histories of African presence in Britain since the Roman occupation in which Europe’s core historical narratives feature as loci of black agency. As Boehmer puts it in her interview with John Masterson, the novel ‘maps long journeys yet also tracks the dimensions of staying put’. John Sealey’s chapter sets out the background and rationale for his arresting short flm Te Greatest Escape. In the flm, Sealey, a young black British flmmaker, draws on the historical episode of the German capture of African troops serving with the French army in the Second World War to construct a refection on racism that deals defly and almost entirely through imagery and diegetic music with questions of visibility and intelligibility (or translation). While Boehmer contains a history that is tendentially global within the frame of the local and domestic by using the uncanny fgure of an embodied ghost, Sealey chooses a surrealist mode to represent the irony of black Europeans successively created, demonised and denied by their tutelary nation states. In their contributions here, they tell parallel tales of the respective intellectual journeys through and experience with existing narratives that informed their choices of subject matter and approach. As she elaborates in her interview, Boehmer’s literary practice involved dialogue and translation, drawing on West African models of storytelling and fgures of West African folklore while maintaining a demotic voice accessible to the intended young anglophone readership. Sealey traces his wilful search for and appropriation of the results of a generation of historical research on blacks in Germany – a series of literally transnational encounters which fnd their imaginative translation in his flm. As the chapters by Rosenhaf, Mukherji, Smalls and Davis remind us, selfconscious modernism has a long history in black cultural production in Europe and America. Te attraction that surrealism in particular has had for black artists has as much to do with the multiplication (or fracturing) of identities implicit as threat or promise in the transnational black condition as with the ‘militant anticolonialism’ of the movement.28 Boehmer and Sealey echo this in rejecting the realism that might once have been thought the obvious genre for narrating complex and far-fung histories. Recent works of fction that do take 28 Kelley, ‘How the West was One’, p. 33; and see also the literature cited there.

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Introduction  15 a realist approach to the history of black Britain feature in Michelle Wright’s critical essay, in keeping with the way in which she draws our attention back to the global. She brings the perspective of interdisciplinary Black Studies to her own suggestion that we place the world wars of the twentieth century (she emphasises the Second, though as we note above much of what she argues might be applied to the First World War and its consequences) at the centre of a new way of seeing and narrating the black diaspora. Susan Pennybacker points out in her aferword that the ‘Africans’ who have lef or been driven from their native shores and whom we have set out to discover here constitute at all times a minority of the population of that continent. We neglect the agency and experiences of those who never lef at our peril, both intellectual and political, as at the time of writing the centre of liberation politics seems once again to be in Africa. Our own transnational subjects might answer the objection, though, by recalling the ways and the extent to which African ‘homelands’ have been shaped by the fows of power and ideas touched of by colonialism and global capital – by the presence of Europe in Africa, which itself depended on the agency of travelling people of colour. Susan Pennybacker also reminds us to ask what our purpose is in exploring these experiences. Life in our post-post-colonial Europe is charac­ ter­ised by an abiding entanglement of ‘European’ societies and cultures with the business of Africa (among other places). Tis entanglement was crucially shaped by colonial relationships but it did not end with them, nor do all of its manifestations continue to bear the stamp of that colonialism. In particular, the presence of people of African descent in Europe now refects a multiplicity of routes of travel and has ceased to be exceptional, certainly in Western Europe. It has thus become possible to articulate the black European, that is, to see people of colour as insiders to European society, in a way that was practically impossible even for anti-racist radicals as recently as a generation ago. It is a vision that is not unchallenged; the discursive ‘blackening’ of white Angolans in Portugal bespeaks the persistence of forms of racial thinking which can still inspire murderous violence and remain a real threat to the future of individuals and societies. In the face of such challenges, what scholarship can do is to continue to insist on the historical presence of Africa in Europe and trace the particular actions and interactions through which people of African descent have asserted and inserted themselves as social actors. Te ‘transnational’ approach to observing historical subjects in motion provides a lens which may help us to see with some precision both where we collectively have come from and where we may be going.

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I Enacting Identity: Individuals, Families and Communities

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Chapter 2

Prince Dido of Didotown and ‘Human Zoos’ in Wilhelmine Germany: Strategies for Self-Representation under the Othering Gaze Albert Gouafo

Participation in ethnographic exhibitions or ‘human zoos’ can be counted among the many vehicles for transnational mobility around the turn of the twentieth century. Such exhibitions ofered a European audience the chance to experience contact with non-Europeans up close and to learn more about them and their cultures. Tere were also advantages to be gained by the non-European participants. For some of them, able to draw on a cosmopolitan experience and a transnational perspective on the world, ethnographic exhibitions presented an opportunity to stage their own personalities for a European audience through practices of self-representation. Tis chapter proposes that one of those participants, the Cameroonian Prince Samson Dido of Douala, who visited Imperial Germany in 1886, can be seen as a cultural hybrid in the sense in which the term is used by the postcolonial theorist Homi K. Bhabha. It explores the possibilities and limits of self-representation implicit in that condition and in the cultural practices of the period. Dido was an African by colour, a Duala notable through his cultural background and his everyday practices, and a German above all through his love of German aristocratic forms of dress. Tis in turn made him a middleman, or rather a ‘mimic man’, of the Germans, who had become the colonial rulers of Cameroon in 1884. His experience thus exemplifes the way in which colonial subjects show themselves to be good collaborators in the colonial project through their tendency to imitate the colonisers and their culture. Tis all-too-rapid acculturation unsettles the colonisers, who soon are no longer able to draw a cultural boundary between themselves and the colonial subjects, and forces the aversion or even hatred of the coloniser towards the colonised into the open. At the same time it exposes the elements of resistance inherent the ‘civilising’ process in the colonies, a process which inevitably 19 Downloaded from . , on , subject to the Cambridge Core terms of use, available at .

20  Albert Gouafo results in the cultural syncretism that the colonisers despise. Homi Bhabha characterises this process as follows: [C]olonial mimicry is the desire for a reformed, recognizable Other, as a subject of a diference that is almost the same, but not quite. Which is to say, that the discourse of mimicry is constructed around an ambivalence; in order to be e­ fective, mimicry must continually produce its slippage, its excess, its diference.1

Characteristically, the textual and visual record of Dido’s visit to Germany in 1886 takes the form of reports about him, rather than any statements or observations of his own. A careful analysis of these texts and images, however, shows him engaged (not without the complicity of some German observers) in a counter-discursive practice. Trough his actions he asserted partnership with Germans and a multifaceted personality that challenged everyday stereo­t ypes of ‘the African’, although the limitations of contemporary social discourse meant that what he had to ofer was only partially acknowledged by the German public.2 Before developing these points I want to begin by making a few comments not only on the early cosmopolitanism of the Duala and the Deido clan, but also on ethnographic exhibitions as a context for transnational mobility in Germany.

Te Early Cosmopolitanism of the Duala and Ethnographic Exhibitions As early as the ffeenth century the local population of West Africa had established commercial relations with European traders. Tey imposed import duties and were able to assert their own interests against those of the Europeans. Tey maintained relationships with Europeans that were based on principles of partnership and were able to block trade with those Europeans who did not respect the agreed conditions of exchange. From the seventeenth century onwards Cameroon’s coastal bay became a centre of trade that attracted European ships and merchants. Teir trading partners were the Duala, who lived in a series of settlements along the bay known as ‘Towns’. By the middle of the nineteenth century, when the Duala were becoming the focus of German attention, their society was dominated by two families or clans: the Akwa and the Bell. Te Europeans called the heads or spokesmen of these clans ‘Kings’.3 1 Bhabha, Te Location of Culture, p. 86. 2 ‘Social discourse’ refers to all the forms of discourse that circulate in a particular society at a particular time and have hegemonic character: Angenot, 1899: Un état social du discours, p. 15. 3 Michels, Schwarze deutsche Kolonialsoldaten, p. 34.

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Strategies for Self-Representation  21 While a Bell-Akwa hegemony held sway over both sides of the bay, it was never uncontested. In the mid-nineteenth century, the Deido clan split from the Akwa and established their own ‘town’ and trading post north of Akwatown. Since trade was the decisive foundation for the wealth of the Duala, it was essential for the future of a clan that it be recognised by the Europeans as an infuential trading partner. In contrast to the kings of Bell and Akwa, the Deido leader was only deemed to be a ‘chief’ or ‘headman’. Tis title made him subordinate to a ‘king’ in the colonial hierarchy, although the historical structure of Duala society dictated that all ‘Town rulers’ were of equal status.4 Correspondence around the question of Samson Dido’s claim to be a ‘prince’ refects both rivalries among the Duala which the imposition of a colonial hierarchy exacerbated and the anxieties of the colonisers about any assertion of authority by the colonised: Afer Dido’s German tour the Governor of Cameroon, Julius von Soden, wrote to Imperial Chancellor Otto von Bismarck expressly denying Samson Dido’s claims to be a prince; returned from Germany, the emancipated Neger Dido could only be a provocation to von Soden and the colonial order. Dido himself expressed his sense of his social position in April 1888 by sending Crown Prince Wilhelm a personal letter from Douala over the signature ‘Prinz Samson Dido’.5 Tis historical background is important in order to understand the potential benefts that Prince Dido stood to gain from his 1886 stay in Germany, as a member of the Deido, and by extension Duala, élite. Although this took place in the context of an ethnographic exhibition staged by Carl Hagenbeck and for which he was recruited by the agent Fritz Angerer, Dido’s experience of Germany was not confned to being put on display. As a cultural intermediary he knew more about the Germans than they knew about him. His previous cosmopolitan experience had provided him with opportunities to learn. His participation with other Cameroonians in Hagenbeck’s tour was new opportunity. Ethnographic exhibitions ofered a context for transnational mobility. More than 300 population groups from all over the world were exhibited in Germany during the period 1870 to 1940 alone, attracting up to 60,000 visitors a day.6 Tey appeared at fairs and festivals, in zoological gardens, in variety shows, music halls, restaurants, as side-shows at circus performances, in panopticons and amusement parks, and at colonial, trade and world expositions. Such expositions took place in large cities like Munich, Berlin, Hamburg, Dresden, Cologne, Frankfurt and Hanover. Te forms in which non-Europeans were exhibited ranged from so-called native villages in which the visitor was meant to gain an impression of the life in the homelands from which the participants came, to staged scenes 4 See Félix-Eyoum, Michels and Zeller, ‘Bonamanga’, p. 13. 5 Letters in BAB R1001 4297, pp. 23–5 and 32. 6 Dreesbach, Gezähmte Wilde, p. 11.

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22  Albert Gouafo which resembled theatrical productions. Common to all the diferent types of event was the pretence of providing an insight into the life of non-European peoples. Tese events could involve a few participants or up to several hundred, who fascinated large audiences through their performances as well as by the simple fact of their presence and appearance. Regardless of their social or educational backgrounds, all spectators wanted to be amused and educated, and to have their curiosity satisfed. Tey wanted to be amazed and to delight in the beauty of the exhibited people. For the majority of Germans, ethnographic exhibitions were the only means of coming into contact with non-Europeans and their cultures. Tey complemented what the audience had read about non-Europeans in books and stimulated their understanding and imagination. A couple of pfennigs were enough to be able to visit an ethnographic exhibition. As a result they were popular events, and were run by the organisers primarily as commercial ventures. Teir commercial success depended in the exotic qualities of the assembled troupe. Organisers placed an emphasis on the kind of content that had made bestsellers of the novels of Karl May: adventure and the exploitation of existing clichés.7 Accommodating the experience and expectations of the audience, presenting something new and confrming stereotypes of the Other were the key ingredients for success.8 Fairground impresarios benefted from the rapid growth of the German economy in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. Te emergence of a mass audience as an indirect consequence of the industrialised labour process ensured the market for mobile and varied forms of entertainment. In 1891, Sunday was made a day of rest in law, providing the masses with the time to pursue and enjoy leisure activities. And the railways facilitated rapid travel to places further afeld as well as the transportation of elaborate show booths and their equipment.9 Te business of ethnographic exhibitions in Germany is closely connected with the name of Carl Hagenbeck (1844–1913), though his success soon attracted imitators. Hagenbeck’s most important competitors included Eduard Gehring, Fritz and Gustav Marquardt, Willy Möller, Wilhelm Siebold, the frm Ruhe and Reiche and Carl Gabriel.10 In 1848, Hagenbeck’s father, a Hamburg fshmonger, had begun to exhibit animals which he subsequently sold. Carl began to collect and exhibit wild animals as a teenager, and frst made his name supplying zoos, but as the trade in animals began to stagnate in the 1870s his friend the painter Heinrich Leutemann (1824–1905) suggested that a planned shipment of reindeer be accompanied by a group of Laplanders. Te ensuing exhibition of people and animals at Hamburg’s Neuer Pferdemarkt was a success.11 Between 1874 and 1931, Hagenbeck and his successors in the   7 On Karl May, see Feilitzsch, ‘Karl May: Te “Wild West” as Seen in Germany’.  8 Dreesbach, Gezähmte Wilde, p. 14   9 Ibid., pp. 40–1. 10 Ibid., p. 52. 11 Leutemann, Lebensbeschreibung des Tierhändlers Carl Hagenbeck.

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Strategies for Self-Representation  23 frm organised ethnographic exhibitions not only in German cities, but also in Basel, Bergen, Gothenburg, Copenhagen, London, Milan, Paris, Budapest and Prague. In 1907, he created a private zoo in Stellingen near Hamburg – a complex with its own village square, arena and bazaar where ethnographic exhibitions were put on.12 Among the exhibitions that Hagenbeck staged was that of the Cameroon­ian troupe which performed in Hamburg, Berlin, Leipzig and Dresden between July and September 1886. Te group was composed of Prince Dido, his son Depusi, two of his wives, and four of his entourage – eight people in all. Te visit of the Cameroonian troupe was promoted as of particular interest because Germany had recently (1884) acquired the Cameroonian territory as a protectorate, and the exhibition could claim to be introducing the German public to representatives of their new ‘compatriots’ and their culture. For the audience, the modes of representation employed in the exhibition gave life to the age’s dominant images of otherness, objects simultaneously of fascination and hostility. Without wishing to ignore the racial, indeed racist dimensions which have dominated the focus of previous research into the Hagenbeck ethnographic exhibitions,13 I want take a diferent approach in my analysis. I want to examine forms of self-assertion, passive resistance and self-representation, which all fnd expression in the ambiguous role of Prince Dido and in the press reports and photographs that document his stay in Germany. Tis requires that the presence of Prince Dido be contextualised in a closer consideration of the ways in which ethnographic exhibitions functioned as a form of visual medium in Germany.

Ethnographic Exhibitions: Staging and Forms of Perception in Imperial Germany As interactive events ethnographic exhibitions fall somewhere between theatre and public spectacles staged in the context of festivals, ceremonies, dances or political events. In the medium of the ethnographic exhibition, culture appears as performance. Erika Fischer-Lichte has applied the term ‘theatricality’ to this performative manifestation of cultural practices. Performance as the physical co-presence of actors and audience, who come together at a ­specifc time and place to spend a period of time together, is directly ­connected with the concepts of staging, physicality and perception.14

12 Schnorbus, ‘Mit sechs Seehunden am Spielbudenplatz in St. Pauli begann es’. 13 Tode-Arora, Für fünfzig Pfennig um die Welt; Gouafo, Wissens- und Kulturtransfer im kolonialen Kontext. 14 Fischer-Lichte, ‘Einleitung’, p. 11.

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24  Albert Gouafo Staging has to be distinguished from performance. Staging can be understood as the intentional process through which it is determined what elements should feature in the performance. Te choice of elements will depend on which ones the director thinks are best suited to function as signs bearing particular meanings. Staging can thus be defned as the business of planning, testing and determining strategies for giving materiality to the spectacle through performative acts. Physicality plays a decisive role in performance. As a text addressed to the audience the body on the stage can be read in two ways. It can be read frst as a symbolic or semiotic body, as the body in and through which individual meanings can be expressed and communicated – or as a surface for the inscription of cultural patterns.15 Ethnographic exhibitions as representations of non-European culture always operate on the model of the theatrical, as characterised by Erika Fischer-Lichte. In those exhibitions the role of the director or stage manager is taken by the impresario, whose staging constrains and directs the audience’s perceptions. As popular commercial or politically oriented spectacles based on the visual attraction of non-Europeans, and especially on their cultural and somatic otherness, ethnographic exhibitions depend on giving shape to the wishes and expectations of the audience.16 Paradoxically, though, deploying the body to communicate meaning results in making it into a signifer, and this requires denying some of its physicality. Tis exposes the power relations implicit in using the body for representation: as a medium of representation, the body is placed in an instrumentalised relationship to itself. It becomes an exhibition piece, a husk, robbed of its power of initiative. Te person doing the staging controls the meanings it can carry and uses it to construct his own identity.17 In ethnographic exhibitions the body has a variety of functions, regardless of whether the exhibition is held in a place of entertainment, a zoological garden or somewhere else. As an object, a theatrical sign, the body functions as a museum exhibit for the audience. Te viewer lets his or her imagination run free, admires the forms and aesthetic qualities of the ‘display’, and ­attributes meanings to it. Te ‘display’ for its part radiates the meanings concocted for it by the impresario. Te viewer perceives the body as a text with its own grammar and syntax. A picture taken in Berlin where Prince Dido was put on display provides us with a model of the body as an exhibit (Figure 1). Tis photo­graph was taken in the summer of 1886 during a guest performance at the Berliner Flora, an entertainment establishment in Berlin (Charlottenburg). An African stands barefoot in a calm pose, his gaze ­probably 15 Ibid., pp. 14–16. 16 Here it should be noted that the form taken by the staging is always associated with the purpose of the spectacle. Tus the organisers of colonial exhibitions attempted to distance themselves from commercial operators who translated the visual attractiveness of non-Europeans into a business. 17 Klein, ‘Körper und Teatralität’, p. 40.

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Strategies for Self-Representation  25

Fig. 1 Samson Dido in Berlin I Private Collection, Hilke Tode-Arora (Munich) (with permission)

directed at a spectator. His right hand rests on a European-style chair, which he grasps only with a cloth. Te lef hand casually holds a walking stick. A velvet cloth is wrapped around his hips. He wears a striped collarless shirt and tailcoat with large ivory cufinks on both wrists. A medallion hangs around his neck. Te whole image is completed by a top hat. Behind the chair stands a physically much smaller woman, who provides Dido with shade from an enormous parasol. She is also barefoot, and also wearing a European-style blouse. Te background of the picture shows a European landscape with deciduous trees. A metal fence too large to be overlooked stands between the trees and the people on display. In terms of the discourse of nineteenth-century ethnographic exhibitions, we fnd two forms of diference in the photograph, namely physical and

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26  Albert Gouafo cultural diference. Physically, Prince Dido is distinguished by his wellproportioned body. His dress makes him seem foreign. Te presence beside him of the diminutive woman with the heavy parasol, the youngest (aged 13) of his six wives, reinforces the Prince’s otherness. Here what is most obviously being staged is racial diference, which focuses on the fascination of the body. Even though Prince Dido asserts his integrity and pride through his stately pose, the picture – considered in cultural terms and in the light of its intended audience – stresses his ‘semi-savage’ character and the ‘comic’ nature of his performance. Te image of the ‘semi-savage’ Cameroonian is found in the recol­lections of the artist Heinrich Leutemann, who had provided his friend Carl Hagenbeck with the initial idea of staging an anthropo-zoological exhibition. A year afer Prince Dido’s appearance in Leipzig Leutemann wrote: With wives and children, though without animals, and with a very attractive collection of African products, ‘Prince Dido from Didotauwn’ [sic] came to Germany in 1886 at H’s instigation, along with some other blacks from Cameroon, which since 1885 is referred to all over Germany as a GermanAfrican colonial acquisition. Attractive, at times herculean fgures of fawless blackness, they too could not fail to cause a sensation, particularly as evidence of the spectacle ofered by those who are now no more than semi-savage. At any rate the ‘Prince’ with his top hat, his European tailcoat and the loincloth round his otherwise naked legs was a very amusing image of the semi-savage Neger, which in the end he himself must have recognised, because in Leipzig he fnally put trousers on.18

How could it be otherwise when in imperial Europe the display of people who looked diferent was always designed to contain an element of humiliation which could both stimulate public curiosity and ‘show’ the inequality of the ‘races’?19 Te indirect questioning of the princely title in the case of the Cameroonian on display is self-explanatory. Te fgure of Samson Dido from Didotown could be a prince, but a prince only in African terms. In fact the Cameroonian prince was received by Germany’s Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm, the future Kaiser Friederich, in the most splendid rooms of the Palace of Sanssouci, and this illustrates the contradictory quality of the ethnographic exhibition.20 Ethnographic exhibitions work a deception on the public because, unlike the theatre, where the audience is aware of that what they are seeing is staged, they operate on the basis of a myth of authenticity.21 To guarantee that this illusion 18 Leutemann, Lebensbeschreibung des Tierhändlers Carl Hagenbeck, pp. 67–8; emphasis mine. 19 Blanchard et al., ‘‘Human Zoos’, p. 8. 20 Ottmann, John Hagenbeck, p. 11. 21 Philippe Liotard examines this aspect of ethnographic exhibitions in connection with the staging of bodies in football matches. Here he is looking at the football stadium as a stage: ‘Tus, the invention of the stadium as a space adapted for the spectacle of physical confrontation generates a new visibility, like all human zoos. Te exhibitions, be

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Strategies for Self-Representation  27 was maintained the person on display signed a contract with set guidelines; he or she knew exactly the role they had to play in front of the audience. Te metal fence was additional security for the organiser so that the shared secret would not be exposed through uncontrolled contact between the ‘exhibits’ and the visitors. As a colonial subject Prince Dido is an ambiguous fgure. In Leutemann’s words, Dido is displayed as a ‘semi-savage Neger’, a version of what was known as a ‘nigger in trousers’ (Hosenneger) – or rather an inversion, since Dido’s awareness of himself as a ridiculous fgure is confrmed by the fact that ‘in Leipzig he fnally put trousers on.’ Tis typifes the contradiction at the root of the discourse of ‘civilisation’. Despite the apparent intention to civilise the so-called primitives, as soon as they practise the lessons of civilisation they become comical – indeed must be made comical because of the danger inherent in the narrowing of the distance between ‘primitive’ and ‘civilised’. When Africans appropriated European modes of behaviour they called into question the essentialist discourse that legitimated the vision of colonial subjects as born to permanent subjection and service. As Leutemann’s use of the term ‘semi-savage’ (halbwild – rather than semi-civilised) indicates, Neger in trousers were perceived as at best inauthentic, Africans corrupted by civilisation. In order to maintain the dominance of the colonialist discourse Europeans were invited to view the African who represented a connecting link between the European and African world as a defcient imitation of western civilisation, rather than acknowledge this cultural hybrid as a new kind of interlocutor. But there was always another side to this story. Te Hosenneger became a fgure of fun among the European public in the 1880s and 1890s, at a time in which African colonial subjects educated in Germany and/or by Germans in the colonies were beginning to articulate their own self-image. And for the Cameroonian elite from which Samson Dido came the purchase and wearing of European clothing represented the fruits of a contact in which they were active agents and the material of an entirely authentic cultural practice. Te taste for buying and wearing fashionable European clothes is documented among this group – and particularly the men – from the pre-colonial period well into the 1930s.22 Members of Dido’s generation might demonstrate both

they ethnographic or sporting, create a place to which the public comes to see a staging that depends on a strict spacialisation of bodies. But unlike the spectacles ofered by the performing arts (theatre or dance), the audience at these exhibitions is not neces­ sarily conscious of the staging and its efects.’ Liotard, ‘Des zoos humains aux stades’, p. 413. Translation by the editors; emphasis my own. Tis chapter has not been included in the English edition of the volume: see Blanchard et al. (eds.), Human Zoos. 22 Lynn Schler, ‘Bridewealth, Guns and other Status Symbols’, p. 223. Cf. Miller, Slaves to Fashion for an account of African-American ‘dandyism’, which largely overlooks the global context of the phenomenon.

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28  Albert Gouafo

Fig. 2 Samson Dido in Berlin II Reproduced from Victor Ottmann (ed.), John Hagenbeck. Fünfundzwanzig Jahre Ceylon (Dresden: Deutsche Buchwerkstätten, 1922), p. 17. Every efort has been made to trace the copyright holder.

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Strategies for Self-Representation  29 their taste and their closeness to the colonial authorities by habitually wearing full suits of European clothes even in the colony. Karl/Charles Atangana, the son of a ‘Chief’ from the Beti ethnic group, wore German-style military dress as a marker of his social position and his role as middleman between the German administration and his own subjects, and always dressed in the European fashion even when out of uniform.23 But the same men who returned from a sojourn in Germany dressed in top hats, frock coats and stif collars could also engage in the kind of ‘bricolage’ represented by Dido’s Berlin costume.24 Te images of the self that Africans had developed thanks to their newly won contact with Europe, then, stood in sharp contrast with the images of them as the other which dominated contemporary European expectations. Since both self- and other-image were constructed out of many of the same materials, it is easy when we read representations of individuals like Prince Dido to overlook the signals, the messages about themselves that they are presenting to onlookers. Even without trousers, Prince Dido is a Hosenneger, but that does not mean that he is satisfed to appear before the German public as an exhibit. Accordingly, he counters the impresario’s staging through his stately pose. Tis is particularly refected in a photograph that was taken in the same amusement premises, the Berliner Flora (Figure 2). Prince Dido wears the same clothes as in Figure 1. Like the previous picture, this is not a candid photo. We have to assume that the photographs taken during the exhibition were used as postcards, serving not only as mementos for visitors, but also to advertise future guest performances. Te crucial diference in comparison to the frst image is that here he is seated, and despite the posed character of the photograph he ofers a visual account of himself. Te self-construction is enabled by the fact that he knows that he is no longer on a stage in front of an audience; instead he is in front of a photographer somewhere in the grounds of an amusement park. Te metal fence from the previous picture is nowhere to be seen. In contrast to the previous photograph, in which the other-­ determined presentation of the ‘display item’ edges out the self-presentation of the African dignitary, in this image the two levels of representation are more equally balanced. Prince Dido is sitting with his legs spread as a sign of self assurance, self confdence, and cultural rootedness, all in keeping with his own sense of self. Proudly he lays his hands on his thighs. Te absence of the walking stick, in this case a sign of his status within the Duala aristocracy, shows the Prince’s desire to identify fully only with the Germans from now on. He wants to be seen as a fellow citizen or friend of the Germans. In the picture he shows that he is capable of being civilised. Te large parasol which ofers him shade shows his dignity and can be seen as an equivalent to the

23 Quinn, ‘Charles Atangana of Yaounde’. Cf. Geary, ‘Political Dress’. 24 Max Buchner, Kamerun, Skizzen und Betrachtungen, pp. 48–9.

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30  Albert Gouafo decorated uniform of a colonial ofcer. While in the previous image Prince Dido was exhibited as a ‘Hosenneger’ to be laughed at, his pose in this second image constitutes him as a German-Cameroonian dignitary who wishes to live together with the Germans on an equal footing. Tis interpretation gains corroboration from the fact that outside of the exhibition setting Prince Dido actively interacted with prominent fgures from German politics (as evidenced by the reception held for him at Potsdam by the Crown Prince Friederich Wilhelm) and with German businessmen. German press reports were now generous in their praise of Prince Dido, which contrasted with the way he was presented and perceived in the human zoo.

Othering, Permutation and the Staging of the Self When Prince Dido is viewed away from the stage the observer gains a very diferent picture of him. A permutation of recognition occurs; in other words, there is an adjustment or shif in the dominant scale of values within social discourse. In Leipzig, Prince Dido was greeted as a statesman, like an ambassador of the newly acquired colony, in accordance with his royal status. Te Leipziger Tageblatt (LT hereafer) newspaper reported: Prince Dido from Cameroon arrived here at half past fve on the Berlin Railway and was greeted by the Director of the Zoological Gardens Herr Prinkert. Accompanied by Herr Prinkert the brown-skinned Prince took his place alongside his two wives and his son in a spectacular carriage drawn by four horses with an outrider; the entourage as well as representatives of Hagenbeck and the African agent sat in the two following carriages. … Naturally the journey to the Zoological Gardens was the object of great public interest.25

Tis account of Prince Dido’s appearance is marked by the combination of respectful acknowledgement on the part of his hosts and fascination at the exotic on the part of the Leipzig population, who had been informed about the Prince’s arrival in advance by advertisements in the press. On the one hand, the formal reception by the Director of the Leipzig Zoological Gardens should be seen as an advertising strategy, which draws added attention to the cavalcade featuring Prince Dido and his entourage. On the other hand, this reception constitutes a gesture of respect, even when the newspaper report deploys Prince Dido’s skin colour as an exotic marker of diference. Te fact that he was picked up by the Director and that he sat at the head of a ‘spectacular’ procession with his family while his entourage and his recruiter Fritz Angerer followed in a separate carriage could also point to recognition of his status: 25 LT, no. 229 (17 August 1886), p. 4547; emphasis in this and the following excerpts is mine.

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Strategies for Self-Representation  31 Last night the African guests moved into the chambers [Gemächer] prepared for them in the ice rink of the Zoological Gardens, which the decorator’s skill has rendered suitable for guests of their rank. Apart from the living room and bedrooms, a grandly furnished reception room is among the ones placed at the disposal of the brown Prince from the land of Cameroon and his dependants, and he has already received visitors there today.26

Te editor of the LT insists upon the rank and special status of the Prince. Like any worthy fgure of authority the Prince is accommodated in a proper ‘chamber’. A skating rink may not appear the most ftting lodgings for such a guest, but for practical reasons – the Prince was to perform daily over a period of two weeks in the Zoological Gardens – suitable accommodation was constructed. Like any important dignitary he had a reception room at his disposal in which he could receive guests. But on the fringes of the exhibitions the ‘semi-civilised’ exhibit became a middleman for trade in the colony. Businessmen pursued him ofering him personal tours of their establishments. Tey saw in the Cameroonian prince a multiplier of ‘Germanness’ overseas and they did not shy away from presenting him with examples of their wares as gifs: Early Monday afernoon the brown Prince Dido of Didotown visited the hat making factory of Herr Haugl, supplier to the court, here in the Rosenthalgasse. Herr Haugl, who personally took the Prince on a tour of his establishment, provided the latter with an in-depth introduction to art of hat making. Te production of a piece of felt awakened great interest in the Cameroonian chief. Herr Haugl inserted a packet of wool into one side of the machine, and a piece of felt came out the other side. Te fulling room and the fnishing workshop also caught the excited attention of the Prince. As a memento Herr Haugl honoured his guest with the gif of a collapsible top hat, a type of headgear which we understand has not yet been introduced in Cameroon. Trough his interpreter the Prince thanked Herr Haugl for this kind gesture and amid the delighted shouts of the waiting crowd, who in the meantime had gathered out front, the Prince lef for a visit to one of the larger local printing houses.27

It remains unclear in how far and in what ways Prince Dido was able to exploit what he had experienced during his stay in Germany. As a potential supplier of cotton, which could be useful in the hat making business, it was to be expected that the Prince would be of interest to Herr Haugl. To begin with, however, getting to know one another was the most important thing. Te otherness of Prince Dido in the zoo, a fgure at once threatening and inferior, recedes into the background in these accounts; now he is treated 26 LT, no. 230 (18 August 1886), p. 4664. 27 LT, no. 236 (24 August 1886), p. 4773. Te same paper commented: ‘Prince Dido, the representative of our German colony in Cameroon who is currently here, is actively trying to get to know German industry’. LT, no. 239 (27 August 1886), p. 4829.

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32  Albert Gouafo e­ ntirely as a partner or cultural mediator between the colony and the metropole in a transaction on which the well-being of the fatherland depends: Tomorrow, Monday, towards evening a strange guest is making a festive entrance into our town: Prince Dido from the land of Cameroon with his two wives and his whole entourage. From the outset it should be remarked that what we have here is not one of those exotic guests who stray our way from time to time in order to be stared at. No, the lineage of Prince Dido is completely beyond question, he is in fact a prince in the new German imperial territory and is a near blood relation to the very King Bell who is so popular here and throughout Germany. Tis Duala Prince has come to us in order to get to know this country, whose greatness and power people are already talking about on the Dark Continent. He wants to make contact with the people who are rightly being called his imperial brothers [Reichsbrüder] and he will return to his homeland with much to report about all he has seen and experienced in Germany. In this way Prince Dido has a cultural mission to fulfl, whose meaning and signifcance has also been recognised in Berlin, because here this exotic guest was ceremonially received and welcomed by the Crown Prince and Crown Princess of the German Empire.28

In the article Prince Dido is situated in relation to the ruling Duala Para­ mount, King Ndumbe Lobe Bell, with whom he was connected by marriage. Although his exotic character is not in doubt, this is not at the forefront of the article. Te ‘exotic guest’ is a prince and, under certain circumstances, can become a king. He is a representative of the ‘new German imperial territory’. During his four-month stay in Germany he will assemble plenty of evidence of Germany’s ‘greatness’ and ‘power’. As the text puts it, he has reason to be called a ‘Reichsbruder’. Prince Dido is a connective link between the empire and the colony, and the relationship that connects him to his alleged Reichsbrüder, on the whole still hierarchical and ambiguous, is characteristic of the colonial encounter.

Conclusion As the tours of Carl Hagenbeck’s Cameroonian troupe show, ethnographic exhibitions drew their energy from an array of stereotypes of colonial subjects whose function was to legitimate the presumption of an ontological inferiority underlying the physical markers of diference.29 Tis discourse was, however, rapidly challenged by an African counter-discourse, though one whose articulation remained largely subliminal. Even in the press reports we have to rely on discourse analysis to recover the moments of proud selfrepresentation, because Prince Dido does not speak; rather, it is his behaviour that is reported. Prince Dido of Didotown demonstrated that he was worthy 28 LT, no. 227 (Sunday, 15 August 1886), p. 4617. 29 Gouafo, ‘Du racisme scientifque au racisme populaire’.

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Strategies for Self-Representation  33 of being civilised – that is, that he was capable of development – by adopting European cultural models. Tese eforts did not always win him the sympathy of proponents of ‘civilisation’. Instead he was mocked as a poor simulacrum of European culture. In concrete interactions of an economic nature, however, he asserted himself as a self-confdent partner of the Germans in the opening up of the Cameroon protectorate. He successfully played the role of elite Duala, friend of the Germans. Tis is apparent not only in the stately poses in his photographs – a non-verbal form of communication, which because of the dominant social discourse about Africans was only partially understood by the German public – but also in the press reports that show him making contact with infuential Germans with the assistance of an interpreter. A mimic man, he challenged the discourse of ‘civilisation’ by successfully assert­ ing hybridity.

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Chapter 3

Schwarze Schmach and métissages contemporains: Te Politics and Poetics of Mixed Marriage in a Refugee Family Eve Rosenhaf*

Tis chapter examines aspects of the transnational experience of a family founded by a German-educated Cameroonian, Dualla Misipo, and more particularly the ways in which that experience was processed in narrative texts authored by Misipo and his son Ekwé, in German and French respectively, between the 1920s and the end of the twentieth century. Te Misipos ­experienced a double displacement over geographical and linguistic ­boundaries; Dualla Misipo travelled from Africa to Germany before the First World War and then took his family from Germany to France in 1937. Te latter move coincided with and indeed was occasioned by a political watershed, the rise of Nazism and a new world war; it was facilitated by the fact that the Misipos, while still resident in Germany, had become subjects of the French state when control of Cameroon was transferred from Germany to France under the Versailles Treaty. Taken together, the texts document ‘trans­ national lives’ in terms of biological and cultural genealogies and ­journeys in time and space; more particularly, they ofer an unusual insight into lives shaped by the overlapping of colonial and post-colonial circumstances and of nation state jurisdictions, whose tensions ofer an extreme type of the twentieth-century condition. By the same token, the texts challenge interpretation. Tose multiple displacements generate uncertainties about how and where the texts and their authors ‘ft’ in our critical canons and historical narratives, which continue *Research towards this chapter was fnanced by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. For comments and suggestions on earlier drafs I am grateful to members of the Histories and Memories Research Group in the Department of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies, University of Liverpool, and to Robbie Aitken, Charles Forsdick, Albert Gouafo, Lisa Shaw and Michelle Wright.

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Te Politics and Poetics of Mixed Marriage  35 to be structured around distinct nation state cultures with their respective colonial entanglements and racial histories. Te ruptures in the Misipos’ lives were more common among Africans in Europe than we may have imagined, but there is no published source for the quality of the experience comparable to these works, in either German or French. Tis, along with the narrative modes adopted by the authors (neither is straightforward autobiography), raises questions about generic models and poses the challenge of achieving a reading that does justice equally to their literary and their documentary qualities. Similarly, in order to comprehend the Misipos’ experiences and their responses we need to rethink the terms in which we characterise the displacement and its consequences – whether we see our subjects as travelling, migrant or diasporic, for example, and what we exclude in making a choice. I choose here to emphasise their authors’ quality as refugees from Nazi Germany. Tis refects my reading of the narratives in the context of other evidence for their lives, and it allows us to see the Misipos in an unaccustomed light: Tey become subjects of a key moment in European history whose family narratives are rarely read in parallel with those of African ‘migration’ and ‘diaspora’. Te emphasis on the political conditions of their displacement ofers a perspective from which to refect on the ways in which their work bespeaks processes of subjective accommodation with the post-war and post-colonial order. As narratives of the making and survival of families, in which the creation, abandonment and re-creation of home is driven by the unmaking and remaking of nation states, they confrm the emphasis that feminist scholars in both German and francophone studies have begun to place on the importance of women and the domestic sphere in the shaping of diasporic identities. My purpose, then, is not to impose a unity on texts and identities whose indeterminacy is a defning feature of the transnational condition. Rather, I want to explore the respective ways in which these two texts, documents not principally of what happened to these men but of how they came to terms with it, expose the contradictions and sources of tension inherent in that condition. A central ‘contradiction’ in the colonial and post-colonial societies which the Misipos inhabited has been interracial sexual relations and mixed marriage, or métissage. Both authors married white women, and both use this theme to frame their refections on their wider experiences of being displaced and fnding new homes. It is this aspect of the two texts that this chapter foregrounds. Dualla Misipo’s Der Junge aus Duala is a novel whose frst-person narrative centres on the courtship between a Cameroonian student and a white German woman. Ekwé Misipo’s Métissages contemporains, described by its publishers as a récit autobiographique, ofers an account in the third person of a family whose members are manifestly Dualla Misipo and his wife, their son and grandson, from the standpoint of the second, French-educated genera­tion. Both articulate an explicitly anti-racist position. But their responses to the challenge of white racism are diferent, and this is apparent not

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36  Eve Rosenhaf least in their respective characterisations of the white women who stand at the centre of both accounts – the partner of Dualla’s protagonist, the mother and wife of Ekwé’s. Trough its emphasis on the traumatic quality of interracial relationships in white society, the father’s narrative evokes the ambivalence associated with the displaced subject’s efort to appropriate European culture, and it ends on a note of scepticism. By contrast, the son ofers us a family romance in which mixed marriage becomes the keystone of a new, colourblind national order.

Settling and Unsettling: Ambiguous Texts and Diasporic Dwelling Each of these texts distances itself from the familiar forms of testimony or autobiography; both are artfully constructed and in some degree ‘literary’. Der Junge aus Duala in particular has been identifed as a pioneering work of literary modernism in the light of its fractured and allusive narrative mode, and I discuss this further below. Because I am a historian, the narratives are interesting to me principally as artefacts of experience that bear the traces of the moments of their creation. Tere are independent documentary sources for the biographical circumstances that produced these narratives and on which they refect. I understand the texts as reworkings of those circumstances, which by the very fact of reworking, can allow access to the subjectivity of the authors. At the same time, consideration of the poetic or ‘textifying’ process is central to my analysis. Tis is the case not least because I am interested in them as exemplars of a collective and generational experience. Dualla Misipo is unique among his generation of germanophone Africans in having lef a substantial piece of writing in his own voice not obviously conditioned by an ‘autobiographical occasion’ of other than his own choosing.1 Tis very uniqueness makes it difcult to identify models or to situate it in relation to other texts in a way that would help to mediate between its literary and testimonial qualities. Tere is no German literary model, although the interweaving of frst-person observations about life in the colony and in Germany between 1890 and 1918 with Cameroonian folktales echoes the structure and content of a collection of Yaounde-language texts published

1 Cf. Zussman, ‘Autobiographical Occasions’, p. 5. Examples of shorter accounts by African visitors to Germany, collated or published by metropolitan authors, include Joseph Ekolo, Wie ein Schwarzer das Land der Weissen ansieht; the memoir of Martin Aku in Diederich Westermann, Afrikaner erzählen ihr Leben; contributions by Karl Atangana and Paul Messi in Martin Heepe, Jaunde-Texte von Karl Atangana und Paul Messi; and the account of Amuer bin Naur ilOmeiri in Carl Gotthilf Büttner, Lieder und Geschichte der Suaheli.

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Te Politics and Poetics of Mixed Marriage  37 with parallel German translations in 1919.2 We can only speculate on whether Misipo might have read Ousmane Socé Diop’s Mirages de Paris, published in the year of the Misipos’ arrival in Paris. Diop’s novel addresses the same themes as Der Junge aus Duala and uses some of the same narrative topoi – notably the story of a doomed afair between the West African protagonist and a white Frenchwoman. Although it is more conventional in style, critics have drawn attention to the way in which Mirages de Paris, like other literary accounts of the experience of colonial Africans in the metropole, ‘address[es] questions of political and cultural identity from within a hall of mirrors’, 3 generating subliminally the unsettling efect that Misipo achieves through his narrative technique. Te same critical scholarship emphasises generic indeterminacy as a persistent quality of writing by (post-)colonial authors, with particular reference to the literature of travel between colony and metropole.4 Tere is a wider critical context that legitimates the reading of Misipo’s novel as testimony precisely because of its generic hybridity. Te fctional narrative that draws on personal experiences to represent the situation of a group is familiar in African American writing and the scholarship on it.5 Among the key works in the African American literary canon, James Weldon Johnson’s Te Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man (1912) is one which (like Der Junge aus Duala) works by unsettling the reader rather than consistently deploying the more familiar identifcatory devices of sentimental realism. Among other things an extended refection on métissage, though in quite diferent terms from Misipo’s, Johnson’s novel was published in German in 1928, in the context of a wider German reception of New Negro writing, and it is if anything more likely that Dualla Misipo read Johnson than that he read Mirages de Paris.6 Te texts according sit squarely in the middle of the feld of tension created by a body of literary and scholarly writing in which stories of métissage can be both vehicles for ‘textifying’ trauma and exemplars of a paradoxical nor­mality. Among black writers, Frantz Fanon established a model for pathologising métissage in his ‘clinical study’ of black alienation, Peau noire, masques blancs of 1952, and in African American writing a powerful and abiding motif is the way in which the fact or suspicion of ‘miscegenation’ activates the violence inherent in a historically embedded racial hierarchy and reinscribes white 2 Heepe, Jaunde-Texte. 3 Miller, Nationalists and Nomads, p. 56. On Mirages de Paris, see Ní Loingsigh, Postcolonial Eyes, pp. 32–51; Little, Between Totem and Taboo, pp. 113–19. 4 Ní Loingsigh, Postcolonial Eyes, pp. 15–24. 5 See Raynaud, ‘“Flesh and Blood”’, on James Baldwin; Gates Jr., Figures in Black, pp. 125–63, on Harriet E. Wilson’s Our Nig; Adams, Telling Lies in Modern American Autobiography, pp. 69–84, on Richard Wright’s Black Boy. 6 Johnson, Der weisse Neger. For a survey of the critical literature on Johnson, see Goellnicht, ‘Passing as Autobiography’. For the reception of African-American writing in Germany, see Schwarz, ‘“New Negro Renaissance”’.

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38  Eve Rosenhaf racism as a challenge specifcally to masculine self-respect.7 For African men who arrived in Europe during the high colonial period, and especially if they remained, there was ofen no alternative to fnding sexual and life partners among the native white population. Marriages between black men and white women point us towards an actual or aspirational realm of relative nor­ mality and sustained intimacy whose histories and internal dynamics call for explora­tion. Accordingly, as scholarship on ‘race’ and colonialism has moved to consider the experience of the colonial subjects as well as the mentality of the colonisers, interest has shifed from the transgressive force of miscegenation to the lives of couples in mixed marriages and their children. Tis allows us to trace with particular precision the ways in which racism was channelled through legal and institutional structures, because for migrants whose status in the metropole was liminal or uncertain, marriage was the moment which could turn a transnational condition into a problem. Among the frst generation of African arrivers in Germany, for example, it was the desire to marry that made it necessary for their civil status to be scrutinised and fxed and put the institutional limits to belonging to the test.8 Associated with this has been a broadening of the gender perspective. On the one hand, white wives and ‘mixed-race’ daughters have become an object of attention in the family frame.9 Te term ‘family frame’ is used both by Ann Laura Stoler in her ‘history of colonial intimacy’ and by Marianne Hirsch in her study of Holocaust narrative and postmemory.10 I appropriate it here to signal the relevance to the Misipos of the complex formations of nostalgia and intergenerational communication that arise in both postcolonial and post-Holocaust memory, and the crucial role that women play in those formations. Te term also signals the ways in which the self-evident ordinariness of life in families is documented in photographs, a theme which Tina Campt has addressed with particular relevance to people who grew up biracial in twentieth-century Germany. She uses the term ‘diasporic dwelling’ to direct our attention to the elements of the everyday in the lives of ‘mixed’ families and the materials out of which they constructed normality.11 For Dualla Misipo the family in the (metaphorical) frame was an achievement which remained for many years embattled, and he ‘textifes’ its making in ways that underline displacement and trauma. Ekwé Misipo’s reworking of the biographical material is formally less challenging. It is equally wilful (and psychologically more complex), though, inasmuch as his narrative requires suppressing the struggles incurred by everyday and institutional racism and

7 Fanon, Peau noire, masques blancs, pp. 33–66, 162–4; Harris, Exorcising Blackness. 8 Nagl, Grenzfälle, p. 159. 9 Tabili, ‘Empire is the Enemy of Love’; Nassy Brown, Dropping Anchor; Brändle, ‘Johannes Glatty’. 10 Stoler, Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power, p. 183; Hirsch, Family Frames. 11 Campt, ‘Family Matters’.

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Te Politics and Poetics of Mixed Marriage  39 the destructive heritage of colonialism, except as occasions for celebrating the capacity of the family to transcend them. His text can be fruitfully read in the light of a second critical intervention around gender and family, namely Ayo Coly’s work on the persistence of nationhood as a value in francophone African writing.12

Te Misipos Te history of the Misipos exemplifes the complexity of Africans’ experience of movement in the frst half of the twentieth century. Dualla Misipo was one of several hundred natives of Germany’s African colonies who travelled to Germany before the First World War.13 He was born in Douala, the principal port city of Cameroon, in 1901, and educated in German schools there. His parents, members of the ethnic Duala élite, sent him to Germany at the age of twelve to continue his schooling. Stranded there during the war and unable to return home aferwards, he sought employment and started a family. Afer the National Socialist takeover in 1933, systematic harassment drove the family to Paris. Tere they remained, acquiring cultural capital and citizenship in the second generation. Te Misipos’ refections on the place of Africa in Europe voice the ­diasporic African becoming aware of ‘diference’ and speaking against white racism, the exile dispossessed by one nation state and ill at ease in a second, and the child of immigrants fully assimilated to a process of post-colonial nation-building. Granted the fuidity and artifciality of distinctions between diferent kinds of transnational mobility, I have chosen to characterise the Misipos as a refugee family. Tis allows me to do justice to evidence of their experience both ­internal and external to the texts. Métissages contemporains, written by the child who was eleven years old when forced to fee his home in Germany by political catastrophe, takes that experience as the starting point for a history in which the dispossessed and threatened outsider becomes an insider. Ekwé Misipo writes as a European about an experience of displacement and re­integra­tion which was shared by millions of others in Germany, France and other parts of the continent in the frst half of the century. Te story that he ‘fnishes’ is a refugee story. As begun by Dualla Misipo, it is a diferent kind of story, but in its fnal form the father’s text bears the markers – we might say the scars – as much of the forced displacement from Germany as of the initial and continuing separation from his birthplace on the coast of West Africa. When we see the Misipos – black father, white mother, and métis son – as refugees, then, we see them as subjects of a European history, even if we remain alert to the things that distinguished them from some other Europeans.

12 Coly, Pull of Postcolonial Nationhood. 13 Aitken, ‘Education and Migration’.

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40  Eve Rosenhaf Te refugee status of Africans seeking to escape discrimination and harass­ment under the Nazi regime was articulated by other Africans and by sympathetic observers in the 1930s. Paul Malapa was of the same generation as Ekwé Misipo, the Hamburg-born son of a Cameroonian father and a half-Jewish German woman. When he was expelled from Germany in the early 1930s, one of the frst ofces he visited in Paris was the Jewish refugee aid agency.14 He was also one of several germanophone Cameroonians who found support among their Parisian compatriots and other black activists in pressuring the French state to acknowledge its responsibility towards them as they came under pressure from the Nazi regime. Te status of Cameroonians (and Togolese) was a conundrum. Te generation raised before 1914 was acculturated in Germany but subject to France as the holder of mandate power in Cameroon; the second, francophone, generation too qualifed neither as metropolitan nor as fully colonial subjects. Te puzzle posed a peculiar challenge to the national and imperial order of things, and it was the welter of claims and categories presented by the general refugee crisis that pushed the French authorities to start working it out.15 Reading the Misipos’ books as refugee texts also furnishes a framework for analysing the generational and gender dynamics at work in them, using the tools and insights generated by scholarly work on emigration.16 Der Junge aus Duala concludes with a tribute to the marriage based on love, ‘that monstrous AND YET of a man and a woman, willing the impossible, still to be and remain one in spite of the strife, pain and sufering of life together’ (202). While no independent evidence gives us an insight into the intimate character of the Misipos’ marriage, it is clear that their partnership survived some extraordinary stresses. Tey had to negotiate married life in two juris­ dictions which were for the most part legally permissive but culturally hostile to mixed marriages. In Germany there was no legal basis on which marriages between whites and blacks could be prevented before 1933.17 But lingering hostility at both ofcial and popular levels tended to be activated in times of social tension. Tus the years between 1919 and 1922 were characterised by the schwarze Schmach, or Black Horror campaign, in which public outrage against the occupa­tion of the Rhineland by French troops fxed on the ­presence of African soldiers among the occupiers. Propaganda focusing on

14 ‘Paul Malapa Décryptage’, p. 62. 15 On France and the refugee ‘crisis’, see Caron, Uneasy Asylum and Noiriel, Réfugiés et sans-papiers, neither of which makes reference to the situation of Africans seeking repatriation from Germany. For the agitation of African associations in Paris in support of Africans in Germany, see the 1936–8 correspondence in CAOM, AGEFOM 1003/3518, 3558 and 3560, and FMSGT 31/294. 16 On generation, see Suleiman, ‘Te 1.5 Generation’, which, like most studies of refugees from Nazism, focuses on Jewish child survivors. 17 Te best account of colonial policy on mixed marriages is still Wildenthal, German Women for Empire, pp. 79–130.

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Te Politics and Poetics of Mixed Marriage  41 an imagined threat of sexual violence to German women prompted a wave of attacks on Africans in Germany, and in 1922 Misipo himself became known to the German authorities as spokesman for protests against the campaign.18 Te onset of political and economic crisis at the end of the decade was accompanied by a new rise in overt racism.19 Once the National Socialists were in power new mixed marriages were subject to ofcial scrutiny on the basis of a series of interviews and physical examinations, whose outcome could be compulsory sterilisation. Te criminalising term Rassenschande was commonly used to characterise black–white relationships, and couples were subject to harassment and pressure from both ofcial and unofcial quarters.20 Tis was the context for the frst decade of the Misipos’ family life.21 When Ekwé was born in 1926, Dualla and Ekwé’s mother, Luise, were both aged twenty-fve. Tey may have met in the Frankfurt student circles which he frequented in the 1920s; her father was a post ofce employee and she was working as a typist. Misipo formally declared the child to be his own shortly afer his birth, but the couple did not marry until August 1930, afer Luise’s mother had died and her father had remarried and moved away. Luise gave up work in 1931. Two more sons were born, in 1932 and 1934, but neither survived the frst month. Afer the consolidation of the Nazi regime, Nazi activists from their neighbourhood in Frankfurt began not only to attack Misipo but to visit Luise attempting to persuade her to leave her husband. Now looking for work, Luise was repeatedly turned away because she was known to be married to an African, or lost her job when her family circumstances were revealed. She, Dualla and Ekwé were subject to verbal and physical assaults when they went out in public. Te family was also formally declared stateless: there is no evidence that Misipo was ever naturalised, but he ‘passed’ for many years as a German national. Some time afer 1933, though, he and Luise were issued with documents which unambiguously certifed that they and their son were not German. In March 1937, they were granted French passports and travelled to Paris, where they settled with the help of a Protestant aid organisation. Te France in which they took refuge could not refuse them entry, but it greeted them with distinct ambivalence. Here, too, mixed marriages were legal, but attitudes to métissage were closely associated with fears of national 18 Reich Minister for Reconstruction to German Colonial Society, 30 Oct 1922, BAB R8023 1077/a, unpag. Te extensive literature on the schwarze Schmach campaign has most recently been summarised by Sandra Mass, Weisse Helden – schwarze Krieger, pp. 71–120. 19 See e.g. Oguntoye, Opitz and Schultz, Farbe bekennen, p. 69. 20 For an example, see Römer, Die grauen Busse in Schwaben, pp. 12–18. For ­ofcial policy, see Ministerial-Blatt für die Preußische innere Verwaltung, 96 (1935): 1426–34; Przyrembel, ‘Rassenschande’, pp. 243, 320. 21 Except where otherwise noted, biographical data are drawn from household registration records, Institut für Stadtgeschichte Frankfurt; birth and marriage registrations, Standesamt Frankfurt am Main; compensation claims, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv Wiesbaden, fles 518 40437 and 518 2469 22.

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42  Eve Rosenhaf degeneration.22 And while the citizenship status of the French wives and the children of white immigrants was given careful attention in legislation during the 1920s, the possibility of legal assimilation for colonial subjects and their children was repeatedly deferred.23 Te Misipos were in any case doubly problematic. As soon as they arrived in France Dualla asked to be repatriated to Cameroon. Te request was denied on the grounds of Misipo’s suspected Germanophilia and also because the authorities regarded the return of Africans with white wives as subversive of good order in the colonies.24 Once settled in Paris, Ekwé was able to attend the lycée and make good progress there. Te outbreak of the Second World War brought new challenges, however. Vichy legislation which discriminated against non-citizens disadvantaged most ­colonial subjects and licensed everyday racism. With the German occupation, expressly anti-black measures were introduced. And the Misipos again came under direct threat, attracting the attention of the German security services whose mission was to separate German women from their racially un­desirable husbands and children and repatriate them to the Reich.25

Te Texts Of the two texts arising out of these experiences, Der Junge aus Duala is the more complex one, and in every sense darker. Te action is set against the background of the schwarze Schmach campaign, an atmosphere of spiralling popular racism that overshadows the relationship between the frst-person narrator, Ekwe Njembele, and his white partner, Marianne. In the end, the prospect of marriage between Ekwe and Marianne is accepted by her parents, but the reconciliation scene is interrupted by the author’s (internal) refection on the problems faced by the children of mixed marriages which ends with an observation about how and why they distance themselves from Africans and African culture. In the course of the ambiguous closing paragraphs the following passage occurs: And the Christians say too: ‘Each man will forsake his father and mother, fnd a wife in another country and the two are without shame. He will cleave to his wife and they will be one.’ (201–2) 22 Saada, Les Enfants de la colonie; Camiscioli, Reproducing the ‘French Race’; White, Children of the French Empire. 23 Bruschi, ‘La Nationalité dans le droit colonial’. 24 Commissioner for Cameroon to the Minister of the Colonies, 12 August 1937, CAOM, FMSGT 31/294, unpag. Tis was a view shared by the German and British authorities in their respective colonial and mandate territories: Wimmelbücker, Mtoro bin Mwini Bakari, pp. 45–8; Ray, ‘“Te White Wife Problem”’. 25 For the policy, see Rademacher, Referat DIII, to Abteilung R, 4 December 1941, PAAA, Inland I–Partei, R99176, frames 00014–15.

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Te Politics and Poetics of Mixed Marriage  43 Te reference to shame here points to a nexus that is key to the text: that between the awareness of self as a sexual subject and exposure to a condemnatory gaze. Tis moment is analogous to and sometimes identical with the one at which the African subject becomes aware of himself or herself as ‘raced’.26 It is present in the biblical account of the Fall, which Misipo invokes while misquoting the original text. Misipo’s ‘Christian’ saying is nowhere to be found in Scripture. It is largely a compound of the two verses of Genesis (Gen. 2: 24–5) which form the bridge between the creation story and mankind’s loss of sexual innocence: Terefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one fesh.   And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

Te message of racial conciliation, though, is fabricated. Misipo’s insertion ‘fnd a wife in a foreign country’ contradicts everything the Old Testament says about marrying foreign women, and also anything he is likely to have been taught in Cameroon. We may be reminded here of the phrase ‘hall of mirrors’: European readers fnd their own culture refected back at them but in an inverted form. And this is one of a number of tricks which Dualla Misipo plays on the reader. Te time sequence of the novel is fractured. Te narrative moves between accounts of key moments in Ekwe’s courtship of Marianne, reminiscences of life in Cameroon, twelve-year-old Ekwe’s introduction to Germany and life with his German host family, Cameroonian folktales embedded in conversations with Marianne, her family and friends, athletic meets in Germany in which Ekwe plays a role as a star runner for a local team and through which he gains Marianne’s attention, and observations about Germany in the First World War. Direct and relatively detailed reference to the schwarze Schmach campaign of 1922 takes the form of a verbal collage of press reports. But, in a characteristic trick of the narrative, the account of that propaganda and its efect on his relationship with Marianne – ‘Now they’re screaming and yelling about the “Neger” again’ (150; emphasis mine) – precedes the account of the First World War, afer which he returns to the theme (and the present of 1922) with ‘And now the war against the Neger is unleashed’ (161). Misipo’s observations about German society at war emphasise from a young person’s perspective not only the privations of the home front but the failure of solidarity. Here, an attentive reader can recognise the rhetorical power of using an interpolated critique of how Germans behaved in wartime to expose the absurdity of the propaganda ‘war’ against the Negro.27 However, the deliberate anachronisms in the book may prove more perplexing. Te 26 Nganang, ‘Autobiographies of Blackness in Germany’, refers to this as the ‘discovery of race’. 27 Lennox, ‘Postcolonial Writing in Germany’.

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44  Eve Rosenhaf moment at which Ekwe fnds a racialised identity thrust upon him – when he learns to see himself as a ‘Neger’ through the eyes of Europeans – is located in his childhood in Germany (so between 1913 and 1920), when he was harassed by other children and youths. He links the fear these incidents inspired to what he had heard about lynchings and about black students in the American South being attacked by whites in a restaurant (145–6). Accounts of lynchings in the United States did circulate in the German press as early as 1903, but the high point of German awareness of lynching came with the international campaigns of the NAACP in the 1920s and 1930s, and the trope of racial confrontation in Southern restaurants clearly refers to the civil rights campaigns which began in the late 1950s.28 A similar anachronism occurs in one of Ekwe’s conversations with Jünger, an outspokenly anti-racist sports journalist. Afer Ekwe has recounted a Cameroonian folktale to the delight of Marianne and her family and friends, Jünger responds with an observation that is peppered with references to atomic energy, jet planes and television as features of European modernity (108). Tere are visual anachronisms, too; the drawings of a man and woman, presumably by the author, which adorn the typescript, show them dressed in clothes which would have been in fashion in the 1940s. Tese anomalies are not accidental; Dualla Misipo was clearly a highly selfaware cultural producer. His frst product was his own persona. Independent evidence indicates that his education was interrupted by the First World War and that in the 1920s he scraped a living as a musician and gained some experience working as a medical technician. From the mid-1930s onwards, though, he consistently and persuasively represented himself as a qualifed physician; at various times he also claimed association with the medical humanitarian Albert Schweitzer and Leo Frobenius, the German Africanist of the interwar period who was both revered and satirised by African intellectuals as a theorist of negritude avant la lettre.29 During the 1930s, Misipo lectured in public and to schools, and occasionally published, on aspects of Cameroonian culture.30 Beyond this, the publication history of both books bespeaks the fact that the Misipos moved in the networks of mainly francophone African family and cultural afnity that crystallised in post-war Paris. Te marriage between his cousin Maria Mandessi Bell and the Senegalese Mamadou Diop in the

28 ‘Stories of American Lynchings Inspire Assaults on Negroes in German Capital,’ New York Times (4 October 1903), p. 4. For German awareness of theme in the late 1920s, see the 1929 anthology of new Negro poetry, edited by Anna Nussbaum, Afrika singt, and contemporary reviews of it. 29 ‘Schilderung des Verfolgungsvorgangs’ (Compensation Claim) and Misipo, ‘Unruhiges Afrika’, p. 57. On Frobenius, see Miller, Teories of Africans, pp. 16–21. 30 Buchheim, Arbeitsmaterial zur Gegenwartskunde, p. 135; Misipo, ‘Wie die Afrikaner ihre Städte einstmals bauten!’

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Te Politics and Poetics of Mixed Marriage  45 1920s formed a bridge between the germanophone Cameroonian élite and the Senghor family, whose most prominent members were the Paris-based anti-colonial activist Lamine Senghor and the teacher, writer, proponent of negritude and frst president of independent Senegal, Léopold Sédar Senghor. Maria settled in France with her children in 1938 and afer 1945 her household in the rue des Écoles in Paris was a focus for sociable exchange among African students and intellectuals. Her son David Mandessi Diop became a leading poetic voice in the pan-African cultural movement, and her son-in-law Alioune Diop founded the journal and publishing house Présence Africaine.31 Dualla Misipo was one of the German-speaking Africans from Maria’s past who made up part of her Paris circle, and while her son remembered him simply as one of the oldsters who delighted in conversing in German,32 he continued to have a public voice of his own. In 1961, he published another novel, Korrongo, based entirely on Cameroonian folk narratives, and he also wrote short critical pieces for French and German journals (including Présence Africaine).33 Te South African writer Ezekiel Mphahlele named Misipo among the ‘men of Présence Africaine’ whom he met in Paris in November 1959 and who were unimpressed by his critique of negritude and black separatism.34 Finally, the form in which Der Junge aus Duala was published in 1973 suggests Misipo’s contact with wider literary–political networks. Te volume in which it was reproduced in typescript also included a poetry anthology compiled by the Cameroonian National Association of Poets and Writers and edited by Lilyan Lagneau-Kesteloot, a leading disseminator and facilitator of francophone African writing.35 Te history of the manuscript of Der Junge aus Duala remains unclear. In his post-war claim to the German authorities for compensation as a victim of Nazism, Misipo stated that it had ‘appeared’ in 1932 and been banned and all copies destroyed by the Nazis. It has not been possible to verify either its publication or its destruction. On internal evidence, the published typescript was very probably written afer 1960, though there is evidence that a printed version was in circulation before that.36 What does seem entirely possible, given the layering of historical referents and the stories told about its publication, is that it was begun in the 1920s or 1930s and added to over subsequent decades. Tis gives it added evidential value as a travelling artefact, a kind of 31 Diop, Biographie de David Léon Mandessi Diop; Kala Lobe, ‘“Ensemble”’; Mel, Alioune Diop, pp. 67–8. 32 Kala Lobe, ‘“Ensemble”’, p. 80. 33 Misipo, Korrongo; Misipo, ‘Unruhiges Afrika’; Missipo, ‘Léo Frobenius’. Ekwé Misipo also published in Présence Africaine. 34 Ezekiel Mphahlele, Te African Image (1962), cited by Wauthier, Te Literature and Tought of Modern Africa, p. 176. 35 See Midiohouan, ‘Lilyan Kesteloot’. 36 On the publication history, see Jahn, Trough African Doors, p. 147; Joseph, ‘Cameroon,’ p. 155; author’s correspondence with publishers and with the German National Library in Frankfurt am Main, March 2010.

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46  Eve Rosenhaf cumulative diary or palimpsest of Misipo’s engagement with Germany and with the wider world of white racism. Its appearance before the public in the context of a volume that is itself a gesture of cultural nation-building in Cameroon constitutes an ironic form of homecoming. Te narrative complexity of Der Junge aus Duala, then, is the result of the author’s calculation. Te few critics who have given serious attention to the text acknowledge this. In 1986, George Joseph emphasised Misipo’s roots in a Cameroonian storytelling tradition, characterising the novel (presumptively a product of the 1930s) as ‘before its time’ in the way it ofers an African perspective on metropolitan society.37 Sara Lennox has drawn attention to the novel’s character as a postcolonial text self-consciously employing the techniques of modernism to refect and critique the alienation of the African in European society. She sees the ending of the novel as overtly conciliatory but unconvincing, arguing that fnally Misipo’s ‘encounter with Europe and his own politics confront him with dilemmas for which it is impossible to fnd a satisfactory literary solution’.38 I would set a diferent accent to this analysis: Misipo’s refusal to make things easy for the reader and his deliberate ambiguity are markers of an intensely traumatic encounter with metropolitan racism in the face of which political action seemed futile. It is an angry book. Te anger in Der Junge aus Dualla is provoked by and directed against white racism, and it is central to the novel’s power that the character in whom the consequences of racism are most vividly exemplifed is not Ekwe himself, but Marianne. Dualla Misipo shows us Marianne as diminished and silenced by their shared experience. Sexually knowing but racially innocent, she sufers worst the consequences of a prejudice whose cost is already clear to Ekwe: ‘She’s really quite forward, I think, but it suits her. I think, too, that the two of us – Marianne and I – are giving the people out there plenty to talk about. … Sharp tongues will brand Marianne a Neger’s foozy and put her down’ (111). Ekwe has already experienced the critical moment of seeing himself as other (as Neger) and claims he is – or can make himself – ‘immune’ and ‘deaf’ to the familiar abuse (163). An element of this self-anaesthesia is the celebration of his own physicality that characterises the passages in which he is engaged in competitive athletics; at the moments at which he is most fully exposed to the gaze of others, he is most self-absorbed. To return to the ‘shame’ of mixed relationships which Misipo forces on our attention by denying it: Marianne is the one who has to learn, to her surprise, what it means to be visible to the white world as an outsider. Te display or intimation of sexuality makes her the subject of a racialising gaze, and this is apparent even in the family; in the closing scene, her mother who has shown every sign of regarding Ekwe as a friend and equal, cries out ‘Marianne, you in the arms …!’ (196). By way of emphasising the point, Misipo reminds us that 37 Joseph, ‘Cameroon’, pp. 154–5. 38 Lennox, ‘Postcolonial Writing in Germany’.

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Te Politics and Poetics of Mixed Marriage  47 Marianne can become invisible again while observing him at an athletic meet: ‘Marianne is among the mass of spectators in the stands. Nobody knows her here and nobody bothers her. And there’s nobody who can be in the picture about her relationship with me’ (180). In the course of the novel her victimhood becomes palpable, as their friends stop talking to them and strangers attack them on the street: ‘Her face grows ever sadder and more aficted. She knows the situation, her mouth is always tightly shut the longer we stop anywhere’ (188–9). In the end, even as she articulates to her parents her reasons for choosing Ekwe, her subjectivity is erased: ‘I already regard her as my property which is in somebody else’s hands, and I’ll do everything in my power to get her into my own hands’ (204–5). Tese words refect an awareness – and wilful reversal – of the imbrication of sex and power in the colonial relationship; Misipo has already signalled his sensitivity to this in a brief mention of his cousin’s rape by two German sailors on shore leave in Douala (75). Misipo himself, unable to return either to Cameroon or to Germany, clearly remained as much preoccupied with his German past as he felt rooted in the narratives of Africa. Both his novels were written in German. Moreover, even when it refects on the present (of the 1960s), Der Junge aus Duala is cast as a critique of German racism. In an epilogue, the author reports on a conversation he has (recently) had with family back in Douala: Tey all agreed that in spite of the dreadful and brutal wars in Europe and their consequences, in this respect absolutely nothing has changed in the mentality of the population, from the Etsch to the Belt and from the Maas to the Memel. Te ‘invisible’ wall lets nothing African through, whether human or intellectual, if it does not conform to their way of thinking. (206)

Te phrase ‘from the Etsch to the Belt and from the Maas to the Memel’ echoes Hofmann von Fallersleben’s Deutschlandlied, still the West German national anthem when Misipo was writing, though stripped of its irredentist verses (including the geographical references cited by Misipo) afer the Second World War. And it is difcult to read the reference to an ‘invisible’ wall without seeing an implicit reference to the visible one which divided Germany afer 1961. I have used the term ‘passing’ above in reference to Misipo’s claims to German citizenship. Paul Malapa, who encountered him in Paris during the 1930s, remembered him as speaking perfect German – ‘not like a Cameroonian’ – and as bearing on his face the duelling scars typical of a graduate of a prestigious German university.39 If the alternative to a hopeless project of becoming German was to act as an expert mediator between German and Cameroonian culture (the role played by Misipo when he worked as a lecturer and by the storytelling protagonist in his novel) the message of 39 ‘Paul Malapa Décryptage’, p. 5.

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48  Eve Rosenhaf Der Junge aus Duala seems to be that the wall between white and black was too high even for that. Te combination of preoccupation and disillusionment marks Der Junge aus Duala as a work of exile, and it is in his quality as a refugee that Dualla Misipo fgures in his son’s account. Ekwé acknowledges the courage of his father, ‘deracinated by colonisation and the vicissitudes of dealing with the authorities’ (22), but he shows him to us in the 1950s as in some sense a man broken by experience: His father, having failed to fnd a job in his own profession, carries on with casual jobs. But he spends most of his time writing a sort of tale about ­equatorial Africa … laid in the eleventh century. … Educated as a scientist, Muloby fnds refuge, his secret garden, in a sort of epic poem. Tere he steps back from the world of materialism dominated by atomic energy, turbo-compressors, tele­ vision, the global economy. (45)

Tis is one of several points in Métissages contemporains at which it is clear that the father’s narrative is a key intertext for the son’s. Te opening of the book, in which the father, ‘Muloby’, is waved of by his parents at the port in Douala, recapitulates the scene of intergenerational love and traumatic division which unfolds in the opening sections of Der Junge aus Duala, and at many other points the conclusion that the son has read his father’s text and is ‘answering’ it is irresistible.40 Te power of the incorporating magic of métissage in post-war France, and its contrast to the excluding force of Rassenschande in pre-war Germany, is heightened by the way in which the meeting between the second-generation protagonist Stéphane and his partner, Léa, circumstantially recapitulates that between Ekwe and Marianne. In both cases they meet in cafés and learn about each other on the dance foor; in both cases the woman takes the initiative, and the relationship is explicitly consummated by mutual consent quite soon afer the frst meeting. At the same time Ekwé Misipo sets up a series of explicit contrasts between his father’s experience of métissage and his own. Léa’s parents really are the humanist liberals they seem to be. And the contrasts emerge not only in relation to the core question of (racially) ‘mixed marriage’ but also to those of cultural métissage or assimilation across nation state borders in Europe. Tus Ekwé depicts their common experience of bilingual competence in French and German in terms of triumph for the one and humiliation for the other: at the lycée, Stéphane enjoys amazing his German teacher by being able to read and speak the language fawlessly (33). Of Muloby’s knowledge of German, however, we learn only that, reduced afer 1940 to working as a cofee waiter in 40 Te conversation appears to have been two-way, inasmuch as the protagonist of Der Junge aus Dualla not only bears the name of the author’s son but is also, like him, an accomplished athlete. Conversely, the name of Ekwé Misipo’s protagonist is Dualla’s German baptismal name: Stephen or Stefan. Independent sources suggest that Mulobi was the name of Dualla Misipo’s father.

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Te Politics and Poetics of Mixed Marriage  49 the costume of a tirailleur Sénégalais, he cannot help overhearing the remarks that German ofcers make about him (30). In these two episodes, adjacent in the text, linguistic hybridity is heroic and a source of pleasure for the son, while for the father it reinforces terror and exclusion, leaving him boxed into the past. Similarly, while Dualla Misipo presents Marianne as silenced and diminished by white racism, Ekwé makes Stéphane’s mother ‘Mathilde’ the only one of his parents to speak. It is she who articulates a resolute anti-racism while her husband sufers in silence. Twice she confronts the Nazi authorities who come looking for her black husband and Mischling/métis child, in Frankfurt in 1936 and in Paris in 1944, and twice she faces them down: It was too much for Mathilde. Tose slogans, those requests too ofen couched as threats – she found them hateful, terribly wounding. Ten one day she turned two Nazi ofcials out of the house, declaring that she didn’t belong to the same Germany as them (Frankfurt). (19) ‘If you want to arrest them, you’ll have to arrest me as well. But on what charge? Believe me, if you go on behaving the way you have been, you’re doing no honour to the fag of Germany which I used to respect. I’m not surprised you lost your colonies a long time ago’ (Paris). (39)

Of course we are dealing here with transgenerational as well as transnational mutations of common material, and sons see their mothers rather diferently from the way their fathers do. But the account of Mathilde’s valour in the face of persecution and exile, her positive presence in contrast to her husband’s withdrawal, resonate with much of the literature on gender relations in refugee families. Tis indicates that women have tended to make more pragmatic assessments of the situation that provokes fight and to adapt better in practical terms to the loss of status and material exigencies sufered in the place of exile – ofen because they have primary responsibility for the welfare of their children.41 Paul Malapa remembered Luise Misipo as ‘a very brave woman’.42 All that we can hear of her own voice is the account she wrote to support her post-war compensation claim. Its scope is limited by the occasion of its writing – the need to explain the reasons for and consequences of their emigration – and also by her own decision merely to ‘supplement’ her husband’s account (which focuses entirely on his own sufering). What she reports suggests that she may well have been the one who motivated the decision to emigrate, as her son approached secondary school age: ‘When I went for a walk with my son members of the SA spat on the poor lad and I,

41 Binder and Tošić, ‘Refugees as a Particular Form of Transnational Migrations and Social Transformations’, pp. 619–20; Berghahn, Continental Britons, pp. 83–4; Quack, ‘Introduction’, p. 9. 42 ‘Paul Malapa Décryptage’, p. 5.

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50  Eve Rosenhaf his mother, could only stand by and watch. … My husband and I had a duty to think of the future of our son … to bring him up free from hate.’ Métissages contemporains contains a hint of what this may actually have cost her: when Stéphane presents her with his white fancée, it is Mathilde among the future parents-in-law who displays doubts – ‘always wanting to protect him from the vicissitudes of the past’ (81). But the dynamic of ­métissage as the engine of a characteristically French future is irresistible. Stéphane establishes a successful career as a dental surgeon. His marriage to Léa, a teacher, begets Marc. He in turn studies medicine and, in the late 1970s, marries Laotian-born fellow student Sengdeth. Teir son, Alex, is born in 1987. A new métissage, this time between Europe and Asia, is once again a wondrous achievement … Tus, with the parents of Stéphane and Léa gone, the newly formed family is French with African and Asian elements, without any particular issues connected with a hypothetical integration problem. (91)

It is only once the older generation – the African refugee – has ‘gone’ that Ekwé is free to pen his own celebration of métissage, and that in itself is an index of the psychological force and poetic energy invested in what presents itself as a simple récit in ffeen brief sequential chapters. Stéphane’s marriage to Léa in the 1950s is an act of building the (still) imperial nation state that calls for selective forgetting of the ‘vicissitudes’ of the colonial past. Dualla Misipo cannot or will not put Africa or Germany behind him; his son appears to have no access to the grounds of his father’s nostalgia.43 His perspective is that of a metropolitan observer of Africa, which he knows only through being posted in Morocco as an army conscript. Te account of French administration in Cameroon from the 1920s to independence to which he devotes a chapter is largely positive. And in fact he celebrates not only the reconciliation of coloniser and colonised, but French colonialism itself in a startling reversal of post-colonial tropes: Especially afer the Colonial Exposition of 1931, France saw the empire as a space in which it could recover its greatness. But probably the republican and democratic spirit, sustained by a sincere humanism, made it possible to promote the people’s education, their scientifc and intellectual development, and to also channel private economic interests. (91)44

Tis is at best an eccentric vision. Ekwé Misipo’s reference to a future unburdened by a ‘hypothetical integration problem’ invokes the ‘French model of integration’. Te constitutive principle of French republicanism, namely

43 On nostalgia, see Hirsch and Spitzer, ‘“We Would Not Have Come Without You”’. 44 Te 1931 Exposition is at the centre of Mirages de Paris, and was in its time the object of public challenge by anti-colonial activists: Palermo, ‘L’Exposition Anticoloniale’.

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Te Politics and Poetics of Mixed Marriage  51 that citizenship (membership of the political nation) depends solely on the assimilation of French culture, has always meant that in principle anyone could become French. Tis facilitated the enfranchisement of some natives of France’s African and Caribbean colonies early on, but it has also generated a programmatic refusal to acknowledge ‘race’ as a relevant category in law and policy-making, even where the problem of racism has been recognised. And the practical outcome of that has been a failure to challenge efectively the everyday assumption that someone visibly of African descent has not yet achieved ‘integration’ or indeed is incapable of doing so.45 Tere is a paradox, at least, in the fact that Métissages contemporains seeks to fll that silence not with political argument but with a utopian vision of biological assimilation. Te psychological mechanisms at work here become clearer when we consider how Métissages contemporains invokes the process of post-war nation-building (or national reconstruction) not only in terms of genealogy but also in the way in which the family history engages with key moments of national history. Not surprisingly for an autobiographical work by someone who came of age in the Second World War, the book addresses the theme of collaboration and resistance in occupied France. In one chapter, Ekwé Misipo ofers a general assessment of the French population as divided between those who are resigned to German victory and inclined to collaborate and patriots who are prepared to fght for liberation. Te emphasis is on the latter: Stéphane, rebufed by an air-raid warden with ‘we don’t need your kind’ when he volunteers to help with civil defence, encounters more solidarity from a neighbour who explains that the frst man is a ‘collabo’ (37–8). Beyond this, though, Stéphane seals his positive incorporation into the republican tradition by choosing as his partner the daughter of a resistance ofcer whose brothers were both in the maquis and whose mother and grandmother aided Jewish refugees (77). Te events of 1968 also feature in the book. Stéphane and Léa take medical supplies from Stéphane’s surgery to the makeshif feldhospital set up by students in the Halle aux vins, in practical expression of their ‘humanist, republican, democratic’ ideals (87–8). Tere is ample evidence for the existence in the frst half of the t­ wentieth century of milieux in which Africans and white political progressives co­ operated, and of contexts political and non-political, public and private, which threw Jews and Africans together in a common project of struggle and survival. Tis was true for Dualla Misipo’s generation both in Germany and in France. Te progressive discourse around race and colonialism in France drew directly on the native experience of anti-Semitism in the Dreyfus case, and in the spirit of the Popular Front-inspired cooperation of black anti-­colonialists and white anti-fascists the Paris-based International League Against AntiSemitism raised its voice in support of Afro-Germans threatened by the

45 Constant, ‘Talking Race in Color-blind France’; Bleich, ‘Anti-racism without Races’.

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52  Eve Rosenhaf Nazis.46 From this point of view, the way in which Métissages contemporains insists on the assimilatory power of the ‘humanist, republican, democratic’ tradition points to aspects of a national history that merit closer attention. Te mythopoeic aspect of Ekwé Misipo’s account is thrown into relief, though, by the silence on the events of the 1930s and 1940s that prevails in Der Junge aus Duala. When Dualla Misipo did speak in his own voice about his wartime experiences, in his post-war compensation claim, he reported that afer the liberation of Paris his family had at frst been arrested by the resistance because his wife was German. Te context of this account was an appeal to the German judicial authorities. Like most Cameroonians of his generation, Dualla Misipo had considerable experience of addressing success­ ive and competing German and French administrations in terms that (he believed) they wanted to hear. In that sense, his account of the events of 1944 also shows us the author self-consciously inserting himself into a nation state narrative. Dualla’s position, though, remains that of the perpetual outsider. But if Dualla’s account is true, Ekwé’s assertion of his claim to be an insider to the French national narrative, even a pioneer in the nation’s reshaping into a genuinely inclusive body, also depends on active silence or selective omission. Te presence of blacks on both ‘sides’ in the wave of arrests and reprisals that followed the liberation is documented, though it has yet to be fully explored. Some were arrested for having been part of the Vichy administration or been seen to beneft from the occupation, others – as Dualla Misipo reports – because they spoke German and/or had German wives.47 Dualla’s account is thus quite plausible – and yet Ekwé has nothing to say about this. His silence has a political valence. To address the wartime and post-war experience of adult black men would be to acknowledge the ways in which the war, far from confrming a humanist and democratic consensus, exposed the contradictions inherent in the colonial order as well as in French metropolitan society. Tese include divergences of interest and power among diferent groups of Africans in metropolitan France and the empire and the French state’s post-war betrayal of the trust of colonial troops mobilised to fght for the Allied cause. Métissages contemporains was written roughly halfway between the release of two flms that exposed that betrayal, Le Camp de Tiaroye (Ousmane Sembène, 1986) and Indigènes (Rachid Bouchareb, 2006). At the time of its publication, critical interrogation of the consequences of the fracture coloniale for the French model of integration was fourishing on the lef, and the book also sits uncomfortably on the threshold of a period when governments of the right began to institutionalise the notion that

46 Chapman and Frader, ‘Introduction’, p. 7; Derrick, Africa’s ‘Agitators’, pp. 410–11; ‘African Student Tells of Hitler Tortures in Germany’, Chicago Defender (18 May 1935), p. 24. 47 Ottley, No Green Pastures, pp. 92–3; Taittinger … et Paris ne fut pas détruit, pp. 220–1, 243; Jean-Paul Abel, L’Age de Caïn, pp. 13, 85, 108.

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Te Politics and Poetics of Mixed Marriage  53 French identity was under threat from the presence of former colonial and immigrant groups.48 From this point of view its humanist optimism seems distinctly untimely. Tere is all the more reason, then, to emphasise the valence (or utility) of Ekwé’s suppression of the immediate post-war scene for his identity construction. To acknowledge the fact that Africans in liberated Paris might have been arrested for being German (or the husbands or fathers of Germans) would be to acknowledge the possibility of a breach of solidarity within the family that Marianne/Mathilde/Luise’s (white) Germanness implied. Te evidence is that that possibility was exposed and tested on three occasions: twice by the Gestapo and once by the representatives of a resurgent French republic. Te frst two incidents are pivotal to Ekwé Misipo’s narrative. When Mathilde resists being reclaimed for whiteness and Germany in 1936 and 1944, she simultaneously relieves her son of the need to take sides, or to disavow a part of his – progressively layered – métis identity. To record a third such trial would not only run counter to the direction of the French nation state narrative which Misipo has adopted but open up in still more threatening ways the possibility of a rupture of personal identity. In spite of its superfcial simplicity, then, when we consider what stories Ekwé Misipo might have told we may see Métissages contemporains as exempli­fying what Ayo Coly calls a ‘nervous condition’ in writers who as ‘suspect and highly scrutinized fgure[s] … must carefully negotiate the question of home and belonging’. Coly’s starting point is the persistence in the diaspora of positive visions of nationhood such as are represented by Misipo’s vision of a non-racial republican France. And her analysis of the challenge this poses to the celebratory postnationalism that has dominated postcolonial theory (or even, as I have suggested, to a progressive critique of the state of racial politics in France in the early twenty-frst century), is a call to be attentive to the workings of gender. She emphasises the masculinism of the postnationalist position, arguing that ‘postcolonial women have much more to lose than gain in shunning home’.49 Coly bases her diagnosis on the work of (black) francophone African migrant women writers, subject to scrutiny as subalterns within the overlapping hierarchies of nation, race and gender, but if we consider the man who is the author and subject of Métissages contemporains as a refugee child coming of age in a post-colonial world, we may see analogous mechanisms at work. His ‘racial’ status and colonial patrimony a challenge to belonging in both his place of birth and his place of refuge, his Germanness in contest with his Frenchness, when Ekwé Misipo constructs his life-story around white women who are able to transcend the racialising (or deracinating) scrutiny they experience on account of him he invites us to 48 See Blanchard, Bancel and Lemaire, La Fracture coloniale. 49 Coly, Pull of Postcolonial Nationhood, p. xvii. Te phrase ‘nervous condition’ comes from Obioma Nnaemeka.

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54  Eve Rosenhaf see the lived dynamics of gender and family at the root of his political choices. In the teeth of his own ambivalence about the challenges faced by couples in mixed relationships, Dualla Misipo paid tribute to ‘that monstrous AND YET of a man and a woman, willing the impossible, still to be and remain one’. Given the way in which majority French society has problematised métissage throughout the twentieth century, Ekwé Misipo’s wilful appropriation of the term constitutes his own ‘AND YET’.

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Chapter 4

‘Among them Complicit’? Life and Politics in France’s Black Communities, 1919–1939 Jennifer Anne Boittin

Migrant Stories In 1937, the French Guianan Léon-Gontran Damas, an originator of the poetic and political movement of black francophone pride known as negritude, published a volume of poetry titled Pigments. He dedicated one poem, ‘Solde’, to a fellow negritude writer, the Martinican Aimé Césaire. Te opening stanza reads: ‘I feel ridiculous / in their shoes / in their dinner jacket / in their shirt front / in their detachable collar / in their monocle / in their bowler hat’, and the last stanza concludes: ‘I feel ridiculous / among them complicit / among them pimp / among them cut-throat / my hands horrendously reddened / by the blood of their ci-vi-li-sa-tion.’ 1 Te pronouns ‘their’ and ‘them’ refer every time to white Europeans, and to the French in particular. Te dedication is ftting since in 1935 Césaire had written an article that referenced the psychological burden of living in France by drawing upon the theme of European clothes. In the frst issue of the iconic newspaper L‘Etudiant noir, Aimé Césaire published ‘Black Youth and Assimilation’. He wrote: ‘one day, the Nègre grabbed hold of the White [man]’s tie, seized a bowler hat, donned it, and lef while laughing …’.2 Césaire’s article used the theme of fashion to advise against assimilation, stating that the black youth wanted to be themselves and resurrect their blackness rather than succumb to European standards. He warned those who accepted assimilation that the colonisers would soon tire of mere copies of white men: ‘assimilation, born of fear and timidity, always ends in scorn and hatred’.

1 Damas, Pigments, p. 139. Translations are the author’s unless otherwise noted. 2 Césaire, ‘Nègreries: jeunesse noire et assimilation’.

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56  Jennifer Anne Boittin On April 26, 1935, the Marseille newspaper Le Petit Marseillais ran the headline ‘A Martinican is killed by knife stabs on rue Lanternerie’.3 It reported: ‘this past night, a bloody drama unfolded in the red-light district, following a disagreement between Martinican and Senegalese men’. In ‘Misère Noire’, a prose article published in the journal Esprit in 1939, LéonGontran Damas observed of the black and African diaspora: ‘in France, the European can distinguish, from the very frst minutes of contact, the French African, the Antillean, and even the nègre from Paris’.4 How do a newspaper article reprinted in a collection of police notes, a journal article by a negritude thinker and a poem by the same man that directly references Césaire ft together? Tey each show us a glimpse of the daily lives of black men in France during the interwar years. We learn from these three excerpts frst, thanks to Damas’s poem ‘Solde’, of which the very title, ‘Pay’, references both the pay check of a sailor and being in the pay of someone, that black men struggled with their status in France, feeling ridiculously entrapped by French civilisation, and actively seeking socio-political alternatives that both for Damas and other migrants depended upon the unity provided by an understanding that they shared common bonds including race, colonisation and relocation. Tey crossed both natural and administrative boundaries on their way to the hexagon-shaped metropole. Once there they established political and social networks within France and beyond to unite Sub-Saharan Africans with Malagasies (from the island of the East coast of Africa), Antilleans of African descent (from Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Guiana and occasionally Haiti) and with white Europeans and African Americans. Such networks helped black migrants to cope with everyday life and gave them options for participation in political struggles. Life and politics meshed, contributing to these communities’ mobilisation. I argue here that black ­migrants – working class, intellectual, anti-imperialist, revolutionary or not – all found ways to theorise and politicise their connectivity, more or less explicitly. Everyday gestures, language and reactions in these communities were ofen also political, and those in the black community with revolutionary, political ideologies were ofen just as concerned with the mundane. Tis fuidity in turn reveals that migrants engaged in anti-imperialism and/or revolutionary politics, and those more interested in survival or creating a home in France, were nonetheless connected by transnational practices, as defned in the introduction to this volume. Te mosaic of migration ­experiences,

3 Le Petit Marseillais (26 April 1935), CAOM, 1 Slotfom 34. 4 Damas, ‘Misère noire’, p. 179. On negritude, see e.g. Ako, ‘L’Etudiant noir’; Irele, ‘Pan-Africanism and African Nationalism’; Jackson, ‘La Négritude’; Ojo-Ade, LéonGontran Damas; Sharpley-Whiting, Negritude Women; Steins, ‘Les antécédents et la génèse de la Négritude senghorienne’; Wilder, Te French Imperial Nation-State.

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Life and Politics in France’s Black Communities  57 tiled with the shifing categories through which migrants defned themselves (including gender, race, class, global place of origin and urban home in France), exposes how common the blending of quotidian, political and global perspectives was in black migrant communities. Each of these categories was multilayered. Te black community in France was overwhelmingly male (approximately 2 percent of all Africans were women), so gender compels a consideration of masculinity, but also family life and sexuality.5 Race was used – by anti-imperialists, communists and those with more moderate political tendencies – as a unifying signifer of shared ‘blackness’ in order to shape communities both locally and through networks intended to transcend regional diferences and class and to circulate ideas throughout the French Empire. As such, it was meant to overcome the divisions that defned these migrants in their lands of origin where African ethnolinguistic groups, ofen also termed ‘races’, were separated by their distinct languages and cultures. Race in the parlance of metropolitan antiimperialists was also meant to eface the even broader regional divisions that tended to pit Antilleans against West Africans and Malagasies. Te former, along with West Africans born in the Four Communes of Rufsque, Ile de Gorée, Saint Louis and Dakar, were in principle French citizens, whereas other colonial subjects had even fewer rights. Moreover, race had the potential to supersede class as a unifer, and to allow people living in very diferent cities across France to come together. Finally, dominated numerically not only by the French but also by the other colonial migrants (especially North Africans and French Indochinese), uniting as black allowed the black community some semblance of a show of strength. Specifcally the racial monikers noir (black) and nègre (very loosely, Negro, but tricky to translate) were used as symbols of harmony, with nègre the term preferred by anti-imperialists, nationalists and communists.6 Race as defned by anti-imperialists was a shaky foundation, resting on the uneasy terrain of daily tensions, but it had the potential to bolster transnational practices.

Black Transnationalism in France Te above-mentioned fragments of migrant lives also tell us something about research on black France. Not so much one feld, indeed, but rather a collection of studies emanating from several diferent methodological and disciplinary

5 On masculinity, see Boittin, Colonial Metropolis; Fletcher, ‘Unsettling Settlers’. On statistics of Africans (including North Africans), see Mauco, Les Étrangers en France. 6 On the multiple meanings of ‘race’, including to diferentiate Europeans among themselves, see Camiscioli, Reproducing the ‘French Race’; Cohen, Te French Encounter with Africans; Edwards, Te Practice of Diaspora; Forbes, Africans and Native Americans; Hale, Races on Display.

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58  Jennifer Anne Boittin approaches, there are nonetheless some unifying traits that grant the study of Africans in France cohesion. Like its sources, the feld is interdisciplinary and draws scholars who are on the cusp of several disciplines or who are creative in their understandings of what constitutes a source and an archive. Tus to better understand the black community in Old Regime France, Sue Peabody and Pierre Boulle look at lawsuits involving slaves in France who argued, ofen successfully, for their freedom during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.7 T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting uses images, flm, theory and literary texts in her study of representations of black women such as Sarah Baartman and Josephine Baker.8 In their work on the twentieth century, which generally has access to a more abundant if nonetheless disjointed supply of sources, Brent Hayes Edwards, Christopher Miller and Gary Wilder have all considered how newspapers and novels published by black migrants modulate data in the police archives documenting the daily lives and existence of black men and women.9 Edwards and Miller borrow from literary and historical studies and Wilder draws upon his training in anthropology as well as history while also using theory as a source. As Jean Bernabé, Patrick Chamoiseau and Raphaël Confant pointed out during a 1988 speech at the Festival caraïbe of Seine-Saint-Denis (right outside Paris): our history (or our histories) is not totally accessible to historians. Teir method­ology restricts them to the sole colonial chronicle. Our chronicle is behind the dates, behind the known facts: we are Words behind writing. Only poetic knowledge, fctional knowledge, literary knowledge, in short, artistic knowledge can discover us, understand us and bring us, evanescent, back to the resuscitation of consciousness.10

Conscious or not of this cry for alternative history – one that for its authors must escape the academy and instead root itself in creative writing – scholars of Africans and other black migrants in France have also found ways to attend to the need for imaginative and multidisciplinary approaches to a diversifed selection of sources. Te police documents that provide us, including for this chapter, with such rich details of everyday lives, are not without

7 Boulle, Race et esclavage dans la France de l’Ancien Régime; Peabody, ‘Tere Are No Slaves in France’. 8 Sharpley-Whiting, Black Venus. How blackness was represented is a particularly developed feld of enquiry with respect to the study of Africans in France: Berliner, Ambivalent Desire; Blake, Le Tumulte noir; Blanchard, Deroo and Manceron, Le Paris noir; Cohen, Te French Encounter with Africans; Ezra, Te Colonial Unconscious; Hale, Races on Display; Jules-Rosette, ‘Josephine Baker’; Lemke, Primitivist Modernism; Schneider, An Empire for the Masses. 9 Edwards, Te Practice of Diaspora; Miller, Nationalists and Nomads; Wilder, Te French Imperial Nation-state. 10 Bernabé, Chamoiseau and Confant, Eloge de la Créolité, p. 99.

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Life and Politics in France’s Black Communities  59 their limitations: they were processed several times, including by the police informants whose bias started with their choice of what, if anything, was important either politically or socially, and who reported rumours along with more factual descriptions; the civil servants who typed up daily reports and condensed the information into monthly reports; the administrators and archivists who preserve them, and fnally the scholar who sorts through these stacks of paper. Yet the sheer volume of such reports means that we ofen have multiple accounts, by diferent informants who were not aware of one another’s identities, of individual events. When added to novels, poetry, flms, documentaries, newspapers and theory, these reports give depth to the history of these migrants. Just as many of the migrant communities within France defned themselves both by their local afliations and by a strong sense of international ties to the black and African diaspora between the wars, the scholars who work on this feld have tended towards a similar internationalism, as has their subject matter and their research and methodologies. A number of studies have connected continents and their migrants, in particular linking Africa, the Caribbean and North America to Europe. Jean-Loup Amselle, Philippe Dewitte, Solofo Randrianja and Catherine Quiminal have all published studies of transcontinental migration in French.11 In English, scholars such as Yaël Simpson Fletcher, Paul Gilroy, François Manchuelle, Tyler Stovall and Dominic Tomas have also pursued their sources across borders as well as disciplines.12 In this still burgeoning feld, though, there is room to consider new angles and approaches. For example, cultural and intellectual studies of transnationalism and the black diaspora have ofen read transnationalism as transatlantic, focusing upon past and present contact at the angles of the slave trade. Certainly, black communities in interwar France linked slavery to their constructions of race and class, but transnationalism to them also meant black networks that stretched across France and crossed borders within Europe (the latter ftting the useful defnition of transnationalism as constellations of practices or movements, ofen political, that transcend a particular national setting).13 Moreover, the direct physical and political connections migrants maintained between Africa and Europe did not always take into account the other two continents habitually involved in the transatlantic framework.14 Also ofen lacking in our consideration of transnationalism

11 Amselle, Les Migrations africaines; Dewitte, Les Mouvements nègres; Quiminal, Gens d’ici; Randrianja, Sociétés et luttes anticoloniales; Tioub, ‘Savoirs interdits en contexte colonial’. 12 Fletcher, ‘“Capital of the Colonies”’; Gilroy, Te Black Atlantic; Manchuelle, Willing Migrants; Stovall, Paris Noir; Tomas, Black France. 13 Berlin, Many Tousands Gone, p. 5. On defning transnationalism, see Conrad and Osterhammel, Das Kaiserreich transnational, p. 14. 14 On Atlantic history, see Games, ‘Atlantic History’.

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60  Jennifer Anne Boittin within black ­communities in Europe is a thorough understanding of how black and African migrants interacted with both local and international white populations, or just as importantly with other colonial migrant populations.15 Te feld of black and African diasporic French studies is blossoming in part because current events have indicated the need for a clearer understanding of the early years of black migration to France.16 Te 2005 ‘riots’ in the banlieues (suburbs/projects) of major cities across France sparked interest in the ­histories of Sub-Saharan African, Antillean and Malagasy migrants, which are less well known, for example, than those of North African migrants, including Algerians, Moroccans and Tunisians. Te point is not that e­ ighteenth-, nineteenth- or even early twentieth-century experiences of migration directly explain the ‘riots’ (especially since demonstrators were not only ‘of colour’ but also ‘white’, and when ‘black’ were not migrants themselves, but rather the second, third or fourth generation descendants of migrants). Te point is rather that migration has been traditionally underrepresented in the study of French history (as pointed out in 1988 by Gérard Noiriel), and colonial migration even more so.17 Pre-twentieth-century black migration to France is particularly understudied. Additionally, while more is understood about male experiences than the experiences of women in the black and African diaspora, few scholars explicitly discuss the concept of manhood, or masculinity, in relation to black migrant communities (especially historically).18 Finally, far more is known about the black migrants of Paris and its surrounding region than of any other city. Marseille is a close second, but for the twentieth and twenty-frst centuries very little has been studied about other cities, including ports such as Bordeaux and Le Havre, both of which were linked to the slave trade. For all the feld-defning works to which we now have access, there remains, luckily, much to explore.

Connecting Migrants: Relocation and Community Black Africans, Malagasies and Antilleans made their way to France in substantial numbers during the First World War, as soldiers in the French army and as workers.19 Some of the black migrants present during the interwar

15 Although not focused upon African migration, Elisa Camiscioli’s recent book on inter­sections between whites and non-whites is a wonderful example of how to speak of race and gender while problematising each of these categories. Camiscioli, Reproducing the ‘French Race’. 16 See also Glaes, ‘Te Mirage of Fortune’. 17 Noiriel, Le creuset français. 18 On gender, see Germain, ‘Dangerous Liaisons’; Musil, ‘La Marianne noire’; SharpleyWhiting, Negritude Women. 19 Fogarty, Race and War in France; Mann, Native Sons; Michel, Les Africains et la Grande Guerre.

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Life and Politics in France’s Black Communities  61 years were tirailleurs who were released from service in France, found ways to stay on in France or were determined to return to the mainland afer being released overseas. Others followed the somewhat more traditional migration patterns of arriving for their university studies, or to fnd work. Black migrants have been estimated at a very low end of several hundred in all of France, and at the high end in the 10,000 to 15,000 range for Paris alone.20 Even if the high end holds true, they ran the risk of feeling alienated within the overwhelmingly white metropole.21 Te strategies used in response varied but all refected a sense that although deracinated from their homelands, black migrants could still tether themselves, however temporarily, to sociopolitical communities while in France. Tree types of connections will be explored here, which each in their own way spanned class, race, gender and space, and varied between the intimate and the very public and political, the local and the transnational. First, an enclosed community of Malagasies who coped with their migrant experience to Paris through socio-cultural outreach to other Parisians (black and white) and by generating informal political terminology will give us a sense of how migrants handled their arrival in France. Second, we will turn to why and how some migrants joined formal associations that grouped migrants from all over France, paying particular attention to how those engaging in revolutionary and anti-imperial politics adapted to local circumstances, even breaking with the international directives of the Communist Party to respect the status of black and colonised that they believed defned their migrant community. Tird, moving more frmly towards the observations of intellectuals, we will briefy explore continuities within the migration experience, in particular with respect to the understanding that transnationalism was a useful tool for endurance. Migrant experiences start with dislocation – a movement from one space to another. In 1931, the Colonial Exposition opened its doors to a French and foreign public that eventually grew to eight million spectators.22 Along with reproducing astonishingly elaborate, to-scale examples of indigenous architecture, from the temple of Angkor Wat to a grand pavilion for Cameroon and Togo topped with thatch roofs, government organisers positioned ‘tem­ porary’ colonial migrants in this décor. Amid the participants shipped in from overseas were sixty-two Malagasies, only eight of whom were women. Like many colonial migrants – including tirailleurs, wartime workers and ­students – the presence of these men and women in the metropole was con­ sidered pro­v isional and subject to certain habitual constraints: they received food, housing and a salary of twenty francs per day (only ten per day for

20 Dewitte, Les Mouvements nègres, pp. 25–6, 40; Dewitte, ‘Le Paris noir de l’entre-deuxguerres’, p. 159. 21 Both Damas in his poetry, and Fanon several years later, described this potential aliena­tion: Damas, Pigments; Fanon, Peau noire, masques blancs. 22 See Hodeir and Pierre, L’exposition coloniale; Lebovics, True France.

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62  Jennifer Anne Boittin artisans who also received half of their profts).23 Tey were kept within the confnes of the Exposition, both eating their meals and sleeping in situ, and were obliged to seek permission before leaving the grounds. Tey were placed under govern­ment surveillance. Informants were asked to report on their movements and any contact they might initiate with colonial migrants who had already established themselves in France, as well as with white men and women. Te informants’ reports were tangled, but telling in their focal points. Comments on how Malagasies functioned socially honed in on the amorous. Malagasies bickered quite a bit, in particular because they were jealous of those among them who dated white French women. One man, Auguste Ramananarivo, was suspected of pimping a Malagasy woman, Jeanne (his payment was said to be alcoholic beverages). At the junction between the social and the political, informants ascertained that all the Malagasies intended to remain in Paris afer the Exposition ended (this fact alone naturally justifed surveillance). Tose who were French citizens were considered Francophiles while the others were presumed to be Malagasy nationalists and hence ‘antiFrench’. As for their daily experience of France, the Malagasies were miserably cold in the rainy weather and felt they were not being fed enough vegetables.24 For all this monitoring, some exchanges with the outside world were encouraged: in particular the attendance of classes and social events hosted by Mme Prevost, a white Frenchwoman who had spent some time in the colonies. By 1931, Mme Prevost had created a support network for Parisian Malagasies in the form of the Foyer du Malgache. She directed the community home at tirailleurs who in this space could take French, maths, physics, chemistry, history and geography classes and meet other Malagasies. Partially funded by the Ministry of the Colonies, the foyer initially drew ffy or sixty Malagasies (both soldiers and non-combatants) as well as some Indochinese tirailleurs.25 Yet many Parisian Malagasies suspected Mme Prevost of being a ‘rat’ (spy), and not only stayed away but also informed the potentially unsuspecting per­formers who were more ofen than not sequestered in the Colonial Exposition to avoid the Foyer.26 Te Exposition’s Malagasies in turn grumbled that they were being spied upon and prevented from moving about freely or communicating with Malagasy ‘civilians’. Soon enough, her regulars whittled down to only twenty or so. While they may have been carefully framed by the Exposition’s ­organisers, thus, Malagasies also sought unsanctioned ways to make contact with the outside metropolitan world, and vice versa, and in so doing politicised their lives in the metropole. From the anti-imperialist newspaper Le Cri des

23 24 25 26

Report of Agent Joé, 26 August 1931, CAOM, 2 Slotfom 21. Reports of Agent Joé, 17 and 26 August and 7 September 1931, CAOM, 2 Slotfom 21. CAOM, 3 Slotfom 36, n.d. Report of Agent Joé, 21 September 1931, CAOM, 2 Slotfom 21.

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Life and Politics in France’s Black Communities  63 nègres that was distributed at the Exposition and found its way into some performers’ hands (although those distributing it risked arrest) to white French locals and black colonial performers who met (dating depended upon such encounters), life in the metropole meant reaching out. It also meant transgressing, so that very quickly life became political. Dating French women was acceptable in the metropole (certainly compared to overseas), but through marriage and children certain categories of colonial migrants (tirailleurs and apparently also the Exposition’s performers) could root themselves in mainland France’s soil, making temporary migration permanent. Tirailleurs, for example, discussed among themselves the fact that they had good chances of being released in France rather than repatriated overseas if they found a white French wife.27 Migrants, in other words, were aware of the advantages of evolving in an inter-communal setting. Yet the Exposition’s migrants branched out not just at the intimate level, but also reached beyond the Exposition’s walls to create networks with other colonial migrants, for example when they united with Parisian Malagasies to boycott the ‘rat’ (Mme Prevost) whose Foyer threatened to further enclose them. Even coining the term ‘civilian’ to describe colonial migrants whose presence in Paris was not tied to the Exposition not only resonated with the tirailleurs’ migration experience even while providing a pert counterpoint to it, but also showed how the Exposition’s migrants gave themselves a common language to defne the specifcity of their status as migrants.28 Tese performers’ strange, enclosed and carefully dictated metropolitan existence refected quite a bit of concordance with that of other colonial migrants in metropolitan France, not only because the scrutiny accorded performers was habitual of that accorded most migrants, but also because similar strategies of outreach were standard practice among migrants. Consider the following fve reports by authorities: of Joseph Andriamady we learn that ‘at no time did we hear him make any anti-French remarks. However, this Malagasy student ofen goes out at night, does not get home until the night has well progressed; sometimes even at four or fve in the morning.’29 Even afer his politics proved unremarkable, Andriamady’s dissipation remained report-worthy. We learn of a Martinican: Lansoge aged 55 to 60 years. Bachelor, but cohabits with a white woman with whom he has a daughter currently aged 4, approximately. Has lived six years rue Aubry le Boucher no. 5, small room on the 6th foor. Has the job of shoe machinist and works regularly. French citizen, he did World War I … No politics, but his sympathies lie with the socialist party SFIO.30

27 Boittin, Colonial Metropolis, p. 37: S. Fogarty, Race and War in France, chapter 6. 28 Report of Agent Joé, 2 August 1931, CAOM, 2 Slotfom 21. 29 Investigation, Ministry of the Interior, 22 May 1922, CAOM, 3 Slotfom 36. 30 Reports of Agent Désiré, 30 and 31 October 1929, CAOM, 2 Slotfom 12.

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64  Jennifer Anne Boittin An interracial relationship and a child of mixed race (métis) were mentioned before a brief reference to socialist sympathies. Te intellectual, Guadeloupian Joseph Lunion-Gothon’s marriage to a European woman was noted by police in part because she had a ‘small fortune’ that Lunion-Gothon planned on using to serve the ‘cause nègre’.31 In the port district of Marseille, the Malagasy sailor Michel, patron of a bar popular with anti-imperialists, lived with a French woman – la dame Boy – who fed and housed him, but she also had a second lover – a popular singer.32 Michel spent his time at the bar when he needed to make himself scarce. Also in Marseille two Antillean women of colour, cousins aged thirty-fve and forty-fve, were respectively the wife of a black sailor, and the lover of an undefned sailor.33 When their partners were out of town a small Asian man would regularly visit the women, carrying a suitcase. Tese facts alone (their colour, that of their husband and partner, and the semi-regular presence of an Asian man) made them two of very few women of colour mentioned by police informants. Tese fve examples, dating from 1922, 1929, 1933, 1935 and 1935 respectively, reveal that the Malagasies’ experiences during the 1931 Exposition were typical, not only because of the minute attention paid by authorities to the details of their political and social lives, but also because those details reveal a continuity through time of transnational practices. In other words, they do not just reveal what interested authorities, but also – through their concordance – how migrants who practised politics, and those who did not, maintained networks both private and public that quickly branched beyond their specifc regional community. Reports on carousing until dawn, relationships with white women, and sporadic interactions between Antillean women and an Asian man show us that the intimate easily blurred with the political, but also confrm that transnational living played out at very personal levels in the metropole.34

From Informal to Formal Political Consciousness Black colonial migrants were committed to creating lives for themselves within the metropole, no matter how passing their presence might be, from the work they found to the families they started with French partners. Yet for some settling was insufcient: these black colonial migrants also sought ways to create a community for themselves that went beyond daily life and linked into a more formal practice of politics. Afer the First World War, 31 Notes sur la propagande révolutionnaire intéressant les pays d’outre-mer (hereafer PROM), September 1933, CAOM, 3 Slotfom 68. 32 Te bar was owned by the anti-imperialist sympathiser Pierre M’Baye: DGSC, no. 1552, 26 October 1935, CAOM, 1 Slotfom 34. 33 SC, no. 1252, 22 August 1935, CAOM, 1 Slotfom 34. 34 A core argument made by Cooper and Stoler, Tensions of Empire.

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Life and Politics in France’s Black Communities  65 colonial migrants intensifed their creation of communities in France, with associations and newspapers as their primary tools. Early on these included, for example, the Ligue pour l’accession aux droits de citoyens des indigènes de Madagascar, founded in 1920 by Malagasies who wanted full citizenship rights, and with a membership largely made up of ex-tirailleurs.35 In a similar vein, Louis Hunkarin’s newspaper Le Message Dahoméen, founded in 1920, requested naturalisation for Dahomeans (today Beninese) and a reform of the indigénat (a legal code that severely limited the rights of the colonised overseas).36 Tere were two primary genres of newspapers and associations: those that did not formally disavow French colonialism and those that were decidedly anti-imperialist. Both were made political by their very existence as black collectives, as well as by their opinions. Te former included the organis­ation behind the newspaper La Dépêche africaine, the Comité de défense des intérêts de la race noire (CDIRN), whose paper – far more well known than the organisation itself – invited articles from Africans, Antilleans and French men and women, many of them intellectuals.37 Te latter, falling into the category of anti-imperial, maintained a complicated relationship with the Communist Party.38 At frst, black anti-imperialists in France afliated themselves with the Union Intercoloniale, which starting in 1921 grouped the colonised from across the French Empire and was linked with the French Communist Party (PCF).39 Soon, however, Africans felt sidelined in this organisation, which helps to explain the impetus to join a new organisation starting in 1924, the Ligue universelle de défense de la race nègre, an association advocating colonial humanism whose more famous leaders included the Prix Goncourt winning novelist René Maran and Marc Kojo Tovalou.40 Tis marked a turning point, as for the frst time a truly trans-colonial association grouped migrants based not merely upon their colony of origin, or their colonised status, but on the conjunction of being colonised and racialised. Te Comité de défense de la race nègre (CDRN, founded in 1926, not to be confused with the CDIRN), the Ligue de défense de la race nègre (LDRN, founded in 1927), and the Union des travailleurs nègres (UTN, founded in 1932), continued this tradition throughout the interwar years, ofen with the same members and leaders. While the frst two organisations sheltered (not without drama) both communists and those simply seeking a sort of mutualism, and both workers and intellectuals, the latter two were unequivocally branded as working class and communist organisations, at least from the perspective of outsiders. Insiders, however, 35 Derrick, Africa’s ‘Agitators’, pp. 123–6. 36 Dewitte, Les Mouvements nègres, pp. 66–7. 37 On La Dépêche africaine, see Sweeney, ‘Resisting the Primitive’. 38 In addition to the many sources below, see Manchuelle, Willing Migrants. 39 Derrick, Africa’s ‘Agitators’, p. 127; Dewitte, Les Mouvements nègres, p. 79. 40 Liauzu, Aux origines des tiers-mondismes, pp. 129–30; Slavin, ‘Te French Lef and the Rif War’.

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66  Jennifer Anne Boittin were neither all communist nor all working class. Indeed several members foreswore any knowledge that their newspaper and organisation benefted from the Communist Party’s fnancial support (although on and of this was the case starting in 1926).41 Members did have in common, however, that they were anti-imperialist, and that they believed that their unity was based in part on belonging to a common race. Te CDRN, LDRN and UTN all stated among their founding goals the need to defend their race from injustice worldwide. Te category race was problematic, but worked as long as members of these organisations were keen to name themselves nègre; regardless of their actual skin colour, they needed to wear proudly a common history of slavery, lack of citizenship and ­oppression.42 Teir justifcation for unity based upon race foreshadowed the reasons given for the negritude movement, revealing that there was concordance in the reactions of workers and intellectuals to the migration experience.43 In the frst issue of their newspaper La Race nègre, LDRN members rejected the French presumption that they were merely Charleston dancers, much as Damas did in his poem ‘Enough’: ‘Enough of blues / of piano hammering / of blocked up trumpet / of exhausting folly of feet / to the satisfaction of the rhythm.’ ‘Enough of desertion / of ass-kissing / of sucking up / and / of an ­attitude / of the hyper assimilated.’44 Challenging the French state depended upon building a coalition, one that could avoid becoming too evident a target for repression and use its fexibility to recruit members and to create an active community that would feel but more importantly act united. Rather than merely practise politics, thus, they also cultivated solidarity by defending individual black men and women who were in dire need of help either in France or overseas. Te founding language of the CDRN included this phrase: ‘help our active members in the difcult moments of their life, fnd them work’.45 Te LDRN and UTN included different formulations of the same idea. Tus, even before any performers had arrived in Paris for the Colonial Exposition, LDRN members announced their fear that these men and women would have no friends, and no one to look out for them, in the metropole.46 Such gestures were also political: fnding new and sympathetic ears for their anti-imperial messages, and through such ears vocal cords willing to enunciate these political messages elsewhere in France and overseas, was part of the mission of anti-imperial organisations. Moreover, they were taking the place of the French state in protecting its subjects. Yet

41 Dewitte, Les Mouvements nègres, p. 137. 42 Boittin, ‘Black in France’, p. 26. 43 Christopher L. Miller frst noted this concordance in his Nationalists and Nomads. 44 ‘Debout les nègres’, La Race nègre, 1(1) (June 1927), p. 1; Damas, Pigments. 45 ‘Souscription universelle (décision assemblée générale du 4 juill. 1926’, Dossier LDRN, CAOM, 3 Slotfom 24, in Dewitte, Les Mouvements nègres, p. 133. 46 PROM, November 1929, p. 6, AN, F/7/13167.

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Life and Politics in France’s Black Communities  67 even while helping them further to reinforce borderless bonds among black colonial migrants, such gestures also showed that members and leaders of such organisations recognised how difcult life in the metropole could be. For these associations there was no easy connection between antiimperial­ism and communism. As Susan Pennybacker reminds us, the elite in particular of such organisations made ‘conscious choices about how to respond to the practices and culture of the Comintern’, in part because ‘there was signifcant doubt surrounding the Communist call to aid the cause of racial justice in the 1930s’.47 Te French context certainly substantiates these validations: three conscious choices made by anti-imperialists were to be discreet about their communist sympathies vis-à-vis fellow black colonial migrants; to move between unfinching support of the Communist Party and stubborn disregard for it; and to ally themselves through the language of race, rather than only class. Yet even with such caveats, the practice of reaching beyond neighbourhoods, cities or borders was infuenced by the communist sympathisers within the black community. Although members and leaders found creative ways to challenge the hegemony that the communist infuence might impose on their subversive activity from the very founding of the CDRN in 1926, the borderless activism of communism also encouraged them both directly and indirectly to see beyond the local groupings of black colonial migrants: indirectly, because the model of cells, meetings in public spaces such as cafés, newspapers and occasional international travel was a useful one for black migrants.48 Directly, because two of the most outspoken anti-imperialist leaders, Lamine Senghor and Tiémoko Garan Kouyaté, worked with and through the Communist Party at key moments in their careers as activists.49 For example, Kouyaté travelled to Moscow and Berlin (where he set up the only non-French branch of the LDRN) just before he reached out decisively to black colonial migrants in France who did not live in Paris.50 Lamine Senghor accomplished the legwork for connections to port cities around France when he was the leader of the CDRN. Signifcantly, leaders such as Senghor were in no way disconnected from the erratic destinies of those they organised. Senghor at one point resorted to the ofcial request for a ‘rapatriement à titre d’indigent’ (repatriation in light of destitution) – a request

47 Pennybacker, From Scottsboro to Munich, p. 12. 48 For more on black communities and communism, see also Baldwin, Beyond the Color Line and the Iron Curtain; Caute, Te Fellow-Travellers; Miller, Pennybacker and Rosenhaf, ‘Mother Ada Wright’. 49 On Senghor and Kouyaté, see Dewitte, Les Mouvements nègres, pp. 189–95; Edwards, Te Practice of Diaspora; Miller, Nationalists and Nomads; Spiegler, ‘Aspects of Nationalist Tought’; Steins, ‘Les antécédents et la génèse de la Négritude senghorienne’; Wilder, Te French Imperial Nation-State. 50 Aitken, ‘From Cameroon to Germany and Back via Moscow and Paris’; Dewitte, Les Mouvements nègres.

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68  Jennifer Anne Boittin for free passage back to Senegal for his wife, his daughter and himself – when in 1924 he realised that the French climate was endangering his health and that he could not aford the passage home. In the ensuing administrative correspondence related to his case, no one challenged his status as destitute, or his poor health. However every letter specifed that his wife was French and would sufer from the Senegalese climate before in turn begging for the inverse repatriation in a matter of years. One letter made explicit what the others merely hinted at: if the French civil code specifed that his wife was obligated to follow him back to Senegal, ‘in marrying a Frenchwoman, Lamine Senghor elected domicile in France’.51 Te contradiction between a wife’s duty to follow her husband wherever he might go, and this particular husband’s implicit ‘choice’ to stay in France as a result of marrying a French (read white) woman, is telling of not only the advantages, previously mentioned, of marrying a Frenchwoman in order to stay in France, but also of the limits such relationships could place on transnationalism. Moreover, this anecdote reveals how the situation of intellectual workers such as Senghor (those who published) was remarkably analogous to that of other workers when it came to survival. Te local branches Senghor established even while struggling to sort out his metropolitan life maintained their allegiance when the LDRN was formed. Kouyaté confrmed in October 1927 that the Ligue had branches in the ­départements of the Var (Fréjus was a major centre for tirailleurs units), the Bouches du Rhône (Marseille) and the city of Le Havre, and that sections were forming overseas in French Guinea, Dahomey, Dakar and Guadeloupe.52 Both men’s vision of an organisation that transcended Parisian and metropolitan borders was in the end bucolic, but although work-intensive the practice was rooted in their recognition of the confnes of metropolitan living. In 1929, Kouyaté spoke to approximately twenty members at the Café de la Source in Paris about the dangers facing politically active black men. Te Paris police chief M. Chiappe had been asked at a March meeting of the municipal council what he planned to do with ‘foreign elements who abuse of [French] hos­pitality’. Chiappe responded that he ‘would repatriate, to their country of origin, colonial elements whose presence in France became undesirable’ (which if nothing else shows just how objectionable a mixed-race couple was overseas, since Senghor could certainly have been qualifed as ‘undesirable’). Kouyaté’s rejoinder was fairly typical: ‘France was ungrateful towards ­colonials who all the same spilled their blood on the battlegrounds during the Great War. We are forbidden from thinking as free men, our opinion must be that of the government, we are treated like foreigners.’ References to the Great War, to restrictions within the metropole threatening their manhood and to 51 Le secrétaire général P.I. pour Monsieur le Gouverneur, Dossier Lamine Senghor, ANS, H/S/148. 52 PROM, October 1927, p. 6, AN, F/7/13166.

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Life and Politics in France’s Black Communities  69 the basic right to freedom of thought and action, were all good examples of the sort of language anti-imperialists used to defend their causes.53 While acknowledging that the Prefect’s comment was directed mainly against the numerically dominant Indochinese and Algerian migrants, Kouyaté and all those present nonetheless decided to protest their marginalis­ ation and the lack of control they had over their freedom of movement, and they did so with some humour: [Te LDRN] afer having learned of the intentions of the government to proceed to the repatriation of undesirable colonials, in other words of those who fght for the independence of their countries, declares that it approves this new method instituted by Monsieur the Prefect of Police and asks, as a corollary, the immediate evacuation from the colonies by the peoples oppressing them, as well as the demobilisation of colonials serving in metropolitan armies.54

Tis jab at French colonial policies rested upon a rather simple premise: either the colonised were part of a cohesive Empire, and deserved to be granted the rights, including freedom of movement and choice of domicile, of all French citizens, or they were foreigners, in which case they should expect to fnd back home the same sovereignty available to all non-colonial migrants who might be themselves expelled from the colonies back to their homelands. Te nebulous, in-between status of colonial migrants (technically French, nonetheless ‘foreigners’, and lacking sovereignty everywhere) was in any case unacceptable. Kouyaté’s language was also typical because it revealed why and how the establishment of strong political and social networks was so very important in addition to the anti-imperialists’ desire to establish an international movement: a lone colonial migrant was easy prey for the brutish hands of the omnipresent state. Tus, this language reveals why the transnational was such a natural component of socio-political activism – it was both a status forced upon these migrants, and one that they could use to defend themselves.

Black Networks: From Teory to Practice Maintaining connections throughout France was not simple, however. In port cities, Kouyaté and Senghor dealt with people like those described in the Marseille newspaper cited at the beginning of this chapter, with its tantalising depiction of a violent encounter between a Senegalese and a Martinican.55 Around eleven o’clock at night, two Senegalese sailors were walking through

53 On language and First World War references, see Boittin, ‘Black in France’; Dewitte, Les Mouvements nègres; Mann, Native Sons. 54 PROM, April 1929, p. 7, AN, F/7/13167. 55 Le Petit Marseillais, 26 April 1935, CAOM, 3 Slotfom 34.

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70  Jennifer Anne Boittin the port district: Lauresse Mendy, aged 23 and Andros Mendy, aged 27. When they passed by a hotel, they were abruptly doused from above by the contents – not likely water given the reaction – of a container. Outraged, they rushed up the stairs and to the door of the room in which they presumed the culprit lodged. Together with his wife, the Martinican Marcel Veteran, an unemployed docker, opened the door. According to the Senegalese, Veteran launched the attack, bringing his blade up once to the nose and a second time out across the lef fank of Lauresse Mendy, who in turn managed to disarm the Martinican, before stabbing him repeatedly with Veteran’s own knife. Te wife was injured and Marcel Veteran was killed. Te only witness interviewed was another Martinican man whose testimony contradicted the version given by the Senegalese. He explained that the Senegalese attacked out of the blue. Even with such incongruities, this happening exemplifes, in a violent expression, the irritability fomented by the stress of living in rough neighbourhoods and as transient migrant communities. Tis article also reveals something about the environment in which many black men of Marseille lived: the red-light district was part of the port, and home to many sailors and dockers. Being out of work was a fact of life. Violent strife, ofen motivated by disputes underpinned by some deeper resentment, and sometimes ending in tragedy, was just as likely an occurrence as a peaceful evening spent between husband and wife. African migrants ofen lived in temporary lodgings (hotels, not apartments) and in close proximity to others. While the port district of Marseille should not be directly equated to port neighbourhoods in Bordeaux or Le Havre – each city deserves its own analysis – the instability generated by uneven access to work, food and pay was certainly endemic along these waterfronts. Yet, early on, the LDRN section that frst Lamine Senghor and then Kouyaté tried to create in Bordeaux proved a reluctant outpost. In Bordeaux, as in Marseille, the local black population was concentrated near the port in part because many of the Africans present in these cities were dockers and sailors or owned bars by the water.56 In this sense, they were more literally transnational than many Parisian Africans – their work requiring constant movement. Kouyaté recognised that lack of work, food or sleeping quarters, along with administrative foils, were daily troubles. He laboured several months to organise the local branch, which attracted Antilleans and black Africans (but far fewer Malagasies than the equivalent union in Marseille). Kouyaté explained that the LDRN’s goals – and hence the principles guiding the Bordeaux section – were to ‘create a bond of solidarity between all the nègre races without distinction of origin or nationality; an entente that would permit them to shake of the yoke of imperialism that weighs heavily on their shoulders’. Unlike in Paris, where the Communist Party’s link to the 56 For more on diferences between Paris and Marseille, see Boittin, ‘Te Militant Black Men of Marseille and Paris’.

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Life and Politics in France’s Black Communities  71 LDRN was hidden from most members, at preliminary Bordeaux meetings the comrade Charlionnet spoke openly about how the Communist Party supported the nègre race. Still, initially Kouyaté lef empty-handed, inspiring one government ofcial to imagine in a monthly report on the colonial migrant community that Kouyaté must have remembered, as he sat in the train bringing him back to Paris, that Lamine Senghor had also failed to create a branch in Bordeaux.57 Not one to back down, Kouyaté came up with a solution: based upon his talks with black men in Marseille and Bordeaux, he suggested that nègre unions tackling work-related problems would succeed where mere copies of the Parisian branch of the LDRN had failed. He addressed some of the migrants’ concerns in a letter to the Minister of the Merchant Navy: Africans’ papers (delivered in Dakar) kept them from fnding work – employers preferred the far simpler ‘embarkation permit’ granted French sailors. Bordeaux blacks resisted three more weeks of public meetings and never-ending discussions in the bars of the waterfront neighbourhood of the Bacalan. Kouyaté’s eloquence turned to scolding: his ‘compatriots [showed] indiference to all the questions concerning the emancipation of the nègre race. Why do they isolate themselves in lieu of uniting in the struggle against exploiters?’58 Te union, Kouyaté then cajoled, would group all the port’s black workers, give funds to the unemployed, to the sick and protect their interests. Te Bordeaux community fnally relented, and an ofcial union was formed in Bordeaux in March 1930 (it took a few more weeks before the local Préfecture de Police accepted the declaration and statutes, which in their frst draf were declared irregular in form). Te Syndicat des navigateurs nègres (SNN) de Bordeaux, ofcially a branch of the LDRN, was headed up by four unemployed sailors who were looking for work in other felds.59 Te Bordeaux union was careful to make its members feel welcome regardless of ethnicity. Te various African ethnolinguistic groups (Soninké, Bamana and so on), which were described and identifed themselves as ‘races’, were each ofcially represented. Te same system was used in Marseille, where informants noted that language and culture had the potential to create deep fssures within the black community, especially among West Africans who had been forced into one ponderous colony by the French. Afer the SNN de Bordeaux was lef to fend for itself, briefy the union was in efervescence. Approximately ffy nègres attended the frst meeting and Henri Derié of Dakar (Senegal) reminded his audience that, thanks to Kouyaté’s communication with several shipping companies in Bordeaux, fve black men had been hired on ships. Ninety-four nègres belonged to the group,

57 PROM, February 1930, pp. 7–8, AN, F/7/13167. 58 PROM, February 1930, p. 9, June 1930, pp. 9–10, March 1930, pp. 9–10: all in AN, F/7/13167. 59 PROM, April 1930, p. 8, AN, F/7/13167.

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72  Jennifer Anne Boittin many of whom were paying dues. However, the evanescent nature of these Africans’ presence in France made the nègre union difcult to maintain, as did the efect that unemployment had upon the paying of dues and thus of the rent for their committee room. In Bordeaux, in 1930 alone, one of the secretaries, Tomas Bangoura, stole some of the dues. Henri Derié, the Senegalese secretary general of the Bordeaux ligue (born in Dakar), drowned in the Gironde river while on vacation, and the Guadeloupian Clarisse Calixte was lef in charge of a largely inactive section.60 Yet when asked why black men should not simply join forces with white maritime workers, Kouyaté demurred: ‘[T]he Noirs must have their own union owing to the existing diference between their interests and those of the whites.’ Tis policy was contrary to those of the Communist Party, and Kouyaté was chastised for his decision to create separate black unions (one example of how the LDRN’s members and leaders resisted com­munist infuences even while using their model and fnancial support). Te Communist Party, moreover, declared him to be ‘counter-revolutionary’ – a clear indication that he chose, through his practices of unity based upon race and his goals of colonial solidarity and anti-imperialism, an alternative to the more prevalent class-based unity.61 Kouyaté believed frmly enough in his alternative to communist tactics that he also sought to implement black unions in Dunkerque, Le Havre and Saint-Nazaire (although he was warned that Saint-Nazaire was not home to enough sympathetic potential members and leaders and that the LDRN was running out of money to fund his travels). Te practice of reaching out to blacks all over France and the Empire was not, in the end, Kouyaté’s alone, but instead was part of a widespread attempt to unite black colonial migrants. Even afer Kouyaté was ofcially dismissed both from the UTN and the Communist Party in 1933 for his refusal to tow the Communist line, Paris-based members of the UTN continued to reach out to cities across France.62 Te Antillean communist Julians, for example, travelled to Marseille, Rouen and Le Havre to revive all these ports’ sections in 1934.63 In Marseille, he quickly talked forty Senegalese and Malagasy sailors into joining the UTN. In Rouen, he took the standard approach of an informal meeting in a bar, and was rewarded with interest (if not commitment). Le Havre proved more complex: there, two associations already existed, one named ‘La Famille Antillaise’ (the Antillean family) grouped only Antilleans. Te other (not named in the report) combined the Senegalese, Malagasies and a few blacks from the coast of Somalia. Both societies had the patronage of the white deputy-mayor M. Léon Meyer, but ‘must observe absolute political neutrality and keep themselves apart from workers’ struggles’, and members

60 PROM, April 1930, p. 9, June 1930, pp. 10–11, October 1930, p. 8: all in AN, F/7/13167. 61 PROM, March 1930, p. 11, May 1930, pp. 5 and 12: both in AN, F/7/13167. 62 Dewitte, Les Mouvements nègres, p. 308. 63 On Julians, see ibid.

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Life and Politics in France’s Black Communities  73 were supposed to participate in activities organised by the town. Meyer’s attempt to embed these black men in their local community was at least partially successful since a number of black men who might otherwise have been presumed ripe for organising by the UTN could not be motivated to join.64

Conclusion Regardless of where they lived in France, how politically active they were, or how permanent their metropolitan experience, all the migrants discussed here wrestled with their transnational way of life, at the intimate and at the public levels, through formal and informal communities, deliberately or refexively. A problem with transnationalism in practice, however, was that it could quickly be labelled ‘complicity’, a fact Damas recognised when analysing the limits of the migrant way of life. According to Damas: At frst glance, the interests, the general knowledge, the statute of these three groups [Africans, Antilleans, black Parisians], seem so clearly separated – when they do not appear opposed – that we could be tempted to admit that there exist three black French societies as distinctive one from the other as the farmer on the Dixon Line [sic] from a Professor at Howard University.65

Damas noted another feature of black migrants: ‘in France, a curt reaction formed not against intellectual workers, but against the intellectuals’. Lamine Senghor was an example of an intellectual worker: he published, yet was not part of the elite, whereas Damas would have been considered a more pure ‘intellectual’. Workers on the docks of Bordeaux, Le Havre and Marseille did not ofen come into contact with Damas’s sort of elite who in turn were, in Damas’s words, ‘[aware of having] our heads in the clouds, we are far from the worker, and, we and [the worker] are far from Africa’.66 Damas was disturbed by the stereotypes circulating within the black community because they threatened to divide it. He personally rejected a moderate reaction to colonialism, arguing: ‘for or against Assimilation, I answer, frankly no’ before going on to propose this alternative: ‘[T]hese populations are of African origin: if a practical assimilation must be ­attempted, it would consist of opening the doors of black Africa to the colonised Antilleans.’ In advocating a reversal of the diaspora, Damas also recognised that if ‘cutting the two black populations of one from the other, it’s harassing both groups’, then uniting the two under the term nègre served a purpose. Even the most individualist of Antilleans, Damas argued, was susceptible to the ‘racial spirit of cohesion’. Te ‘transplanted African … could not be annihilated or subdued: always 64 PROM, November–December 1934, CAOM, 3 Slotfom 77. 65 Damas, ‘Misère noire’, p. 180. 66 Damas, Retour de Guyane, p. 139.

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74  Jennifer Anne Boittin some unexpected demonstration either in art, or in the verb or in action’.67 Migration did not rot African roots; instead, it provided a transnational canopy that linked blacks to the continent of origin and revealed unity, whether the migrants in question were intellectuals or workers. Césaire likewise focused on the dangers of complicity: from his reference to European clothes to warn against the dangers of European education in the frst issue of L’Etudiant noir, to an enunciation of the word negritude by the third one.68 Yet his understanding of the practice of transnationalism was perhaps best expressed in his 1939 Cahier d’un retour au pays natal (Notebook of a Return to the Native Land), which until recently was the earliest available text in which Césaire used the term negritude. He says of negritude: ‘and the determination of my biology, not a prisoner to a facial angle, to a type of hair, to a well-fattened nose, to a clearly Melanien colouring, and negritude, no longer a cephalic index, or plasma, or soma, but measured by the compass of sufering’.69 Nègre was a term for sufering, a category like class that unifed far beyond its surface defnition, as the index of a common humanity. Damas and Césaire eloquently described the migrant experience, but they did not just do so from on high. Tey recognised cohesion in displacement, even when the everyday details of black migrants’ lives difered greatly. In France, black migrants created local homes, where family and sexuality provided the intimacy necessary for rest and relaxation. Nationalists and anti-imperialists (who ofen, but not always, overlapped in their politics), shaped their politics in France. In these formal and informal relation­ships, transnational practices assured black communities’ endurance, protection and sustenance. Tus, in 1939, when a primary school teacher who was studying science, and a medical student, both Guadeloupians, tried to enter a cafédancing in Paris only to be thrown out, an outraged Union des travailleurs nègres, still active although no longer very revolutionary, wrote a letter to the Minister of the Colonies. Members demanded an ‘energetic intervention’ and profered a threat should Minister Georges Mandel not follow up: ‘bitterness and disappointment, or more, will henceforth be the sentiments of all nègres vis-à-vis certain categories of French (men)’. Two days afer sending this letter, the UTN gathered approximately ten nègres whose ‘morals were beyond reproach’ and entered the same Latin Quarter establishment, Le Victoria. At frst they were ignored. Eventually they asked to be served, but minutes later found themselves being escorted of the premises by police ofcers. Although they protested that they were well dressed, polite and only their skin colour could be held against them, they were nonetheless ousted. Once on the street, where more compatriots awaited, the policemen proceeded to arrest several of 67 Ibid., pp. 141, 154, 73. 68 Christian Filostrat printed a facsimile of the third issue in his book in 2008. Until then, only one issue of L’Etudiant noir had been available to scholars: Filostrat, Negritude Agonistes. 69 Césaire, Notebook of a Return to the Native Land, p. 43.

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Life and Politics in France’s Black Communities  75 them. Members of the UTN wrote more letters, this time to their respective deputies, including Maurice Satineau, representative for Guadeloupe. He had been the editor of La Dépêche africaine, the more moderate political newspaper published by Antilleans and Africans in Paris during the late 1920s. Angered, Satineau wrote to the Minister of the Colonies. Mandel in turn wrote to the Minister of the Interior, clamouring: ‘[T]he France of the Revolution cannot tolerate that racism take hold in the capital at the very moment when the international situation demands the union of all the French without distinction of origin or colour.’70 Te Minister of the Interior, Sarraut, wrapped up the afair by 22 June: the owner of the establishment was at fault and was warned not to try something along those lines again (the police ofcers were not mentioned in the report). With the Second World War looming, this was in some ways a small victory for the practices of black migrants. In other ways, the efectual responses of multiple government ofcials, who could have dismissed the incident as revelry gone awry, was a resounding triumph. Either way, the success of such tactics explains precisely why and how both intellectuals and workers saw their nègre status as a common migrant and human experience worthy of enunciation and defence in transnational perspective.

70 A. P. Trisot for the Union des Travailleurs Nègres to Monsieur le Ministre des Colonies, Paris, 10 June 1939; François Julien to Monsieur le député, Paris, 12 June 1939; Maurice Satineau to Monsieur Georges Mandel, Ministre des Colonies, Paris, 13 June 1939: all in CAOM, 3 Slotfom 126.

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Chapter 5

‘In this Metropolis of the World We Must Have a Building Worthy of Our Great People’: Race, Empire and Hospitality in Imperial London, 1931–1948 Daniel Whittall

In October 1929, the African American actor and musician Paul Robeson, on a visit to England, ventured into London’s Savoy Grill hoping to sample the fne cuisine for which the restaurant had become known. Te world-renowned Robeson, much to his surprise, was refused service on account of the colour of his skin. Te incident was picked up on and reported by the London press, and although it created something of a stir it failed to produce any new initiative to prevent recurrence of such practices.1 In 1931, West African law graduate O. A. Alakija was turned away from a London hotel on account of being a ‘man of colour’,2 and later that decade the black Trinidadian George Padmore wrote, ‘Few Negroes in England, I imagine, have not passed through the bitter experience of looking for apartments and being told constantly: “We do not take coloured people.”’3 London in the 1930s was a city which had been deeply shaped by empire.4 It was also a city in which race played an important role, and these two aspects – the politics of empire and of race – ofen intersected with one another. As Marilyn Lake and Henry Reynolds have recently argued, the early years of the twentieth century witnessed a hardening of global racial attitudes as a result 1 ‘Hotel Colour Bar?’, Daily Mirror (23 October 1929), p. 2; see also Duberman, Paul Robeson, pp. 123–4. 2 ‘Law Report: A West African Student and a London Hotel’, West Africa (3 March 1932), p. 209. For further examples, see Constantine, Colour Bar, pp. 135–8. 3 Padmore, ‘A Negro Looks at British Imperialism’, Te Crisis (December 1938), p. 397. 4 Pennybacker, From Scottsboro to Munich, pp. 1–2. For a longer perspective on this history, see Zahedieh, Te Capital and the Colonies.

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Race, Empire and Hospitality in Imperial London  77 of which Britain, the USA and the dominions of Australia, South Africa and Canada came to be understood as ‘white men’s countries’, arrogating to themselves the status of bastions of civilisation.5 Such global shifs, which bespoke fears of a challenge to the pre-eminence of whiteness within the empire, had ramifcations within Britain. Paul Rich has written of how, in the early years of the twentieth century, doctrines of racial segregation ‘enjoyed fairly wide approval amongst sections of the intelligentsia and middle class’ in Britain.6 London’s position within the wider imperial social formation meant that the empire shaped the metropolis in return; in the words of Antoinette Burton, empire was ‘not just a phenomenon “out there,” but a fundamental and constitutive part of English culture’.7 By the 1930s, people from the colonies were increasingly present on the streets of London.8 Not all such people were marked by racial diference; new Londoners included white ­colonials who were themselves ‘held to be less than quite civilized’ by long-term residents.9 However, for those visitors and migrants more visibly diferent, London ofered a distinct prospect altogether. For black colonial migrants coming to Britain, the connections between racial attitudes and identities in Britain and the politics of empire were everywhere apparent. As Eric Walrond, a writer from British Guiana better known for his role in the Harlem Renaissance, wrote while working in London, ‘It is indeed a paradox that London, capital of the largest Negro Empire in the world … should be extremely inexpert in the matter of interracial relations.’10 Tis chapter explores the intersection of the politics of race and empire in London in the 1930s and 1940s. To do so, it focuses on the eforts of the League of Coloured Peoples (LCP), an organisation founded by African and Caribbean activists, to establish hospitable spaces in which colonial subjects, particularly those from the African diaspora, could escape the racism they experienced elsewhere in British society. Te chapter discusses three initiatives launched by the LCP in their eforts to challenge the colour bar. Te frst is a joint project with the Colonial Ofce to open a hostel in London for students of African descent, known as Aggrey House. Te second is the League’s own eforts to establish headquarters for itself, something that preoccupied them throughout their existence. Te third is an expansive proposal that the LCP began to formulate from about 1945 to found a cultural centre for colonial

5 Lake and Reynolds, Drawing the Global Colour Line; Schwarz, Te White Man’s World. 6 Rich, Race and Empire in British Politics, p. 94. 7 Burton, ‘Introduction’, p. 3. 8 Porter, Te Absent-Minded Imperialists, pp. 258–9. Porter’s work dismisses the importance of racism in British society. For a fne critique, see Schwarz, Te White Man’s World, pp. 14–17. 9 Woollacott, To Try Her Fortune in London, pp. 14–15. 10 Walrond, ‘Te Negro in London’, Te Black Man (March 1936), p. 10. Killingray, ‘“A Good West Indian, a Good African, and, in Short, a Good Britisher”’.

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78  Daniel Whittall people in London. Practical answers to a problem of everyday life inherent in the imperial and transnational character of the city and its black inhabitants, these projects both drew on multiple and contending connections among black and white actors and tested the possibilities for solidarity in the feld of tension created by the presence of empire in the metropolis.

Race and Empire in an Imperial Metropolis London in the frst half of the twentieth century has been described as ‘the greatest imperial metropolis of modern times’.11 Te idea of the imperial city has been developed by scholars working across a range of disciplines, but the work of geographers Felix Driver and David Gilbert has been particularly signifcant. In a series of essays, they have interrogated the complex ways in which imperialism and modern London have intertwined, asking how ‘the global processes of imperialism [have been] absorbed and represented in an urban context’.12 Demonstrating that the British Empire has shaped many diferent parts of London, from central areas to the suburbs, their work has also drawn on Doreen Massey’s notion of a ‘politics of place beyond place’ to explore how imperial cities have been infuenced by people and places far beyond their conventionally construed boundaries, and have in turn had their own particular infuences on other places.13 Much of the work on imperial cities has tended to focus on the ways that imperialism impacted on metropolitan inhabitants and shaped metropolitan urban environments, rather than on the ways in which colonial migrants themselves negotiated such cities.14 Recent years have, however, seen an upturn in work attending to the agency of colonial subjects. As Jennifer Boittin has argued, with a particular focus on Paris, ‘empire took shape in the colonial migrants’ presence on its streets’, most notably because the ‘act of occupying and utilizing city spaces’ enabled ‘colonial migrants … to “colonize” Paris’.15 Boittin’s work thus draws attention to the role of colonial subjects in occupy­ing and transforming urban spaces in their eforts to challenge the ‘colour bar’ and render the city itself more hospitable to people of African descent. Similarly, John McLeod has argued that London needs to be understood as ‘a vexed space of inter-cultural exchange’, its ‘transcultural facticity

11 Schneer, London 1900, p. 12. 12 Driver and Gilbert, ‘Imperial Cities’, p. 6. See also their essays ‘Heart of Empire?‘ and ‘Capital and Empire’. 13 See Massey, World City. 14 One notable exception is Schneer’s London 1900. 15 Boittin, Colonial Metropolis, pp. xiv–xvii; Wilder, Te French Imperial Nation-State (esp. p. 28).

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Race, Empire and Hospitality in Imperial London  79 … ­incubating new social relations and cultural forms’.16 London was, afer all, not only the seat of imperial government but also home to radicals, free­t hinkers and organised critics of empire from Britain’s colonies old and new.17 Recent work on black British history has accordingly begun to draw attention to the ways in which colonial subjects reshaped the urban geographies of Britain in the 1930s and 1940s. Alison Donnell, for example, explains that the telling of the Jamaican Una Marson’s life-story necessarily involves examining ‘the smaller but signifcant places of exchange and encounter between West Indians, Africans and Indians in Britain’.18 However, Donnell’s own account gives these places only cursory attention. Similarly, John McLeod, examining Ras Makonnen’s important Manchester restaurant the Cosmopolitan, ‘one of several similar venues in Britain in the 1930s and 1940s where members of the Pan-African intelligentsia encountered each other’, writes of ‘unique, fascinating locations which give some indication of the larger transnational overlappings and tensions that distinguish their historical and geographical place’.19 Yet his subsequent discussion, while providing illuminating detail on the Cosmopolitan itself, makes few connections between this restaurant and other spaces of black politics in Britain and beyond. Te remainder of this chapter seeks to develop these perspectives by looking at the LCP’s eforts to establish hospitable places for African diasporic people in London. Tese eforts may be understood in terms of some paradoxes. Te sites under consideration here all proclaimed to ofer hospitality to black subjects in Britain, but, as Dikeç has written, proclamations of hos­pitality are ‘not always liberating or emancipatory’, and hospitality itself can be under­stood in a variety of ways.20 More than one kind of hospitality was on ofer here, and who was entitled to hospitality could be a contentious issue. More particularly, Ian Baucom has pointed to the way in which, when people of colour ‘took their places within the locations of Englishness, they also took partial ­possession of those places, estranging them, and, in the process, transforming the narratives of English identity that these spaces promised to locate’.21 But the question of how far imperial ‘Englishness’ was to be fostered, accommodated or challenged in the spaces under consideration was central to debates about their purposes.

16 McLeod, Postcolonial London, pp. 12, 18. 17 Boehmer, Empire, the National and the Postcolonial, p. 20; also Young, Postcolonialism, p. 225. 18 Donnell, ‘Una Marson’, p. 116. 19 McLeod, ‘“A Night at the Cosmopolitan”’, p. 55. 20 Dikeç, ‘Pera, Peras, Poros’, p. 228; also Dikeç, Clark and Barnett, ‘Extending Hos­pi­ tality’. 21 Baucom, Out of Place, pp. 6, 38.

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80  Daniel Whittall

Hospitality, Race and the Politics of Empire: Te Founding of Aggrey House In 1946, the Trinidadian radical George Padmore, writing in the African American newspaper the Chicago Defender, described plans by black activists in London to establish an African diasporic cultural centre in the imperial metropolis. Padmore noted that the centre had as its object ‘the friendly relation­ship between colored colonials and white people in the British Isles’, and quoted from an interview with the secretary of the LCP, Dr Malcolm Joseph-Mitchell. He stressed that the proposed centre would be open to ‘colored peoples visiting London from America as well as diferent parts of the British Empire’, and particularly urged that the ‘achievements of Africans and people of African descent must be known at the heart of the Empire’. Padmore also took the opportunity to criticise the Colonial Ofce and the British Council who, he said, ‘are only concerned with promoting imperialistic ­projects under their own control’, and as such ‘are hardly likely to help colored subjects of their empire to form and direct a cultural centre in the heart of the empire’. For this reason, said Padmore, ‘Negroes in Britain are looking to their colored friends in America for contributions of books and works of Negro art’.22 Only two years previously, Padmore had been a key player in organising the Manchester Pan-African Congress, a gathering ofen cited for bringing to pan-African politics a new emphasis on labour struggles and economic exploitation. Te vision he articulates here of a cultural centre at the heart of the metropolis shows, however, that Padmore and his colleagues did not discard cultural initiatives in their radicalised pan-Africanism, but instead sought to conjoin them with the working class black internationalism which is more ofen emphasised.23 Elsewhere, and around the same time, another West Indian activist based in London was making the case for the same cultural centre, though in entirely diferent terms. Dr Harold Moody, the Jamaican founder of the LCP and initiator of the cultural centre project, had returned to Jamaica for the frst time since 1919 to publicise the scheme for a London cultural centre and raise funds for it in the United States and the Caribbean. In contrast to Padmore’s anti-imperial vision, Moody announced his vision for ‘an enlarged, representative and efective League of Coloured Peoples in Britain housed in a Cultural Centre of which our people can be proud and which will worthily represent them’.24 Te cultural centre, it now appeared, was also intended as a home for the LCP. While in the West Indies, Moody spoke to a range of audiences in St Kitts, Jamaica and Trinidad. He also made a brief visit to 22 Padmore, ‘Plan Culture Center in London’, Chicago Defender (19 April 1947), p. 15. 23 Von Eschen, Race Against Empire, p. 46; Hooker, Black Revolutionary. 24 Moody, ‘Purpose of my Visit to the British West Indies’, LCP News Letter, 85 (October 1946), p. 7.

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Race, Empire and Hospitality in Imperial London  81 New York, meeting with potential donors for the cultural centre and giving various speeches in Harlem.25 Following Moody’s visit to the Caribbean, the Trinidadian George Collymore wrote: Te immediate need of a Cultural Centre for West Indians in England can hardly be over-emphasized. It is, as it were, a little part of the West Indies transplanted in London to form a little nursery where the tender shoots from these shores would be nurtured in a richer soil with the watchful gardener to tend its growth and send back an improved stock to develop and grow into stately maturity.26

Collymore’s impression that the Cultural Centre was intended primarily for West Indians refected Moody’s presentation of the scheme to his audiences. In Jamaica, Moody had claimed that ‘[t]he day of the West Indian has come’,27 and this was probably typical of his speeches on that tour. At a speech there attended by Norman Manley and the Governor, Sir John Huggins, Moody had described the needs and interests of West Indians as the quintessence of his own objectives, stating clearly his belief that they travelled to England ‘to get educated and cultured, to assimilate to that which is essentially West Indian in ourselves something of that which has made England what she is’. In establishing a cultural centre Moody envisioned himself trying to ‘bring into being a really educated, talented, cultured, broad-minded group’.28 Moody’s long-standing preoccupation with improving the status of African diasporic peoples through close association with and deep knowledge of English civilis­ ation tied into a broader pattern of middle-class Caribbean activists and intellectuals looking to the values of the ‘Mother Country’ to secure their progress and development.29 Tis debate in the mid-1940s, between two very diferent West Indian activists based in London but with connections and infuence stretching far beyond that city, serves as a useful entry point into the question of forging hospitable spaces for African diasporic people in the imperial metropolis across this period. Te project itself, in both articulations, was presented as an opportunity to showcase diverse African diasporic cultural accomplishments, and thus challenge the racist interpretation of African culture as either nonexistent or ‘primitive’, but also, and probably more important, to provide a space to which diasporic individuals themselves would be able to come, and in the process learn something of their cultural heritage. As such, it took its place 25 Vaughan, Negro Victory, pp. 149–51. 26 ‘A Great West Indian’, LCP News Letter, 93 (July 1947), pp. 134–6. Collymore’s piece had originally appeared in the magazine of the Trinidad and Tobago Youth Council. 27 ‘Our Leader Has Fallen – Farewell Good Friend’, LCP News Letter, 91 (May 1947), p. 105. 28 ‘Dr Harold Moody Outlines Plans for Cultural Centre in London’, Daily Gleaner (24 January 1947), p. 16. 29 Rush, Bonds of Empire.

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82  Daniel Whittall within a wider debate, acute amongst the black community in Britain, of how best to contest the prevailing colour bar in the metropolis, and what sort of place was most likely to serve the needs of black people in that context – or to be hospitable. For Padmore, such a space ought both to display black achievement and also to pose a challenge to imperialism by undermining the argument that African diasporic people were somehow ‘backward’. For Moody, on the other hand, while showcasing black achievement such a space ought to facilitate connections between the black community in Britain, African diasporic people around the British Empire, and the very people in charge of running the empire. As he put it in another context, Moody en­v isioned the centre as a ‘training ground’ for colonial governors and ofcials where they could ‘serve a term of apprenticeship’, meeting people from the areas to which they would be sent in order ‘to understand that they are not going out either to lord it over others or to pity the poor heathen, but to serve humanity’.30 Moody pictured the centre as interracial, as a space for engagement with and education about the strengths of African and African-derived cultures. On this reading, the centre was intended as a multifaceted node of connection between various communities in the metropolis, the colonies and the African diaspora beyond. It is notable, if unsurprising, that the prime diference between Padmore’s and Moody’s interpretations of a hospitable space for black people in London turned on the question of the relationship between that space and the British Empire. Padmore had long been fully committed to anti-imperialism, while Moody was renowned for his more conciliatory stance, seeking to reform the British Empire, and particularly its racialised logic, rather than overthrow it. Te debate over a cultural centre for African diasporic people in London was thus as much about the performance of the politics of empire within imperial Britain as it was about the imperative to challenge the global colour bar. Such tensions had long been at the centre of eforts by black activists to reshape the racialised geography of imperial London. In what follows, this chapter situates the debate over the founding of an African diasporic cultural centre in London within this wider history, as well as within debates about the relationship between race, hospitality and the politics of empire in Britain that began in the 1920s. For Harold Moody, the idea of a cultural centre was rooted in the perception that something was needed to provide African diasporic people with a hospitable welcome in the imperial metropolis, in view of the racial prejudice that they encountered in everyday life. Invited to address the opening of a new hostel for Indian students in 1923, Moody spoke at length about the importance of such spaces, and called for the establishment of similar institutions for people of African descent in Britain.31 Moody had frst come to London 30 LCP News Letter, 67 (April 1945), p. 5. 31 ‘Address by Dr H. Moody at the Opening of an Indian Students’ Hostel by Baptists’, Daily Gleaner (13 September 1923), p. 10.

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Race, Empire and Hospitality in Imperial London  83 from Jamaica in 1904 to study medicine at King’s College, and from at least the late 1920s he became a public fgure in Britain, lecturing regularly on race and racism (of which he had personal experience), and ofen speaking from religious platforms.32 By 1931, frustrated by the failed attempts of white humanitarians to eradicate the colour bar, and encouraged by the recent visit to London of the African American academic Carter G. Woodson, Moody founded his own organisation, the League of Coloured Peoples.33 Te LCP’s aims were to promote the interests of its members, to interest them in the welfare of ‘coloured peoples’ around the world, and to improve ­relations between the races, as well as to provide fnancial support for those who needed it. In the opening editorial of its journal Te Keys, the League noted that ‘our brothers and sisters are daily meeting with racial discrimination in their search for work’ in London, Liverpool and Cardif especially, and that students and nurses also ‘have felt the spiked heel of race prejudice’. Te LCP stressed the wider impacts of metropolitan racism by noting that such inci­dents risk having ‘a detrimental efect on peace, order and good govern­ ment within the British Empire’.34 As this suggests, the League primarily adopted Moody’s reformist attitude to empire. However, as a leading antiracist and black-led organisation then active in London, the LCP also drew more radical fgures into its midst. Black activists such as Jomo Kenyatta and C. L. R. James, whose political sympathies sat more comfortably with the anticolonial lef of British politics, both joined the LCP, as did black Communists like Arnold Ward and Peter Blackman. As might be expected from such a diverse array of characters, the LCP took varying approaches to racism and the organising logics of racial community. At times its spokespeople grounded their critique of the colour bar in arguments which positioned racism as a central element of the imperial economic system, echoing the writings of supposedly more radical colonial activists in Britain like Padmore.35 At others, their focus was on the emotional pain and hurt occasioned by the colour bar.36 Here, members of the League articulated a vision of a global black race unifed by active racial oppression.37 However, Moody himself understood racism as a product mainly of ignorance, rather than deliberate policy, and the LCP’s primary perspective was grounded in the belief in an ‘idealized version of the British character’ centred in particular on what the League took to be ‘British conceptions of justice and fair

32 Vaughan, Negro Victory, pp. 57–8. 33 ‘League of Coloured Peoples’, Te Times (16 March 1931), p. 15 34 ‘Editorial’, Te Keys, (1)1 (July 1933), p. 2. 35 ‘Current Comment’, Te Keys, (3)3 (January–March 1936), p. 30; George Padmore, ‘West Africans Watch Your Land’, International African Opinion, 1(3) (September 1938), pp. 11, 16. 36 Una Marson, ‘Nigger’, Te Keys, 1(1) (July 1933), p. 9. 37 ‘Editorial’, Te Keys, 2(3) (January–March 1935), pp. 45–6.

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84  Daniel Whittall play’.38 From this perspective, racial discrimination and the enforcement of the colour bar were simply ‘un-British’.39 Moody thus saw the colour bar as an aberration to be corrected through education, and also advocated a politics of racial uplif, whereby racism would be countered by asserting and demonstrating the cultural and intellectual attainments of black peoples.40 One constant thread running through the LCP’s attention to the politics of race and racism in Britain, however, was its concern with the spatial manifestations of the colour bar. Its writers repeated what each individual knew: ‘Hotels, restaurants, and lodging houses refuse us with impunity.’41 In this sense, one function of the LCP was to make visible the line which demarcated where hospitality for black people in Britain ended, in efect marking out the global colour bar as it ran through London in the agendas of its public and private meetings and the articles that appeared in Te Keys. It is with these various commitments in mind that we need to understand the LCP’s collaboration with the Colonial Ofce in the opening of Aggrey House, a hostel for Africans and West Indians named afer the Gold Coast educationalist J. E. K. Aggrey, and opened at 47 Doughty Street in Bloomsbury in October 1934.42 Concerned at the impact that racism was having on black colonial subjects in Britain, in part thanks to the eforts of Moody and the LCP in bringing the colour bar to the attention of ofcials, the Colonial Ofce launched a project to establish an ‘African Club in London’ in which ‘Africans will fnd a real home’.43 Te ministry thus adopted the language of hospitality and homeliness for the outward presentation of its proposals. Privately, however, ofcials also revealed their hopes that such a hostel would aid them in ‘introducing the members … to the people and the social circles who really represent the Empire’, diverting Africans and West Indians away from political radicals and anti-colonial activists.44 Moody moved swifly to ensure the involvement of the LCP in the Colonial Ofce plans. Te ofcial proposals closely paralleled the kind of institution for 38 David Tucker, ‘Bermuda’, Te Keys, 1(3) (January 1934), p. 55; Moody, Te Colour Bar, p. 5; and Rush, ‘Imperial Identity in Colonial Minds’, p. 371. 39 See ‘Colour Bar Memorandum’ and ‘Sierra Leone Memorandum’, LCP News Notes no. 3 (December 1939), unpag.; ‘Te Colour Bar: Reactions’, LCP News Letter, no. 7 (April 1940), p. 14; Harold Moody to Malcolm MacDonald, Secretary of State for the Colonies, 11 November 1939, in TNA UK, CO 323/1692/4. 40 ‘Standards for Blacks’, LCP News Notes, no. 3 (December 1939), p. 3. On the notion of uplif, see Gaines, Uplifing the Race. 41 Editorial, Te Keys, 1(1) (July 1933), p. 2. 42 I have written of the history of Aggrey House in more detail in Whittall, ‘Creating Black Places in Imperial London’. Te present chapter is concerned with a closer examina­tion of the theoretical and conceptual issues surrounding questions of hospitality, race and empire in the imperial metropolis than was provided in the earlier piece. 43 See ‘African Club in London’, poster in TNA UK, CO 323/1243/5. 44 See memos by Vischer, 9 December 1935 and 15 December 1935, in TNA UK, CO 323/1342/12.

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Race, Empire and Hospitality in Imperial London  85 which he had called in the early 1920s, and from his reformist standpoint the fact that the ministry had recognised the problem of metropolitan racism and sought to do something about it was a point of considerable importance. He pressed the Colonial Ofce to act more quickly on the project, and went over their heads by contacting colonial governors directly to seek their support and funding – earning a rebuke from the authorities for his troubles.45 Despite this, Moody was appointed as the only black member of Aggrey House’s Board of Trustees. Moody’s direct correspondence with colonial governors indicates that he had previously been in contact with colonial ofcials. It illustrates his willing­ness to work with imperial politicians and demonstrates his success in inserting the LCP into an international network of high-ranking correspon­ dents. It also gestures at the elite transnational connections, initiated through the Colonial Ofce, that were brought to bear on Aggrey House, as well as indicating the way that Moody himself was able to draw on the resources of the Colonial Ofce to his own ends. His vision of a hospitable site for African diasporic subjects in the imperial metropolis was closely bound up with his sense that the values he associated with the British Empire – respect, responsibility, unity, and cultural and civilisational advancement – were of relevance to black colonials. For black people in London, Moody believed, the intimate connection of the proposed hostel with the Colonial Ofce was the best guarantee of moral improvement in that they would come to internalise those values. Moody was soon forced to recognise how problematic this proposition was, in confrontation with the question of just how hospitable a space it was possible to create with such close associations to imperial power. In April 1933, the West African Students Union, another black-led activist and pressure group, opened its own hostel at 62 Camden Road in Camden Town, North London.46 Te WASU establishment became a centre point of black life in 1930s London.47 Te Colonial Ofce noted that the LCP ‘has amongst its members many wild lads apt to make wild statements’ about Aggrey House, and some of them actively supported the WASU Hostel.48 Almost certainly, the Trinidadian C. L. R. James, up until then an LCP member, was one of these ‘wild lads’. In 1934, he joined a group of notable lef-leaning Britons, including Kingsley Martin, editor of the New Statesman and Nation, and Reginald Bridgeman of the League Against Imperialism, as well as members 45 Moody to Edward Denham, Governor of British Guiana, 23 December 1932. On Moody’s correspondence with Governor Sir Ransford Slater of Jamaica, see letters by Slater to Beckett, 16 January 1933 and Beckett to Slater, 18 February 1933. For the rebuke, see Vischer to Percy Nunn, 12 April 1933: all in TNA UK, CO 323/1243/5. 46 On the WASU Hostel, see Adi, West Africans, pp. 52–76. 47 For remembrances of WASU hostels role in 1930s black London, see Makonnen, PanAfricanism from Within, p. 127; Azikiwe, My Odyssey, p. 197. 48 Memo by Mr Vischer, 23 June 1933, TNA UK, CO 323/1244/13.

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86  Daniel Whittall of WASU, to form the African Hostel Defence Association (AHDA). James proposed a boycott of Aggrey House,49 and this grouping also published a pamphlet in March 1934 entitled Te Truth About Aggrey House: An Exposure of the Government Plan for the Control of African Students in Great Britain. Te AHDA characterised Moody as a stooge, naively taken in and deceived by the Colonial Ofce, even an ‘Uncle Tom’, as he was referred to in an article on Aggrey House that appeared in the international Communist journal the Negro Worker.50 Te subtitle of the WASU/AHDA pamphlet made clear their perspective on Aggrey House, and the pamphlet itself explicitly argued (with reason) that the institution was intended by the Colonial Ofce not to challenge the colour bar, but instead to enable better monitoring of the activities of colonial students in London. Tis intervention transformed the debate over what makes a hospitable space for colonial subjects in Britain by emphasising that such a space ought to be free from the controlling infuence of the imperial power itself. Aggrey House thus became part of a wider debate about the place of the politics of empire in Britain, and the ways in which empire impacted on the daily lives of those who walked the streets of London. Unfazed by these attacks, Moody vigorously defended Aggrey House against its detractors, asserting, ‘[T]his house will yet play a great part in the future of our race.’51 A number of WASU members split from that organisation and sided with Moody, and the Colonial Ofce reported that Jomo Kenyatta was amongst those who continued to frequent Aggrey House.52 Clearly, the debate over Aggrey House polarised parts of the African diasporic population in London, with Africans and West Indians supporting both sides in the argument. Aggrey House and the WASU Hostel were thus contested sites in which an international panorama of African diasporic and metropolitan British activists in London battled over competing visions of what a hospitable place for black colonial subjects in Britain ought to be. Te question of racial inclusivity and the contestation of the colour bar, on whose importance both sides agreed, was complicated by the divisive question of the relationship between hospitality and empire. Te controversy took almost twelve months to resolve, but by March 1935, afer several meetings between all parties, WASU ended its opposition, having won some concessions from the Colonial Ofce, such as the advertisement of the WASU Hostel within Aggrey House.53 By early 1935, Aggrey House was reported to have around ffy members, with most of the available bedrooms flled; by 1937, membership had risen to 236, coming from across Africa and the West Indies, with a small number from Britain and the United States of

49 West Africa, 5 May 1934, p. 473. 50 ‘“Uncle Tom” Moody’, Negro Worker, August–September, 1933, p. 17. 51 ‘Te President’s Message’, Te Keys, 2(2) (1935), p. 22. 52 Adi, West Africans, pp. 58, 65. 53 Memo by Vischer, 4 February 1935, in TNA UK, CO 323/1342/11.

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Race, Empire and Hospitality in Imperial London  87 America.54 It had, in appearance at least, become a hospitable transnational place in direct opposition to the informal colour bar then prevailing in most social spaces in London, allowing Africans, West Indians, Britons and others were to engage and interact with one another. Fostering these transnational linkages was the wide variety of texts available in the hostel’s library, including books such as Nancy Cunard’s monumental Negro: An Anthology, and periodicals such as the Gold Coast Independent, British Guiana, and the American-based black publication Opportunity.55 Te house also hosted regular speakers, including the West Indian LCP member Dr Cecil Belfeld Clarke, the Irish humanitarian Lady Kathleen Simon, George Padmore, Moody and many others. Student members established ‘a study group … doing good work in the study of African culture’, as well as a debating society.56 Aggrey House thus functioned as a site through which black students and others could engage with ideas and current afairs relating to a broad range of international and imperial contexts, with a primary focus on Africa and the African diaspora. In the event, the extent to which the Colonial Ofce or the colonial interest could contain the energies of Aggrey House proved limited. An oppositional site in terms of racial politics, it fostered a dynamic that ran counter to the broader political quiescence expected by both the Colonial Ofce and Harold Moody. In 1940, ofcial worries about the ‘undesirable political and social tone’ and ‘communistic fair’ of political activities amongst student members became particularly acute, and Aggrey House was temporarily closed.57

A Home for Activism at the Heart of Empire: Te Question of LCP Headquarters During his involvement in Aggrey House, Moody had written to the Colonial Ofce in an unsuccessful attempt to get permission to use it as LCP headquarters.58 For the LCP, the quest for suitable premises for an organisational 54 Members were required to pay a small fee to join, but no other vetting of the membership seems to have been employed. Both men and women were eligible for membership. See memo by Vischer, 25 January 1935, in TNA UK, CO 323/1342/11. In 1936 55 On Cunard’s book in particular as a transnational text, see Winkiel, Modernism, Race and Manifestos, pp. 157–90. 56 Details on the library, talks and study group all come from ‘Draf Report for Annual General Meeting – Aggrey House Club’, 12 November 1936, TNA UK, CO 323/1398/8. 57 Colonial Ofce to Mr Hodson, Ministry of Information, 14 May 1940, TNA UK, CO 859/21/1. See also Colonial Ofce to Colonial Governors, 23 May 1940. For Moody’s views, see ‘Aggrey House: Memorandum by Harold A. Moody for Consideration at Trustees’ Meeting’, 3 May 1940. Both in TNA UK, CO 859/21/1. On Communist eforts to organise among the 1930s black British population, see Adi, ‘Te Comintern and Black Workers’. For more on the closure of Aggrey House, see Whittall, ‘Creating Black Places in Imperial London’. 58 Moody to Sir Philip Cunlife-Lister, 13 October 1933; Moody to Mr Lee, 2 November 1933, both in TNA UK, CO 323/1244/13.

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88  Daniel Whittall headquarters went hand-in-hand with eforts to establish hospitable spaces for black colonial subjects, since LCP ofces were understood to be places to which black people could come when in need of assistance or support in London. When the LCP was without ofcial headquarters, the Moody family home, at 164 Queens Road, Peckham, was its main base.59 Te Moodys’ home also served as a lodging house and as the frst port of call for a number of black people arriving in the country, thus enshrining the principle of hospitality at the centre of the LCP’s practical work. Una Marson, for example, lodged there upon her arrival from Jamaica, working simultaneously as LCP secretary.60 Christine Moody, Harold’s daughter, later noted that the number of lodgers in their home regularly fuctuated, and that as far as her mother Olive Moody was concerned, ‘extra numbers did not worry her, if my father walked in and said so and so is staying for a month, she’d just get on with it’.61 In July 1933, the LCP noted that dedicated premises were needed if ‘the League is neither to lose in efciency nor to let slip the valuable opportunities for service which come along its way’. Tis rhetoric of service recurred throughout the League’s writings, and the proposal to establish headquarters was promoted as an opportunity to give spatial form to the League’s claim to be serving the race.62 Te League’s strongest arguments justifying its need for headquarters explicitly emphasised the spatial aspects. An editorial on the subject in Te Keys argued that ‘[s]egregation in Church and State with its baneful efects, must be fought wherever it may happen to rise like a hydra-headed monster’, thus positioning the headquarters project as a direct challenge to the colour bar. In answer to the iniquities of the colour bar, the editorial called for black people to ‘show that we are ready for our place in the sun afer a century of freedom’. Te way to do this, it stressed, was to establish a central base in the imperial metropolis. Tus, ‘[a] well-equipped headquarters for the League in London’ would not only provide respite from everyday racism for black residents and colonial visitors, but would also ‘be a sign to the ruling race that we are earnest and no longer intend to be relegated to inferior places’.63 In 1937, the LCP fnally secured permanent headquarters and ofces in the Memorial Hall, on Farringdon Street in the Holborn area of London. Te League’s annual report at the end of that year stressed that possessing headquarters had led to them ‘becoming the centre of requests for information of all sorts concerning coloured people both of this country and overseas, chiefy of the British empire’.64 It thus situated the headquarters as a place of service, 59 Editorial, Te Keys, 1(3) (January 1934), p. 41 60 Jarrett-Macauley, Te Life of Una Marson, pp. 46–7. 61 Jarrett-Macauley interview with Christine Moody, 1989, cited in Jarrett-Macauley, Te Life of Una Marson, p. 46. 62 ‘Te Keys Disclose’, Te Keys, 1(1) (July 1933), p. 10–11. 63 Editorial, Te Keys, 1(3) (January 1934), pp. 41–2. 64 League of Coloured Peoples Seventh Annual Report, 1937–8, p. 1.

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Race, Empire and Hospitality in Imperial London  89 and one positioned within transnational networks that linked it to people and places across the empire and beyond. In 1939, the LCP’s fnancial situation forced it to give up the headquarters and return to working voluntarily from the Moody’s home,65 but the League remained urgently committed to building up ‘a great centre in London worthy of our group’, a task which remained essential given ‘the wide dispersion of our people’.66 In 1943, Aggrey House was forced to move; renamed the Colonial Centre, it took up residence at 18 Russell Square, Bloomsbury.67 Te new establishment was now expected to make its facilities open to black soldiers and servicemen, both from the colonies and from the USA, who were resident in Britain during the war. Moody remained on the Board of Trustees and spoke at the opening ceremony.68 Having gained the trust of the Colonial Ofce, he was also appointed to its Advisory Committee on the Welfare of Colonial People in the United Kingdom, a position which enabled him to have a say in the establishment of colonial hostels around Britain, including in Liverpool and Cardif.69 In July that same year, Moody announced that the League would once more begin fundraising for an ofcial headquarters.70 Again, the campaign was articulated in the context of London’s broader signifcance to global politics, especially in the context of global war, with Moody asserting that headquarters would allow the League to ‘engage upon the serious business of hammering out, along with the colony-owning powers now domiciled in London, the future of our people’.71 Increasingly, Moody’s focus was drawn to the post-war futures of Africa and the West Indies. Stressing that ‘[t]here never were, at any previous time, so many intelligent West Indians and Africans in Britain as there are at this moment’,72 he sought to capitalise on this by emphasising the important work of the League in forging connections between metropole and colony, thereby carrying out ‘important work for the

See LCP News Letter (October 1939), pp. 1–2. Harold Moody, Preface, in LCP News Letter, no. 7 (April 1940), p. 3. Memo by Keith, 25 January 1943, TNA UK, CO 876/20/ ‘Tenth “Colonial Centre” Opened by the Duchess of Gloucester’, LCP News Letter, no. 43 (April 1943), p. 7. 69 See the Minutes of Committee Meetings and Correspondence Held in TNA UK, CO 876/17. Also Robert Wellesley Cole to Moody, 25 September 1942, and Moody to Cole, 29 September 1942, SOAS Archives, Robert Wellesley Cole Papers, PP MS 35 Box 20 File 151. 70 Te LCP had by this time increased its membership, in part thanks to the racial politics of 1940s Britain. See Sherwood, Many Struggles; Rose, Which People’s War?, esp. pp. 239–84. 71 LCP News Letter, no. 46 (July 1943), pp. 41–2. By ‘our people’, Moody meant the people of the African diaspora, though he tended to emphasise the place of Africa in the postwar world. See, for example, ‘On Africa in the Post-War World, for Presentation to the United Nations Conference, San Francisco, April, 1945’, LCP News Letter (April 1945), pp. 9–12. 72 LCP News Letter, no. 46 (July 1943), pp. 41–2. 65 66 67 68

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90  Daniel Whittall Country and Empire, and indeed for the World’.73 Such work, he insisted, now required a central ofce at the heart of London. When the League once again took up new ofces in February 1944, this time at 21 Old Queen Street, Westminster, Moody expressed the hope that people would regularly ‘drop in’ and provide a ‘steady fow of all our friends to our new headquarters’.74 Te ofces were thus depicted as a site of comfortable sociability, centrally located and therefore easily accessible. But the League also sought to constitute the new premises as a hub of information on colonial afairs in London, once more directly linking the question of hospitality for colonial subjects in the metropolis to that of the place of empire at home. Moody asked members to provide books for the LCP to ‘build up a good reference library’, and it was also noted that ‘we shall have daily newspapers and other literature from the Colonies for perusal’.75 Collecting this material and advertising its availability became a priority, in keeping with Moody’s renewed assertion that what was going on in the colonies was of utmost importance. Colonial periodicals were ofen quoted in the League’s own publications, consolidating important textual webs that sought to link colonial peoples across the divide between metropole and colony.76 Te ofces were given a formal opening on Wednesday, 15 April 1944. Viscountess Kathleen Simon, whose husband, Sir John Simon, was now Lord Chancellor, performed the ofcial opening ceremony, once more demonstrating the League’s desire for proximity to those in power.77 Taking up ofces in London for a second time was an important moment for the League. As Moody later noted, the ‘bold venture’ of establishing a base ‘in the heart of Westminster’ had allowed the League to ‘make contact with a large number of overseas members and friends who would not have reached us in the same manner had we still been housed in a private dwelling in the suburbs’.78 Tus, not only did the move symbolise the League’s claim to equality and respectability by physically positioning it between Buckingham Palace and the House of Commons, within walking distance of the Colonial Ofce, but it had also become a place in which the LCP’s transnational networks could be cultivated and take on material form through the occasional visits of ‘overseas friends’ 73 LCP News Letter, no. 49 (October 1943), p. 3. 74 LCP News Letter, no. 53 (February 1944), p. 70. 75 LCP News Letter, no. 56 (May 1944), p. 23; ‘Secretary’s Notes’, in LCP News Letter, no. 53 (February 1944), p. 79. 76 On textual webs and black British politics in this period, see Polsgrove, Ending British Rule in Africa. 77 ‘Te Report on the Opening of our New Ofce by Viscountess Simon’, LCP News Letter, no. 56 (May 1944), p. 25. On Viscountess Simon, see Pennybacker, From Scottsboro to Munich, pp. 103–45. 78 ‘President’s Address Delivered at the Fourteenth Annual General Meeting of the League of Coloured Peoples Held at the Memorial Hall, Farringdon Street, on Friday, March 16, 1945’, LCP News Letter, no. 67 (April 1945), pp. 3–4; See also LCP News Letter, no. 64 (January 1945), p. 66.

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Race, Empire and Hospitality in Imperial London  91 to their headquarters. Within three months of taking up the ofces, Moody reported the success of the move. He stressed that having premises in the Westminster area of London had enabled the League to establish itself ‘more frmly than ever in the life of the community’, noting that the League’s visitors had been ‘many and interesting’ and that as a direct result ‘our subscription list has grown considerably’. Te new premises, Moody concluded, set the League on its way to the goal of ‘establish[ing] in London an organisation in every way worthy of our people and second to none in its type’.79

Te Plan for a Cultural Centre With the League now ensconced in its new headquarters, it was able to turn its attention to more ambitious projects. It is in this context that Moody and his colleagues frst formulated the plan for a cultural centre with which this account began. It is possible that the roots of this project lie in a meeting between J. L. Keith of the Colonial Ofce and Una Marson in 1941. Marson requested that the Colonial Ofce ‘consider setting up a special centre for West Indians only, preferably managed by a West Indian’. She asserted that ‘Aggrey House had a bad name with many West Indians’, emphasising that ‘she did not think that the locality of Aggrey House is suitable’. Having also argued that many West Indians had been put of by a small number of ‘undesirable people’ who frequented Aggrey House, Marson pushed for ‘a cultural centre which could show the people of this country that the West Indians had a culture of their own and could contribute to the intellectual and cultural activities of this country’. Keith, however, responded dismissively to the idea of another centre detached from either Aggrey House or WASU.80 Marson’s intervention illustrates some of the broader dilemmas at the heart of establishing a hospitable space for African diasporic people in London, notably the question of diasporic unity and identity. Tat there were tensions between Africans and West Indians in London has ofen been noted in the historiography,81 and there were certainly other fault-lines within black organisations that might have provoked Marson’s discomfort. At the same time, as the contest over Aggrey House discussed above demonstrates, West Indian and African activists were to be found on both sides of these debates. and Marson was collaborating with Moody on other LCP work at the time of her complaint. Tere is no evidence of whether Moody knew of Marson’s discussions with the Colonial Ofce. By 1945, however, he had begun planning a cultural centre 79 All quotes in this paragraph come from LCP News Letter, no. 57 (June 1944), pp. 34–6. 80 ‘Interview with Una Marson’, memo by J. L. Keith, 14 February 1941, TNA UK, CO 859/76/1. 81 C. L. R. James would later note a ‘defnite cleavage’ between Africans and West Indians in 1930s London. See Schwarz, ‘George Padmore’, p. 148.

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92  Daniel Whittall very like that proposed by Marson. However, while Marson had intended the cultural centre to be for a geographically specifc community – West Indians – Moody and the LCP broadened this out to address ‘the real need for the establishing [sic] of a Cultural Centre in London for persons of Negro descent’.82 Te League thus saw the new space as one within which trans­ national black cultures might be cultivated and displayed. Although in many ways this was similar to their intentions with Aggrey House, there was one signifcant diference: the LCP now insisted signifcantly that ‘this Centre must be organized and run by our own group’.83 Te League thus now mobilised for its own purposes the very argument which had been deployed against it and Aggrey House in the early 1930s. It appeared that its leaders had learned from their experience and were acknowledg­ing the importance of African diasporic control over any space that truly aspired to hospitality for that community. However, the LCP had not lost the desire for Colonial Ofce involvement in such projects altogether. Writing in the LCP’s News Letter, Moody articulated a variety of aims for the centre, including ‘to acquaint interested people in this country of the existence of African Art and to stimulate Africans to take a greater pride in their own innate culture’.84 He also argued, though, that a cultural centre would help accomplish the goals of the Colonial Development and Welfare Act, which had been launched in 1940 and reasserted with increased fnancial support in 1945.85 Ever the pragmatist, between March 1945 and April 1946, Moody used his infuence in ofcial quarters to attempt to secure support for the proposal, and in this context he continued to vary his message about the purposes of the centre. At an emergency meeting of the Colonial Ofce’s Advisory Committee on the Welfare of Colonial People in the United Kingdom, called at Moody’s request, he stressed that the centre would primarily be targeted at colonial students, with the aim of allowing them to ‘mix freely with the best cultural infuences of this country, not only British or English, but from the continent or elsewhere’.86 Moody explained that he hoped the centre aid colonial ­students by providing ‘the cultural uplif of which they were in need’.87 Te rhetorical focus on the need to ‘lif up’ the race was a familiar LCP strategy. In this instance it was conjoined with the broader project of establishing hospitable places in London. Moody wrote: ‘In this Metropolis of the world we must have a building worthy of our great people and to which they will feel a right to come and a sense of pride in so doing.’ Tat he emphasised

82 LCP News Letter, no. 66 (March 1945), p. 106. 83 LCP News Letter, no. 67 (April 1945), p. 2. Italics in original. 84 Moody deployed the terms ‘of Negro descent’ and ‘African’ relatively interchangeably. 85 See Constantine, Te Making of British Colonial Development Policy, pp. 232–61. 86 ‘Minutes no. 12, Te Advisory Committee on the Welfare of Colonial People in the United Kingdom’, 6 June 1945, TNA UK, CO 876/69. 87 Ibid.

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Race, Empire and Hospitality in Imperial London  93 the importance of African diasporic people having a ‘place to come’ to in London is illustrative of the wider challenge that he envisaged the cultural centre posing to the colour bar. Yet the elitism inherent in Moody’s own sense of the term ‘culture’ remained explicit within the wider aim of forming a transnational black place in the imperial metropolis. Te centre was to be ‘cultural in the highest sense of the term’. At the same time, when Moody asserted the importance of including residential quarters in the centre, he also proposed a restaurant which might show of ‘the richness and variety of the foods provided in the Colonies’.88 All this was intended to go towards establishing a ‘meeting ground for our peoples from Africa and the West Indies’ which would ‘help integrate them into the Family of Nations as an equal member’.89 In contributing to the building of racial solidarity, then, the cultural centre would ensure that black subjects, confdent in both their native cultures and in their mastery of ‘high’ culture, could make collective claim to equal status within that ‘Family of Nations’. As already noted, Moody’s vision of a cultural centre with close ties to imperial politics was directly challenged by George Padmore, who articulated a vision of a cultural centre serving as the centre point of a global African diasporic anti-imperialist movement. Unfortunately, we cannot know whose vision might have won out, since Moody died in 1946, shortly afer returning to Britain from his tour of the Caribbean and USA. Although the LCP initially kept the proposal alive, hoping to erect the centre as ‘a lasting memorial to [Moody’s] memory’, it soon became apparent that without his contacts and leadership the plan would not be brought to fruition.90 Nevertheless, the scheme remains of importance. From mid-1945, it had occupied much of Moody’s and the LCP’s attention, and it can be seen as the culmination of the eforts by African diasporic activists in London physically to transform the urban geography of London by opening a space in which black subjects might ofer hospitality, primarily to one another but also to white Britons and others, in direct challenge to the colour bar and the prevailing racialisation of space. Moody’s vision of a reformist educational centre and Padmore’s antiimperial pan-African vision were, despite their political diferences, united by a desire to form a specifcally black-friendly place which would stimulate and represent diverse transnational cultures of blackness in London.

88 LCP News Letter, no. 85 (October 1946), pp. 3–4. 89 ‘Te League of Coloured Peoples’, LCP propaganda leafet (n.d., but c.1945–6). Schomburg Centre Archives, New York, St Clair Drake Papers, Sc Mg 309/64/4. 90 Malcolm Joseph-Mitchell to Mr R. C. Orchard of the London Missionary Society, May 15 1947, SOAS Archives, Council for World Mission Papers, CWM/LMS/Home Odds/ Box 21.

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94  Daniel Whittall

Conclusion Attempts by black activists in London to challenge the colour bar did not end here. Following Moody’s death, the LCP became a much-diminished force. However, in the post-war years, a new generation of African diasporic m ­ igrants made their own attempts to challenge the colour bar. Lloyd Braithwaite, for example, has written of the eforts of the West Indian Students’ Union to open a West Indian Student Centre with many resemblances to the LCP cultural centre, an institution which eventually opened in 1953.91 Te eforts of this generation literally to fnd a place for themselves in London is now well known, in no small part thanks to the prominence of the domestic colour bar in the writings of prominent black authors such as George Lamming, Sam Selvon and V. S. Naipaul.92 Tis chapter has sought to bring to light the earlier, ofen overlooked, attempts by some African diasporic activists to challenge the racialisation of space in imperial London. Such initiatives were nurtured by transnational connections forged by the LCP with governmental and African diasporic actors, and were also framed as important projects to assist transnational black subjects in imperial London. However, such initiatives were never straightforward undertakings. Tey were ofen contested, more ofen than not by fellow black subjects. Tus, while the African Hostel Defence Association was a multiracial coalition, it was led by black activists such as C. L. R. James and some members of WASU. Likewise, when the LCP attempted to establish a cultural centre in London focused on the self-advancement of the black race, Harold Moody’s elitist interpretation of cultural self-advancement nurtured by association with all that was benefcial in British civilisation was turned on its head by George Padmore and reinterpreted as a potential site for panAfrican anti-colonialism. Even when still in the planning stages, places like the proposed cultural centre were sites of struggle over which black activists with difering political perspectives, and in particular diferent attitudes to the politics of empire, wrestled to assert their own meaning. Tese debates turned primarily on the question of the proximity that a hospitable space for colonial African diasporic people in Britain should have to the formal institutions of imperial power. Moody’s eforts to link the LCP projects to the Colonial Ofce must be understood as an attempt to use the resources of the more powerful institution to his own ends. However, these ends also closely paralleled those of the Colonial Ofce, and for Moody and several other African diasporic activists in London there was no contradiction between the idea of hospitality for black subjects in Britain and the prin­ ciples and politics of the Colonial Ofce. For those of a more anti-imperial bent, however, the contradiction was glaring. Even Moody eventually came 91 Braithwaite, Colonial West Indian Students in Britain, pp. 242–4. 92 Selvon, Te Lonely Londoners; Lamming, Te Emigrants; Naipaul, Te Mimic Men.

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Race, Empire and Hospitality in Imperial London  95 to see that the most hospitable spaces needed to be under direct control of black subjects themselves. However, his critics directly drew connections between the policies of the British Empire overseas and their attempts to ‘control’ African diasporic people in the metropolis. Nor were they mistaken in their interpretations of the motives of the Colonial Ofce, who un­doubtedly attempted to steer black colonial subjects away from the vehicles of metropolitan anti-imperial and radical sentiment. As such, the debates over these diverse spaces demonstrate the contradictory impulses that can underlie appeals to hospitality, and the importance of analysing and understanding the competing logics on which race, hospitality and the politics of empire in Britain turned. Te tensions within London’s diverse black community illustrated here bring to mind Brent Hayes Edwards’s insistence on the ‘constitutive diferences’ within black political cultures.93 Accounting for the politics of the LCP in the 1930s and 1940s requires attending to the multiple debates which emerged in the black community on the role of particular places within the broader politics of black internationalism, as well as understanding the role of such sites in contesting metropolitan attitudes to race. Establishments such as Aggrey House, the various LCP headquarters and the proposed cultural centre cannot be understood outside of the multiple networks of activism and engagement through which they were constituted. Te involvement of representatives from such organisations as the Colonial Ofce and the League Against Imperialism reminds us also that these were inherently multiracial endeavours, and that the work of making imperial Britain hospitable to black people drew diverse individuals and organisations into dialogue focused on specifc places. Paul Gilroy has argued that any attempt to ‘be more alive to the ludic, cosmopolitan energy and the democratic possibilities so evident in the postcolonial metropolis’ must frst ‘be able to see how the presence of aliens, strangers and blacks and the distinctive dynamics of Europe’s imperial history have combined to shape its cultural and political habits and institutions’.94 Tis chapter has sought to make a contribution to these endeavours, in this case focusing on the complex reactions which these ‘aliens, strangers and blacks’ themselves had to being confronted by the operation of the colour bar in metropolitan society. Appreciating the ‘democratic possibilities’ of the post-colonial metropolis depends on seeing them as the outcome not only of black presence but of specifc struggles and negotiations over how that presence might be accommodated – in the many senses of that word.

93 Edwards, Te Practice of Diaspora, p. 11. 94 Gilroy, Afer Empire, pp. 154, 157.

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II Authenticity and Infuence: Contexts for Black Cultural Production

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Chapter 6

Féral Benga’s Body James Smalls

My frst encounter with the name ‘Féral Benga’ occurred many years ago while conducting preliminary research on the role of sculptural traditions and practices in African American art. Féral Benga was the title given to a 1935 statue by the renowned African American sculptor James Richmond Barthé (1901–89) (Figure 3). I learned subsequently, however, that Féral Benga’s infuence and importance to the story of Africans in the modern world went well beyond this singular work of art. My later search into the meaning of Féral Benga led to a discovery that the African, African American, and European encounter with modernism was not always as confrontational as we are sometimes led to believe and that such engagements could combine in a variety of ways to contribute to a productive crossroads. Tis chapter is about various visual and verbal encounters with Féral Benga’s body by a handful of modern artists and writers of the early twentieth century. Trough them, I discern ways in which the black male form expresses the potential to serve as a viable means of afrming a combined racial and sexual identity as a signifcant aspect of modernist and afromodernist practice. By afromodern, I refer to an array of ambiguous psychological strategies and lived experiences by those of the black diaspora that helped to generate and illuminate signifcant meaning within European and American modernist concerns and conceits. Féral Benga’s body, visual and verbal references to it, and the homoerotic Utopias (what I call homoutopias) scripted onto it, all constitute many fertile crossroads. At the end of the 1930s, Féral Benga became the ‘darling’ of many modern cultural observers and practitioners. He was included in the works of European and American artists such as Barthé, George Platt Lynes (1907–55), James A. Porter (1905–70), Carl Van Vechten (1880–1964), Pavel Tchelitchew (1898–1957) 99 Downloaded from . , on , subject to the Cambridge Core terms of use, available at .

100  James Smalls

Fig. 3 Richmond Barthé, Féral Benga, 1935. Bronze © Newark Museum/Art Res, New York

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Féral Benga’s Body  101 and Jean Cocteau (1889–1963), all of whom found his ‘Africanness’ and his physically alluring ‘charms’ enticing. Teir corporeal visualisations in various mediums link the aesthetic and the political efcacy of the African body – Féral Benga’s body – in motion and at rest. Tey exemplify cross-cultural and transnational infuences associated with Paul Gilroy’s concept of the Black Atlantic in that they highlight the ambiguous interactions, conficts and collaborations that occurred across the French, Anglo and Anglo-American Atlantic during the 1930s and 1940s.1 As Gilroy defnes it, the Black Atlantic refers to the transnational genesis of black identity, ‘one that focuses not only on African roots and cultural continuities, but also on the routes, ruptures, and cross-cultural exchanges that are equally constitutive of the black ­diaspora’ as well as, I might add, white modernisms. Féral Benga’s body serves as a nexus through which the Black Atlantic is revealed as a creative dialogue between white artists and those of the black diaspora. His body, in the context of transnationalism, afromodernism and the Black Atlantic, exemplifes the hybridity of European, Euroamerican and black diasporic culture. Tat is, in the works I care to address, Féral Benga’s body is used as a site/sight of crossings, connecting Africa, North America and Europe. His role as a dancer and artist’s model reveals the extent to which black artists have played a central function in the formation as well as in the deformation of modernism. Benga’s body, his self-fashioning strategies and the representational performativity of that body by others, brought not only Africa, but also the silence of the homoerotic and blindness to it into the orbit of Black Atlantic discourses.2 In the pages that follow, I am most interested in spotlighting the ways in which the confuence of race and the homoerotic dovetail in the modernist matrix of Benga’s body and, just as importantly, how reception of that body in performance and in its visual representations speak to the desire for a homoutopic vision of humanity. In this instance, homoutopianism is key to the construction of an alternate transnational vision of blackness, one that spotlights the inherent disruptive, if not subversive, potential of racial and homosexual/homoerotic confuence in patriarchy and its liberatory function in the modern world. Féral Benga’s body and its representational permutations constituted varied ways in which africanicity and male homoeroticism were conceived and joined, then put to signifcant purposes by modern artists of diferent races in the equivocation of an essentialist afrocentrism and an equally essentialist eurocentrism. Benga’s body brings together the primitive, 1

Tis was the subject of a symposium held at the University of Liverpool from 15 to 17 April 2010, ‘Afromodernisms 1: Re-encounters with the French and Anglo-Atlantic Worlds, 1907–61’. Tis essay is a much-expanded version of a paper I delivered at that conference. See Gilroy, Te Black Atlantic; Kraut, ‘Between Primitivism and Diaspora’, p. 435; Cliford, Routes, pp. 244–77. 2 Scholars have only recently been concerned with the possibilities and correlations between the black Atlantic and notions of a ‘queer’ Atlantic. See Tinsley, ‘Black Atlantic, Queer Atlantic’.

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102  James Smalls the classical, the homoerotic and the African as powerful challenges to racist, homophobic and colonialising enterprises. Who exactly was Féral Benga? Answer: Féral Benga was the stage name of François Benga (1906–57) who belonged to the Senegalese tribal group known as Wolof. He was the illegitimate grandson of one of the richest property owners in Dakar. His father, who disinherited him for ‘living disgracefully and embracing whiteness’, worked for the French colonial administration in Senegal and was educated by Catholic missionaries in Montpellier, France.3 Benga adopted the stage name ‘Féral’ (i.e., wild beast in French) when he emigrated to Paris from Dakar sometime in the early 1920s. In 1925, learning that auditions were being held for dancers at the Folies-Bergère, Benga tried out and received a contract. With his debut among the extras he drew attention to himself in April 1926 when he danced in the revue Tout Pour Joséphine in which he performed a comic imitation, topless and in drag, of Josephine Baker. In La folie du jour, amidst a jungle décor, he was one among other semi-nude black male drummers to accompany Baker in her famous banana dance.4 From the mid-1920s into the 1930s and 1940s, Benga appeared in numerous on-stage tableaux. In 1927, he landed a ‘gig’ at the Casino de Paris as well as at the Folies-Bergère, perhaps as a walk-on. During the Casino de Paris’s 1928–9 season, he performed in the revue Tout Paris, where he met with success and became a featured attraction in many music-hall magazines. In 1930, he was one of the vedettes of the Folies-Bergère revue, Un coup de folie. Also in this year, he played the role of a black angel in Jean Cocteau’s flm, Le Sang d’un Poète (Te Blood of a Poet). In 1931, he appeared in other tableaux, including Les Péchés de Paris, Sirènes de Ceylan, Final Colonial, L’Usine à folie and Sur le plateau de la négresse. In 1932, Benga appeared at the Wintergarten in Berlin. He then went on to perform with acclaim in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and the United Kingdom. In September 1935, Benga was back in Paris to perform in the revue La folie d’amour at the Folies-Bergère and also found time to play the black swan in an adaptation of La mort du cygne. In 1943, he was featured in the ballet Tam-Tam, part of which he choreographed, at the Olympia Teatre, surrounded by eight black female dancers. As with Baker’s performances of the 1920s and 1930s, those of Benga marked a continuity as well as a break with the tradition of ‘ethnographic display’. Also, as was the case with Baker, the corporeal performativity of Benga’s dances was ‘compelled by a powerful voyeurism and an equally powerful exhibitionism’ – a dialectical performance of the obsessive interdependency of the coloniser to ‘look’ and of the colonised to be ‘looked at’.5 Both personalities became

3 Gorer, Africa Dances, p. 54. According to the dance anthropologist Anne DécoretAhiha, Benga’s career as a dancer, along with his choreographic choices, ­fostered familial discontentment: Décoret-Ahiha, Les danses exotiques en France, p. 278. 4 Kraut, ‘Between Primitivism and Diaspora’, p. 439. 5 Henderson, ‘Josephine Baker and La Revue Nègre’, p. 1.

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Féral Benga’s Body  103 a ‘sign of otherness’ in the context of the Parisian music-hall tradition and both understood and accepted that they were being categorised as fgures of primitivism and negrophilia, and that they were ‘fulflling the exotic yearnings of Europeans’.6 However, unlike Baker, who managed to sustain her fame over the years and whose career saw a self-directed transformation over time from the primitive to glamorised vedette of the music-hall, Benga did not remain famous for long nor did his persona as a cabaret novelty evolve over the course of his profession. It is partially for this reason that Benga remains virtually unknown as an important contributor to contemporary discourses on transnational black modernist expression and practice. In their reviews of Benga’s performances, many French and American critics waxed enthusiastic. While Josephine Baker became known as the ‘ebony Venus’ among them, Benga had garnered his own set of appellations. Te critics ofen referred to him as the black Mercury (le Mercure noir), the beautiful Negro Adonis (le bel Adonis nègre), the splendid black dancer (le Splendide danseur noir) and the bronze God (le Dieu de bronze). Te French journalist André Legrand-Chabrier was the frst to declare Benga as the masculine complement to Baker and also took note of him as ‘a Negro, conscious of his dancing and how he expresses it to the world’.7 Te critic André Levinson, who had declared Baker ‘an extraordinary creature of simian suppleness’, exhibiting ‘wild splendour and magnifcent animality’, found in Benga an elegance and purity of … form … Te grace of his stretched muscles, the form of his thin joints enchant the eye … Te colour of this classical body resembles less an African skin tone and more a noble bronze patina. Moreover, if we were to force him to dance some bamboula gambols, his true technique would emerge as quasi-feminine, like that of a fexible danseuse.8

In his strained attempt to compliment both performers, Levinson lauded Baker’s animal-like body while simultaneously feminising and classicising Benga’s. In both instances and in various other critiques, Levinson likened Baker and Benga to l’art nègre – as living examples of the plasticity of African sculpture.9 Benga’s meteoric rise to fame depended on his welcomed comparison and contrast with Josephine Baker’s body. On stage, Baker became the incarnation of an eroticised primitivism for a primarily heterosexual male audience. In contemporary parlance, Baker has been described as ‘pure theatrical Viagra’.10 Her fame and notoriety refected modernism’s afnity not only 6 Lemke, Primitivist Modernism, p. 103. Also see Kear, ‘Vénus noire’. 7 Legrand-Chabrier, Pistes et plateaux, quoted in Décoret-Ahiha, ‘L’exotique, l’ethnique et l’authentique’, p. 24. 8 Levinson, Les Visages de la danse, p. 315. 9 Levinson, ‘Danses Nègres’, L’Art vivant (February 1925), pp. 115–16; Kear, ‘Vénus noire’, pp. 53–4. Also see Bate, Photography and Surrealism, p. 180. 10 Ward, ‘Te Electric Body’.

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104  James Smalls for ­primitivism, but also for a compulsory heterosexuality assumed within it. Like Baker, Benga also performed eroticised sauvage dances, never nude, but rather clad in skin-tight skimpy shorts or in a revealing cache-sexe. On stage and in the modernist imaginary, Benga’s authentic African body, in contrast to Baker’s, allowed for a wider range of experimentation and manipulation by artists who were keen on combining ideas of classical elegance with primitivist playfulness and (homo)erotic fantasy. Such a body was potentially subversive aesthetically and ideologically. As with Baker, it was mainly to a male audience that Benga capitalised on the erotic and racial aspects of primitivism and welcomed his status as an exotic fetish-of-the-moment. He, like Baker, embraced his sexualisation and fetishisation. He was not a helpless or ignorant victim, but was in control of his image. He was thus complicit in the sensualising and sensationalising representations of his body by others who fashioned his corporeality into a metaphoric site of resistance against cultural and sexual conventions. In his book on the Harlem Renaissance, a period and movement in the United States that germinated within a primitivist framework and that serves as the principal context for Barthé’s statue of Benga, the historian Nathan Huggins noted that primitivism was based on a mutual depen­dency – many times sexual and erotic, but mostly economic – between blacks and whites; with the latter group benefting a lot more from the exchange than the former. Both white and black artists exploited primitivism as a theme that, on the face of it, ‘seemed to value historical roots, promote a positive black identity and a promise of racial understanding and social progress. However, beneath the surface, primitivism worked to reinforce and perpetuate racial and gender stereotypes, belief in white supremacy and the status quo.’11 I contend that Benga’s aesthetic and lived compliance with modernist primitiv­ism’s precepts was unique in that the combination of primitivism and refnement, represented by his body and image, was set in relationship to a desired homoutopic solicitation and interest in a marked racial and erotic distinction directed specifcally at a male viewership. In this way, his voluntary engagement in primitivism was radical, not only in its rare homoeroticising dynamic, but in the use of his African body at rest and in motion as a sign of an emancipatory extraction from the social and ideo­logical shackles of conventional primitivist tropes. Benga subverted from within the construct of modernist primitivism by presenting, promoting and encouraging others to consume his atypical African body, that is, a body that was male and sexualised, intended to attract both women and men, and that moved spatially in a quasi-African, quasi-European manner (Figure 4). Benga’s performative African body promoted the idea of cultural hybridity as part of afromodernism and transnational crosscurrents. His choreographic choices and dance style were a hybrid blend of modern 11 Huggins, Harlem Renaissance, p. 90.

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Féral Benga’s Body  105 dance, classical ballet and moves derived from African dance. His dancing was described by critics as simultaneously primitive and classical, masculine and feminine, ethnographic (i.e., African or primitive) and balletic. Moreover, his presence on the music-hall scene secretly satisfed gay men’s need for their inclusion in and their contribution to the primitivist and negrophilic craze. On stage and of, inside and outside of visual representation, Benga’s body operated to subvert received negative social and parochial attitudes toward homosexuality and homoerotic desire. He brought ‘queer’ reception of the African body into modernism’s disruptive goal and made it a means to resist a persistent colonising ethos. He accomplished this through a wilful showcasing of his body as a constructive and combative mélange of racial and homoerotic purpose. Even his moniker, Féral, was intentionally selected by him to enhance his exotic appeal as African and untamed, set in strong contrast to the introverted and cultivated François known to his family and most intimate of friends. Indeed, the designation Féral was ftting for such ‘a cunning and handsome young man who negotiated elite European and American circles with fnesse and a well-tuned black body’.12 Such a selfawareness points not to a passive victim of the ‘isms’ of modernity, but to a calculated and disciplined agency at work.

Barthé’s Féral Benga As Féral Benga’s body and visual depictions of it make clear, dance constitutes an important location for exploring the meaning of sexuality, gender and racial identities. As the dance historian Susan Manning has noted, the body in motion can be the carrier of both racist practices and racialised representations.13 In Benga’s case, dance was a signifcant means of promoting sexual and racial agency as well as social mobility transnationally. Most important for Benga was that his African body in motion provided a means physically to resist the political strictures of racism, colonialism and homophobia. A more detailed examination of Barthé’s statue of Benga serves to underscore and put into sharper relief these observations. Barthé saw Benga perform in 1934 in Paris. He enthusiastically began modelling the dancer from memory upon his return to New York City based on postcard photographs as aides mémoire and on passages in Geofrey Gorer’s book Africa Dances (1935) that related ‘black dancing bodies to African sculptures, treating them as objets d’art, patterns of dance’.14 Barthé’s primary intent, however, was to recreate the seductiveness of Benga’s dancing form for his own emotional and creative delectation. 12 Vendryes, ‘Casting Féral Benga’. 13 Manning, Modern Dance, Negro Dance, p. xix. Also see Neth, ‘“Stealing Steps”’, pp. 158–65. 14 Jones, ‘Passage to Africa’, p. 10.

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106  James Smalls

Fig. 4 Waléry, Féral Benga, c.1935. Photograph Collection of the author

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Féral Benga’s Body  107 Although Barthé remained a closeted homosexual all his life, when he arrived in Harlem in 1929, he quickly entered into an established network of men and women who patronised the arts in general and who populated the world of the performing arts in particular. He was especially drawn into the worlds of theatre and dance and became fast friends with notable people on the international circuit. Te performing arts world at this time was one full of creative men and women of all races who were interested in expressing the problematic correlations of race, gender and sexuality through their art. Féral Benga constitutes one of many such expressions. Féral Benga is a work that combines focus on primitivism, classical infuence, ideas about spirituality and homoeroticism. It was created at the height of Barthé’s popularity as a New Negro artist, and is regarded as his signature piece. Te art historian Margaret Vendryes, who is a recognised authority on Barthé and his work, characterises Féral Benga as ‘a colonized Africa, staged and costumed in its nakedness, accessible and portable in its Afriart Deco bronze package, presented in an imagined “primitive” homeland’.15 Most signifcant is that this act of creatively invoking an African body in motion from memory was carried out not by a white artist, but by an African American, and this provides compelling evidence of the existence of an artistic and emotional cross-cultural, transnational involvement and investment in intra-racial, homoeroticised primitivist and modernist tropes. Barthé’s statue is intriguing in that the artist has created a work that speaks to a harmonious combining of racial distinction, spiritual experience and homoerotic praise of the nude black male form in suspended movement (something Barthé had to imagine since Benga never performed in the nude). With the statue, Barthé ofers a fgure that, in its mobility and spatial fuidity, operates to transgress racial and sexual boundaries, promoting the black body as an intervention within discourses of race and modernism. Te sculptor accomplishes this by approaching Benga’s body as a site for expressing gender confuence and duality. In the work, Benga appears simultaneously as the masculine ideal and as the ‘feminised’ object of Barthé’s erotic desire (also recall Levinson’s characterisation of Benga’s body and dancing as ‘feminine’), confounding standard, heterosexualised views of modernist primitivism. A combined strategy of Euro- and Afro-centric focus with an under­ lying homoerotic subtext in Barthé’s statue underscores the observation that during this period some black gay men ‘sought … legitimation of [homoerotic] desire in an African past and in a [primitivist] cultural matrix’.16 With Féral Benga, Barthé attempted to combine and sanctify homoerotic desire and Africanicity by combining European features associated with

15 On Barthé’s life and career, see Vendryes, Barthé: A Life in Sculpture, p. 66; Vendryes, ‘Casting Féral Benga’, p. 7; Vendryes, ‘Vindicating Black Masculinity’, pp. 15–24. 16 Bergman, Gaiety Transfgured, pp. 176–7; Bergman, ‘Te African and the Pagan in Gay Black Literature’, pp. 159–60.

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108  James Smalls homo­eroticism – Michelangelesque forms, a classicised Praxitelean linear undulation and frmly modelled torso – with physical movements allied with African statuary and black ethnographic dance. A popular source for Benga’s serpentine pose was provided by many Folies-Bergère promotional postcards picturing Benga with his trademark oiled skin and wearing dark, tight briefs (Plate 1). Te statue is unusual in that it makes use of both high art and popular culture manoeuvrings – mutually exclusive strategies that, if we follow Gilroy’s thinking, are typically dismantled in the Black Atlantic model. Indeed, Féral Benga subverts the ‘whiteness of classicism’ (i.e., the reading of classicism as culturally white) by scripting the presumed ennobling efects of that classi­cism onto an African body. Tis attribution underscores and reinforces Alain Locke’s (1886–1954) conceptual attempt to marry Afrocentrism and Eurocentrism in New Negro ideology, leaving ample room for the homoerotic to enter and perform its meaningful tasks within black modernist experience and practice.17 Barthé’s Féral Benga is a public expression of both the sculptor’s and the dancer’s homoerotic desires voiced through the cross-pollinated aesthetic languages of European classicism and African ‘primitivism’. Te employment of these complementary notions in art was promoted in the United States by Locke’s views on primitivism and African art, both of which he considered as afrming and empowering trends for black modernists. Locke, one of the leading black intellectuals and critical voices of the Harlem Renaissance, was himself a closeted gay man. His interest in Africa and the enigmatic language he used to describe it were at least partly motivated by a desire to create a modern cultural context for black gay sociability. In much of his writing on Africa, Locke indirectly equated that continent with Greece by using the language of classicism and Hellenic temperament to describe the cultural productions of both. In other words, implicit in his cultural politics was not only a public racial agenda, but also a hidden sexual motive. Tis composite racial and sexual suggestion is underscored by a 1923 letter from Locke to the African American poet Langston Hughes in which the former admitted that he was ‘caught up early in the coils of classicism’, and experienced an ‘early infatuation with Greek ideals of life’, as well as a hefy ‘love of sailors’. In his thought process, Locke believed that African classicism would broaden the notion of European classicism and would ‘give room and support to homosexual feelings’. Indeed, in his writings on African and African American art, Locke couched his own nebulous sexual politics and his views on African art in enigmatic terms, basically turning Africa into Greece and romanticising the homoerotic potentials of both.18 Locke’s ambiguity rested in his ­description 17 See Smalls, Te Homoerotic Photography of Carl Van Vechten. On Locke’s homosexuality in relation to racial concerns, see Harris, ‘“Outing” Alain L. Locke’, pp. 321–41. 18 Bergman, Gaiety Transfgured, pp. 176–7.

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Féral Benga’s Body  109 of Africa in primitivist terms. It was in his rather awkward delineation of the artistic and cultural dimensions of Africa that Locke sought permission for homoerotic desire through recourse to primitivism. Tat is to say, he couched his sexual politics in enigmatic terms as subtext beneath the surface of Africa’s cultural signifcance. Although Locke ofered no specifc comment on Féral Benga, it should come as no surprise that he admired Barthé’s male nudes generally. During the 1950s, when he retired to Jamaica, Barthé actually wrote to Locke with news of country festivals he (Barthé) had seen in which excited young boys danced with each other in the streets. Barthé’s statement gives credence to the shared interest in reminiscing in and creating a cross-cultural homoutopia among black artists and intellectuals: ‘You would really enjoy this. Te dances are usually done by young men dancing up to each other. Tere is usually quite a lot of sex play. It is like a wild, violent courtship.’19 Trough other correspondence, Barthé confded in Locke about the difculty he endured in reconciling his racial identity with his homosexuality. Locke, ambivalent and ambiguous about his own sexual orientation, was unable to provide Barthé with any sound advice. As a result, Barthé remained closeted all his life and found little choice but to sublimate his homoerotic desires onto his sculptures. He transferred his emotions around racial and sexual identity onto Féral Benga’s body.

Africa Dances In addition to Barthé’s statue, further knowledge of Féral Benga’s life, career, and bodily presence in the modern world comes to us from two written sources: the frst of these is Geofrey Gorer’s highly successful book, Africa Dances: A Book About West African Negroes, published frst in 1935 and in a revised edition in 1949. Te second is the more recent (2004) reminiscence of Benga in the autobiographical Souvenirs de théâtre d’Afrique et d’OutreAfrique by Maurice Sonar Senghor (nephew of Léopold Sédar Senghor).20 Around the same time that Barthé met Benga, Gorer, a white British anthropologist, had also made the dancer’s acquaintance and a year later wrote his book. Gorer’s text not only gives us the most complete biographical information on Benga, it documents as well a journey that the author undertook with him, at the dancer’s invitation, through various parts of French West Africa and including Senegal, Mali, the Ivory Coast, Benin and Nigeria, 19 See Barthé letter to Alain Locke, 28 November 1952, from the Alain Locke papers, Moorland-Spingarn Collection, Howard University, Washington, DC; Vendryes, Barthé: A Life in Sculpture, p. 159. 20 Maurice Sonar Senghor became Africa’s frst theatre director. He is known for creating the National Ballet of Senegal through which he raised African dance to international acclaim and respectability in Europe.

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110  James Smalls to study traditional African dances. Te initial purpose of the trip was to witness frst-hand diferent forms of African dance and for Benga to recruit native dancers who would form an all-African dance troupe groomed by him for European and American stages. His eforts were part of a trend during the period to combine ‘primitive’ and ‘modern’ themes and styles in dance so as to bestow upon African (called ‘primitive’) dance more credibility in the West.21 For unexplained reasons, however, the formation of such a company never materialised. In his book, which became popular during the period among anglo-and francophone negrophiles, Gorer describes Benga as a ‘Europeanised African [whose] position in Paris was rather like that of the fashionable divorcée in the nineteenth century: A person whom it was chic to be seen with in the right places, but whom one did not always recognise in public, should it be compromising to one’s companions.’22 Gorer’s allusion to Benga’s reputation and personality is reinforced by Maurice Senghor’s account of the dancer in his Souvenirs de théâtre d’Afrique et d’Outre-Afrique. Tere, Senghor lauds Benga’s achievements as a consummate artist, noting that his meteoric rise to fame ‘was not easy for a black artist during the period preceding World War II’. At the same time, Senghor afrms that Benga was a showman fond of pomp and display. We learn, for example, that Benga owned a large luxury apartment located near the Champs-Elysées on the rue Lauriston that he acquired from his music-hall earnings before the war. Tis fat had an immense living room with a foor made of twenty-one kinds of exotic wood. Senghor also tells of Benga’s ownership of twenty-one French poodles which he walked daily by threes, while making sure that their fur was colour-coordinated to match the suit he wore. In addition, we learn that he owned a custom-made Delahaye convertible automobile that ‘cost him a fortune’.23 Unfortunately, Benga was forced to curtail his ostentatious ways when the Germans occupied Paris in June of 1940. In the frst chapter of Africa Dances, Gorer acknowledges Benga’s reputation as one ‘enhanced by the “mystery” surrounding his private life’, noting that ‘if he [Benga] had love afairs they were not known about and he was practically never seen in fashionable houses or night clubs … he was reputed to be extremely rich and impossible to meet.’24 Indeed, the heightened eroticism and exoticism surrounding Benga’s African body are underscored by Gorer’s anecdotal statement that Benga was ‘distressed by the fact that because he was a Negro and a dancer everybody considered that they had a right, if not a duty, to make sexual advances to him’. Almost in the same breath, Gorer is quick to point out that ‘Benga … has a horror of night-life and cabarets, and 21 For an excellent analysis of this dance history, see Manning, Modern Dance, Negro Dance; Adshead-Lansdale and Layson, Dance History, p. 63. 22 Gorer, Africa Dances , p. 17. 23 Senghor, Souvenirs de théâtre d’Afrique, pp. 32–3. 24 Gorer, Africa Dances, p. 15.

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Féral Benga’s Body  111 that the fair sex does not appeal to him’. When asked point-blank about his sex life, Benga’s response, according to Gorer, was: Oh, I have many invitations but I take no notice of them. In our line [of work] a calm and regular life is essential. Tere must be no alcohol, no tobacco, no women. Te training is very hard, you know, one must expend so much of one’s forces. It is pretty much as if one were a boxer. Six months of night-life and you’d be fnished.25

In addition to instilling in the reader some suspicion regarding Gorer’s own sexual preference, it is Africa Dances that provides a better understanding of how race and sexuality dovetail with afromodernism and transnationalism, and how these operate in Barthé’s piece. In his book, Gorer ofen attempts to discredit some of the myths about African sexuality – especially those concerning the dances he supposedly witnessed frsthand – while also enthusiastically acknowledging an erotic and chaotic element in African dance. In his discussion of various types of African dances, Gorer puts particular stress on those of Senegal and that country’s mix of European and African characteristics. In his description of universal dance features found there, Gorer identifed two types: warlike and orgiastic dances. For his part, Barthé appreciated this observation and sought an aesthetic balance in his statue between erotic attractiveness and aggressive action. Te black body’s potential for expressing violence is neutralised by its display of passive elegance and muscular anatomy. Tese aspects confict and yet harmonise, becoming the basis for Barthé’s sculptural obsession with ethnographic dance, ritual and homoeroticism. Moreover, Barthé’s statue visually underscores the crosscultural and transnational hybridity of Benga’s choreographic choices and dance style mentioned earlier.

Suave Eroticism Interestingly, Benga’s alleged quip about celibacy is contradicted by letters that have come to light around the circle of the gay American novelist Glenway Wescott (1901–87), an associate of Benga’s and part of a transnational gay coterie of cultural personalities who populated the world of literature and the performing arts in the frst half of the twentieth century. In print, both Wescott and Gorer appear to be rather discreet about Benga’s sex life, which was notorious in international gay circles. A recently discovered anecdote written by Wescott sheds some light on the extent of Benga’s involvement and participation in the sexual/erotic intrigues among this rarefed band of transcontinental homoutopians:

25 Ibid.

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112  James Smalls

Fig. 5 George Platt Lynes, Féral Benga, c.1934. Photograph © Estate of George Platt Lynes

During the winter he [Benga] took Kenneth Macpherson away from Jimmie [Daniels]. Ten his [Benga’s] established Austrian favorite came over from Paris, and Jimmie aptly but spontaneously seduced this one. Which fank attack threw Féral into a confused and unattractive temper; so Jimmie got his lord and master back, although on poorer terms, I fear. Not a trace of bad manners on either rival’s part now. In this rafsh society people really do bury the hatchet.26

Wescott was an intimate friend of the American photographer George Platt Lynes, the latter of whom produced a mysterious and provocative nude photograph of Benga (Figure 5). Lynes’s image is a combined portrait and nude study. In it, Benga’s eyes are closed with his face half cast in shadow, thus communicating a trance-like condition associated with ritualised African 26 Quoted in Bergman, Gay American Autobiography, p. 111. Jimmie Daniels was a handsome and devilish nightclub owner and entertainer who lived for several years with the writer, flmmaker and arts patron Kenneth Macpherson in Greenwich Village. Daniels and Macpherson shared a romantic, domestic relationship despite the fact that Macpherson simultaneously maintained a marriage of convenience to Winifred Ellerman (aka Bryher), the lesbian daughter of a wealthy English fnancier. It is probably worth noting here that Macpherson commissioned a sculpture portrait of Daniels from Richmond Barthé.

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Féral Benga’s Body  113 dance. Te point of view is oddly tilted and the evocative play of lights and shadows creates abstract patterns on the backdrop that intensify an aura of mystery and sensuality, as Benga’s personality was so ofen described.27 Interestingly here, Lynes uses deep shadow as a fg-leaf. In the process of doing so, however, he has basically highlighted the seductive eroticism surrounding Benga’s body, rendering him even more enigmatic and alluring to the viewer. Compositionally, this image could conceivably be a rif on the many varied and seductive poses taken by Benga and found in promotional photographs and the Folies-Bergère postcards that were in ubiquitous circulation at the time. Lynes’s photograph of Benga, like the photographer’s subsequent male nudes, provides visual evidence of Lynes’s active participation not only in the world of dance and the performing arts, but also in this nascent elite gay subculture thriving simultaneously in New York and in Paris. According to Tomas Waugh, this group of pre-Stonewall image makers were ‘better integrated, both socially and artistically, with the eclectic gay cultural networks of Europe and New York than with the largely straight avant-gardes of their own disciplines’. In addition, these artists moved in privileged social circles in which ‘homosexual lifestyles were the norm and where homosexual style and creativity were prized’.28 Because Benga was very much so a part of this environment, Lynes’s image of him was probably shot while the photographer was in Paris in 1934. Although Lynes’s exact relationship with Benga remains unclear, the former had this to say about the latter: Féral Benga, the Dakar dancer … the fnest middle-aged physique in the world, heart-shaped chest, smoothly tapering legs like Josephine Bacaire’s … Roundeyed: the whites of his eyes circularly showing as if in ceaseless apprehension or fury; nevertheless a beguiling worldly personage, and good company.29

Sometime in the late 1930s and by way of introduction by Gorer, Benga met the Russian-born surrealist painter Pavel Tchelitchew who not only travelled in the same social circles of wealthy and elite homosexuals who dominated the worlds of art, theatre and the performing arts, but who was also part of a loosely allied group of artists working in Paris, ofen referred to as the neo-Romantics.30 Tchelitchew is classifed as an artist obsessed with the body, translucency, Surrealism and the Renaissance. His mature realistic style ofen illustrates dramatically angled anatomies and contains a theatrical fair. Tese tendencies are detected in the ‘suave eroticism’ of his 1938 Deposition, 27 Senghor, Souvenirs de théâtre d’Afrique, p. 31. 28 Waugh, Hard to Imagine, p. 106; Smalls, Te Homoerotic Photography of Carl Van Vechten, p. 39. 29 Bergman, Gay American Autobiography, p. 111. 30 It should be noted here that Tchelitchew and Lynes were very close friends who had met in the salon of Gertrude Stein in the late 1920s in Paris. Both artists produced homo­erotic imagery and both infuenced one another.

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114  James Smalls a reclining nude portrait of Benga, who, according to the art critic Roberta Smith, ‘stares intently up at us as if gauging how to summersault out of the picture and over our heads’.31 Deposition (Plate 2) shows the African dancer lying on his back upon a cloth, his upside-down face and upraised palms pressed close to the picture plane, his feet receding dramatically into the distance of the upper lef corner. Although the exact meaning of this image remains elusive, Deposition is one of many of Tchelitchew’s works that are expressive of homoerotic desire.32 Tchelitchew’s association with Benga was no accident, for as a dance enthusiast and professional stage designer the former had introduced himself to Benga earlier in the decade afer the latter’s recital at the Téâtre des Champs-Elysées in 1933. Te two became close friends, and the artist, who was mesmerised by Benga’s sexual allure and intoxicating charms, produced several portraits of the dancer. One of these, Mask of Light of 1934, exhibits a ‘hallucinatory fuidity’ and foretells the artist’s subsequent fascination with translucent orbs and lines of light associated with surrealist tendencies in art.33 Tchelitchew’s focus on Benga shows to what extent the latter’s body was a prominent centrepiece in this rarefed homoutopic universe of black and white modernists. Both Lynes’s and Tchelitchew’s presentation of a sultry African body in their creative works, and Benga’s welcomed presence in their gay social network, reveal the desire and efcacy of a cross-cultural and cross-racial dynamic mutually and meaningfully operating within early twentieth-century modernist practice.

Taming the Savage In the same year that Gorer’s book was published and Barthé’s statue was crafed, the famed African American artist and art historian James Amos Porter produced an intriguing bust-length portrait of Benga called Soldat Sénégalais (Plate 3).34 Porter, considered by many as the ‘Father of African American Art History’, was a published art historian and prolifc painter. While on sabbatical from teaching at Howard University, he travelled to Paris in the early 1930s where he met many West Africans, including Benga. Instead of depicting Benga as a dancer, however, Porter presents him as not only older, but as a stationary military fgure wearing the khaki-coloured uniform 31 Smith, ‘Diverse Expressions of a Body Obsession’. 32 On homoeroticism in Tchelitchew’s work, see Leddick, Te Homoerotic Art of Pavel Tchelitchew. 33 Smith, ‘Diverse Expressions of a Body Obsession’. 34 James A. Porter, Te Crisis (November 1935), p. 346. Porter’s review took note of Benga’s fame as a dancer and also referenced his ‘trip to Africa in order to study the native dances as they are performed in the parts remote from civilisation and to compose, if possible, a black ballet’.

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Féral Benga’s Body  115 and fez of the French colonial troops called tirailleurs Sénégalais. Tere is no ­evidence to suggest that Benga ever served in the French colonial army. Hence, the work is most likely a fabrication, a fantasy concocted by Porter and based on the painter’s fascination with Benga’s ‘authentic’ African origins. From an alternate perspective, however, Porter could here be negatively critiquing or denigrating Benga’s international status as erotic and exotic icon by showing him as older and clothed. In this respect, the image is ambiguous – a fact that has not been remarked upon heretofore in standard art history texts.35 Porter’s painting is rather curious given that, by defnition, the body of the tirailleur is one enveloped in a uniform, a double symbol of upward mobility and colonial oppression that references the nudity or semi-nudity of the Africans who resisted conquest. Te wearing of the uniform signifed a privileged access to European social norms, as well as a symbolic means by the coloniser to tame the assumed corps sauvage. Moreover, the fgure of the tirailleur constitutes a hybrid character, one who was no longer completely African, but who could no longer be envisioned as completely French either. Te tirailleur is a liminal creature in an intermediary position. He occupies the interface between the murky world of the colonised and that of the ­coloniser. Hence, there is a fundamental ambivalence connected to his status as well as to his image, both vis-à-vis African societies and the colonial world. Indeed, Benga lived and performed within such an ambiguous sphere. From the coloniser’s point of view, behind the superfcially domesticated body of the tirailleur soldier was believed to lurk savage, animal instincts. Te fgure of the tirailleur and the representation of his body, like Féral Benga’s body, thus bear the stigmas of his status, midway between the colonial universe and that of the colonised. Such an equivocal position lends itself to the projection of corporeal fantasies of savagery and unbridled sexuality that formed a mirror image in the Western imaginary of the disciplined and socially useful – yet domesticated or assimilated –body that could become féral, that is, sauvage, at any time.36

Te Black Angel It was fve years prior to the creation of Barthé’s statue and the appearance of Gorer’s book that Benga’s exoticism and eroticism attracted the attention of the French poet and flmmaker Jean Cocteau who cast him in his frst scandalous avant-garde flm, Te Blood of a Poet (Le Sang d’un Poète) (1930). Although 35 In the few art history texts on African-American art, this painting is given either no discussion at all or less than a cursory treatment. 36 See Shurtlef, ‘France at War’, pp. 1–12. Also see Echenberg, Colonial Conscripts. It is unclear to what extent Porter would have been aware of or in agreement with this rather elaborate symbolism and signifcation of Benga’s body clothed in the uniform of the soldat sénégalais.

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116  James Smalls the details of the relationship between Benga and Cocteau are murky at best, afer seeing the former perform in Paris, the latter supposedly exclaimed that fnally ‘eroticism had found a style’.37 In the flm, Benga appears as a black angel. His presence on screen is relatively brief and he has no dialogue. Te Blood of a Poet consists of a sequence of dream-like images that reference the plight of the artist and his relationship to art and fantasy. Te flm, although produced in 1930, did not premier in Paris until early 1932. It was released in the United States in 1933. Like so much of what Cocteau created, Te Blood of a Poet abounds in autobiographical motifs and symbols. Tere are four scenes in all and Benga appears in the fourth one entitled ‘Stolen Card’ in which a group of boys engage in a snowball fght in a courtyard. One youth is lef bloody and dying afer being struck with a snowball. Te courtyard is revealed to be a stage on which a young woman (played by Cocteau’s one-time muse and artist in her own right, Lee Miller) and the adult poet plays cards next to the boy’s body, which is lying on the ground. Te woman tells the adult poet that he is lost without the Ace of Hearts. Te boy’s guardian angel (Benga) appears, covers the dead youth and then takes the ace from the card-playing poet. Benga then exits up a staircase and through a door with the Ace of Hearts in hand. Before flming began, Benga had sprained his ankle. Cocteau, who loved such elements of accident and chance, allowed Benga to enter his scene limping. Te hobbling angel that is Benga becomes part of Cocteau’s mystery, akin to the angel’s blackness. For Cocteau’s poetic vision, Benga’s dark complexion mattered, for the voice-over narration that introduces the scene in which the dancer appears tells us that, as viewers, we should ‘know that the guardian angel of the child appeared, he lef an empty house, he was black in colour and limped, a little, from his lef foot’.38 In the flm, Benga’s dark and oily skin is set against the white snow, the glowing alabaster skin of the young woman, and against the dead boy’s body that grows paler as death nears. It has been suggested that the black guardian angel (Benga) acts as a kind of medium, subsuming into himself the body of the dead boy who is the incarnation of Cocteau’s dead childhood. He is also the link between the artist creating the flm (Cocteau himself) and the artist within it (the boy and the card-playing poet), as well as between the artist on screen and the art that he creates or adapts.39 Tere is an instance in this scene as well in which

37 Cronin, Paris: City of Light, p. 126. It is important to note that early in his career Cocteau was attracted to primitivism and negrophila. In fact, he was in attendance for the premier of La revue nègre in 1925 and was romantically enamoured both sexually and aesthetically with black men. His amorous relationship with the black Panamanian boxer Al ‘Panama’ Brown is a case in point. See Steegmuller, Cocteau: A Biography; Borsaro, Cocteau, le cirque et le music-hall. 38 Te French narration is: ‘Sachez que le gardien de l’enfant apparut, il sortait d’une maison vide, il était noir de couleur et boitait, un peu, du pied gauche.’ 39 Tsukridou (ed.), Reviewing Orpheus, p. 48.

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Féral Benga’s Body  117 Benga’s body becomes solarised – rendered into a reverse negative so that black and white play of of one another. Benga’s solarisation could be taken as a multi-accentual play of black against white as well as an homage to the flmmaker’s friend, the American-born photographer Man Ray (1890–1976), who became known, among other things, as an expert experimentalist in this photographic process. Cocteau’s solarisation of Benga could be read as a homoeroticising play on Man Ray’s use of the technique, considering that the latter ofen employed it as a means sexually to highlight the female form in many of his photographs. Tis symbolisation of black against white applied to Benga’s body is rendered even more signifcant when one considers that in many of the dancer’s performances, in Europe and the United States, his body was ofen engaged in a black against white contrast that was intended as aesthetic as well as erotic. One such spectacle was described in the American journal the Afro American: [N]ude save for a little covering around the loins, [Benga and Melka Soudani] exhale the very spirit of primitive rhythm, something that is absolutely original, with not the least hint of a buck-step or a tap-step in it … Benga, standing on one spot, does a combination, rip-up and pirouette twice in the air. Later, he appears in another scene, with a white girl who clasps him around the waist from behind, white skin showing startlingly up against black. Last year when Benga danced with a white girl at the Folies [Bergère], both wearing just a little bit more than our original ancestors, certain Americans in the audience objected violently and showed their rowdyism. Te act was not only continued for the rest of the season, but as will be seen, Benga and another white girl appear this year.40

In Cocteau’s flm, Benga’s body – a seductive African body – becomes symbolic of a variety of poetic and erotic considerations that preoccupied the flmmaker and that tapped into the cultural, aesthetic, racial and sexual crosscurrents associated with early twentieth-century modernist experimentation.

Benga’s Fate Publicity sources indicate that before the Second World War Benga had owned a small cabaret near the Champs-Elysées where guests were treated to African music and dance spectacles, and where exotic African culinary dishes were served. Although details of Benga’s life remain sketchy during the war, both Gorer and Senghor recount in their respective books how he sufered physically and psychologically throughout the ordeal. During the Nazi occupation Benga remained in Paris and, assisted by friends, had to go into hiding because, as Gorer put it, ‘the Nazis were merciless towards 40 Te Afro American (25 April 1931), unpaginated.

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118  James Smalls French-speaking Negroes’.41 Indeed, during the occupation, life for blacks (Africans, African Americans, European blacks) was difcult in general, but even more so for black entertainers such as musicians and dancers whose livelihoods were curtailed abruptly.42 According to Gorer and Senghor, afer the war Benga was employed in a small ‘restaurant-bal’ on the Rue de la Harpe in Paris. He soon became co-owner and transformed this establishment into a fashionable nightspot called La Rose Rouge (precursor to the popular and crowded small basement clubs of Saint-Germain-des-Près called caves, where jazz was played). It was here where an African and African American clientele dominated and where African culture was so strongly felt that the cabaret attracted Maurice Sonar Senghor, who formed there his troupe of African dancers and singers called the Siccos.43 Quickly, Benga’s nightclub became a ‘hip’ place in Paris and was known across the Atlantic to many avant-garde New Yorkers of all races. It was also during this period that Benga frequented the circle of Parisian Latin Quarter intellectuals – most notably, the orbit of Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus and Boris Vian. He also socialised with supporters of the nascent negritude movement as well as with numerous prominent actors and dancers from West Africa. Benga’s association with and early support of negritude is revealed by an anecdotal reference in Senghor’s book in which is recorded the following: ‘We can afrm that Benga’s Rose Rouge had revealed to the public seductive aspects of our [African] cultural patrimony sounding, in particular, the echo of the celebrations of négritude.’44 Unfortunately, Benga’s success as an enchanting socialite with a cultural and political conscience did not transfer over to his handling of business afairs. In 1948, Niko Papatakis and Mireille Trépel (both actors and m ­ usicians active during the mid-to-late 1940s who began their careers at Benga’s La Rose Rouge) approached Benga for permission to use the name La Rose Rouge to establish another cabaret located at 76 rue de Rennes at Saint Germain-desPrès. According to Boris Vian, a frequent visitor there, it was at this second location that one encountered an ‘atmosphère toujours amusante’.45 As well, on any given night one would meet there famous intellectuals such as Louis Aragon, Elsa Triolet, or Jean Genet. A ‘war of the two Roses’ did not happen and both establishments coexisted in relative harmony until 1953. By 1956, however, both locations were forced to close their doors for good. It was at this time that Benga’s family relaxed their former hostility and the dancer returned to Senegal. While there, he complied with the expectations of his family and with Wolof custom by marrying his frst cousin, Liliane Benga,

41 Gorer, Africa Dances, p. ix. 42 See Stovall, Paris Noir, pp. 118–23; Lusane, Hitler’s Black Victims, pp. 117–18. 43 Gorer, Africa Dances, p. ix. 44 Senghor, Souvenirs de théâtre d’Afrique, p. 38. 45 See Vian, Manuel de Saint-Germain des Prés, p. 142.

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Féral Benga’s Body  119 and becoming ‘the proud father of a fne baby boy’.46 He returned to Paris and died there of a pulmonary embolism on 4 June 1957 in relative obscurity. He was buried at Chateauroux in central France.47 It was through his body that Benga engaged with the modern world and sought to disrupt the oppressive weight of racism and colonialism. It was a body that inspired and served well both American and European modern artists of all races who were entranced by the self-conscious dramatisation of primitivist fantasies and who were obsessively preoccupied with black culture. However, the visual and written references to Féral Benga’s body discussed in this essay encompass more than merely primitivising fantasies by a few – they constitute tributes to the forgotten dancer’s memory and, as an African criss-crossing the Atlantic, to his tangible impact and infuence on modernist vision and practice in continental Europe, England and in the Anglo-American world. As an African, Benga crossed the Atlantic not only wilfully but creatively. He subversively engaged the modern world with his African body. Te visual and written descriptions of his personality and iconic bodily presence by American and European modernists of all races speak to an afromodernist agency that has been, up until now, neglected for serious consideration in the larger history of modernism and in the more circumscribed story of art. Te visual and verbal references to Benga’s life and African body discussed here, speak to his participation in modernist reinvention and his importance to modernist language and sensibility on not only aesthetic, but on ideological and political levels. I have suggested that his complicity in the modernist enterprise was disruptive of the oppressive weight of racism, homophobia and colonialism. Féral Benga was one of a handful of noteworthy black African participants in and contributors to the merits and complications of the modern world. He was much more than a mere exotic dancer. Because his life and legacy have been conveniently neglected and nearly forgotten, this project could be taken as a revisionist excavation of sorts in that it has attempted to recuperate and bring back into the contradictory and ambivalent machinations of modernist experience and practice one of many omitted black African lives.

46 Gorer, Africa Dances, p. ix. 47 For further biographical information on Benga’s life and profession as a dancer, see Décoret-Ahiha, ‘L’exotique, l’ethnique et l’authentique’, pp. 149–66.

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Chapter 7

‘Like Another Planet to the Darker Americans’: Black Cultural Work in 1930s Moscow S. Ani Mukherji

By the late 1920s, the Soviet Union and the Communist International had identifed culture as a major battleground in the struggle for Bolshevik dominance at home and proletarian revolution abroad. One facet of this efort was the development of anti-colonial cultural work that spoke to audiences around the globe. Soviet playwright Sergei Tretiakov’s indictment of Western indiference to colonial sufering, Roar, China! (1926), was staged to great acclaim in Moscow, Berlin and New York. Te classic dramatis­ ation of anti-imperial revolt in Central Asia, Storm over Asia (1928), was an international sensation; among its many screenings across the globe, Indian students at Oxford University showed the flm as a prelude to a debate on the importance of the Soviet experiment for colonial revolutionaries. When the anti-fascist Soviet documentary Abyssinia (1936) – a protest flm that took aim at Mussolini’s 1935 invasion of Ethiopia – came to play in Shanghai, Italian seamen rioted in the theatre to object to the criticism of their homeland, much to the amusement of colonial comrades.1 Tese works, along with dozens of similar productions, linked the problems of capitalism, colonialism and racism, positing Communist revolution as their solution.

1 On cultural politics in the early Soviet Union, see Freeman, Kunitz and Lozowick, Voices of October; Fitzpatrick (ed.), Te Cultural Revolution in Russia, 1928–1931; Gleason, Kenez and Stites (eds.), Bolshevik Culture; Fitzpatrick, Te Cultural Front. Tretiakov’s Roar, China! is discussed in detail in Lee, ‘Cold War Multiculturalism’. Te Oxford Majlis discussion of Storm over Asia was summarised in ‘Oxford Letter’, Bharat (January 1931), p. 38. Te US State Department noted the reception of Abyssinia in a memorandum dated 9 March 1937 in 861.4061/106, RG 59 NARA. See also ‘Chinese Protest Wrecking of Teatre by Fascist Who “Just Can’t Take It”’, Pittsburgh Courier (10 April 1937).

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Black Cultural Work in 1930s Moscow  121 Soviet screenwriter G. E. Grebner contributed to this international cultural front in 1930, when he drafed Black and White (Chernyi i belyi), an ‘anti-KuKlux-Klan’ story based on the author’s autodidactic study of American race relations. According to the script’s preface, Grebner hoped not only to produce a broadside against racial terror in the United States, but also to counter anti-black stereotypes rampant in American and European flm, presenting, he said, ‘Negroes on screen as humans, for the frst time’.2 Afer the author successfully pitched the work to the major production house for international flms, Mezhrabpomfl’m, calls to recruit black actors ran in the Chicago Defender and New York Amsterdam News.3 By May 1932, twenty-two young African Americans – headed by Langston Hughes as script consultant and Louise Tompson as project organiser – had enlisted to travel to the Soviet Union for the flm shoot.4 Eager to measure the reality of life in the red capital against the promise of a new egalitarian society, the group made its way to Moscow in June. At frst, the players were favourably impressed with their hosts, as they were treated to the fnest food, arts and culture that the Soviets could ofer. But, afer months of banquets, recitals and vacations, the group wondered when shooting for Black and White would begin. Hughes reported that the delays were caused by an unwieldy script rife with misconceptions about African American life, despite the revisions made by long-time black Muscovite Lovett Fort Whiteman.5 By September, however, rumours were circulating that the flm had been scrapped due to the objection of a white American businessman involved in a major Soviet development project. Feeling betrayed, a handful of cast members dropped out of Black and White, cabling to black newspapers in New York that the Communist commitment to fghting racism had been an illusion.6 But those who remained committed to anti-racist struggle within the Communist Party worried that abandoning Black and White would be ‘disastrous’, if not ‘fatal’ to future Party work among African Americans.7 Contrary to these fears, the infux of African Americans that Black and White had brought to Moscow accelerated and deepened the Soviet engagement with black arts and culture.8 Langston Hughes stayed on in the Soviet 2 3

4 5 6

7 8

Grebner, ‘Chernye i belye’, RGALI 2014/1/61. Translations from Russian are mine. Ibid.; ‘Soviet Seeks Negroes to Make Film of Conditions Here’, New York Amsterdam News (9 March 1932); ‘Russia to Produce Film of Race Like in America Soon’, Chicago Defender (19 March 1932); ‘“Black and White”, New Film, Illustrates the Class Struggle in USA’, Moscow Daily News (28 June 1932). For administrative details, see LTPP, boxes 1–2; ‘Announce Players for Soviet Picture’, New York Amsterdam News (8 June 1932). See the manuscript for ‘Black and White’, LTPP, box 2, folder 4. American businessman Colonel Hugh Cooper did, in fact, complain to Soviet ­ofcials about the Black and White project. See ‘Memorandum by American Consulate General in Berlin’, 30 August 1932, in NARA, RG 59, 861.5017 – Living Conditions/519 State. Tat said, there were clearly multiple reasons for the collapse of the Black and White flm project. W. A. Domingo to Louise Tompson, 6 October 1932, LTPP, box 1, folder 22. For an overview, see Matusevich, ‘An Exotic Subversive’.

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122  S. Ani Mukherji Union for several months to study race relations in Soviet Central Asia, composing a series of essays on his research and travels.9 Writer Dorothy West, along with her friend, aspiring painter Mildred Jones, prolonged their visits to explore the cultural scene in Moscow; Jones was taken on as a pupil by leading Soviet artist Alexander Deineka while West worked on short stories.10 Journalist Loren Miller wrote the foreword to a Russian-language anthology of African American poetry.11 Recent Hampton Institute graduate Lloyd Patterson found a position as a set designer. His mother, Margaret Glescoe, followed her son to Moscow where she became a worker-correspondent, recording her impressions of life and labour from the perspective of a black woman.12 Tis growing colony of black cultural workers circulated among the committed anti-colonialist activists who were in Moscow for political work, a coterie that included West Indians, Africans and Asians who introduced the visiting Americans to revolutionary struggles across the globe. When the poet Countee Cullen tried to lure Dorothy West away to Paris, she refused. Cullen ruefully admitted that she was right to remain in Moscow, replying: ‘It would be a spiritual catastrophe to come to Europe twice and not to see Paris. But I suppose in these times it is far more important to have seen Russia.’13 Tis sense of the Soviet experiment and of Moscow as particularly signifcant for African Americans increased over the course of the 1930s, as black recruits swelled the Communist Party during the Great Depression.14 As Cullen’s comment indicates, Moscow belonged to a broader global network of black diasporic locales, including capitals and port cities such as New York, London, Liverpool, Paris, Marseille, Berlin and Hamburg. In and across these locations, migratory black subjects sought to defne a political and cultural space for the articulation of individual and collective identities; among these locations, Moscow was unique. Soviet commitments to anti-racist and anti-colonial imperatives promoted state sponsorship of black foreign artists, ofering these cultural workers training and patronage unavailable elsewhere. Just as important as this material support, however, was the material for the imagination that Moscow ofered. In the wake of the Bolshevik Revolution and ensuing Civil War, Soviet society had remained in  9 Hughes, A Negro Looks at Soviet Central Asia; Hughes, Good Morning, Revolution; Moore, ‘Local Color, Global Color’; Baldwin, Beyond the Color Line and the Iron Curtain, pp. 86–148. 10 See West’s letters to her family, DWP, box 1, folder 1. 11 Iulian Anisimov, Afrika v Amerike. Tis work added to the proliferation of anthologies of black literature in the interwar period, indicative of the contestations of the meaning of ‘blackness’. See Edwards, Te Practice of Diaspora, esp. pp. 16–68. 12 ‘New Jersey Youth Abroad Takes Russian Bride’, Baltimore Afro-American (25 February 1933); Glescoe, ‘Negro Mother, Now a Shock Worker’; Patterson, Dykhanie listvennitsy. 13 Countee Cullen to Dorothy West, 10 August 1932, DWP, box 1, folder 6; emphasis added. 14 Naison, Communists in Harlem; Kelley, Hammer and Hoe; Solomon, Te Cry was Unity.

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Black Cultural Work in 1930s Moscow  123 fux throughout the 1920s and into the 1930s as the country reordered social relations and sought to defne itself as a new type of civilisation.15 Burgeoning Moscow, in particular, proved both alluring and instructive to black artists and intellectuals com­mitted to the intertwined modern projects of social transformation and personal expression. Here, the ‘New Negro’ could enact novel identities on stage, on paper and on the streets, while at the same time criticising racial injustice, labour exploitation, colonial rule and women’s oppression. Tis chapter examines the creative participation of three black cultural workers – journalist Homer Smith, dancer Sylvia Chen and actor Wayland Rudd – in Soviet-sponsored projects that helped transform 1930s Moscow into a dynamic cosmopolitan crucible of anti-colonialism and anti-racism watched from around the world. Each of these fgures demonstrates a unique facet of black cultural activism and its articulation in Moscow. Homer Smith’s work as the Moscow correspondent for black newspapers underscores the role of the press in disseminating a global vision of blackness and the location of Moscow in this black world.16 Furthermore, his dispatches contrasting black freedom under Soviet racial equality with the injustices of American racism prefgured the interplay of Cold War tensions and civil rights reform that followed the Second World War in the United States.17 Afro-Chinese Trinidadian Sylvia Chen took up the mission of forging a new type of anti-colonial dance that fused elements of Chinese folk dance, modern choreography inspired by Isadora Duncan, and popular jazz steps. Chen’s performances highlight the importance of dance as a form for women’s political expression in the interwar period, while the reception of her work calls attention to the ways in which raced and gendered readings of bodily expression limned the potential for anti-colonial and feminist choreographies. Wayland Rudd was a member of the Black and White cast who remained in the Soviet Union in hopes that he would fnd more sympathetic roles and that he might eventually be able to develop his skills as a playwright and director, an avenue closed of to African American actors in the United States. His career in the 1930s exemplifes the remarkable access given to foreign artists in the Soviet Union and the mixed results of one man’s attempt to exploit these resources. Te focus on artists who made Moscow their home for extended periods – rather than the more famous black ‘pilgrims’, such as Claude McKay, W. E. B. Du Bois or Paul Robeson – calls attention to the everyday activism of imagining and inhabiting the city that sustained it as a site of black internationalism.18 15 Kotkin, Magnetic Mountain. 16 Von Eschen, Race Against Empire, pp. 7–21. 17 Horne, ‘Who Lost the Cold War?’; Dudziak, Cold War Civil Rights; Borstelmann, Te Cold War and the Color Line; Anderson, ‘Bleached Souls and Red Negroes’. 18 Te growing literature on African presences in the Soviet Union has been dominated by the most famous visiting artists, rather than on the more quotidian experiences of long-time residents. See Blakely, Russia and the Negro; Baldwin, Beyond the Color

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124  S. Ani Mukherji Tese culture workers did not, however, undertake this work without constraint. Alongside Soviet citizens, black foreign artists faced the strictures of Party discipline, if not always as acutely as their neighbours. Te state sponsorship that fostered the work of black artists in the 1930s also shrank the range of available expressive options. By the height of the Purges in 1937, this sphere essentially imploded for foreign artists. As historian Michael David-Fox has noted, between the 1920s and the late 1930s, ‘foreign cultural resources’ had transformed in the eyes of the State ‘from prized assets to fatal sources of contagion’.19 By the fnal stage of this process, black Moscow – that is, the Soviet capital as imagined and inhabited as a site of the African ­diaspora – disappeared along with the larger complex of institutions and fgures that comprised the anti-colonial cosmopolitan metropole. But none of these artists would have predicted such an outcome when they arrived.

Homer Smith Reports from Black Moscow For readers of the black press, Homer Smith (Figure 6) was their man in Moscow. Troughout the 1930s and into the 1940s, Smith contributed regular columns to the Chicago Defender and Baltimore’s Afro-American, with occasional pieces appearing in the Pittsburgh Courier.20 Born in 1899 just outside Natchez, a sixteen-year-old Smith took up work as a deckhand on a Mississippi River steamer before eventually settling in Minneapolis, where he found a position sorting mail.21 Te stable income aforded the young migrant the means to enrol in journalism courses at the University of Minnesota and by the early 1930s Smith was writing occasional columns for the local black newspaper, the Twin City Herald. Tese accomplishments stirred both pride and frustration; at the end of his third decade of life, Homer Smith felt that he had already reached the apex of achievement for a black journalist in Minneapolis.22 Unwilling to rest on his laurels, Smith enthusiastically volunteered to participate in Black and White afer he read the call for actors to participate in a flm project in Moscow, though his friends warned him that the Soviet Union was ‘a land of slaves, morons, and poverty’.23 Writing to

Line and the Iron Curtain; Matusevich, ‘Black in the USSR’. For an attentive study that places black life in the Soviet Union in the broader currents of Soviet policy and culture, see Roman, ‘Another Kind of Freedom’. 19 David-Fox, ‘From Illusory “Society” to Intellectual “Public”’, p. 9. See also Chase, Enemies within the Gates? 20 According to Smith’s Comintern fle, his reports also appeared occasionally in newspapers in South Africa, the Gold Coast, and the Gambia: ‘Autobiography’, 27 July 1936, RGASPI 495/261/5147. 21 Ibid. 22 Smith, Black Man in Red Russia, pp. 1–2. 23 Homer Smith to Louise Tompson (n.d.), LTPP, box 16, folder 19.

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Black Cultural Work in 1930s Moscow  125

Fig. 6 Homer Smith © Emory University Archives

the flm’s organisers in New York, Smith declared that he intended to correct such falsehoods and that he hoped to stay in Moscow, sustaining himself with work at the post ofce while arranging to have a regular column on Russian life appear in black periodicals.24 Regular dispatches from Moscow correspondent Chatwood Hall (Smith’s nom de plume) commenced a month afer the arrival of the Black and White cast. Te inaugural report recorded crowds of thousands greeting the small group of black literati at an anti-lynching demonstration. Smith summarised the group’s impression: ‘All of this was new, like a pleasant dream, like waking from a nightmare, like another planet to the darker Americans. … Although 24 Louise Tompson to Homer Smith, 18 May 1932, LTPP, box 16, folder 19.

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126  S. Ani Mukherji they were on the same planet, it did not take these Colored Americans long to realize that they were in another world.’25 Tis juxtaposition of worlds – one dream, the other nightmare – became the dominant trope of Smith’s journalism. A week later, Smith submitted ‘Negroes Find Selves Whiter than Russians’, a collection of anecdotes about the exploits of Moscow’s new black inhabitants at a workers’ resort on the outskirts of Moscow. Meeting a crowd of curious locals, the cast faced a barrage of questions: Do they speak both English and ‘the Negro language’? Why were they of such diverse skin tones? How is it possible that some of the group were lighter than the Russians but still considered ‘black’? Te questions elicited a ‘galaxy of broad smiles’ from the Americans, who tripped over themselves trying to explain the intricacies and contradictions of US racialism. Bewildered by these strange answers, the Russians put the matter out of their minds and decided to go skinny-dipping with the group in a nearby river.26 Te convoluted racial ideology of Smith’s nightmare world simply could not be made sense of in this uncomplicated egalitarian dreamworld.27 Te juxtaposition tidily revealed the social construction of the ostensibly natural racial order in the United States while simultaneously ofering a compelling image of liberated existence in the idyllic commingling of nude black and white bodies. As a regular columnist, Smith was not always able to meet the literary standard set by this early piece. But he repeatedly returned to the practice of pairing Soviet progress with American (and occasionally European) backwardness to address a variety of concerns. Smith’s favourite hobby horse, however, was the near obsessive recounting of interracial romances between black men and Russian women. Afer noting that a number of local women had become particularly enamoured with the ‘sheiks from Harlem’, Smith quipped, ‘Is it the good or is it the evil which men do that lives afer them?’28 In an article detailing the diverse populations found on Moscow streets, the reporter noted, ‘a Russian woman citizen may freely select or go any place with any man of her choice, be he red, yellow, black or brown’.29 Should anyone interfere with her pursuits, they would meet ‘the heavy hand of the government’.30 In these utopian stories, Smith lef implied the juxtaposed 25 ‘Where Bands of Music Welcomed 22 Black Americans to Russia’, Baltimore AfroAmerican (6 August 1932). 26 ‘Negroes Find Selves Whiter than Russians’, Baltimore Afro-American (13 August 1932). 27 On the related industrial dreamworlds of capitalism and communism, see BuckMorss, Dreamworld and Catastrophe. Buck-Morss pays only passing attention to the importance of racial progress as a benchmark of modernity. 28 ‘Race Prejudice Finds No Sanctuary’. 29 ‘Red Russia Wouldn’t Permit Jim Crow’, Baltimore Afro-American (23 September 1933). See also ‘When a Black Man Calls on a Russian Girl’, Baltimore Afro-American (17 June 1933); ‘Red Soldier, Brown Woman in Russia – Matter of Course’, Baltimore AfroAmerican (19 August 1933); ‘Soviet Reds Rebuke Snooty Ofay Woman in Moscow’, Baltimore Afro-American (25 August 1934). 30 ‘A Column from Moscow’, Chicago Defender (12 May 1934).

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Black Cultural Work in 1930s Moscow  127 American reality. Black readers in the era of lynching needed no reminder of the nightmare world that corresponded to the dream of interracial romance. While these columns portrayed a Moscow in which African Americans lived unencumbered by the legacies of racism, Smith also detailed Russia’s black history to foster a sense of belonging. His readers learned of the small colony of black Abkhazians descended from Ottoman slaves and of the great poet Aleksandr Pushkin’s African heritage.31 When reporting on the thespian achievements of Wayland Rudd or Paul Robeson in Moscow, Smith reminded his audience of the great nineteenth-century Shakespearean actor Ira Aldridge, the frst African American to play Othello in Russia.32 Te ­bustling contemporary scene was presented as more history in the making, as Smith chronicled the visits of black scholars, writers, concert singers, classical ­ ­ musicians, wrestlers and circus performers. Lest working-class readers sense that the proletarian capital welcomed only the cultural elite, dispatches on black life in the factory and in the feld were sporadically sprinkled into the mix of reportage. Weaving tales of these few dozen African diasporics among stories of Central Asian, Caucasian, Chinese, Indian and Slavic Muscovites, Smith drove home his point that together they formed ‘a human tapestry not to be even closely approached anywhere in the world, and least of all in New York’.33 Afer three years in Moscow, Homer Smith could rightly declare that he had won his gamble on the Soviet Union. Having made a name for himself as a foreign correspondent, Smith decided not to renew his contract with the post ofce when it expired in 1935. Instead, he committed himself to research and writing full time. On the recommendation of William L. Patterson, then leader of the American branch of the International Labor Defense (ILD), Smith was assigned to a research position in the African Studies (Afrikanistika) section of the Communist University of Toilers of the East (KUTV), a school established by the Communist International to provide cadre training to colonial students.34 Tis appointment provided Smith with material to report on a widening gamut of global concerns, including British imperial policy, the native question in South Africa and the actions of American businesses in

31 ‘Races Can Walk Together on Streets of Moscow’, Baltimore Afro-American (2 June 1934); ‘Race Families Not Rare Even in Soviet Russia’, Chicago Defender (1 September 1934); ‘Defender’s Moscow Correspondent Gets Interview with Pushkin’s Descendant’, Chicago Defender, 2 May 1936. 32 ‘Defender Foreign Correspondent Greets Robeson on his Arrival in Soviet Russia’, Chicago Defender, 12 January 1935; ‘American Prepares to Follow in the Footsteps of Ira Aldridge’, Chicago Defender, 23 February 1935. 33 ‘When a Black Man Calls on a Russian Girl’, Baltimore Afro-American (17 June 1933); emphasis added. Smith was not alone in the journalistic efort to construct a black Moscow. See Hughes, ‘Negroes in Moscow’; Mary Christopher (Dorothy West), ‘Room in Red Square’; Mary Christopher (Dorothy West), ‘Russian Correspondence’. 34 William Patterson to Cadre Section, 23 April 1935, RGASPI 495/261/5147.

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128  S. Ani Mukherji Liberia.35 Anti-colonialists within the Comintern were undoubtedly pleased by this turn in Smith’s reporting, as their platforms and positions now received regular airing in the leading black newspapers of the day. Afer his frst year at KUTV, the Comintern’s Cadre Department was efusive in its praise for Smith’s eforts: ‘Politically developed and trained in Marxism, [Smith] difers greatly from other Negroes in Moscow (and in the USA) in that he is modest, afable, and businesslike.’36 In the summer of 1936, Smith was transferred from the Africanist section of KUTV to NIANKP (Research Association for the Study of National and Colonial Problems), an advisory body in the Eastern Section of the Executive Committee of the Communist International (IKKI). In addition to fulflling his duties as a foreign correspondent for black newspapers, Smith was called upon to give his opinions on colonial propaganda and to compose internal reports on the conditions of African Americans for Party work.37 Between his political connections with anti-colonial activists in the Comintern and working the beat of ethnic cultural life in Moscow, the ambitious journalist had efectively positioned himself at the centre of black Moscow. Unfortunately, the real-life Smith did not inhabit the idealised metropo­ lis that journalistic persona Chatwood Hall had created on the sheets of the Chicago Defender and Baltimore Afro-American. In February 1937, Smith was reprimanded by the Comintern for unspecifed personal indiscretions unbecoming a writer with his high profle.38 Later that year he was taught a more severe lesson in the perils of power. As the Stalinist Purges intensifed, foreign elements were increasingly perceived as security threats and the Soviet government began to push foreign visitors out of the country, including a group of black engineers whose residency permits were abruptly confscated. Unsure of what to do, these men turned to Smith for help negotiating the Soviet bureaucracy. Smith took up their case but badly overplayed his hand with Comintern superiors when he threatened that failure to issue new residency permits would be taken as racial discrimination and that word of these cases had already leaked to outside sources – the Londonbased former Communist George Padmore – who would use it against the Soviets. Te leadership snapped back that these comrades should be happy to take up work in their own country, that criticism of the socialist fatherland 35 For a sample of Smith’s coverage of colonial questions, see ‘Status of Africa Discussed’, Chicago Defender (9 March 1935); ‘James Crow Bars S. Africans from Streets at Night’, Baltimore Afro-American (10 August 1935); ‘Natives Drawn Into Industry’, Chicago Defender (16 November 1935); ‘Italy’s Use of Natives as Shock Troops Not New in African Wars’, Chicago Defender (23 November 1935); ‘Australia’s Aboriginals Dying’, Chicago Defender (6 June 1936). 36 ‘Gomer Smit – Biografcheskaia spravka’. 37 See Endre Sik to Cadre Department, 5 June 1936, RGASPI 495/261/5147; ‘Kharakteristika [Character Evaluation]’, 9 June 1943, RGASPI 495/261/5147; ‘Review of Work’, c.1936, RGASPI 534/3/1103. 38 Homer Smith to William L. Patterson, 13 February 1937, RGASPI 495/261/5147.

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Black Cultural Work in 1930s Moscow  129 was ‘vicious counter-revolutionary propaganda’, and that if Padmore had been informed, then someone was informing him. Smith was criticised for not immediately correcting these deviations and asked to provide character assess­ments and political profles for each engineer. Smith was careful not to address the charge of spreading anti-Soviet propaganda, but he did label two of the specialists ‘anti-Soviet’ and opportunistic.39 Tey both returned to the United States, a propitious fate, in retrospect, for ostensible anti-Soviet opportunists during the Purges. Smith could not follow them. In 1935, he had married a Soviet citizen, Maria Kotik, and it was unlikely that the Soviet government would grant her emigration. Even if Smith were willing to abandon her – other black Muscovites had deserted their families – he most likely understood that he would not be allowed to leave. He knew too much and could infict too much damage outside the country.40 Accepting Soviet citizenship in 1939 (and thereby renouncing his US citizenship), Smith continued his work as a foreign correspondent in a subdued tone. With fewer foreigners and cultural events to cover, his columns turned to anti-Japanese and anti-German propaganda. When he drafed a longer piece on African American literature and arts, the essay was declared ‘absolutely incorrect’ and based on ‘an array of empty and harmful ideas’. Foremost among his supposed errors was the failure to appreciate the proletarian origins of Richard Wright, a fellow native son of Natchez who had taken up work sorting mail before launching into his career as a writer.41 Smith was in no position to note the irony of this judgement.

Sylvia Chen Dances Out Revolution Among the many foreign cultural workers in the Soviet capital, Sylvia Chen cut a particularly striking fgure. Born in Trinidad to an Afro-French creole mother and a Chinese father, Chen had experienced a privileged childhood, moving among the colonial elite in Port of Spain and London. Chen entered the Soviet Union in 1927 afer a year-long residence in Wuhan, China, where her father had played an important role in the lef wing of the Kuomintang 39 Sidney Bloomfeld to Comrade Ryan, 12 Dec 1937, RGASPI 495/261/1380; Homer Smith to Comrade Ryan, 16 December 1937, RGASPI 495/261/1632. 40 Tis was precisely the reason given for the arrest of the only known African-American victim of the Purges, Lovett Fort Whiteman. Whiteman was accused of spreading counter-revolutionary propaganda among black Muscovites; possibly communicating criticisms of the Soviet Union to Padmore in London and to Grace Campbell in New York; and smuggling anti-Communist writings to the editor at the Chicago Defender. See Patterson to Randolph, 17 January 1936, RGASPI 495/261/1476; memorandum by William Patterson, 30 April 1936, RGASPI 495/261/1476. All of these suspicions could have easily been transferred onto Smith. 41 ‘Kriticheskii otzyv o stat’e tov. Gomera Smita [Critical Review of Comrade Homer Smith’s Article]’, RGASPI 495/261/5147.

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130  S. Ani Mukherji government. Upon arrival in Moscow, the Chen family – father, two daughters and two sons – checked in at the Hotel Metropol, a luxurious pre-revolutionary hotel near Red Square that had been converted into a lodge for important dignitaries and visiting artists. Young, attractive and outgoing, Sylvia was immediately drawn into the cultural centre of the city, socialising with foreign journalists and native intelligentsia at the hotel by day, while attending dance recitals, plays and musical performances at night. It was a charmed, if not particularly radical, life. Two performances changed the trajectory of Chen’s life: the ballet Red Poppy, a Bolshevik interpretation of the Chinese Revolution, and the dance performances at an anniversary celebration of the Isadora Duncan School of Dance in Moscow. In both cases, Chen was impressed not by the overt political messages woven into the performances, but rather by the arresting female protagonists. In Red Poppy, the ffy-one-year-old Ekaterina Geltzer starred as the ballet’s lead, playing a selfess Chinese girl who gave her life for the greater cause of the workers. Geltzer, one of the few ballerinas who remained at the famed Bolshoi Teatre afer the October Revolution, was a crowd favourite; no longer in her prime, Geltzer’s emotive power and connection with her audience was still electrifying. At the Duncan recital, Chen was taken in by the recreation of Isadora’s most famous dances by her Russian pupils. For the frst time, she realised that dance could be empowering and free, and also that it need not be ‘sof’.42 Tis combination of ‘hardness’ and the feminine form came to defne Chen’s emergent vision of her own style of dance (Figure 7). Leveraging her father’s connections, Chen wangled her way into lessons at the Bolshoi, though she found their disciplined approach unsuitable to her desire for self-expression. On the suggestion of friends, Chen tried Vera Maya’s studio of plastic dance – a more liberated form of movement that fourished briefy in the 1920s.43 Maya’s school was heavily infuenced by Isadora Duncan in its style and vocabulary of movements, but rather than emphasising individual expression, it cultivated a form of satiric social ­sketches.44 In the early summer of 1928, Chen had her Moscow debut with Maya’s troupe in a show that ended with boisterous applause and cheers for the young Trinidadian dancer. Established Soviet dance critic Viktor Iving observed that, ‘of the number of participants, Sylvia Chen aroused the greatest interest’. Te remainder of his review, however, shed a more troubling light on the reception of the evening’s entertainment and on the Soviet Union’s claim to be a land free of racial prejudice. Iving lingered at length on descriptions of Chen’s body and features, followed by praise for the unmediated joy expressed in her free movements. Lest an obtuse reader miss the racial coding of this primitivist interpretation, the author declared, ‘Te manner of Sylvia Chen’s 42 Leyda, Footnote to History, pp. 99­–102. 43 Cohen, ‘New Dance in Russia, 1910–1930’. 44 Souritz, Soviet Choreographers in the 1920s, p. 166.

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Black Cultural Work in 1930s Moscow  131

Fig. 7 Chen Si-lan barefoot in pants holding a sword and striking a pose © Museum of Performance and Design, San Francisco

dance reminds one of mulatto dances, which clearly exhibit a strong infuence on her stage manner. Her appearance is even reminiscent of a mulatto … And like a mulatto, she firted with her choice of men in the audience.’45 Tis dismissive racialist reading was typical of dance critics’ approaches to black modern dance, from the suggestive vaudeville of Josephine Baker to the ethnographic choreography of Katherine Dunham. In his perceptive history of early modern dance, Ramsay Burt has described the ways in which the racialised body of the modern dancer occupied an uneasy liminal space, moving in a highly charged feld between high and low culture, art and 45 Iving, ‘Spektakli V. Maiia’. It is not clear from the text whether Iving knew that Chen was, in fact, Afro-Chinese.

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132  S. Ani Mukherji entertainment, ballet and jazz, white and black.46 Tese dynamics surely held some allure for the mixed-race Sylvia Chen; but for Iving, and many other dance critics of the time, such hybrid performances were passing curiosities, temporary titillations not to be taken seriously. Following this review, Chen distanced herself from Maya’s studio. Over the next year, she went through several diferent directors until she fnally won the attention of Kasian Goleizovsky, an established impresario of Russian dance. For Golly, as Chen afectionately called her new mentor, dance was about rhythm, and the two were especially happy to work on complicated synco­ pated pieces that invoked exotic locales from Spain to Tahiti.47 Performing under the auspices of VOKS, the All-Union Society for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries, a new set of dances was presented in February 1930 as the work of ‘Chinese dancer’ Sylvia Chen (despite the lack of any identifable elements from China in the programme).48 Te timing, unfortunately, could not have been worse for a debut. Te ongoing cultural revolution had for the previous two years placed increasing demands on artists to demonstrate fealty to the Party and to proletarian ideals in their works. Now critics set their sights on Goleizovsky’s decidedly non-proletarian productions, accusing him and his dancer of decadence and counter-revolution.49 Tis rebuke started Chen down a new path. In the week afer the show, she worked with her brother Jack to arrive at a fresh conception of modern dance that would better suit present political demands. Working in tandem, the siblings discussed politics and art while Sylvia proposed dance ideas and Jack – a budding artist himself – designed accompanying costumes. Just two months afer the debacle with Golly, Sylvia unveiled ‘Te Militarist’, a satirical ofering that ridiculed the aggress­ ive warlords of China, with the provocative gender-inverting irony of the warrior’s embodiment in Chen’s petite female form. Te piece evinced what would soon become Chen’s signature style, a hybrid of Chinese folk elements and modern forms intended to evoke a particular fgure or political situation. Afer winning the approval of the Russian Association of Proletarian Writers (RAPP), Chen embarked on a tour of Caucasian summer resorts with the Workers’ Youth Teatre (TRAM) as part of the Komsomol’s cultural front.50 Afer the disappointment of her experience with Goleizovsky, Chen remained uncertain of her artistic vision. Her father encouraged her attempts to remove ‘dance from the sphere of art and put it in the world of practical life’.51 Similarly, Jack counselled his sister to ignore the reviews and listen to the people: ‘Your audience will create you, pull you up so that soon you will be able to address yourself to the more backward stratas [sic] of our soviet 46 Burt, Alien Bodies. 47 Leyda, Footnote to History, p. 113. 48 ‘Vecher VOKS [VOKS Evening]’, 27 February 1930, GARF 5283/8/76. 49 ‘Sil’viia Chen’, Krasnaia gazeta, 5 June 1932. 50 GARF 5283/8/76, passim. 51 Eugene Chen to Sylvia Chen, 17 November 1931, SCLP, box 28, folder 10.

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Black Cultural Work in 1930s Moscow  133 and world public.’52 In an article in the journal New Teatre, he elaborated on his distrust of critics in a defence of innovators in the Soviet dance world, including his sister: [Te dancers] are developing a technique that enables them to approach really signifcant themes. Characteristically, it is the general public rather than the critics (either old balletomanes, or writers who have somewhat biological ideas on dancing) who give them encouragement and understanding, and rather the public less exposed to ballet than the more ‘cultured public’.53

Still Sylvia sought to improve her work. Returning from tour in late 1931, she began to draf an entirely new dance programme, to be based both on her experiences dancing for Soviet workers and on a proper understanding of Marxism-Leninism. To this end, Chen enrolled as an auditor in the American section of the Communist University of Toilers of East.54 At KUTV, Chen diligently plodded through the classic texts of Marxism.55 Beyond KUTV’s lessons in historical materialism, Soviet nationality policy and colonial geography, Chen came to experience proletarian internationalism in practice as she became part of a community of students and activists from Africa, Asia and the Americas. Having grown up as an outsider in Port of Spain, London and Wuhan, Sylvia fnally found a circle of kindred spirits in the anti-colonial students and artists in Moscow. Among these exiles, many of whom had followed similarly disparate paths, a romantic sense of internationalism developed, in which all liberation struggles were seen as interconnected. Chen’s work fourished in this milieu. She quickly developed a new programme to celebrate the diversity of national forms of dance, to dramatise colonial injustices around the world and to criticise the bourgeois West. As her touring took her to Soviet Central Asia, the Caucasus and China, the range of her dance numbers expanded. By the mid-1930s, her repertoire included a protest of the Jim Crow American South entitled ‘Lynch’, a piece dedicated to the persecuted Chinese writer Ding Ling and a dance celebrating the newly emancipated women of Uzbekistan.56 Te last composition – a favourite that she regularly performed well into the 1950s – exemplifed the ways in which Chen continued to fnd in dance a means for women’s self-fulflment afer the decline of Duncaninspired dance in the Soviet Union; by rendering the liberation of woman not as a matter of personal expression, but as a collective achievement, Chen 52 53 54 55 56

Jack Chen to Sylvia Chen, 10 July 1931, SCLP, box 28, folder 12. Chen-I-Wan (Jack Chen), ‘American Dancers in Moscow’, p. 21. RGASPI 495/225/1185. Nathalie Roslavleva (Rene) to Sylvia Chen, 11 March 1950, SCLP, box 30, folder 2. Tese dances should be placed in the context of the great international defence campaigns of the time: Sacco and Vanzetti, Scottsboro, Meerut, Ding Ling, and Tom Mooney, among others. See McGirr, ‘Te Passion of Sacco and Vanzetti’; Pennybacker, From Scottsboro to Munich; So, ‘Coolie Democracy’.

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134  S. Ani Mukherji re-scripted feminist modern dance in a socialist vernacular. Her new pieces also derided exaggerated expressions of masculinity in numbers like ‘SportGrotesque’, a parody of the fascist obsession with physical culture. Despite the moral retrenchment in Stalinist times, Sylvia refused to abandon the idea of the Soviet Union as the homeland of both racial and sexual freedom.57 Tis belief was also embodied in Chen’s personal life, which she considered another channel for the expression of her politics. Afer meeting the cast of Black and White, Chen was immediately smitten by Langston Hughes and the two entered into a curious romance. Like Homer Smith, Chen and Hughes – both self-identifed multiracial subjects – believed that cosmopolitan Moscow was an ideal place for diferent races to mix freely; in each other, they found the opportunity to act out this supposition. Following Hughes’ departure from the Soviet Union, this romance was explicitly thematised in love letters that testifed to a depth of feeling, if not for each other, then for the idea of their relationship as a progressive interracial union.58 Writing to Hughes in the summer of 1934, Sylvia mapped out her ethnic ambiguity: ‘Convenient isn’t it to be able to change one’s nationality so easily, Chinese, Japanese, West Indian, Negro, you like me best as the latter, don’t you? But my politics don’t change, am always for the oppressed races in the fght against imperialism.’59 Hughes responded in kind, ‘What nationality would our baby be anyhow? Just so he or she is anti-Facist [sic]!’60 For both Sylvia and Langston, this epistolary amalgamationist fantasy allowed the authors to thwart the logics of myths of racial purity and the injunction against miscegenation that maligned their biracial existences. In their love letters, they were no longer tragic fgures, but anticipations of a future interracial internationalist world.61 Such fantasies, however, proved a poor adhesive for a lived relationship. Despite his promises, Hughes never returned to Moscow afer 1933. Chen continued to dance across the Soviet Union and Europe until the curtain of Stalin’s Purges descended on the stage of cosmopolitan Moscow in the late 1930s. At this point, Chen’s husband, an American student of flmmaker Sergei Eisenstein, prepared to leave Moscow. Sylvia resolved to follow him to America where she thought she could help African Americans and Asian

57 Chen’s work in the mid-1930s is richly described in Viktor Iving’s unsympathetic review notes. See RGALI 2694/57/1, passim. On Soviet sexual mores, see Fitzpatrick, Te Cultural Front, pp. 65–90, 216–37; Goldman, Women, the State, and Revolution. 58 On this relationship and the question of Hughes’ sexuality, compare Rampersad, Te Life of Langston Hughes; Berry, Langston Hughes. 59 Sylvia Chen to Langston Hughes, 29 August 1934, LMCLH, HM 64089. 60 Langston Hughes to Sylvia Chen, 18 October 1934, SCLP, box 29, folder 4. 61 Historian Christina Simmons discusses the idealisation of interracial relationships among sex radicals in ‘Women’s Power in Sex Radical Challenges to Marriage’. Te valorisation of amalgamationist approaches to the race problem in the context of the Harlem Renaissance is also discussed in Hutchinson, Te Harlem Renaissance in Black and White, esp. pp. 289–312. For contemporaneous programmes of amalgamationist anti-colonialism, see Du Bois, Dark Princess; Dover, Half-Caste.

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Black Cultural Work in 1930s Moscow  135 Americans become more internationalist and less bourgeois. Unfortunately, when Chen arrived in New York, she was curtly informed that she was subject to the Chinese Exclusion Act, her spouse’s citizenship notwithstanding. Tis moment marked the beginning of a two-decade repressive campaign on the part of the US Departments of State and Justice to keep Chen out of the country. Never again did Sylvia Chen fnd the thriving atmosphere for the creative dance, politics and romance that marked her time in Moscow, as the collective internationalist, anti-colonial dreams of the interwar period disappeared into the reality of the emergent Cold War.62

Wayland Rudd Makes a Career on the Soviet Stage Wayland Rudd’s career as an actor took of just as black performers were beginning to fnd work in serious theatre in the 1920s.63 While working in amateur productions in Philadelphia, the Howard University graduate had been spotted by Jasper Deeter, a veteran director of the Provincetown Players and Workers’ Drama League. Deeter had recently founded Hedgerow Teatre, an independent actors’ commune run on mutualist principles. Among Deeter’s egalitarian commitments was the belief that black actors should be given signifcant roles in American drama.64 He recruited Rudd, leading the young actor to consider the possibility of a professional career on the stage. Under Deeter’s tutelage, Rudd landed a number of major roles, and by the early 1930s he was regularly securing parts on and of Broadway, winning over New York’s theatre critics.65 When Rudd learned of the Black and White shoot in 1932, he faced a difcult choice between the promise of an ambitious new project and the risk of leaving a developing career behind. His decision was dictated as much by attraction to the Soviet script as it was by his awareness of the limited prospects for black actors in the United States. With relatively few opportunities available in mainstream theatre, the socially conscious work of the black Little Teatre movement ofered an appealing prospect. But, as scholar Cedric Robinson has observed, these productions were restricted to the ‘small stages of Black colleges, universities, and amateurs’, as Broadway ‘had no 62 See Chen’s immigration fle in NARA, RG 59, 151.547; Federal Bureau of Investigations File #100–30551, SCLP, box 28, folder 1. 63 Locke, ‘Te Negro and the American Stage’, pp. 112–20; Hill and Hatch, A History of African American Teatre, pp. 214–54. 64 Gwendolyn Bennett, ‘Te Emperors Jones’, Opportunity (September 1930), pp. 270–1; Miller, Remember to Remember, pp. 109–25; Hill and Hatch, A History of African American Teatre, p. 229. 65 ‘Laura Bowman and Wayland Rudd “Steal” Show in White Play’, Pittsburgh Courier (2 January 1932); ‘For Negro Performers’, New York Times (3 February 1932); ‘Prison Drama’, Wall Street Journal (2 April 1932); Bennett, ‘Te Emperors Jones’.

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136  S. Ani Mukherji interest in Black playwrights who might exceed the strictures of melodrama by replacing personal demons with themes of racial oppression’.66 Black and White potentially ofered the best of both worlds – a progressive treatment of social themes in a major production for a world audience. Moreover, Rudd must have felt attracted to the possibility of performing under leading lights of theatre and flm including Konstantin Stanislavsky, Vsevolod Meyerhold and Sergei Eisenstein. Once in Moscow, the cast of Black and White waited for script revisions for four months. By the fall, as many members of the flm group had grown weary, Rudd was ecstatically taking in the new theatre season, reporting to readers of the Crisis: ‘I confess that there has never been anything in my histrionic experiences so thrilling and absorbing as the moments the theatre aforded me there’.67 Rudd decided that, despite the failure of Black and White, he intended to fnd a place on the Soviet stage. Drawn to the Meyerhold Teatre and its international reputation for bold productions, Rudd enrolled as a student in its acting school in October. He explained his choice: I wanted to make a career. I wanted to prove to all the European swine that any man, even if he’s black or yellow, can act. … I wanted to work with Meyerhold. Millions of Negroes watched to see what a Negro could do. Tey watched each of us who came [to the Soviet Union]. A fgure like Meyerhold is of interest everywhere – in Europe, in America, and in Africa.68

By the time that Langston Hughes returned from a tour of Soviet Central Asia in early 1933, Rudd was in rehearsals for Yuri German’s play Prelude. German, a young Soviet writer who cut his teeth as the reporter for a factory newspaper in Moscow, envisaged Prelude as an indictment of labour exploitation and violence across the globe wrapped in the story of one engineer’s path from bourgeois ignorance to communist consciousness. Rudd played the part of a touring singer in transit from Hamburg to Shanghai; his role demanded only a few lines in Russian and the performance of a popular song in English. Reviewing the play for readers of Baltimore’s Afro-American, Hughes was efusive in his praise for the play and for Rudd’s execution of his role. Soviet critics, in contrast, barely mentioned the new black actor, instead emphasising defects in the script.69 Like Sylvia Chen before him, Rudd had been tossed into the whirlwinds of Soviet cultural politics. Just as the actor joined the Meyerhold Teatre, his chosen stage was targeted for its excessive concern with form over proletarian content. Rudd refused to be discouraged, instead immersing himself in the study of Russian so that he might fnd more prominent roles in the future. Tis work 66 Robinson, Forgeries of Memory and Meaning, p. 178. See also ‘Race Actors Find Broadway Hard Road to Travel’, Chicago Defender (26 November 1932). 67 Wayland Rudd, ‘Russian and American Teatre’, Te Crisis (September 1934), p. 270. 68 RGALI 963/1/70. 69 ‘Mixes Russian and Jazz on Soviet Stage’, Baltimore Afro-American (25 February 1933).

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Black Cultural Work in 1930s Moscow  137 paid of when legendary director Lev Kuleshov – a flm theorist who had fallen out of favour in the late 1920s for his alleged detachment from Soviet realities – recruited Rudd to work on Te Great Consoler, a loose interpretation of two short stories by the American writer O. Henry. Te flm depicted the life of an imprisoned writer who was called to his craf by the injustices he witnessed in jail. Luckily, for Kuleshov and for Rudd, the implied criticism of the strictures of Soviet artistic expression was masked by a confusing plot line and unremarkable acting. According to Peter Kenez, those critics who understood Kuleshov’s flm were silent for fear that they might be associated with anti-Soviet views if they were the frst to point them out.70 Rudd’s work in the flm was limited to recurrent close-up shots of his distressed face, a handful of over-saturated lines stammered in badly accented Russian, and a few musical numbers. When the protagonist Bill Porter tells his fellow inmates that, as an artist, one has only two prerogatives, ‘You may talk of your dreams; and you may tell what you heard a parrot say’, Rudd’s character responds by repeating the word ‘parrot’ [papugai] with a confused look. Te overall efect was not fattering. Despite the setbacks of his frst year in Moscow Rudd had reason for hope, if not for celebration. In just ten months, he had worked with two world-renowned directors. His roles were not the transformative enactments of black humanity that he dreamed of, but they also were not the demeaning parts of the plantation and jungle genres popular in the United States.71 Afer a brief trip to the United States in 1934, Rudd returned to his career in Moscow, explaining: Two years with the Russian theatre has taught me above all the real signifcance of theatre in its infuence upon the culture of a people. Watching theatre, with a defnite purpose given it by government censorship, and an unlimited artistic scope because of government subsidy, inject healthful and constructive ideas into the minds of a society, makes one shudder to think what theatre has been doing to the minds of American society.72

Back in Moscow, Rudd immersed himself in language classes and began work to play Othello under director Sergei Radlov, whose wife Anna Radlova had recently fnished a controversial translation of Shakespeare’s play into contemporary Russian. For Rudd, the study of Othello in Russian was particularly revelatory as the new language, associated with a new society, defamiliarised the interracial romance between Othello and Desdemona, allowing the actor to understand their relationship, for the frst time, outside of an American frame of miscegenation:

70 Kenez, Cinema and Soviet Society, 1917–1953, p. 118. 71 Robinson, Forgeries of Memory and Meaning, pp. 272–380. 72 Wayland Rudd, ‘Russian and American Teatre’, Te Crisis (September 1934), p. 270.

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138  S. Ani Mukherji [T]he beautiful white heroine Desdemona becomes [in Russian] a living element in the life of Othello and not an apparition, as she is in America because of a different ideology there which is opposed to as natural, wholesome, and intimate love as possible between the Blackamoor and the beautiful Venetian lady.73

As Kate Baldwin has noted of African American writers and artists who travelled to Soviet Russia, crossing linguistic and territorial borders enabled these racialised subjects to re-imagine their identities and to reconsider the naturalised assumptions of white supremacy.74 Yet, while Rudd surely benefted from studying Othello in Russian, his mastery of the language was not yet clear. When Radlov’s Othello opened, Aleksandr Ostuzhov, an accomplished actor on the Soviet scene, took the leading role. Later the same year, Rudd was excluded from a revival of Prelude; the head of Meyerhold’s acting school sarcastically explained that ‘he does not have a good command of Rash’n speech [ne vladeiushchii khorosho rasskoi rech’iu]’.75 In fact, Rudd’s language skills were most likely a severe impediment at a moment in Soviet history marked by an emphasis on Russian as the language of assimilation and internationalism.76 Having returned to Moscow for purposive work on the stage, Rudd seemed locked out of the world of serious theatre. Afer a year of working on a children’s flm adaptation of Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Rudd tired of waiting for Meyerhold to fnd a role for him and announced his intention to write and direct his own material.77 His frst script, An’ David Played His Harp, exhibited the faws typical of artistic debuts, compounded by the necessity of bending the plot to ideological prescriptions. Bearing a dedication to ‘Te Green Pastures’ – a possible double entendre referring both to Rudd’s new homeland and to Marc Connelly’s popular play – the drama asserts the futility of black religion in the face of racial injustice in the American South. Black characters speak in a poorly rendered vernacular with a peculiar tendency to explicate the points demonstrated by the action of the play. Afer a white store owner cheats black workers, picker Mose laments, ‘Evah year hits de same! We works hahdah ’n gits fudder in debt!’ ‘Maybe we oughtta listen to dat new white fohman,’ replies Mose’s friend Sam moments later, ‘He keep tellin’ us we won’t gonna git nowheahs till we o’ganizes an’ fghts foh our rights.’78 Te play quickly works to a climax in which Sam is falsely accused of rape, and lynched, his murder 73 ‘Wayland Rudd “Makes Good” as Actor in Soviet Country’, Chicago Defender (23 February 1935). 74 Baldwin, Beyond the Color Line, esp. pp. 1–24. 75 It is possible that the replacement of the ‘u’ with an ‘a’ in ‘rasskoi rech’iu’ is simply a typographical error. But given the context it seems more likely that the author was mocking Rudd’s mispronunciations. RGALI 963/1/90. 76 Martin, Te Afrmative Action Empire, pp. 394–431. 77 ‘Complete Soviet Film of “Huckleberry Finn”’, New York Amsterdam News (17 April 1937). 78 Wayland Rudd, An’ David Played His Harp, RGALI 962/1/406.

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Black Cultural Work in 1930s Moscow  139 transformed into martyrdom when the black workers realise that they must organise to protect themselves because the church afords them no sanctuary from white racism. Te play was never approved for performance, despite adherence to the conventions of socialist realism and incorporation of ‘folk’ elements then popular in Soviet art. Rudd’s next efort as a playwright was Andy Jones, a script loosely based on Let Me Live, the autobiography of black communist Angelo Herndon.79 Tough the work was self-evident agit-prop, Rudd had curbed many of the excesses of An’ David Played His Harp. Te awkward attempt to render a folksy southern accent was eliminated and a relaxed pacing allowed the plot to develop more naturally. Combining details from the Herndon case with elements of the international Scottsboro defence campaign, the plot follows Andy as he evolves from a dissatisfed worker to a whistleblower, and, fnally, into an avowed Communist, persecuted for his beliefs but defended by the international working class. Te spectacle of the fnale is worthy of Meyerhold’s imaginative stagings. In quick succession, a writer appeals to the governor to protect Andy from a lynch mob; Paul Robeson headlines a beneft concert; ‘Bojangles’ Robinson dances to drum up a collection; and Andy is freed. Te play was published in English, translated into Russian, and approved for performance. But it was never staged. Te year was 1937 and the drama of Stalin’s Purges took precedence. For better or worse, Rudd found a role in this political theatre when the State turned its attention to Meyerhold for his alleged transgressions. Addressing fellow members of the company, Rudd denounced his director: ‘I saw Meyerhold’s errors. … I may mangle your language, but my eyes see well and my ears hear well. … I love our collective, but there is something higher than theatre. Tere is the world revolution that we aspire to.’80 Applause followed this declaration, giving Rudd a moment to pause before fnishing his denunciation. Having waited fve years for the director to cast him in a meaningful role, Rudd turned on Meyerhold, portraying the failure to utilise his talents as evidence of the director’s lack of commitment to ‘world revolution’. Perhaps Rudd hoped that this attack would curry favour with ofcials and pave the way to future productions of his work. Instead, the Purges paralysed the Soviet intelligentsia and drove foreign artists out of the country. Tere was little opportunity to stage, much less cast, a play like Andy Jones.

79 Te frst draf of the play was entitled ‘Te Walls Come Tumblin’ Down’. Te manuscript can be found in RGALI 962/1/406. Te Russian translation of Andy Jones [Endi Dzhons] can be found in RGALI 652/5/419. See also Rudd, ‘Andy Jones’, International Literature. Herndon was a Communist Party member who was arrested and charged with inciting insurrection under a nineteenth-century law prohibiting slave revolts; he was eventually released following a popular campaign on behalf of his legal campaign. 80 RGALI 963/1/70.

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140  S. Ani Mukherji

Conclusion For two decades, activists had laboured to establish Moscow as an exilic space for the production of anti-racist and anti-colonial politics and culture.81 Universities had been built, libraries accumulated and foreign specialists ­developed. Artists and writers like Smith, Chen and Rudd promoted the image and the reality of the city as a place of cosmopolitan mixing, interracial harmony and black achievement. By the mid-1930s, VOKS, the organisation charged with organising cultural exchanges, was inundated with correspon­ dence from black social workers, educators, writers and artists who wished to witness, if not to participate in, the Soviet experiment. Just at this moment, when the labours of Moscow’s black internationalists looked ready to reap their rewards, cosmopolitan Moscow vanished. Te Comintern efectively ceased to operate following the Seventh World Congress in 1935.82 A year later, VOKS refused the request of W. E. B. Du Bois to make a study of Soviet minorities and, under orders from the secret police, destroyed large parts of its foreign library.83 KUTV closed its doors in 1938, stemming the stream of Asian and African students that had helped animate cosmopolitan Moscow since 1921.84 Tose who had worked to build black Moscow must have felt that they had ‘ploughed the sea’. A small group of devout and stranded black Muscovites remained. Smith stayed through the Second World War, sending home occasional dispatches criticising German racism and applauding the colour-blind Soviet Union. In 1946, he emigrated to Ethiopia and eventually returned to the United States, though he never regained his citizenship. Rudd fnished his studies to become a director in 1940. Troughout the war, he toured the front lines, performing concerts for the Red Army.85 Black and White cast member Lloyd Patterson worked alongside veteran black Communist Williana Burroughs as an announcer for Inoradio, the foreign-language radio station. Both remained stalwart champions of the Soviet Union, despite the dissolution of black Moscow, diminishing material conditions and baseless criticisms from ­superiors at Inoradio that they spoke English with an incomprehensible accent.86 Afer the war, Soviet xenophobia increased and with the onset of the Cold War Americans were especially suspect. African Americans who had travelled to Moscow in the 1930s were subject to anti-communist harassment 81 Mukherji, ‘Te Anticolonial Imagination’. 82 Carr, Te Twilight of the Comintern, 1930–1935. 83 Lewis, W. E. B. Du Bois, pp. 405–6; GARF 5283/1a/321; David-Fox, ‘From Illusory “Society” to Intellectual “Public”’, p. 32. 84 Timofeeva, ‘Kommunisticheskii universitet trudiashchikhsia Vostoka’, pp. 30–42. 85 ‘Rudd Doesn’t Tink Huns Like his Trench-Singing’, Baltimore Afro-American (25 December 1943). 86 RGASPI 495/261/3497.

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Black Cultural Work in 1930s Moscow  141 in the United States and consequently denied or obfuscated their interwar experiences and commitments.87 Tose dreams expressed by hybrid anticolonial modern dances, amalgamationist love letters, scripts for anti-racist plays and decade-old news columns were suddenly forgotten or obscured, both in the United States and in the Soviet Union. What once appeared to Homer Smith as ‘a diferent planet for darker Americans’ was, it seemed, only a passing comet.

87 Hughes, I Wonder as I Wander; Smith, Black Man in Red Russia. Later memoirs were more forthcoming, e.g., Patterson, Te Man Who Cried Genocide; Haywood, Black Bolshevik; Leyda, Footnote to History; Robinson, Black on Red.

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Chapter 8

‘Coulibaly’ Cosmopolitanism in Moscow: Mamadou Somé Coulibaly and the Surikov Academy Paintings, 1960s–1970s Paul R. Davis

We are a hundred students of diferent nationalities (Malians, Burkinabès, Ivoirians, Mauritanians, and Chadians) en route to the capital of the enigmatic Soviet Union. Somé Family Archive, ‘Vers l’inconnu ce 30 Septembre 1961’, Les Labyrinthes du destin1

Having lef Mali in September 1961, the young Mamadou Somé Coulibaly (1938–98) was en route to the Vasily Surikov Moscow State Academy Art Institute, one of Russia’s most prestigious art institutes, in aspiration of becoming an artiste–peintre (Figure 8).2 Te Union Soudanaise–Rassemblement Démocratique Africain (US–RDA), the socialist political party in control of newly independent Mali, sent Somé as one of Mali’s cadre of future leaders 1 Somé’s personal archive consists of student artwork, paintings and personal documents, such as letters and photographs. Members of the Somé family maintain this collection at their respective homes in Bamako and Dakar. 2 A. and A. Somé, Interview, 16 September 2009. Born in Bamako in 1938, Mamadou (also Mahamadou) Somé Coulibaly attended the École de la Poudrière, so named because it was next to the location where the French used to keep the military arma­ments. Somé later graduated as an instructeur adjoint from the École Normale in Banankoro and went on to teach at schools in Balé and Kayes. In 1998, Somé passed away afer working several years as the technical advisor for President Alpha Oumar Konaré’s public monument programme. A few obituaries and other articles in Malian newspapers provide outlines of Somé’s life and career. See Gaoussou Diawara, ‘Mamadou Somé Coulibaly, L’art au service de la Mémoire’, Le Carcan, 39 (5 August 1998), p. 2; Pascal Baba Coulibaly, ‘Requiem pour Mamadou Somé: Adieu l’Artiste!’, Les Echos, Nr. 1024 (31 July 1998), p. 6; Chouaïbou Bonkane, ‘Le jeune peintre malien Somé Mamadou Coulibaly, diplômé de l’Institut de Peinture d’Etat de Moscou’, L’Essor (13 July 1968), pp. 1, 4. Te Surikov Academy is named afer Russian socialist realist painter Vasily Ivanovich Surikov (1848–1916).

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‘Coulibaly’ Cosmopolitanism in Moscow  143

Fig. 8 Mamadou Somé Coulibaly in Red Square, Moscow, late 1960s Collection of the Somé Family (Bamako). Reproduced with the permission of Gaoussou Somé to become an art instructor and with the expectation that his artistic talents would contribute to the post-colonial revalorisation of Malian art and culture.3 For his part, Somé became an executive member of the Jeunesse de l’US– RDA (JUS–RDA) bureau in Moscow, the youth wing of the US–RDA that governed the Malian student body in the Soviet Union. Returning to Bamako in 1972, Somé became the director of the Institut National des Arts (INA), a position he held until 1987.4 As one of the earliest Malians to receive a Western artistic education, Somé’s artistic career and work attest to under­ lying striations of internationalism and cultural heterogeneity coursing through contemporary art from Mali. Moreover, through his ffeen-year tenure as 3 4

ANdM-H, BPN 133e Carton 518. A. and A. Somé, Interview, 16 September 2009. Somé’s brothers stated that he returned nearly every summer for the long school break. Te trips home were paid by his educational bourse (scholarship) from the Malian government.

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144  Paul R. Davis director at INA, the only fne arts institution in Mali until 2004, Somé’s contributions to the landscape of contemporary art in Mali endure.5 Beyond the most basic biographical contours, however, little art historical scholarship has been done on Somé’s artistic career – none, in fact, on his artistic education in the Soviet Union.6 Drawing from research conducted between 2007 and 2009, this chapter emends the art historical record by examining the paintings Somé produced as a student at the Surikov Academy within the framework of his formative experiences in the Soviet Union. Trough his experiences and artwork in the Soviet Union, Somé also contributes a new empirical voice to scholarship on the history of Africans in Russia. A small, consistent African presence in Russia dates to the early eighteenth century with the importation of Africans as black servants.7 Symbols of prestige and status in the homes of Russian nobility, Africans were nevertheless considered an inferior, uncivilised race.8 In combination with increased Soviet isolationism during Stalin’s last years (1949–53), this long history of African presence in Russia suggests antecedents of Soviet xenophobia encountered by the large infux of African students in the 1960s.9 According to Maxim Matusevich, during the Cold War ‘Africans in the Soviet Union were ofen confused by the mind-boggling mixture of the state-sponsored propaganda, the reality of everyday racism, and the selfess generosity and warmth they encountered in many Soviet people.’10 Rather than ‘confused’, the paintings and archival documents presented in this chapter demonstrate Somé’s perceptive responses to the barrage of new and complex experiences he and other African students confronted in the Soviet Union, such as xenophobic encounters with Soviet people and racial tensions created by relationships between African men and Soviet women. While geopolitical developments of the 1960s, particularly the assertion of independence by increasing numbers of African nations within the political

 5 Open in 2004, the new Conservatoire des arts et métiers multimédia (CAMM) is a post-baccalauréat institution for fne arts, theatre, dance and music. Abdoulaye Konaté, the current director (directeur général) and an internationally recognised visual artist, studied under Somé at INA before studying in Havana, Cuba. CAMM’s assistant director (directeur adjoint), Moctari Haïdara, studied at the Surikov Academy (1973–1980) and was a professor of fne arts at INA during Somé’s tenure as director.   6 Brief references to Somé’s artistic career or paintings can be found in Becchetti-Laure, ‘Aperçu de la jeune peintre à Bamako’; Arnoldi, ‘Bamako, Mali’, p. 14; Bonkane, ‘Le jeune peintre malien Somé Mamadou Coulibaly’; Pivin, ‘Une école? = A school?’. Similarly, the paintings, careers and contributions of other independence-era Malian painters, such as Boubacar Tidiani Keita, Moussa Dembélé and Salif Kanté, have been largely overlooked.   7 Blakely, ‘African Imprints on Russia’, pp. 37–43; Fikes and Lemon, ‘African Presence in Former Soviet Spaces’, pp. 508–10.   8 Blakely, ‘African Imprints on Russia,’ p. 43. See also Blakely, Russia and the Negro; Fikes and Lemon, ‘African Presence in Former Soviet Spaces’.   9 Matusevich, ‘Journeys of Hope’, p. 69. 10 Matusevich, ‘Introduction’, p. 5.

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‘Coulibaly’ Cosmopolitanism in Moscow  145 ideologies of the Cold War, precipitated the setting for Somé’s studies in the Soviet Union, this essay foregrounds the cosmopolitanism Somé fashioned to become situated as a black African student and artist in Moscow. Ofen described as ‘citizens of the world’, cosmopolitans possess a penchant for inclusivity and a fexibility that encourages engaging the unfamiliar, even adversarial, and facilitates their integration in foreign environments.11 Despite this ideal embrace of cultural pluralism, cosmopolitanism remains a point of scholarly contention. For example, Craig Calhoun points to the unattainable ethical universalism of the ‘cosmopolitan dream’ by arguing that the ­capricious individuality championed by cosmopolitanism undermines the value of social cohesion through tradition and national solidarity.12 As Kwame Appiah has argued, however, cosmopolitan individuals do not disregard their cultural traditions or national identity as a result of their transcultural activities.13 Employed analytically, cosmopolitanism facilitates examining individual actions and permutations of identity occurring in transcultural exchanges that lead to the formation of new types of solidarities. As a means to understanding this fuidity of cosmopolitanism Ulf Hannerz suggests: One may think of the cosmopolitan as possessing an internally diverse, but basically fnite set of cultural skills drawn from some number of sources; a cultural repertoire developed out of particular experiences, equipping this person to deal with a corresponding set of situations. … Perhaps it entails a kind of optimism about learning, as a general possibility and as a personal capacity; some insight into overarching modes of organising experience and knowledge; some inclination to intellectual and emotional risk-taking; a readiness to fnd pleasure in the new.14

Te cosmopolitanism Somé developed helped to mitigate the antagonism he and other African students encountered in the Soviet Union and, therefore, created the opportunity to analyse and derive value from his experiences. Somé recorded these experiences in Les Labyrinthes du destin, an unfnished, typed manuscript of letters he wrote as a student in the early 1960s to his future wife, Fatoumata Ouattara.15 Presenting episodes of Somé utilising his 11 Hannerz, ‘Two Faces of Cosmopolitanism’, pp. 7, 10; Hannerz’s article summarises the current debates (up to 2007), diverse applications and trajectory of cosmopolitanism in rather large body of academic literature. Calhoun, ‘Te Class Consciousness of Frequent Travellers’, pp. 872–3, refers to it as ‘global citizenship’. For use of cosmopolitanism in relation to artistic production see the anthology Cosmopolitan Modernisms edited by Mercer. 12 Calhoun, Nations Matter, pp. 25, 150–2, and Calhoun, ‘Te Class Consciousness of Frequent Travellers’, pp. 874–80. Hannerz, ‘Two Faces of Cosmopolitanism’, pp. 24–6, raises the issue of the cosmopolitan’s ethnocentric narcissism through the ‘mastery’ of another culture. 13 See Appiah, ‘Cosmopolitan Patriots’. 14 Hannerz, ‘Two Faces of Cosmopolitanism’, pp. 23–4. 15 Pencilled edits, pagination following the chronology of the letters and a title-page suggest that Somé was in the process of preparing Les Labyrinthes du destin as a

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146  Paul R. Davis cosmopolitan repertoire to navigate unsettling intercultural exchanges, Les Labyrinthes du destin suggests ways in which Somé’s experiences grew into subject matter that he visually interrogated in paintings while a student at the Surikov Academy. Demonstrating the tenacity and fexibility of tradition within cosmopolitanism, Somé melded his cultural heritage with the artistic techniques of realism he learned at the Surikov Academy to picture the transcultural spaces African students occupied Moscow during the 1960s.

Background Somé’s departure, and that of several hundred young Malian students, was part of the sweeping fve-year plan (1961–5) put forward by the governing US–RDA political party to ensure the economic and social development of Mali afer achieving independence in 1960. Couched in anti-colonial and anti-imperialist rhetoric, the US–RDA plan identifed the Malian education system, particularly higher education, as a means of creating the next genera­tion of Malian leaders and fnally shedding the psyche of colonialism.16 Previously, the principal educational goals of France’s colonial policies in the Soudan français had been to produce skilled labourers for the beneft of the empire’s economy and minimise the growth of vociferous groups of évolués and war veterans.17 By 1947, barely a few hundred students in the Soudan français had gone to primary school, fewer than a half a dozen had obtained a baccalauréat available in Senegal and France, and almost none had attended university.18 Te paucity of education in Mali at independence was therefore a direct outcome of French colonial strategies in the Soudan français and the pursuit of a chimerical mission civilisatrice.19 Te lack of higher education institutions and a shortage of trained Malian professionals resulting from

manuscript for a novel, possibly in the late 1980s or early 1990s. Dedicated to his wife and children, the manuscript consists of letters and poems, each covering variable lengths of time and dating between 1961 and 1962. Te Somé family has conserved Les Labyrinthes du destin in Bamako. 16 Zolberg, ‘National Goals’, pp. 127–8. See also Modibo Keita’s speech in Bouaké, Ivory Coast (17 August 1962), quoted by Snyder in ‘Te Political Tought of Modibo Keita’, p. 81. 17 Genova, Colonial Ambivalence, p. 111; Conklin, A Mission to Civilize, pp. 159–73; Mann, Native Sons, p. 88 suggests that the French colonial administration also viewed veterans as a resource for colonial control because of their ‘familiarity with French cultures of command enhanced their value to the administration’ and because ‘the colonial system was very militarised’. 18 Zolberg, ‘National Goals’, p. 127; Sabatier, ‘“Elite” Education’, p. 255. 19 ANdM-H, RFD 66: ‘Premier Congrès Soudanais de Technique et Colonisation Africaine’; Conklin, A Mission to Civilize, pp. 75–86; Genova, Colonial Ambiva­lence, 110–15; Yansané, Decolonization in West African States, pp. 19–20.

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‘Coulibaly’ Cosmopolitanism in Moscow  147 colonialism severely weakened the capabilities of the US–RDA to achieve the national goals of the fve-year plan. Required simultaneously to build a national education system and meet the educational needs of Malians, the US–RDA acted to revitalise existing institutions and outsource opportunities for higher education by sending Malian students to foreign universities. Te Malian government nationalised the Maison des Artisans Soudanais as part of this initiative, which suggests a signifcant role of the visual arts in defning a new, post-colonial national culture in Mali. Originally established by the French in 1932, the Maison des Artisans Soudanais was to become a fne art academy that would protect and promote Malian artistic originality.20 Superimposing its colonial Soudanais history by renaming the school Maison des Artisans du Mali at independence, the Malian government later rebranded the school as the Institut National des Arts in 1963 and added an arts plastiques (fne art) division. A principal objective of sending Somé to the Surikov Academy in Moscow was to create a pool of Malian fne art educators to staf the new arts plastiques section at INA and reduce a dependency on foreign instructors.21 Somé was aware of how thoroughly intertwined the purpose of his artistic education in Moscow was with the national objectives and educational needs in Mali. Quoted in an interview from the early 1970s with a Russian magazine, Somé stated, ‘In Mali, we are in real need of painters with diferent specialities. … At the fne arts institute of Mali [INA], where I think of working on my return from Moscow, I will be in charge of education.’22 Te timing of Mali achieving independence during the Cold War further shaped the implications of Somé’s education at the Surikov Academy. In the midst of the Soviet Union’s ‘intense competition with the West for the “soul of the Tird World”’, Mali ended its federation with Senegal and became a sovereign nation.23 Charting a course to distance the new nation from the colonial past and the imperialist threat of the West, the socialist US–RDA reached behind the ‘Iron Curtain’ for economic aid, infrastructural development and promises of equality. Te extended hand of Mali was grasped frmly by the Soviet Union and, less than a year afer independence, Mali signed an accord of cultural and trade cooperation with the Soviet Union.24 Somé boarded the plane heading for the Surikov Academy and the capital of the enigmatic Soviet Union under the circumstances of these international relationships.

20 ANdM-H, RFD 201: ‘Rapport sur le plan quinquennal de développement économique et social de la République du Mali, 1961–1965’, pp. 23–4. 21 Rovine, Bogolan, pp. 64–65. 22 Somé family archive. I thank the late Makan Somé for sending me the fragment of the magazine with the article containing the interview with Mamadou Somé Coulibaly. 23 Matusevich, ‘Journeys of Hope’, p. 70. 24 Diawara, La mémoire du cœur; Mazov, ‘Soviet Policy in West Africa’, pp. 308–10.

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148  Paul R. Davis

Somé and the Surikov Academy Students received a structured and classic art education at the Surikov Academy that stressed the technical artistic skills of fgural representation in sculpture and painting. Tese skills were optimal for reproducing a longstanding tradition of realism in Soviet painting. By the time Somé arrived in 1961, Soviet art institutions had also introduced pedagogical courses training students to teach the visual arts in schools.25 Tis addition was consonant with the intentions of the US–RDA sending Somé to the Soviet Union. Te academy’s technical curriculum emphasised drawing from plaster casts, life and still-life drawing, portrait painting and studies of fgural compositions.26 In their frst year, students decided which faculty they would study for the remaining fve years: painting, sculpture, drawing or decorative applied arts. In addition to classroom drawing and painting exercises, students took part in a less structured practical training that lasted for two months at the end of each year and consisted of trips to collective farms, factories and construction sites.27 When they returned to school, students exhibited the studies and fnished paintings based on these trips, as well as work completed during academic recess. Two extant bodies of Somé’s student artwork exemplifying this technical curriculum at the Surikov Academy impart a signifcant dimension of his artistic process and cosmopolitan presence in the Soviet Union.28 Tey also suggest models for the ways in which Somé later applied the representational methods of realism to his cultural heritage and visual interrogations of the situations of African students in Moscow. Te frst group comprises several undated pencil drawings depicting posed male and female Russian models or focused studies of body parts (Plates 4–5). Although Somé had an aptitude for drawing as a young student in Bamako and Banankoro before leaving for Moscow, the Surikov Academy deemed the mastery of drawing requisite for advancement in the four specialisations, particularly painting.29 Examples of Somé’s drawings demonstrate repetitious 25 Beelke, ‘Art Education in the USSR’, p. 7. 26 Ibid.; Pirogov, ‘Art Education in the USSR’, p. 5. 27 Pirogov, ‘Art Education in the USSR’, pp. 4–6 points out that in addition to trips within the Soviet Union Surikov Academy students visited India, Burma and Indonesia between 1956 and 1958 students as part of their practical training. 28 Somé Family Archive. Te collection of Somé’s student artwork in Bamako is in poor condition and fragmentary. 29 A. and A. Somé, Interview, 16 September 2009. Somé’s younger brothers stated that Somé began drawing in school as a child, and was teaching drawing in the towns of Balé and Kayes. ANdM-H, RFD 814: ‘Le Dessin à l’école indigène: éditions du Bulletin de l’Enseignement de l’Afrique occidentale française, 1915’. Drawing was an integral part of school curriculum in the Afrique occidentale française (AOF) from 1915 and was argued to cultivate an artistic sensibility that facilitated the colonial mission ­civilisatrice. For the central role of drawing in the curriculum of Soviet art institutions, see Pirogov, ‘Art Education in the USSR’, pp. 4–5.

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‘Coulibaly’ Cosmopolitanism in Moscow  149 fgural studies afer models in diferent poses and exercises with foreshortening, proportion, perspective and shadowing. His detailed studies of hands and feet demonstrate his skill for foreshortening, but a visually infamed calf muscle and seemingly broken ankle upstage a convincingly realistic foot. Similarly, Somé’s gaunt male fgure is unnaturally elongated, the legs appearing excessively long and columnar, but the slight bend in the lef knee accurately emphasises the weight of the arching torso supported by the right leg. Te feet, outlined and unfnished, seem plausible but undersized. Te fgure’s disproportionately small head turns slightly to lef, revealing Somé’s rendering of the subject’s profle face, the line of his jaw, and an oversized ear. Tese drawings reveal Somé’s artistic skill for depicting the articulations of the body, but also the practical challenges of perfecting the representation of accurate human proportions central to the pictorial method of socialist realism, the ‘ofcial aesthetic doctrine’ of the Soviet Union.30 Te second group consists of paintings on board and canvas presumably from a practical training trip to Riga, Latvia (Plate 6).31 Dating to 1963, they are the earliest examples that remain to demonstrate Somé’s application of the pictorial realism techniques he was learning at the Surikov Academy. Like the previous drawings, these paintings should be understood as fulflling course requirements, which demanded examples of brush technique, sighting, use of paint and colour, compositional balance and perspective. Somé’s quick studies of the city’s architecture, industry and people achieve most of these prerequisites. In Plate 6, the perspective of the dock wall is imprecise; however, as an essential compositional element, it successfully fulfls the function of guiding the viewer’s eyes along the side of the ship and towards the cranes of in the background. While meeting the requirements for his ‘practical training’ assignment, the industrial subject matter and compositional movement underscore the political dimensions of educational curriculum in the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Coursework and student feldtrips, such as those required by the Surikov Academy, were intended to impress a pro-Soviet attitude in foreign students by exposing them to a ‘sanitized version of Soviet reality’.32 Riga, the capital city of Latvia, was suitable for this purpose.33 Te Soviet Union had forcibly incorporated Latvia during the Second World War. By the late 1950s, the Soviet government had suppressed Latvian resistance 30 Rieser, ‘Aesthetic Teory of Social Realism’, p. 237. See also Rieser, ‘Russian Aesthetics Today’. 31 Somé wrote ‘RIGA’ and ‘RIGA 1963’ on the verso of the studies and paintings in this group. Further research has shown that much of the imagery in this series corresponds to popular historic destinations in Riga, such as the iconic Blackhead House, Riga Castle and St Peters Church. 32 Hessler, ‘Death of an African Student’, p. 42. 33 Riga may also have been a relatively secure place to send a black African student like Somé for his practical training. Because it was a point of entry for African Americans in the 1930s, the population of Riga had a history of encountering people with black skin; see Matusevich, ‘Journeys of Hope’, pp. 58–60.

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150  Paul R. Davis and initiated a process of ‘Russifcation’, which included the immigration of large numbers of Russian labourers and investments in heavy industry.34 As a result, Riga became a valuable and strategic industrial port city representing the progress and reach of Soviet socialism. Imbued with this history, Somé’s paintings of Riga’s dockyards, factories and panoramic cityscapes evoke the ways in which realism in the visual arts functioned as a vehicle to expound the bounties of Soviet socialism. Much as they are paintings depicting the prosperity and industry of the Soviet Union developed through socialism, these paintings document Somé’s public presence as a black African artist in the Soviet Union. Painted on small, transportable boards (approximately 45cm × 61cm), study-paintings were most likely executed en plein air in the historic streets of Riga, vistas overlooking the city, or strategic locations Somé selected to emphasise compositional perspective. His presence painting in the streets and public squares undoubtedly invited inquisitive gazes and encouraged encounters with Soviet people. Indeed, the atypical sight of a black African working on a painting that depicted Soviet people or cityscapes would have intensifed the exotic fascination of Soviet people and encouraged interactions with Somé. Te Riga paintings are therefore emblematic of situations and encounters that necessitated a cosmopolitan outlook in the Soviet Union. By 1963, Somé had been in the Soviet Union for about two years and his descriptions of experiences from this period in Les Labyrinthes du destin suggest his cosmopolitanism had blossomed into a dexterous repertoire with the capacity to negotiate even the most xenophobic of these encounters.

Cosmopolitanism and Painting Te maturation of Somé’s cosmopolitanism is evident in his collection of unpublished letters, Les Labyrinthes du destin. Te earliest letters describe a mixture of Somé’s zeal and anxious uncertainty for things new and diferent, which began as he exited the plane to the unforgiving cold of Moscow. In the following passage Somé recounts an impressionable episode afer arriving in central Moscow for the frst time. Afer an hour, the bus stopped in front of an impressive seven-storey building. We got out of the vehicle and went into the building. God! What a dizzying sight for our savage eyes. Everywhere, merchandise. Imagine it, seven foors of stores full of all types of products. … I assure you my dear that I am tempted to say that all of Bamako could be contained in the building.35

34 Riekstiņš, ‘Colonization and Russifcation of Latvia 1940–1989’, p. 231; Strods, ‘Sovietization of Latvia 1944–1991’, pp. 210, 222. 35 Somé Family Archive, ‘Moscou, le 30 Novembre, 1961’, Les Labyrinthes du destin.

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‘Coulibaly’ Cosmopolitanism in Moscow  151 Te astonishment Somé expresses in describing his new environment to his future wife, Fatoumata Ouatarra, is unquestionably sincere, but his use of ‘savage eyes’ feels intentionally ironic. In early letters from Les Labyrinthes du destin, Somé periodically uses humour and humility, at times in reference to African students with whom he was travelling, to defect awkward and xenophobic incidents in order to welcome intercultural exchanges. For example, in the following passage Somé retells two racially charged encounters. We approached a group of small children, who were sitting struggling to sculpt a small statue in the snow. When they saw us, they let out such a mournful cry in unison that it petrifed us, as if instantly transformed into snowmen. Tey pointed at us crying, ‘Oujass, tiornis, Negroes! Horror, blacks, blacks, Negroes,’ and they ran away to hide in the skirt of a large woman – a real colossus who ensured their protection. She, more ignorant than the children, who at least had the excuse of their young age, rushed with the children into an ofce and closed the door. Te memory of this scene lingered for a long time and we told it to each other ofen for a laugh. But, in time, other more unusual adventures made us forget everything except the incident at the large fower stand. One day when I was sitting in a public garden, a woman and her small son approached me. Te lady courteously greeted [me] and said frankly, ‘I beg your pardon foreign comrade; I have a favour to ask you. You see it’s the frst time we’ve ever got close to being like you. We’ve never seen Negroes, sorry, blacks. Tey always tell us that they’re in Africa where they live naked on tree branches, eating only leaves, roots, and fruit. Tey even tell us that they put clothes on you here when you got of the plane. As soon as we saw you, my little [boy] was scared blue. And I honestly confess that even me, I had to force myself to come near you. Excuse our naivety, even stupidity, but can you clarify some things for us? Why do you have such frizzy hair? Why are you so burnt? Would you permit me to touch you? My son wants to know if the black of your skin comes of easily.’36

Tese ‘unusual adventures’ undoubtedly vexed Somé, but he appears to have reacted afably to this last encounter. In his still unseasoned Russian, Somé invited the boy to sit on his knees. Somé describes how the boy looked at him for a long time then ran his fngers across Somé’s face, licking his fngers afer­ wards to make certain Somé’s skin was not chocolate. According to Somé, the woman ultimately refused to touch his hair because she feared it was too prickly. Somé’s response to the fascination with the diference of his African physical features is evidence of his openness to emotional risk and inclination to engage with diference, qualities Hannerz uses to defne the repertoire of attributes constituting cosmopolitanism. Within a year of his arrival, Somé’s writings begin to refect a confdence and increasing mastery in negotiating unknown and occasionally hostile territory. Somé’s cosmopolitanism facilitated transitioning diferences of race and culture that frequently limited African students’ ability to feel integrated 36 Ibid.

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152  Paul R. Davis in the Soviet Union. By 1962, Somé’s writings in Les Labyrinthes du destin convey a solid grasp of the Russian language and a sense of belonging: ‘We started classes some time ago and I assure you that I am already a true comrade. I not only speak Russian rather fuently, but I am capable of following any discussion. It’s truly fantastic.’37 Empowering him to engage in racially charged situations that many African students ofen encountered with difculty, Somé’s cosmopolitanism provides a framework to examine his paintings as responses to the transcultural spaces African students occupied in the Soviet Union. For example, the painting Le repos (‘Repose’, 1971) suggests how Somé’s cosmopolitanism facilitated using his experiences and cultural heritage to address contentious issues in the Soviet Union, such as interracial relationships and violence against African students (Plate 7). One of many similar paintings Somé produced while a student at the Surikov Academy, Le repos depicts a white female nude reclining on a blue mattress partially covered by a turquoise and white patterned fabric. Her back faces the viewer; her lef hand somewhat implausibly supports her head. Te fgure’s pose most likely derives from sketches of live classroom models and studies of well-known paintings in the Western canon depicting female nudes, such as Diego Velázquez’s Te Toilet of Venus (‘Te Rokeby Venus’, 1647–51).38 A poster and an unfnished painting in the Somé family collection, however, indicate additional sources of imagery for Le repos. Visible in a black and white photograph fxed to Somé’s studio wall behind his head, the poster depicts a reclining nude white female facing the viewer on a leopard chaise longue and against a leopard printed background, which is the reverse of the fgure’s pose in Le repos.39 An unfnished painting in the collection of the Somé family confrms the connection between Le repos and this poster.40 Although the face and other important details remain unfnished in this painting, the nude fgure reclines on a similar blue mattress against the same high contrast green background with yellow polka dots of Le repos. As in the poster on his studio wall, however, Somé depicted the fgure facing the viewer with the legs in the same relaxed position. In the unfnished painting, the fgure’s forearm and a pillow support the weight of her torso, revealing the contour of her lef breast as she bends to engage the viewer with a face void of features. Te similarities linking this unfnished painting and the poster 37 Somé Family Archive, ‘Ma petite “étoile du soir”, Moscou le 15 Février 1962.’ 38 ANdM-H, BPN 133e Carton 518. In Kalan (‘Study’ in Bamanankan), a newsletter published by the JUS–RDA in Moscow, an article praises Somé’s artistic talent and compares his painting Jeune flle assise (‘Young Girl Seated’) to Francisco Goya’s La maja desnuda (1797–1800) and Édouard Manet’s L’Olympia (1863). 39 Somé Family Archive. I am grateful to the Somé family for sharing their collection of several black and white photographs of Somé. 40 Somé Family Archive. Te unfnished painting is part of the collection of paintings maintained by the Somé family. In 2009, the painting had been removed from its stretchers and was in poor condition.

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‘Coulibaly’ Cosmopolitanism in Moscow  153 to Le repos demonstrate Somé’s fusion of canonical depictions of female nudes in Western art history and popular culture. While Le repos illustrates Somé’s artistic process of integrating multiple Western cultural referents, the painting’s high contrast colours and patterning suggest another, signifcant artistic strategy. A majority of Somé’s paintings depicting female nudes juxtapose a highly patterned background with bold, contrasting colours to emphasise the fgure. His persistent use of such formal elements suggests an aesthetic and artistic strategy rooted in Somé’s Mande cultural heritage.41 For example, complex patterning and contrasting bold formal elements are visual qualities routinely used in popular contemporary fabrics in Mali, studio photography from the 1960s by Seydou Keïta and Malick Sidibé, and the design of sculptural forms, such as masks and architecture. Identifying characteristics of Mande aesthetic systems in photography, Candace Keller argues that potent photographic images ‘must be clearly readable, yet incorporate a sufcient amount of obscurity in terms of patterning as well as other decorative and formal strategies to give it life, motion and energy’.42 In Le repos, Somé employs the yellow polka-dotted background and fabric patterning, translated from the leopard print background in the poster on his studio wall, visually to stress the form and tone of the reclining fgure. By combining the characteristic high contrast of Mande aesthetics with traditional Western depictions of female nudes, Somé overstates the white skin and female body in Le repos, visually emphasising a major source of racial and cultural tensions between African students and Soviet people. While studying in the Soviet Union, many African students became romantic­a lly involved with Soviet women, who were attracted to the exotic foreign­ness of African students and the ‘rare chance to escape the Iron curtain’.43 Sexual relationships between African men and Soviet women resulting in mixed-race ofspring and ‘nuptials of convenience’ transgressed cultural and racial delineations separating African students in Soviet ­society.44 In several instances, this infringement had very dire consequences. A well-known example is the untimely death of Edmund Assare-Addo, a young Ghanaian studying at the Kalinin Medical Institute whose body was found of a road near Khorvino in 1963.45 Te autopsy conducted by Soviet 41 Mande refers a large cultural-linguistic group comprising several ethnicities. Te Mande ‘heartland’ is in southern Mali, but extends into Burkina Faso and several other West African countries. See McNaughton, Te Mande Blacksmiths. 42 Keller, ‘Visual Griots’, p. 353. Further comparisons can also be made with the recent photographs from Malick Sidibé’s Vue de dos (Back View) series, which he began in the early 1960s; see Keller, ‘Visual Griots’, p. 364 and fgures 422 and 424. 43 Quist-Adade, ‘Te African Russians’, p. 154; Matusevich, ‘Introduction’, p. 5. 44 Quist-Adade, ‘Te African Russians’, pp. 153–5; Hessler, ‘Death of an African Student’, pp. 36–8. 45 Hessler, ‘Death of an African Student’, pp. 36–41. Hessler connects the controversy over Addo’s death, along with the subsequent protest of several hundred African

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154  Paul R. Davis authorities and witnessed by two Ghanaian students concluded that Addo died from exposure to the elements while intoxicated. Disputing the ofcial Soviet report, Addo’s friends and other African students were convinced that someone had murdered Addo to prevent him from marrying his Soviet girlfriend. Several analogous descriptions of racial confict and related protests abound in newspaper reports and student association newsletters from the period.46 Somé broaches these issues in a letter from Les Labyrinthes du destin, seemingly predicting such tragic consequences as Addo’s mysterious death resulting from liaisons between African students and Soviet women. Cajoled and pampered, we beneft from extraordinarily generous attention at every level. And the people, who receive us with open arms, never fail to show us the warmth of their hospitality even if we are sometimes disconcerted by their great innocence and childish naivety. Additionally, foreigners are ofen confronted with frequent manifestations of bad temper of certain youth whose self-esteem is challenged by the outrageous opulence in which the ‘guests’ live in comparison to their dreadful living conditions. It must be acknowledged that we foreigners, insolent and arrogant, love to faunt these diferent conditions in public and, in an ostentatious manner, do violence to the pride of our hosts each time that they are in ‘good company’. Showing of with money may pass, but using it to compete and insolently take their girlfriends is a bitter pill for them to swallow. Tat is what explains the majority of clashes between the foreign students and their Russian comrades and what is unfairly described as xenophobia. Do not go thinking that racism does not exist in Russia. It shows itself violently enough at times. But it must be admitted that we ofen create the chemistry.47

Somé’s account of relations between African students and Soviets is very even-handed, particularly when paired with his recollections of encounters with Soviet people in Les Labyrinthes du destin. Somé’s evident awareness of the intricacies impinging on relations in Moscow reveals the contentious racial issues sufusing the straightforward subject matter in Le repos. Te reclining female fgure in the painting is more than the outcome of classic a­ rtistic pedagogy; she embodies the point of rupture between African ­students and their Soviet hosts. Te respective governments responded diferently to the social discord and violent outbreaks between African students and their Soviet hosts. Te Soviet

s­ tudents in Moscow’s Red Square and other racially charged incidents, to the ballooning numbers of African students in Moscow during the 1960s and the development of intimate relationships between black African males and white Soviet women. See also Matusevich, ‘Journeys of Hope’, p. 71 and ‘Black in the USSR’, p. 68; ‘500 Africans Fight Police in Moscow Race Protest’, New York Times (19 December 1963). 46 Hessler, ‘Death of an African Student’, pp. 45–50; Matusevich, ‘Journeys of Hope’, p. 72; Shabad, ‘Africans in the Soviet Union’; Topping, ‘Russians Are Irritating Africans’; ‘Africans in USSR Gripe at Race Bias’; ‘Racism in Moscow’. 47 Somé Family Archive, ‘Moscou, le 30 Octobre 1962’, Les Labyrinthes du destin.

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‘Coulibaly’ Cosmopolitanism in Moscow  155 government only tersely acknowledged the existence of this social friction. Evidence of racial prejudice damaged their prospects of winning the Cold War battle for the ‘soul of the Tird World’ and blighted the image of the Soviet society as colour-blind union. When necessary, the Soviet government implied that individual hooligans, who were not representative of the communist ethos, were the culprits of racist acts against African and other foreign students.48 Establishing an ofcial policy forbidding the marriage of Malian stagiaires while studying abroad, the Malian government similarly attempted to blunt the tension created by the interracial relationships between African men and Soviet women.49 Moreover, the Malian government intervened by communicating such policies to the ofcers of the Bureau Exécutif of the JUS–RDA, the youth wing of the US–RDA. Letters from Malian students studying abroad, however, confrm these policies did little to stem development of intimate relationships between African students and their Soviet counterparts.50 Even so, the involvement of the Bureau Exécutif JUS–RDA by the Malian government placed Somé at the centre of these afairs in Moscow and further suggests reverberations of the racial tension in the Soviet Union in the mundane subject matter of Le repos. By 1965, Somé was the Secrétaire aux Afaires Culturelles et Sociales of the Bureau Exécutif JUS–RDA sous-section in the Soviet Union.51 In addition to planning cultural and artistic events, Somé was responsible for following the social issues of Malian students, suggesting resolutions for problems to the Bureau Exécutif, and ‘maintaining friendly relationships with Soviet women’s organisations in order to promote knowledge of the new Mali and its youth’.52 Owing to his position in the JUS–RDA, Somé was a pivotal individual in creating and maintaining relationships between African students and Soviet people. As illustrated in Les Labyrinthes du destin, his inclination to engage with Soviet people facilitated networking across racial barriers and establishing meaningful relationships in the Soviet Union while understanding the nature of the forces shaping them. Photographs in the Somé family collection repeatedly show Somé in the company of male and female Soviet students intensely directing conversation in his studio, enjoying a meal around a dining room table or singing around a piano. Tese relationships and Somé’s role in

48 Hessler, ‘Death of an African Student’, p. 36. 49 ANdM-H, BPN 30e Carton 65. Stagiaires were aforded additional stipends for wives and children. For this reason, ofcial prohibition of stagiaires marrying while abroad was not necessarily motivated by interracial relationships as it was also in the best fnancial interests of the US–RDA government. 50 ANdM-H, BPN 133e Carton 516; ANdM-H, BPN 30e Carton 65. 51 ANdM-H, BPN 133e Carton 518. 52 ANdM-H, BPN 133e Carton 518. How much the latter responsibility facilitated fnding Soviet female models for paintings outside the classroom is unclear, but the responsibility to encourage relationships with Soviet women’s organisations certainly provided such opportunities.

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156  Paul R. Davis

Fig. 9 Mamadou Somé Coulibaly in his studio holding two paintings Collection of the Somé Family (Bamako). Reproduced with the permission of Gaoussou Somé

mediating and resolving the dilemmas of Malian students provided a unique vantage to explore the transcultural space African students occupied in the Soviet Union in his paintings. Photographed in front of several paintings executed for his 1968 thesis exhibition, Somé holds two paintings that demonstrate a more visceral and unfltered artistic reaction to the situation of African students in Moscow (Figure 9). In the photo, both paintings depict bodiless legs wearing stilettoheeled boots and standing in front of similarly obscure but suggestive shapes. Te fgures in the paintings only difer in their faces or masks, which are framed by the legs. Te painting in his right hand portrays a nondescript ‘African’ mask with a dishevelled mane coolly smoking a cigarette. In the other painting, the mouth of the face or mask gapes open. Te crease in the cheek and the eyes rolling completely back convey a horrifc and foreboding shriek. Depicted together in the photograph the fgures in the paintings evoke

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‘Coulibaly’ Cosmopolitanism in Moscow  157 a post-coital couple; however, they are part of a larger group of work dating to the late 1960s in which Somé combined diverse imagery to create surreal portraits of bizarrely exotic fgures.53 Source d’inspiration (1968), a student flm by Malian director Souleymane Cissé, repeatedly returns to footage of Somé executing paintings similar to those in the photograph between footage visually remonstrating against colonial violence and racial inequality.54 In the flm, Somé’s artistic process counterbalances Cissé’s appropriation of grisly news footage from iconic marches and protests of the 1960s, such as Patrice Lumumba passionately addressing an audience, Martin Luther King Jr’s Civil Rights march in Selma, Alabama, and protests against the racist policies in former Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) under Prime Minister Ian Smith. Cissé also included footage of Africans wearing ushankas, the stereotypical Russian hat made of rabbit fur, and marching in what could only be protests in Moscow.55 Against the background of violent images and a soundtrack of quickening African drumbeats, Somé’s sophisticated and collected artistic identity is decidedly the cinematic foil personifying the humanity and artistic vitality of Africa. Te flm depicts Somé wearing a sports jacket and white turtleneck shirt while applying paint to canvas at his easel. Te end of the flm reveals Somé’s painting of a composite fgure with white legs, one black arm and a stylised West African water bufalo mask standing over a convex surface and eggs. Akin to the fgures in the two paintings Somé holds in the photograph, the multivalent symbolism in these paintings visually references the contemporaneous socio-political anxiety over the miscegenation of African and Western cultures. Compared with the Pan-Africanist scope and violent footage of Cissé’s flm, Somé’s personal refections on race relations in Les Labyrinthes du destin seem diplomatically acquiescent to the reality of race relations in the Soviet Union, possibly refecting his role in the JUS–RDA. Tese three paintings, however, appear more outspoken and agitated. Tey marry severed legs and disembodied masks/faces, which occupy the space of genitalia. Teir hybrid fgures evince the violent moments when transcultural identities rupture the rigid expectations of cultural purity and authenticity. ‘Tird World’ African students in Moscow personifed such radical moments, as they spoke Russian, wore suits, fraternised with Soviet women and faunted having more money 53 I thank the Somé family, particularly the late Makan Somé, for supplying images and documents that facilitated this conclusion. Unfortunately, the current locations and actual dates of paintings in this group, including the two in the photograph, are unknown. 54 I thank Jeanick Le Naour at the Cinémathèque Afrique in Paris for providing the oppor­tunity to view Cissé’s flm Source d’Inspiration (1968). Souleymane Cissé studied flm at the Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography [VGIK] in Moscow (1963–9) and was a very close friend of Somé. Source d’Inspiration was produced by VGIK. 55 Notes from Source d’Inspiration, viewed on 12 November 2009. Te footage Cissé used is likely from the large protest in Moscow’s Red Square following the events of Addo’s death.

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158  Paul R. Davis than their Soviet male counterparts.56 As Secrétaire aux Afaires Culturelles et Sociales from 1965, Somé was responsible for mending the social wounds when African students shattered Soviet stereotypical and prejudicial moulds of ‘black Africa’. For this reason, the composite fgures in these paintings recall Somé’s cautious position on interracial relationships in Les Labyrinthes du destin and seem to exhort African students to be wary of fagrantly transgressing cultural and racial boundaries. Le repos and the two photographed paintings express the contentious trans­cultural spaces African students occupied in the Soviet Union and reveal the complexity of Somé’s artistic engagement while a student in Moscow. Complementing the focus of these paintings on the violence and xenophobia afecting African students studying abroad are paintings picturing the ethos of his West African heritage. Outwardly nostalgic in their subject matter, Somé’s still lifes of African sculpture and his group portraits afrm his artistic capacity to absorb and organise a farrago of cultural references to produce efective works of art. La jalousie (Jealousy, 1968) (Plate 8) is one of three known large-format ‘diploma paintings’ Somé executed for his thesis exhibition at the Surikov Academy, which marked the end of his frst period of study in Moscow.57 Now in the collection of the Banque Centrale des États de l’Afrique de l’Ouest (BCEAO) in Bamako, these three paintings draw on the pictorial tradition of realism in the Soviet Union. In La jalousie, Somé transposes the style and function of realism to a West African setting – a delicate intermission in the bustling courtyards of homes. In Mali, the courtyard is traditionally the vibrant hub of familial and social activity: the elderly sit in chairs under the shade of an awning or mango tree, wives converse while overseeing meals cooking, daughters rhythmically pound grain, and guests are greeted with customarily long pleasantries.58 Somé understates the abundance of courtyard action, however, by focusing on a single scene for the painting’s subject matter and arranging the composition around the nearly life-size fgures. In doing so, the painting captures a poignant and transitory moment easily overlooked in the dynamism of courtyard activities. A mother and father doting over a newborn dominate the composition of the painting while another infant, a sibling, sits apprehensively in the background near a cinder block screen. Te mother turns her back to the older child and the father concentrates completely on propping the newborn’s head. Te very literal signifcance of the title is clear as we become aware of the child’s solitude in the background. Te technical means by which this is achieved make La jalousie an excellent example of how Somé integrates 56 Matusevich, ‘Black in the USSR’, pp. 68–70. 57 Beelke, ‘Art Education in the USSR’, p. 7. 58 Meillassoux, Urbanization of an African Community, pp. 15–16. Meillassoux provides a contemporaneous description (1960s) of the function of courtyards and streets in urban Bamako.

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‘Coulibaly’ Cosmopolitanism in Moscow  159 classic principles of composition in Western painting, which he mastered at the Surikov Academy, with aesthetic strategies of his own cultural heritage. Recalling how he emphasised the fgure and white skin in Le repos, Somé uses compositional elements and high contrast to stress the child’s isolation and zealous gaze in La jalousie. Te legs of the chair reinforce the attraction of the eye to the father’s red hat and his tense concentration. Te complementary red contrasts with the mother’s green head wrap as she leans forward overseeing her husband’s work. Together, the couple frame the centre of action in the painting. Te striped patterning of her wrap mimics that of the older child and facilitates the transition from foreground to background, replicating the path of the child’s anxious gaze. In La jalousie, Somé has carefully composed his formal approach to create a scene in which the viewer is the only witness to that envious gaze. Te theme of jealousy thus emphasised in the painting is one specifcally derived from Somé’s West African heritage. Among the traditions in which Somé grew up in Mali, jealousy is interpreted as a psychological manifestation of fadenya, a Bamana concept associated with patrilineal decent that embraces obstreperous individuality, familial and generational competition and envious admiration of the possessions or abilities of others.59 Within the social matrix of fadenya, these are healthy and constructive agents for social reproduction.60 Somé utilises formal painting techniques learned at the Surikov Academy to stress these qualities of fadenya in La jalousie. In the lef background of the painting, the protagonist of the painting’s theme literally competes for recognition against the dominant fgures of the mother and father, but the cinder block screen ensures his belonging. Te child’s isolation in the painting generates an awareness of his developing individuality, which Somé augments with personal possessions – the orange blanket and Islamic prayer beads. Embedding these nuances in a familiar visual language of realism, Somé’s painting efectively communicates African cultural values to a Soviet audience. In its tender representation of an African familial scene, the painting visually rescinds Soviet stereotypes of nude Africans living in trees and eating fruits. In doing so, La Jalousie and Somé’s two other large diploma paintings, which similarly picture familial scenes, function as strident counters to the awkward and otherwise racist exchanges between Soviets and African

59 Bamana (also Bambara) is one of the groups of people comprising the larger, culturallinguistic association of Mande people. Fadenya is a Bamana term combining the words for father (fa), child (den), and the sufx ‘-ship’, ‘-hood’, or ‘-ness’ (ya). Fadenya is the opposite of and complement to badenya (‘mother’-‘child’-‘ness’), which refers to children of the same mother and encompasses concepts of togetherness, unity and accommo­dation. For visual and social functions of the duality of fadenya and badenya, see Keller, ‘Visual Griots’, pp. 205–48; McNaughton, Te Mande Blacksmiths, pp. 63–72; Stefanson, ‘Violence in Souleymane Cissé’s Films’, pp. 189–205. 60 Keller, ‘Visual Griots’, pp. 205–6; McNaughton, Te Mande Blacksmiths, pp. 16–17.

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160  Paul R. Davis students. For African students, the paintings in Somé’s 1968 thesis exhibition also must have evoked conficting feelings of homesickness, pride and inspiration. An article in L’Essor, Mali’s national newspaper, attributes these signifcances to Somé’s paintings. Written in 1968 to celebrate the completion of his studies at the Surikov Academy, the article argues that Somé’s paintings contributed to destroying monumental lies about Africa erected by the colonisers and that they ‘have shown to everyone that Africans are people like others, similarly preoccupied with life’.61 While connecting Somé’s work to the larger, pan-African fght against colonialism, the article suggests that Somé’s paintings also opened the eyes of Soviets to the humanity of Africans. Te cosmopolitan identity Somé fashioned to engage in an antagonistic Soviet society and his artistic capacity to integrate these experiences into his artwork brought about this achievement.

Conclusion Life is an unfathomable labyrinth, for which the secret is in the hands of the ‘All Powerful’. In order to reach it [you] must possess humility, patience, clarity, kindness, and know yourself well.62

Somé dedicated Les Labyrinthes du destin to his wife and children with these words, which suggest the depth of his appreciation for self-knowledge and understanding. Experiencing astonishing, unfamiliar things in the Soviet Union or interacting with people who wondered why his skin was burnt, Somé repeatedly enacted these qualities. African students in the Soviet Union during the 1960s ofen described their experiences negatively, expressing the difculty of integrating into a xenophobic Soviet society and their arduous living conditions.63 Somé’s recollections in Les Labyrinthes du destin similarly attest to the difcult process of integrating into another cultural system. Despite the very difcult situations he and other African students confronted, Somé relished the challenges presented by the Soviet Union. While a student at the Surikov Academy, Somé rooted his artistic expression in these challenging experiences, using his increasingly cosmopolitan self-knowledge to formulate imagery that examined the transcultural spaces inhabited by African students in the Soviet Union. Te paintings examined in this essay demonstrate Somé’s artistic capacity to accommodate distinct visual art traditions in his responses to contemporaneous subjects. Afer completing his studies in the Soviet Union, Somé defnitively returned to Bamako in 1972. Although he continued painting, his artwork from this

61 Bonkane, ‘Le jeune peintre malien Somé Mamadou Coulibaly’, pp. 1, 4. 62 Somé Family Archive, Les Labyrinthes du destin. 63 Matusevich, ‘Journeys of Hope,’ p. 73.

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‘Coulibaly’ Cosmopolitanism in Moscow  161 later period refects a creative desire limited by the time required of his career as director of the INA. Nevertheless, Somé’s artistic formation in the Soviet Union and his ffeen-year career as the director at INA infuenced genera­ tions of visual artists in Mali. In foregrounding Somé’s cosmopolitanism and his previously overlooked formation in Moscow, this chapter contributes to understanding the international breadth of contemporary art in Mali.

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Chapter 9

Afro-Italian Literature: From Productive Collaborations to Individual Afrmations Christopher Hogarth

Tis chapter considers literary production by Africans in Italy. While the work of contemporary francophone African writers in France has been dealt with in great detail by Odile Cazenave in her 2006 work Afrique sur Seine, the work of Africans in Italy has most ofen been placed in the same category as the general phenomenon of letteratura della migrazione.1 Here, I wish to follow the lead of Sabrina Brancato and focus specifcally upon the work of writers from Africa in the Italian language.2 Tat said, Africa is no more united socially or linguistically than Europe, and, as I will show in this chapter, there are a variety of groups of ‘Africans’ operative in literature in the Italian language, and published in Italy today. Tis chapter represents an attempt to outline who these are and the challenges they have faced in publishing literary works over the last forty years, during which time they have been arriving in increasing numbers to Italy. While Italy’s colonial past in East Africa has meant that some Afro-Italians have lived in Italy since the immediate postSecond World War period, a wave of new migration into lo stivale (the boot, as this country is ofen nicknamed) followed crushing post-colonial poverty and ofen political persecution in North, West, East and Central Africa. Many of these migrants have had to learn Italian from scratch upon arrival, yet have received opportunities to publish works on their experiences as immigrants and, increasingly, more fctional works based on the literary styles and traditions of their ‘home’ countries. Tus a group of ‘transnational’ Africans has emerged alongside the Italo-African ‘diaspora’ populations, whose sons and daughters have also made increasingly important contributions to the Italian 1 2

See Gnisci’s Nouvo planetario italiano or Parati’s Migration Italy. Brancato, ‘From Routes to Roots’, p. 653.

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Afro-Italian Literature  163 literary scene. What follows is a study of the literary and related work of writers who could be said to belong to both these groups, with a focus on how they are currently interacting to open up fascinating new spaces in Italian literary discourse. Among the issues pertaining to new African writers in Italy, especially those from francophone countries in West Africa, questions surrounding authorship and collaboration have remained salient throughout the late twentieth century and into the twenty-frst. Te challenges facing these writers, as well as how some of these issues have been resolved, will thus make up part of the focus of this chapter. I will also contrast these writers to other Afro-Italian writers, who have never had an easy time fnding publishers and ofen fnd their works grouped alongside writings by new migrant writers in Italy for marketing purposes. Te very idea of a West African writing in Italian may seem surprising at frst glance, especially since Italy is normally regarded as a country that produces, rather than attracts, migrants. However, whereas before 1969 fewer than 150,000 non-Italians lived in the country, by 1 January 2001 there were 1,112,173 legal immigrants in Italy, a fgure set to grow by 50,000 a year.3 Italy is now, alongside Spain, the European country with the highest number of ­migrants from Africa, and most of them have entered the country illegally and become ‘regularised’ only later.4 Te reasons for this sudden transformation of Italy from a country of emigrants to a country attracting immigrants are manifold. Many chose to travel to Italy faute de mieux, when Britain, Germany and France closed their borders following the 1974 oil shock.5 Saidou Moussa Ba and P. A. Micheletti (in their 1991 literary collaboration La promessa di Hamadi [Hamadi’s Promise]) emphasise the attraction of Italy’s relative ‘open-door policy’ in the light of the 1985 Schengen Agreement: [T]he most industrialised part of Europe appears to people from the developing world these days as a fortress seeking to protect its own standards of living … [F]lows of immigrants have headed towards the Southern countries of the European Community, which hold less promise in terms of employment prospects but are more accessible. … Southern Europe has thus become a refection of the South of the world.6

Italy also holds positive attractions for certain immigrants. Giovanna Zincone points to the draw of the informal economy rooted in ‘the expansion of private care and domestic services as well as the proliferation of small enterprises where unregistered labour can be hidden more easily’ to explain 3 4 5 6

Zincone, ‘L’immigrazione in Italia’. Di Maio, ‘Black Italia’, p. 127. Zincone, ‘L’immigrazione in Italia’; Sowell, Migrations and Cultures, p. 148. Ba and Micheletti, La promessa di Hamadi, p. 174. All translations from Afro-Italian literary texts are my own, since none of these works has yet been translated into English.

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164  Christopher Hogarth Italy’s relatively large numbers of illegal immigrants.7 Tis is an atmosphere in which many Africans have decided to try their luck as street vendors, who are perhaps the most visible of Africans in Italy. On the basis of a survey of the press, Graziella Parati has characterised them as ‘highly despised by Italians’.8 But hostility to them has not easily found a language of its own; a more characteristic feature of the situation is that it has taken Italians a long time to even recognise the presence of Africans among them (by contrast, for example, with Rom gypsies and Albanians, who have been subject to targeted discrimination for much longer periods). Alessandra di Maio provides an eloquent summary of the confusion of many Italians in the face of the burgeoning African presence in their country: As an emigrating nation, Italy had neither laws nor social policies nor yet a language in which to address its new immigrant reality. Everything had to be invented. … From an initial alleged invisibility, [the immigrants’] presence has become progressively more apparent in major urban centres as well as in the countryside, in the north and in the south, in schools, factories, the media, sports, politics, and the arts … Te Italian language has undergone concomitant changes in view of the need to invent a new vocabulary. Te media have promoted new terms and defnitions, not infrequently revealing racialist overtones. Neologisms have fourished in newspapers and on TV, and are now used in everyday conversation.9

One of the earliest of the neologisms she refers to was ‘extracomunitari’. Tis formally refers to anyone from outside the European Community, but in practice it implies that these foreigners are somehow external to any community, whether Italian or European Union, and it is commonly applied to anybody not very obviously white. Another fuzzy label that is used to describe many Africans has been Marocchino, which di Maio describes as ‘not only somebody from Morocco, but every immigrant with a darker complexion’.10 More recently, Italians have begun to diferentiate between North African and Sub-Saharan Africans, if only by means of using the perhaps more absurd neologism of Marocchini neri (black Moroccans). Italian law, too, reveals blind spots of language if not necessarily of practice. Te 1990 Martelli Law granted temporary resident status to thousands of illegal immigrants provided they could prove they had entered the country before December 1989.11 Te law was motivated primarily by the publicity surrounding the murder of Jerry Masslo, a South African who had fed the apartheid regime only to be beaten to death on the streets of Italy by a gang. It was followed by the Turco-Napolitano Law in 1998, which attempted to 7 Zincone, ‘L’immigrazione in Italia’. 8 Parati, Mediterranean Crossroads, p. 20. 9 Di Maio, ‘Black Italia’, p. 124. 10 Ibid. 11 Te excitement surrounding the passing of this law and the sudden resultant ‘visibility’ of African immigrants is recounted in some detail in La promessa di Hamadi.

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Afro-Italian Literature  165 address in a more systematic manner the question of foreign workers in Italy. What di Maio calls ‘a turning point’ in legislation afecting immigrants was the 2002 Bossi-Fini Law, which made fngerprinting compulsory for every non-Italian residing in Italy. Tese laws are directed at an undiferentiated category of ‘foreigners’, however; as di Maio puts it, ‘Tere are no immigration laws in Italy, strictly speaking.’12 It has been suggested that where Africans are concerned this blind spot is a consequence of a kind of unspoken fellow-feeling. Brancato comments on the underlying conditions for some unlikely Italo-African partnerships: Italy is ofen seen, both from a northern and southern perspective, as culturally and even racially closer to Africa than other European countries.… In Italy, moreover, the marginal space to which African immigrants are relegated ofen coincides with the marginality of underprivileged locals, especially southern Italians; on improvised street markets full of coloured stalls, it is not uncommon to see Moroccan, Senegalese, and Neapolitans selling their illegal merchandise side by side.13

Her suggestion that all three groups are marginalised in Italian society, though one group is ofcially ‘Italian’, refects a well-known reality in lo stivale. Indeed, Africans’ choice of Italy as a destination might also be due to the fact that Italy, a country that has paradoxically remained divided since its 1861 unifcation, is full of ‘others’. Frequently labelled as ‘Africans’ and lambasted as non-Italian in popular circles and in the political sphere by the secessionist Northern League, the Meridionali, natives of the Italian ‘South’, have long occupied an in-between status in Italian discourses on race. At the same time, while Brancato’s observation can indeed be confrmed on any stroll through a market in a major Italian city, any number of Afro-Italian texts describe the difcult cohabitation of the three groups she mentions: A mafoso from near Naples eventually murders one of Ba’s characters in La promessa di Hamadi and the problematic relations between North African Arabs and Sub-Saharan African blacks is touched upon by Pap Khouma in Io, venditore d’elefanti (I, the Elephant Seller). Tat same Pap Khouma, a Senegalese who has lived in Italy since the mid-1980s, is one African writer of francophone heritage who nevertheless claims to prefer Italy to the ex-colonial country of France. Khouma links his lack of success as a street-trader in France to the country’s past as an African coloniser. In the autobiographical novel Io, venditori di elefanti, he laments ‘I hate France because it colonised us and exploited us. I, too, feel the pride of the one who for the frst time raises his head. I feel the rage for all what my brothers sufered. In France I would not have stayed.’14 However, Khouma blames not only the attitude of the French people but also that 12 Di Maio, ‘Black Italia’, p. 124. 13 Brancato, ‘From Routes to Roots’, p. 656. 14 Khouma, Io, venditori di elefanti, p. 42.

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166  Christopher Hogarth of the more difdent, elitist, long-established Senegalese population there. Khouma comments on the Senegalese inhabitants of Paris, ‘I feel around us only difdence and hostility.’15 Italy becomes more attractive for a new generation of Senegalese immigrants since in this new territory cliques have yet to develop so rigidly as in France, and the direct link to Senegal and a certain ‘hospitality’ and solidarity amongst immigrants is maintained. Tis makes the Italian scene more congenial, even though the groupings that do exist are governed by Senegalese marabouts –holy men who, especially in Sub-Saharan African Islamic traditions, are presumed to have supernatural powers and the ability to communicate with the divine, thus granting them great power within African communities which guarantees them roles at the head of Islamic brotherhoods.16 In France, where there are now several generations of immigrants, customs of solidarity and respect are perceived as having been watered down; Catherine Ndiaye’s short story ‘Dakar–Paris’ is a virulent attack on the mutation of traditions of hospitality by Senegalese immigrants living in France.17 Pap Khouma further comments, ‘Te Senegalese in Paris push us away, as if we were there to steal something.’18 Italy has thus become a point of escape and renewal for Senegalese migrants, even though not all Senegalese writers are convinced of its advantages over France and even though it is even less clear that they are welcomed with open arms by Italians.19 What is clear is that some sectors of the Italian population (particularly students, activists from the political lef and certain academics, writers and editors) have become highly interested in its immigrant population. Tis is not least because, for possibly the frst time in recent centuries, non-Italians are writing in Italian. If the 1980s was the decade in which second generation immigrant ‘Beurs’ began to write in France and in French,20 the 1990s was the decade in which frst generation immigrants in Italy began to make their voices heard through literary production. Disturbed by the animosity they found in Italian representations of them, many immigrants have sought to assert their presence, and begun collaborating with Italian authors and editors to produce novels and short stories. Tus, following the 1989 publication of Tunisian Salah Methnani’s Immigrato and Khouma’s 1990 autobiography, a small industry of Italian immigrant literature appeared in the 1990s. For Parati, such immigrant literature was at the outset an exercise in subversion: ‘Authors such as Salah Methnani, Saidou 15 Ibid. 49. 16 Donald Martin Carter’s chapter ‘Mouridism Touba Turin’ in States of Grace gives a strong account of the role of the Mourid Islamic Brotherhood and the marabouts that accompany immigrants settling in urban centres around Italy. 17 Ndiaye, ‘Dakar–Paris’. 18 Khouma, Io, venditori di elefanti, p. 49. 19 See especially Ba and Micheletti’s La promessa di Hamadi for a description of the ambiguity of the African immigrant’s experience in Italy. 20 For a study of second generation Arab ‘Beur’ literature in France, see Hargreaves, Immigration and Identity in Beur Fiction.

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Afro-Italian Literature  167 Moussa Ba, Pap Khouma, Mohamed Bouchane, and Moshen Mellitti, who create their own public history and private stories, appropriate and rewrite the accounts that Italian newspapers have constructed about the immigrants.’21 Many of these authors were francophone Africans, but rather than publish in French they decided to write in Italian and to work with Italian collaborators. Te role played by European collaborators and editors in creating what Sabrina Brancato terms ‘Afrosporic’ texts is thus a key characteristic of the italophone texts credited to Africans that have appeared over the last twenty years, where lef-wing activists have been especially prominent in establishing a ‘ventriloquised’ literature in which they helped translate immigrant stories originally told in another language. From the point of view of the African authors, there are various reasons to collaborate. Te Italian publishing market would have been extremely difcult to access otherwise, since, unlike France, Italy has yet to see the creation of African-run publishing houses and journals like Présence Africaine (founded in 1947), which have provided Africans with their ‘own’ way into Franco-European discourse for some time. Beyond this, Brancato sees the decision to write in the language of the area in which they live as a positive gesture indicating a desire to belong, evidence of ‘a very specifc kind of afliative postcolonial dynamic’. Tis ‘afliative dynamic’ could be driving a desire to address Italian readers directly in their own language rather than through translation, and in this context collaboration with native Italians reinforces the gestural quality of the decision – a gesture of humility (since they are still learning and admit to needing help) and sacrifce (since these Africans abandon a more international language in order to make themselves understood to the locals). Contrasting this posture with the ‘overt j’accuse’ that bespeaks anglophone and francophone African writers’ experience of metropolitan racism, Brancato writes of these authors that it is ‘as if they were saying: we do not know each other yet, but we are here to stay and become part of this country, and for this reason we are going to tell you our stories so that we can be friends’.22 It is interesting that Brancato diferentiates the texts written by these ‘Afrosporic’ italophone writers from those more typical ‘diasporic’ ones in English and French. Te lack of bitter, accusatory tracts in Afro-Italian texts could be, as she suggests, due to ‘the weaker status of Italy’s former colonial enterprise’, and Pap Khouma’s comments above would seem to confrm this. Another possibility, at least for the earliest texts, is simple lack of linguistic or cultural confdence. As I show below, however, Afro-Italian writers seem to have grown in confdence substantially over the years, in that they write increasingly without ‘editors’ and co-authors, and it may well be that collaborators were used even at the beginning more as editorial ‘middlemen’ ensuring access to publication than as native speakers who had to write for 21 Parati, ‘Strangers in Paradise’, p. 171. 22 Brancato, ‘From Routes to Roots’, p. 656.

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168  Christopher Hogarth linguistically incompetent Africans. Some early francophone African works suggest a similar preliminary tactic, with African writers working very closely alongside European editors, although such collaborations, where the Euro­ pean editor (or publisher) maintains greater control over the text, inevitably lead to some speculation over the validity of the African writer’s voice.23 Certainly, the diference in tone between Italy’s new literature by Africans and that produced by African diasporic writers in the metropolitan area of the former coloniser is worthy of note. Tey have the advantage of being able to choose the Italian language as a form of opening up to Europe without associating it with the colonial past, as writing in French would inevitably do. And the fact that Italian does not represent (for them) a colonial language not only makes it more attractive, but places them in a diferent relation to metropolitan society when they use it. Both Khouma and Ba suggest they see writing as opening up a European space for transnational identities. Coming from a continent where ethnic and national tensions ofen overlap in problematic ways, Khouma prefers the more vague, yet dynamic ideal of being an ‘African’ and sees Europe as a space in which such ‘Africanness’ can further develop: First of all, I am an African. I am more African than Senegalese … I am not afraid of confronting myself with other cultures. If one is open-minded, one can give and take. In the process of exchanging cultures, people transform themselves. In Senegal, we live in a multicultural, or rather multi-ethnic society. In Dakar, for example, we speak Wolof, with some French, English, Portuguese, Spanish, and other local languages. If you speak with a man from Dakar who lives in Milan, he will throw in Italian too.24

Ba develops this transnational ideal further in his literary work with Micheletti. In La promessa di Hamadi the novel’s eponymous character alludes to a philosophy of the chameleon. Hamadi tells his brother Semba of his mimicking ideal: ‘In this society, one needs to become somewhat of a chameleon … change colour, be at the same time a bit African, a bit European, a bit Asian … When two nations, like two people, meet, they can give each other the best and the worst of themselves.’25 Although this ideal is eventually contradicted by the fate of Hamadi (he is killed by a far more knowledgeable chameleon: the Neapolitan racist who has endured racism himself, and who keeps the Africans close to him only to murder them when they refuse to

23 Te key texts exemplifying an ambivalent relationship between African author and French ‘editor(s)’ are Bakary Diallo, Force-Bonté (1926) and Ousmane Sembène, Le Docker noir (1956). In the latter, a frustrated African writer kills a benefactress he feels has ‘used’ him to further her own ends as a writer, and is sent to prison on the evidence of his editor, who does nothing to refute the prosecutor’s argument that the very suggestion that an African could write great literature is an insult to France. 24 Khouma, in Parati, ‘Intervista a Pap Khouma’, p. 118. 25 Ba and Micheletti, La promessa di Hamadi, pp. 136–37.

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Afro-Italian Literature  169 become his partners in crime), the positive hopes of transnational cultural exchanges expressed here seem symptomatic of the attitudes of many of these new Afro-Italian writers. Writing in Italian has represented a big challenge for these Africans, however. When they frst began writing in the late 1980s and early 1990s, few had studied the language before arriving and thus their grasp of Italian may well not have been good enough for them to get their message across alone. According to Parati, these writers ‘were still learning Italian’ at the time of their frst literary ventures, and ‘in most cases their frst autobiographical books written in collaboration with Italian writers and journalists have been translations of oral narratives or of autobiographical fragments that still rely heavily upon French and other languages to translate Italian experience into Italian prose.’26 As noted above, though, their use of editors who doubled as journalists, activists and academics also enabled them to gain a voice in spaces to which they would not otherwise have had access. In this respect they pose a stark contrast to the Africans in France who created institutions like Présence Africaine. In the 1980s, these future writers were new arrivals in Italy, who survived as subalterns on the fringes of society, working most ofen as street peddlers and living in precarious situations in temporary housing holding up to twenty people per room (situations described in detail in the frst novels by Khouma and Ba/Micheletti). By contrast, France’s African population in the thirty-year period between the end of the First World War and the creation of Présence Africaine consisted of a variety of intellectual migrants taking advantage of the opportunity to study in the metropole, as well as workingclass migrant communities. Moreover, the francophone African community networked and matured over a period of decades, developing theories such as negritude before creating the institutions designed to foster and propagate collective identity.27 One wonders, nevertheless, whether many of the francophone African authors could not have authored their texts on their own, since French and Italian are reasonably close, and could have been edited reasonably enough by Italian editors with enough knowledge of French to understand the reasons for certain infelicities. While the Tunisian Methnani’s Immigrato was written with Mario Fortunato, and Ba’s two novels were written with P. A. Micheletti, in many cases African writers are credited as sole authors of texts, with their Italian helpers’ names appearing only later, afer the words ‘a cura di’ (edited by). Tis is the case most notably in Pap Khouma’s Io, venditori di elefanti, which, we are told is ‘a cura di Oreste Pivetta’, and Mohamed

26 Parati, Mediterranean Crossroads, p. 16. 27 Miller, Nationalists and Nomads tells the story of this African intellectual community at some length, and perhaps in most detail in the chapters ‘Involution and Revolution: African Paris in the 1920s’ and ‘Hallucinations of France and Africa’.

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170  Christopher Hogarth Bouchane’s Chiamatemi Alì (Call Me Alì), ‘a cura di Carla De Girolamo e Daniele Miccione’. Oreste Pivetta, however, reveals the power of his ‘­editorial’ role in his description of his collaboration with Khouma: ‘He lent me a beautiful tale about today’s Italy, and I gave him a voice, that is writing.’28 He claims, then, that he did more than simply edit Khouma’s words, in fact ‘gifing’ him with an Italian language that Pivetta was able to deploy better than his collaborator. One partner implicitly had more power than the other in this situation. Accordingly, it is not self-evident that these collaborations, which produced what Sharon Wood calls a scrittura a quattro mani (fourhanded writing corpus),29 were a true expression of the kind of balanced, felicitous transcultural exchange that Khouma, Ba and Brancato talk about so enthusiastically, and it remains difcult to know their precise nature. As Silvia Bigliazzi and Sharon Wood’s 2006 study Collaboration in the Arts from the Middle Ages to the Present demonstrates, collaborations have produced a wide array of results over the centuries. Tese joint ventures can at best realise ‘an idealist strategy for fostering intellectual engagement otherwise restricted by social and political fragmentation’ or in a worst-case scenario be deployed in support of a political or cultural agenda.30 Some examples from other cultural contexts can provide an idea of some of the problematics of collaboration to be considered when focusing on the case of Italo-African literary partnerships. In the francophone context, although the existence of presses such as Présence Africaine may have provided a voice for many literate writers, other African voices have made themselves heard through the medium of collaboration. In a study of recent narratives, published in France by women of Maghrebi immigrant descent with the assistance of majority ethnic co-authors, Alec Hargreaves fnds that these authors lose control of their texts through their reliance on all sorts of intermediaries, including French co-authors as well as editors and publicists, who, he alleges, shape the reception of such texts – notably through the paratexts that they place around them and through ‘the fltering process by which texts are selected or rejected for publication and the role played by co-authors in tailoring the primary authors’ narratives to meet the perceived needs or interests of their readers’. Many of the texts Hargreaves refers to were created out of interviews with North Africans which were then transcribed by what he calls the ‘majority ethnic French’ interviewers who organised their publication. Hargreaves notes that for all the original good intentions of the interviewers some of these texts were ‘guillotined’. In one particular case (the 1973 Journal de Mohamed, edited by Maurice Catani), the interviewee’s text was heavily tampered with.31

28 29 30 31

Pivetta, quoted in Parati, Mediterranean Crossroads, p. 19. Wood, ‘A quattro mani’, p. 151. Bigliazzi and Wood, Collaboration in the Arts from the Middle Ages to the Present, p. 1. Hargreaves, ‘Testimony, Co-Authorship, and Dispossession’, pp. 42, 44.

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Afro-Italian Literature  171 While noting that second-generation Algerians have written their own stories since, Hargreaves observes that collaborations have not ceased, and he is especially sceptical about the nature of these. Hargreaves is troubled by ‘the contrast between the inexperience of the primary authors and the more professional involvement of their aides in the media and publishing industries’, since these aides ‘are all French journalists who were evidently hired to turn the texts of these novice authors into more marketable commodities than they might otherwise have been’.32 While I understand Hargreaves’ frustration with the situation of early texts like Journal de Mohamed, I fnd his laments regarding the works of the 1990s over-pessimistic. Here he seems to be proposing that making a text marketable leads to its incorrigible corruption, whereas all texts these days are surely corrupted by some editorial intervention for marketing purposes. Te potential corruption of a subaltern’s text through transcription and/or translation was at issue particularly in the controversy surrounding Rigoberta Menchú and her Venezuelan-born collaborator Elisabeth Burgos, a writer and anthropologist. Menchú’s purported autobiography, in Spanish, Me llamo Rigoberta Menchú y así me nació la conciencia (My Name is Rigoberta Menchú and Tis is How My Conscience was Born), was translated into fve other languages including English and French. It attracted international attention at the time of the ongoing confict in Guatemala (here 1983–96) and led to the award of a Nobel Prize to Menchú. However, her supposed testimony was subject to the accusation, notably by David Stoll, that it had been tampered with for political ends by Burgos, who constructed the narrative out of interviews with Menchú.33 Menchú’s story could be read as refecting Burgos’s own revolutionary Marxist position, in that it omitted all mention of local disputes and instead framed armed struggle as an inevitable reaction to class oppression at a time when indigenous Mayans were desperate to escape violence. Stoll also suggested that Menchú had falsifed and dramatised certain aspects of her life, family and village. Burgos, especially, was accused of exploiting Menchú’s biography to mobilise foreign support for a retreating insurgency in the name of a political ideology emanating from France. In the context of 1990s Italy, it would not appear that the collaborators of Afro-Italian writers have been as invasive as the ones cited above. Signifcant paratexts do exist in some of these texts, however. Both Methnani’s and Khouma’s texts contain very short (two- to four-page) forewords by their Italian collaborators and are constructed as teleological narratives composed of short, stage-by-stage chapters, although it is not clear whose structural choice this refects. In other respects, too, it is not clear to what extent collaborators have tinkered with their content. In Ba and Micheletti’s co-authored text, there is a much larger paratextual element, as the book contains photos of Senegal, 32 Ibid., p. 47. 33 Stoll, ‘Conundrums or Non Sequiturs?’

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172  Christopher Hogarth plot summary questions aimed at students, newspaper articles on racism and immigration coupled with more questions, and even an extract from the end of a famous Senegalese novel, Cheikh Hamidou Kane’s Ambiguous Adventure, which students are asked to compare with the end of Ba and Micheletti’s novel. Tis paratext is described as ‘a cura di P. A. Micheletti’, so Ba is clearly relegated to a secondary role (at least) in this part of the text’s framing. Ba, however, has worked as a teacher in Italy, and has never expressed any resentment over the framing of his text. Te second novel by the pair contains only an introduction, written by Micheletti, mentioning the desire of the authors that the ‘kids’ (ragazzi) reading the book should think about questions of diference in all their complexities. In this way, Micheletti may be framing the text for a certain audience, although the use of ragazzi could be ironic, and indeed ‘children’s novels’ are ofen replete with ‘adult’ messages. Te collaborators of these African writers, like those alluded to by Hargreaves, also have links to the publishing world. Oreste Pivetta, for example, is a well-known journalist, who had worked for literary magazines and the Communist daily L’Unità by the time he met Khouma. Sharon Wood sees this particular collaboration as positive, but does hint that Khouma may have been expressing a political style, if not an explicit agenda associated with the overtly lef-wing Pivetta, when she comments that this collaboration attempts ‘a written work which would serve, in classical Marxist fashion, a creative synthesis of what is “typical” about the experience of Khouma’s generation’.34 Khouma, however, a spokesperson against racism and fragmentation, is hardly likely to be a darling of the separatist and anti-immigration Italian right, and it is thus unlikely he would be ofended at his work being made a vehicle for opposition to them. Here could be an example, therefore, of the ‘idealist strategy for fostering intellectual engagement otherwise restricted by social and political fragmentation’ quoted above from Bigliazzi and Wood. Tere have been few complaints from African writers about their Italian collaborators, and both Khouma and Ba have expressed satisfaction. Khouma is almost romantic in his enthusiasm for his frst collaboration saying that it ‘fctionalises and symbolises the actual encounter between the host society and the newcomers’.35 By contrast, Saidou Moussa Ba and P. A. Micheletti wrote two works together, but were quite cagey about the nature of their collaboration; this clearly involved a certain amount of ‘translation’ and ‘­negotiation’ from Micheletti, who admits to having edited much of the language and translated certain ideas from the oral French onto the page. Micheletti calls the writing of this text a ‘reciprocal exchange’ but there is no way of knowing who infuenced whom, nor who did most of the writing.36 Although Ba speaks Italian well enough to teach young children in this 34 Wood, ‘A quattro mani’, p. 156. 35 In Di Maio, ‘Immigration and National Literature’, p. 150. 36 Ba and Micheletti, La promessa di Hamadi, p. 5.

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Afro-Italian Literature  173 country now, while Micheletti has long worked mostly as an editor, it cannot be said for certain that Ba was the writer and Micheletti only the editor of these texts. Micheletti notes, in any case, that his collaboration with Ba was one of a successful mixed couple: ‘We are among the few “mixed couples” not to have gone through stormy breakups.’37 According to Ba, however, this collaboration was not without disagreements. Refecting on the wider issue in an interview with Graziella Parati, he comments: Te problem that Italians have is that the associations that are trying to help immigrants have substituted their own voice for that of these very immigrants. Tey have spoken too much and besides have tried to present immigrants as a group in which everybody is good, but we need to learn to diferentiate, since there are a lot of diferences among us.38

While few accusations of being treated simply as front men for the concerns of parasitic European co-authors are coming from the African authors in the Italian context, it would be wrong to suggest that there were no perceived signs of what Hargreaves calls a ‘dynamic of dispossession’ at work here. Algerian author Nassera Chohra lamented that Alessandra Atti Di Sarro, the editor of her book Volevo diventare Bianca (I Wanted to Become White), pressed her to reforge her narrative materials in spite of her resistance and vowed never to work with her former collaborator again.39 It is also the case that some collaborators did not hold the works of their African partners in high esteem as literary pieces; declaring that they did not expect sequels, they efectively hailed the end of these collaborative projects. Mario Fortunato’s comment on his collaboration with Methnani stated that their partnership was successful, but presented their fnal product, and that of other Italian author-immigrant collaborations, in unfattering terms. Fortunato called them ‘pre-literary experiences containing a sociological value’, indicating that he took no great pride in their aesthetic quality.40 Even Graziella Parati, commenting on Pivetta’s doubts about the future of a new immigrant literature in Italian, seems to share his lack of confdence in the authors, emphasising that ‘[t]hey have had to face linguistic challenges and acquire another language’.41 Tese collaborations have indeed not lasted.42 Nevertheless, if this literary production was a ‘fash in the pan’ at a particular political juncture in Italy, the fre has not fzzled out entirely, although the modes of literary production

37 Micheletti, ‘Intervento di Micheletti al forum di Mantova’. 38 Parati, ‘Intervista di Graziella Parati a Saidou Moussa Ba’, pp. 103–07. 39 Di Maio, ‘Beyond Postcoloniality’. See Parati’s Mediterranean Crossroads for more discussion of these problems. 40 In an interview with Adriana Polveroni, ‘L’immigrato racconta in italiano’. 41 Parati, Mediterranean Crossroads, p. 21. 42 For all his celebration of their collaboration, Pap Khouma did not write his second work with Oreste Pivetta, but pursued his single-authored project for years, struggling with his supposedly imperfect Italian and receiving considerable help from italophone

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174  Christopher Hogarth have changed, as I show below. It should also be recognised that many Italian intellectuals worked hard to publicise the work of these Africans, whatever their motives. Tat many of these new writers were ‘discovered’ in the frst place seems to be due both to their own determination and the readiness on the part of some Italians to listen to voices from the streets. Without celebrating Italo-African literature uncritically, Brancato comments that ‘as a country of recent immigration, Italy is doing quite well, afer all, in the efort to open the literary scene to new voices from developing countries’, and can point to the fact that Italian scholars have begun to collect, publicise and analyse the work of immigrant writers.43 Great eforts have been made to propagate the views of Africans in Italy. Jennifer Burns, who has helped popularise immigrant literature in Italy in academic circles in the United Kingdom, also turns to Saidou Moussa Ba to conclude a chapter on the theme of Italo-African collaborations: In an interview I conducted with him in November 2001, Saidou Moussa Ba referred to a line from a song he had heard (whose singer or title he did not know) which had struck him as particularly evocative of inter-cultural exchange: ‘Io ti presto i miei occhi, così saprai cosa piace a me’ [I’ll lend you my eyes, then you’ll know what I like]. Interpreted negatively, Ba commented, this expressed the almost sadistic enforcement of one culture upon another associated with colonialism. Interpreted positively, it expressed an open readiness to engage with another. Immigration literature in Italian can perhaps be summed up as an initiative, however complex and contingent, to lend Italian literary culture a new pair of eyes.44

Burns thus ends her study with a tentatively optimistic view on these collaborations. If I decide to alter Burns’ metaphor and speak instead about this immigrant literature providing a new set of eyeglasses through which to view Italian culture, I might want to ask questions (if we extend the metaphor) about the optician who treats and sells these eyeglasses. More simply put: who has infuenced the visibility of these texts in Italy, and how? Such questions are important, since African writers have largely seen collaboration as a tran­ sitory phase they needed to pass through in order to gain a voice on the Italian cultural scene. Teir continued visibility, however, is dependent on their continued access to the cultural sphere as well as help from Italians. Tus we need to ask how these writers have positioned themselves, and been enabled

friends like Graziella Parati before fnally publishing Dio Nonno e gli spiriti danzanti in 2005. Apparently Khouma did use an editor for this work, since the text is described as being ‘a cura di Elisabetta Assorbi’. However, the text took many more years to appear than did his frst work. Perhaps this is due to the less politically charged content of Khouma’s second novel, which is based in Africa and does not chart the life of a struggling immigrant in a racist Italy, as his frst did. 43 Gnisci, ‘Editing (doppiaggio)’. Brancato, ‘From Routes to Roots’. 44 Burns, ‘Outside Voices Within’, p. 153.

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Afro-Italian Literature  175 to position themselves vis-à-vis the idea of Italian national culture and the idea of a ‘transnational’ culture about which many of them are enthusiastic. Visibility poses a challenge for these writers. Te literary works of new Afro-Italians have not been published in large numbers nor in other c­ ountries. Brancato points out that while the works of black writers from Britain and France are being translated by major publishers and are on display in the most popular bookshops, black writers in Italian or Spanish are very rarely translated into other languages. In Italy, she points out, books by immigrant writers are ofen impossible to fnd in bookshops, and are instead sold in the street by immigrant vendors sponsored by humanitarian associations. I learned of one of the newest Italo-Senegalese writers, Mbacké Gadji, through having bought several of his novels from African street vendors who had ventured onto the beach of Grosseto. Publishing with the editorial company Le edizioni dell’Arco, Gadji sells his books by means of a libreria di strada, that popularises books via the internet, before allowing African street vendors to buy the books at half the cover price and selling them at a proft on the street.45 However, the visibility of African-authored texts has been aided by several other, more conventional factors in Italy over the years. Excerpts from Italy’s new letteratura della migrazione were made available to an English audience in Graziella Parati’s 1999 edited volume Mediterranean Crossroads, which grouped together the work of a wide variety of authors from diferent backgrounds. Tirteen of the eighteen foreign authors (or co-authors) featured were of African origin. Te publicising of these works by Italian critics (foremost among them Armando Gnisci and Roberta Sangiorgi, whose tireless editing work has led to many collections of immigrant literature), and by Parati in America, has helped. Furthermore, the work of the Eks&Tra group in the Bologna area has kept immigrant works in the public eye.46 Eks&Tra is a group of Italian and non-Italian activists who have been working together since the early 1990s and have been awarding literary prizes to writers in Italian of non-Italian origin since 1995. Tey ofen visit schools and ofer workshops on cultural sensitivity, and since 2004 have worked with the Department of Italian Studies at the University of Bologna, where in 2006 they helped organise a conference on migrant writers, especially promoting the works of those who had won their association’s prize over the last few years. In the political sphere, they have worked since 2005 with the local government of nearby Mantua on issues of immigration, equal opportunities and cultural diference. Certain strands of the popular Italian media also made an efort to publicise the presence of immigrants in Italy. In 1996, the public television network

45 Palieri, ‘Mbacke Gadji & C., la Libreria di Strada’. 46 Te name is composed of the prefx ‘Ex’ for extracomunitari and ‘tra’, the Italian word for ‘among’ as in ‘tra noi’ (among us), joined by the ampersand which makes the excluded part of the inclusive ‘tra’.

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176  Christopher Hogarth RAI sponsored a series of flms about the experience of migration. Te series, entitled Un altro paese nei miei occhi (Another Country in My Eyes), consisted of four flms, three of which were by Italians. Te fourth was by renowned Moroccan director Rachid Benhadj, entitled L’albero dei destini sospesi (Te Tree of Suspended Destinies) and dealt very clearly with the problematic relationship of a new African migrant to Italy to an Italian subject (here a possible love interest). While this series was apparently not watched by a wide audience on Italian television (flms were ofen shown on Sundays afer 11 p.m.), Benhadj’s work gained greater distribution in the same way as many italophone African literary works did, through exposure via high schools and culture clubs. Tis explains why texts like La promessa di Hamadi that have ofen not been deemed worthy of study in Italian universities include discussion questions and activities aimed at younger students. Saidou Moussa Ba himself has become an active flmmaker and actor, as well as a teacher (ofen through drama) of high school students.47 Ba has oscillated in the focus of his work, as he has moved into flmmaking and theatre acting. His flm Waalo Fendo was made in Italy and distributed across Western Europe but is entirely in the West African languages of Wolof and Fulani (an act akin to that of francophone Senegalese author Ousmane Sembène, who wrote in French but made cinema in his native African languages since he felt he could best express his message in this medium). One is lef to wonder why he turns away here from his earlier postcolonial ‘afliative gesture’ of doing work in Italian. Perhaps Ba is asking for his European audience to make its own afliative gesture in listening to the true languages of Africans.48 His choice of acting roles has also remained an important vehicle for conveying his m­essages on the plight of African immigrants in the world. He keeps the identity of Africans in Italian literature alive by playing the character of the African immigrant who teams up with a Prospero-like Italian in Emilio Tadini’s La tempesta, an important postcolonial re-working of the Shakespeare play. Te theatre has indeed been an important vehicle for Italo-African cultural production, playing an important role in highlighting Italo-African encounters and producing new collaborations. Marco Martinelli’s 1993 play I ventidue infortuni di Mor Arlecchino (Moor Harlequin’s 22 Misfortunes) updates Goldoni’s eighteenth-century story. Here Harlequin is imagined as an African migrant in Italy today, and Senegalese actor Mor Awa Niang performs the perils of being an immigrant in modern Italy. Martinelli’s Teatro delle Albe in Ravenna has continued to produce politically motivated work on ItaloAfrican encounters, and the contribution of actor-writer Mandiaye Ndiaye, now one of the core leaders of this group, has been extremely important here. 47 Parati, Migration Italy. 48 As much as Ba and other West Africans can be termed ‘francophone’, French is likely to be their second or third language, and almost never a mother tongue. In Ba’s case, Fulani is his frst language, Wolof his second, French his third, and now Italian is his fourth language.

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Afro-Italian Literature  177 Te Teatro delle Albe (whom I frst met in 2005 at Northwestern University, where they were giving workshops) tour schools and other community centres in Italy, bringing to light African culture alongside contemporary political issues. Teir challenging and fascinating play Griot-Fuler, written by four members of the company, contains large passages of untranslated Wolof along with Italian. Te audience is challenged to hypothesise what is going on in this language in the context of the plot that unfolds before them. Here the refusal to ventriloquise messages through Italian is, as in Ba’s flm, an important element, although of course the largely Italian audience remains unaware of what the actors are saying, unlike in Waalo Fendo, where there are at least subtitles. Tis gesture therefore makes the always challenging medium of political theatre that much more challenging. Tus Ba and performers like Ndiaye are now asking that the transnational space be imagined in a variety of languages, representing a mosaic that Italian should not always presume to dominate. Te subject matter of Italo-African literary work has also shifed in focus over the years. While Khouma’s frst work dealt with his life as a migrant moving from Côte d’Ivoire to Paris to Milan (where most of his experiences in the work take place), his second novel is based far more in Senegal and rooted in African oral traditions and animist ideals. Recent novels by the Senegalese Mbacké Gadji and Cheikh Tidiane Gaye also draw from many legends and traditions of West Africa, and could appear somewhat un­familiar and even disappointing to an Italian audience expecting stories of the ­migrant’s experiences of Italy, or representations of Italian culture through the eyes of a newcomer. Tese writers increasingly demand, however, that the transnational must be imagined by both Africans and Europeans through both peoples opening themselves to stories from the ‘outside’. Given this relatively high level of cultural production, it is easy to see Italy, from one perspective, as a space that can be celebrated for encouraging a new type of postcolonial writing, beyond the country of the coloniser, as Khouma himself says in his earliest work.49 Italy has been a productive ‘Tird Space’ and it is tempting for an Italianist with a focus on letteratura della migrazione to engage in mutual back-slapping with a colleague with a similar focus, since this ‘alternative space’ has proven productive for certain migrants from former colonies. Brancato is critical of such a self-congratulatory tendency, suggesting that it obfuscates Italy’s own colonial past, especially in East Africa, and its current problems with racism. She asks if the Italian fascination with immi­ grant texts by authors from places colonised by other European countries is a sign that countries of recent immigration are interested in multiculturalism only when it takes place somewhere else. She accuses Italy and Spain of ‘an 49 In a bitterly ironic twist, Pap Khouma was brutally beaten up in the street by Italian security guards while waiting to use an ATM on 26 May 2006. See http://lelerozza.org/ pap-khouma-aggredito-da-controllori-atm.

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178  Christopher Hogarth acute form of colonial amnesia’ in perceiving themselves as ‘innocent hosts, kindly opening their doors to peoples in need’.50 In the light of this critique, it is important to recognise that more recent work by Italo-Africans from East African backgrounds poses a challenge to naive celebration. Perhaps it should come as no surprise that these works tend to temper the optimism of letteratura della migrazione critics by refocusing upon Italy’s colonial past, especially in the wake of the harsh Bossi-Fini legislation mentioned earlier. While the works of Italian-Ethiopian Gabriella Ghermandi and Italo-Somali Ubax-Cristina Ali Farah (especially her 2007 novel Madre piccola) have received some of the critical attention they deserve, the author whose work has perhaps received most attention has been Igiaba Scego. Because Scego, like Ghermandi and (to some extent) Farah, was born in Italy and raised there by African parents, she represents a new type of Italo-African writer, with a lifetime’s experience of Italian culture and fuency in the language. Her frequently comical works have focused especially on the life of the ofen invisible generation of Somalis in Italy to which her parents belonged, as well as her own contemporaries, who have their own problems of belonging to contend with. Her story ‘Dismatria’ tells of the attitude of her parents and relatives who came to Italy attracted to life in the West but never really unpack their suitcases. Tese lie in the house for years awaiting the supposedly inevitable return to Africa. Scego describes the problems of her own generation, sufering a double isolation from both Somalia and their country of birth. She muses: Nothing ever happened! We were perpetually waiting for a return to the mother country which would probably never happen. Our nightmare was called dismatria. Sometimes somebody would correct us and say ‘in Italian we say expatriate, expatriate, so you are expatriates.’ We would shake our heads, sigh bitterly and retort with distmatria just as we had before. We were dismatriati; somebody – perhaps forever – had cut the umbilical cord that linked us to our matria [motherland], Somalia. And what does an orphan normally do?51

Te young characters of this story eventually resolve their dilemma by emptying out their parents’ suitcases on the living room foor, ending the story on a cathartic and defant note, as they afrm they are here to stay and will make visible their own cultural baggage, distasteful to Italy as it may be. Another of Scego’s short stories, ‘Salsicce’ (Sausages) condemns the treatment of immigrants in Italy and their portrayal in the media as fgures connoting criminality. Te clearest parody of the demand for ‘full integration’ into Italian is contained in the main protagonist’s purchase of pork sausages, which she attempts to consume in order to feel integrated. Her discomfort at feeling a ‘fragmented’ being is best portrayed in her comedic listing of her 50 Brancato, ‘Afro-European Literature(s)’, p. 5. 51 Scego, ‘Dismatria’, p. 11.

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Afro-Italian Literature  179 supposed Italian and Somali characteristics, which she nevertheless does eventually project as a possibly empowering plurality rather than negative fragmentation: Tat odious question about my identity pisses me of! More Somali? More Italian? Perhaps three quarters Somali and one quarter Italian? Or perhaps the absolute opposite is true? I don’t know how to answer! I have never ‘fractioned’ myself before now, and at school I always hated fractions; they were unpleasant and inconclusive … I think I am a woman without identity.

Or perhaps with more identity.52 Te call to acknowledge plurality is not restricted to the bi-cultural charac­ ters of these stories, however. In fact, some recent discussions in Italian studies have pointed out that the appearance of Scego’s generation of writers, coupled with that of white Italo-Ethopian Erminia Dell’Oro before them,53 poses a critical imperative to scholars and institutions. Te particularity of Italy’s colonial past underlined in these texts and the fact that it is less emphasised in the earlier wave of letteratura della migrazione has led some critics to insist upon a diferentiation between ‘postcolonial Italian writing’ by writers from the former Italian colonies and this wider letteratura della migrazione (some of which may be African but from a diferent part of Africa) and which focuses on other areas of the world and other colonisers .54 Tis is understandable, especially in view of the collection in which Scego’s stories appeared. Te collection Pecore nere published by Laterza, contains stories by Scego and the Egyptian/Zairean Italian writer Ingy Mubiayi, but also the Italo-Indian writers Gabriella Kuruvilla and Laila Wadia, so Scego’s identity as a writer with origins in a former Italian colony is obscured, as she is thrown in with a variety of other ‘hyphenated Italians’. Moreover, works by writers from former Italian colonies are included alongside others from all over the world as representatives of a non-culturally specifc italophone or multicultural Italian literature in the only English versions we have of letteratura della migrazione. In Parati’s Mediterranean Crossroads, and especially in the newer collection edited by Parati and Marie Orton entitled Multicultural Literature in Contemporary Italy, the origins of the authors are mentioned but not concentrated upon. Te ‘grab bag’ style of such collections and the fact 52 Scego, ‘Salsiccie’, p. 28. My translation. 53 Dell’Oro’s well-known contemporary representations of life in colonial Eritrea in novels, memoirs and children’s books have garnered signifcant attention. Since publishing Asmara Addio in 1988, she has produced a welter of writing, some of which has been translated into German and one of which, L’Abbandono, should soon appear in English. A study of Dell’Oro’s memories of her Eritrean home formed part of a book on the concept of home in francophone, anglophone and italophone works by Erica L. Johnson in 2003. 54 Te 2009 ACIS conference in Auckland, New Zealand entitled ‘L’Italia nella grande migrazione’ contained several papers issuing this demand,

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180  Christopher Hogarth that letteratura della migrazione can tend to obscure particular issues linked to Italy’s colonial past are thus real issues. Scego herself deliberately juxtaposes the specifc (which could be represented by her status as a true ‘postcolonial Italian’ writer) with the universal (her position as one of the many producers of the generally hyphenated Italian letteratura della migrazione) in both her editorial work and her latest novel. In the collection Italiani per vocazione (2005), Scego acts as main editor of a series of stories that deal with the experiences of Italians of various nonnative origins (the work of an Italo-Singaporean writer opens this collection, followed by that of people from Cape Verde, Togo, Poland, Congo and Syria, to name but a few). In her 2008 work Oltre Babilonia, Scego deals with the specifcally African past of certain Italian characters as well as the issue of migration over diferent geographical areas during traumatic times in the ‘white world’ – here especially Argentina and the infamous ESMA roundups, which led to large-scale fight from the country. Tus it would seem that Scego does not object to portraying her specifcity as a postcolonial Italian within the realm of a more universal debate over being a hyphenated, or fragmented, self. It is also worthy of note that the italophone Senegalese Pap Khouma and Italian of East African origins Ubax Cristina Ali Farah collaborated in setting up (and continue to contribute to) the valuable online journal of migrant literature El Ghibli. Tus it is clear that these writers feel no need to ‘split’ (to use a negative term) new Italo-African literature, be this by North and WestAfrican recent migrants or second-generation Italo-East Africans born and bred in Italy. Tese are, afer all, very interesting new syncretic formations, which bear testimony to the ongoing trend of Africans using Europe as a ground upon which to develop new literature. From beginning as ventriloquised subjects who chose (or were compelled) to collaborate with Italians in order to make their voices heard, the ItaloAfricans whose work has increased awareness of other groups of hyphenated Italians (including another group of Italo-Africans) have evolved into independent writers who continue nevertheless to work with Italian writers and cultural producers in order to forge new discursive spaces in Italian culture. Tat these diferent groups of Italo-Africans are able to work together and alongside other groups of hyphenated Italians expresses a consensus on this project of celebrating the country’s diversity. Pap Khouma ended his frst work with the simple phrase, ‘children are being born’.55 Tese children can thank their parents and Afro-Italian predecessors for their attempts to articulate a space within which they will be able to cultivate and discuss their transnational identities.

55 Khouma, Io, venditore d’elefanti, p. 140.

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III Post-colonial Belonging

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Chapter 10

Of Homecomings and Homesickness: Te Question of White Angolans in Post-Colonial Portugal Cecilie Øien

Te theme of this chapter is the perceptions of home and belonging of white Angolans in Portugal.1 Te Portuguese arrived in Angola in the sixteenth century and during the New State regime (1933–74) until Independence in 1975 the country was the most important colony in the Portuguese empire. Te migration to Portugal of the people I write about here took place in relation to the Angolan War of Independence (1961–75). Te 500,000 to 800,000 migrants who arrived in Portugal as a consequence of the independence of the former colonies were labelled retornados, or the returned, a label including those who saw themselves as white Angolans.2 I argue that this categorisation breaks with the subjective experiences and various notions of belonging revealed through their biographical narratives, for while retornado implies ‘a home-coming afer a temporary absence’, over 40 percent of those who arrived from Africa had been born and brought up there.3 Teir narratives and identities link to particular public discourses and collective experiences

1

Tis chapter is based on part of my unpublished PhD thesis. Te empirical data were gathered during two periods of feldwork in Lisbon (six months in 1998 and eighteen months in 2002–3) through participant observation and interviews. In my doctoral and later research I have mainly explored the stories of more recent migrants of black or mixed-race background, many of whom are women and children from economically and materially deprived backgrounds. See Øien, ‘Transnational Networks of Care’; Growing Pains (flm); ‘Te Angolan Diaspora in Lisbon’; ‘Relative Tension’. 2 See Smith, ‘Introduction: Europe’s Invisible Migrants’, p. 22 for a discussion of the diference between decolonisation migrants and the traditional conception of the ‘immigrant’ as non-white. Pires et al., Os Retornados is a key reference for the ways in which decolonisation migrants were understood in the afermath of independence. 3 Ovalle-Bahamón, ‘Te Wrinkles of Decolonisation and Nationness’, p. 161.

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184  Cecilie Øien of immigration in the Portuguese context.4 However, the specifc stories of white Angolans who were born in Africa also reveal their ‘betwixt and between-ness’.5 Tese transnational migrants do not ‘ft’ in with how the national past of Portugal is constructed or in a global system of nation states or national order of things.6 Not only have they crossed geographical borders, they also contest the boundaries of racialised nationness and what can be considered shared historical experiences and identities. Tese Angolans’ narratives and subjectivities demonstrate how national belonging and ‘the African’ and ‘the European’ are constantly evolving through the discourses and lived ex­periences of historically positioned subjects.

Black and White: Nations and Subjects Discourses related to decolonisation migrants and white Africans expose underlying assumptions about the relationship between nationality and race. Being white and claiming Angolanness these decolonisation migrants challenge the politics of identity associated with Independence and mainstream post-colonial discourses on power and belonging. Teir insistence on defning themselves as Angolan defes narrow perceptions of diaspora, for as the editors of this volume argue in the introduction, this is a concept that presumes connections and relationships of a particular kind. Decolonisation and independence introduced a discontinuity in the association between race, nationality and territory in the lusophone context that illustrates why it has been difcult for whites to be acknowledged as Angolans in Portugal, as the country ‘washed its hands of its African subjects. … the new construction of Portugal implied a division between a white, European Portugal and a discarded black Africa. Whites abandoning Africa had a poor claim to a place of honor in the new Portugal.’7 Cooper’s argument here about the politicoideological division between a white Portugal and black Africa can indirectly explain the similarities between this group of Angolans and those who would more easily be categorised as ‘non-white immigrants’, in terms of their ‘otherness’. Tis is the fuctuation between an extreme invisibility and visibility in terms of their perceptions of belonging and how they are ­categorised in political terms. Tis is further reinforced by how both ‘diaspora’ and ‘African’ historically have been associated with blackness. To phrase it in an extreme way: a white person living in Portugal claiming to be Angolan or a black person living in Portugal claiming to be Portuguese (or either claiming to be both), might not have their claims accepted by those whose identity 4 Here I use ‘immigration’ so as not to include the e/migration of Portuguese people from mainland Portugal to other parts of the world. 5 Cf. Turner, ‘Betwixt and Between’. 6 Cf. Malkki, Purity and Exile, p. 5. I use this concept throughout the chapter. 7 Cooper, ‘Postcolonial Peoples: A Commentary’, p. 178.

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Of Homecomings and Homesickness  185 is not likely to be questioned. In the conclusion, I discuss how both ‘white Angolans’ and ‘non-white immigrants’ make the margins of Angolanness and Portugueseness perceptible, and the experiences of these white Africans thus refect on the changing notions and lived experiences of diaspora. Ricardo Ovalle-Bahamón poignantly points out: Both in Portugal and in the colonies, the independence of the African colonies forced a reckoning with what had been taken for granted for so long: the conceptualisation of Portugal and Portugueseness. Colonizadores and colonizados surfaced in Portugal as central concepts useful in understanding history and locating subjects.8

I argue that people’s departures from Angola, arrivals in Portugal and contemporary vision of their location in Portuguese society are ingrained in their perceptions of home and belonging, and in the analysis I seek to explore the intriguing complexities of Angolanness and Portugueseness. Teir stories bring to light important markers of diference and belonging between the diferent nuances of these identities.

Race and Empire Under the rule of the New State regime there was a massive efort to legitimize the Portuguese colonial enterprise in Africa and establish Angola as the ‘new Brazil’ within the empire.9 Te colony was held up by the Portuguese state as proof of their non-racist approach to colonisation, but in Bender’s view the lived experience of race in Angola was always a reality far away from the peaceful and romantic image the defenders of Lusotropicalism would have it.10 Lusotropicalism was an important ideological component in the New State regime and the late Portuguese empire, and is broadly speaking the idea that the Portuguese are open to and easily mix with other people, and that they celebrate diversity. Te Portuguese colonial enterprise was as a consequence promoted as ‘sofer’ than other colonialisms as it was inherent in the national identity to mix with other races. Te Brazilian sociologist Gilberto Freyre (1900–87) in his infuential book Te Great House and the Slave Quarters frst gave these ideas a name and literary expression.11 Te idea that the Portuguese settlers mixed peacefully with the natives as colonisers, romantically resulting 8 9

Ovalle-Bahamón, ‘Te Wrinkles of Decolonisation and Nationness’, p. 160. Cf. Bender, ‘Te Myth and Reality of Portuguese Rule in Angola’. Te Estado Novo or New State regime is ofen referred to as the Salazarian regime, named afer its founder, the dictator Antonio Oliveira da Salazar (1889–1970). Salazar was prime minister from 1932 to 1968. 10 Ibid. 11 See Castelo, O Modo Português de Estar no Mundo and Vale de Almeida, An EarthColored Sea for in-depth analyses of this phenomenon.

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186  Cecilie Øien in a small proportion of the population being mixed-race, was fundamental to Lusotropicalism.12 Miscegenation was interpreted as particularly important to the colonis­ ation of Angola, compared with the situation in other Portuguese ex-colonies. Te insistence on miscegenation as common in the ‘overseas territories’ played a crucial role in legitimisation of continued colonisation. Te country was a showcase for the regime in promoting how cohabitation and mixing with local populations was part of the Portuguese national character. Bender argues that this was a myth rather than a reality, because of the relatively small numbers of Portuguese who lived in Angola. Tus, as Bender points out, the weight given to miscegenation by the regime in its ideological eforts was not refected in the racial composition of inhabitants in the colony. Tis can be explained by the limited number of Portuguese who lived in Angola even at the height of colonisation and the fact that there were large areas of the country they did not control. Te Portuguese frst explored Angola in 1482,13 but it was not until the end of the 1900s that they initiated any attempt to administer the area. Te Portuguese infuence was, apart from the urban centres, very limited and in the 1930s there were only a few administrative posts around the country.14 In 1845, there were supposedly 2,000 Portuguese in the country, rising to 40,000 in 1940, and by the time of Independence in 1975 there were a total of 340,000.15 Te increase of Portuguese inhabitants changed the nature of their interaction with black Angolans, and the colonial state’s approach to colonialism favoured assimilation.16 Tough only indirectly and briefy mentioned in the literature of Portuguese colonialism,17 the importance of gender was and is relevant to the lived experience of race, and it continues to be signifcant for the racial diferentiation and imagination in post-colonial Portugal. Female sexuality had a central place in the racial imagination of the colonisers, in which the indigenous woman and the mulata performed key roles.18 During my own feldwork, it was women in particular who spoke about the disciplining of the body embedded in colonial strategies. A sixty-nine-year-old black woman, Dona Bia, articulated her frustration to me when she said, Today women can braid their hair, wear African clothing styles and people can speak the local languages. Now children are even given Angolan names! I

12 Castelo, O Modo Português de Estar no Mundo; Moutinho, O Indígena no Pensamento Colonial Português. 13 Te navigator Diego Cão frst explored large parts of what later would be known as Angola. Marques, Breve Historia de Portugal, p. 202. 14 Cf. Brinkman, ‘Violence, Exile and Ethnicity’, p. 426. 15 Bender and Yoder, ‘Whites in Angola on the Eve of Independence’. 16 Cf. Brinkman, ‘Violence, Exile and Ethnicity’. 17 Castelo, O Modo Português de Estar no Mundo; Moutinho, O Indígena no Pensamento Colonial Português. 18 Moutinho, O Indígena no Pensamento Colonial Português.

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Of Homecomings and Homesickness  187 remember my parents talking together in Kimbundu but they didn’t want my siblings and me to learn it. Tese were all things denied to us. Te Portuguese called braided hair ‘nigger’s hair’ [cabelo de preto], our clothes were black ‘­nigger’s clothes’ [roupa de preto] and our languages ‘nigger’s languages’ [linguas de preto].19 And then people claim that Portuguese rule wasn’t violent! At school we were laughed at for not speaking ‘proper’ Portuguese. To be accepted we had to follow Portuguese dress codes – be as similar to them as we could. Younger generations of Angolans cannot understand this. Tey have been brought up with choice – something we did not have. It’s easy to say we could have ofered resistance, when you didn’t live during that time.

Tis is but one example of how the body politics of the colonial regime still afect the way in which some of the women I knew expressed their ideas about interracial relations between Portuguese and Angolans. Kahn similarly notes how, in the narratives of the Mozambican participants in her research, the racial separatism and racism promoted by the regime were efective among African inhabitants, including racist attitudes towards the indigenous populations from those who were categorised as assimilated.20 Te division of the populations in the colonies in Africa was organised in three legal categories: natives, assimilated, and colonials/nationals.21 Te Salazar regime formally recognised the status of assimilado or ‘assimilated’ in the Colonial Act of 1930. An assimilated person was one ‘whose education, fnancial resources and other similar relevant attainments equated them with the Portuguese in the metropole. Tose who had no such requisites were considered “indigenous” (indígenas).’22 However, in the racial hierarchy expressed in colonial policy, there was not only a separation between ‘indigen­ous’ and ‘assimilated’, with ‘white’ at the top. Tere was a diferentiation between those who belonged to the white Portuguese colonial elite and os portugueses de segunda or second-class Portuguese who were poor emigrants who had to come to the colonies in search of a better life.23 White nationals and assimilated had in common that they were granted citizenship rights. Te Colonial Act of 1930 was also known as the indigenato policy, and came to an end with the outbreak of the colonial war in Angola in 1961.

19 I could have translated preto as ‘black people’ here, but the pejorative term ‘nigger’ fts better because of the double meaning of the word, as I wanted to match the translation with the spiteful manner of the speech she used in speaking of it. ‘Linguas do preto’ refers to the ethnic languages spoken by the majority of the Angolan population. 20 Kahn, ‘African Mozambican Immigrants’, p. 167. 21 Cf. Vale de Almeida, An Earth-Colored Sea, p. 82. He argues that this way of classifying the population was in fact in opposition to the Lusotropicalist ideology of the colonial state, which emphasised how the Portuguese mixed with the local populations. Te racial hierarchy reinforced by this categorisation was not in accordance with the national imaginary of the equality inherent in the notion of peaceful, interracial mixing. Tis was also refected in my interlocutors’ narratives and experiences. 22 Batalha, Te Cape Verdean Diaspora in Portugal, p. 50. Batalha’s emphasis. 23 See Kahn, ‘African Mozambican Immigrants’, p. 140.

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188  Cecilie Øien I am not so much interested in assimilation and miscegenation in itself as in its historical signifcance and continued legitimacy as a more general idea of the ‘mixing’ of culture and people. In some senses, it can be argued that Angola was an ideological battleground for Portuguese national identity and imaginary. In the developing resistance that surged in the black, Angolan population and in the War of Independence, racial relations and colonial politics emerged as the driving force. For a descendant of white Portuguese to call herself or himself Angolan thus became a political choice, an issue I return to below.

Returnees, Refugees, Exiled or White Angolans? Retornado was a public defnition of every decolonisation migrant. He or she was either a frst-generation Portuguese emigrant or a person of Portuguese descent who was thought of as returning to the homeland. White Angolan is not an ofcial category, however, but a way that a section of the population coming from Angola in the afermath of Independence chose to identify themselves despite how they were defned in public discourse: they were white and Angolan. If Portuguese anthropology has overlooked some things more than others, it must be the relationship between Angolans and the Portuguese. Tere is almost no literature on the Angolan migration to Portugal and the situation of Angolans today.24 Tis was a challenge during the research as I had little relevant anthropological literature about Angola and Angolans on which to draw. Jill R. Dias and Nuno Porto have worked with historical and colonial issues relating to Angola,25 but the scope of their work is very diferent from the one I have chosen for my work. Te lack of empirical research on the implications of the historical and continued relations between the two countries on subjective as well as societal levels has consequences, as the social relations between Angolans and Portuguese now play out in a post-colonial Portugal where the past is still very much alive, remembered and reinforced in both academic history and to a varying degree in social memory. Te Revolution of 25 April 1974 took place only a little more than three decades ago and caused massive changes to Portuguese society,26 as did the colonial

24 Cf. Bastos and Bastos, Portugal Multicultural. Te academic interest in Angola is, however, currently changing, reinforced by Portuguese emigration to Angola following the end of the civil war in 2002 and as an indirect consequence of the economic recession that started in 2008, which has hit Portugal very heavily, and continues to do so in 2012. 25 Dias, ‘Novas identidades africanas’; Porto, ‘O Museu e o arquivo do império’. 26 In Portugal, when someone says ‘25 April’, she or he might be talking specifcally about the revolution in 1975, but it is also used much more broadly to indicate all the processes involved in the movement from fascist regime to democracy. It is the big ‘before and afer’ in Portuguese history for most people who experienced it.

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Of Homecomings and Homesickness  189 wars and decolonisation to both Portugal and the former African colonies. Te revolution and decolonisation were (multi)local processes and events that also, geo-politically speaking, were part of larger worldwide transformations at the time. Te somewhat silenced history of retornados and white Angolans in public discourse stands in stark contrast to the extensive research and focus on Portuguese emigration, and they have in large part also been ignored by anthropological research.27 Research dealing directly with retornados and white citizens from the former colonies does not represent a huge body of litera­ture.28 Tis, I argue, is because white Angolan was an unthinkable category in the afermath of Independence and the retornados became the (symbolic) reminders of a shameful past and the Salazar regime. In Portugal there is one notable exception, namely the seminal study Os Retornados: um estudo sociográfco, from 1984, in which Rui Pena Pires and his co-authors explore the phenomenon sociologically and demographically. Tey based their enquiries on the following questions. Who were the retornados and what were the characteristics of this group? Where in Portugal did they arrive and where did they go? How did they insert themselves in the economy and Portuguese society? What were their impacts on economy and society from a demographic, spatial, economic and socio-cultural point of view?29 Te study was undertaken in 1984, ten years afer the Carnation Revolution of 1974, and was one of many studies that sought to analyse and come to terms with the changes that took place in the afermath of the revolution. At the time, the researchers’ concern was to characterise the societal transformations that took place in the country afer the establishment of democratic rule, one of which was the irreversible decolonisation and repatriation of the Portuguese populations of the former colonies. In his own contribution to the volume, Pires maintains that strangely enough ‘the return’ was the least studied consequence of decolonisation and that little is known about the repatriation of the retornados in Portuguese society. Te statistics produced by the 1981 census in Portugal, on which the researchers based their work, concluded that approximately half a million people were retornados. Tis means that at the time of the census 5 percent of the Portuguese population were defned as retornados, and two-thirds of them had come from Angola.

27 Te retornados have not been alone in being ‘forgotten’ as migrants in post-colonial Europe, for, as Andrea Smith poignantly points out, this is characteristic of the way decolonisation migration to Europe has been treated in general. See Smith, ‘Introduction: Europe’s Invisible Migrants’. Also, Dembour, Recalling the Belgian Congo; Brettell, Anthropology and Migration; Harper, Emigrant Homecomings. See also Molly Dineen’s flm Home from the Hill from 1985. 28 Pires et al., Os Retornados; Lubkemann, ‘Race, Class, and Kin’; Ovalle-Bahamón, ‘Te Wrinkles of Decolonisation and Nationness’; Smith, Europe’s Invisible Migrants; Batalha, Te Cape Verdean Diaspora in Portugal; Batalha, ‘A elite portuguesa-​cabo-​verdeana’. 29 Pires et al., Os Retornados, p. 10.

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190  Cecilie Øien Te retornado label needs to be considered not only as a popular descrip­tion of a category of people, but also as a bureaucratic identity and a designation ftted for a historical moment that in many ways has passed. We are dealing with a term that with time will become irrelevant as it designates a very s­ pecifc type of migrant. Yet, I would add that retornado as a term also describes the defnition of this group of migrants vis-à-vis two states that previously had been one. It soon became a stigmatising label and it was not a term people generally used to describe themselves, either then or today. It became an allembracing category including both those who saw themselves as Portuguese in the colonies and those who truly considered themselves to be Angolans. For the latter group of people, it is a description that is far from how they today perceive themselves. I should stress that the purpose of making these distinctions has nothing to do with embracing a Lusotropicalist view and placing these people in a historical narrative blind to the efects of decolonis­ ation and the developments that have later occurred in Angola and Portugal. I have no interest in indulging in ‘imperialist nostalgia’,30 and agree with Vale de Almeida when he points out, ‘Luso-Tropicalism was a discourse permeated with political power and ideological rhetoric: we need to unravel these in order not to reify, once more, “communities” that do not exist as essences’.31 Tis is why I fnd it vital to look at the distinctions within the group of people in Portugal today who defne themselves as Angolans. Working within this framework, I have also found it important to separate white Angolans from those who more easily could be described as retornados or white Portuguese and by so doing acknowledge the diversity in the Angolan diaspora. I argue that the reason decolonisation migrants such as the pieds-noirs in France and the retornados in Portugal are partly invisible in public discourses, as argued by Smith and the other contributors to Europe’s Invisible Migrants,32 is the narrative form, or the way they talk about the colonies and tell the stories of their lives in Africa . It is fair to say that today this could be considered a ‘muted group’,33 whose opinions and stories have been silenced or marginalised in national master narratives, because the national pasts in these countries have had to be re-established according to the demands of the (changing) present. Te long period under dictatorship had isolated Portugal and the revolution allowed the country to go through a process of redefning its position in the world. Te Portuguese nation state was eager to improve its international relations, in particular with other European nation states. In order to answer its needs in the new geo-political situation and to remain in tune with the political climate at home, the country distanced itself from the shameful, colonial past of which the retornados had become a symbol.

30 Dembour, Recalling the Belgian Congo, p. 148. 31 Vale de Almeida, An Earth-Colored Sea, p. 63. 32 Smith, Europe’s Invisible Migrants. 33 Cf. Ardener, ‘Belief and the Problem of Women’.

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Of Homecomings and Homesickness  191 Te successful integration into Portuguese mainstream society has in many ways defned the discourses about the Portuguese retornados beyond the negative attention they received.34 I would argue that they are perceived of as successfully integrated because in large part, with time, they managed to fnd jobs and places to live – they got on with their lives. Tey soon became invisible in national statistics and indicators because of this, but also because retornados and white Angolans easily ‘disappear’ into the Portuguese mainstream population due to their looks. Again, this invisibility is also related to the racialisation of these specifc national identities, and not these people’s subjective perception of who they are. Te complex relationship between race, nation and notions of belonging is stressed in the next section, where the focus is on Carmen. For her, as for many of the people I met during feldwork, the nationality printed on their passport was not necessarily their most important point of identifcation.

‘I am from there, in my heart’ I was born in Angola, in a city that today is called Lubango, but before that it had the name Sá de Bandeira. It was the Portuguese who had given it that name, because to Angolans its name was always Lubango. I usually say that I wasn’t born there: I am from there, in my heart. It’s a page that wasn’t turned, although it didn’t stay a blank page. I remember everything. My parents were born in Namibe, and it was my grandparents who were from here [Portugal]. Of my parents’ siblings, half of them were born here, the rest were born there.

Carmen was a white Angolan woman who came to Portugal in October 1975, only a short time before Independence.35 She turned twenty in that year. By the time of the revolution in Portugal, in April 1974, her parents realised that the situation in Angola would change too, and decided to leave the country with their three daughters, who were between ten and twenty years of age. Tey lef Sá de Bandeira for the city of Moçâmedes, or Namibe, as its name became afer Independence. From there the family departed for Portugal in two stages, with Carmen’s father being the last of the family to leave Angola because of his job. Te family arrived in Portugal in 1975 as part of the wave of retornados, but the girls had never been to Portugal before. Afer six months in Lisbon, Carmen moved to a small town in Alentejo where her family had a house and where they would live in close proximity to Portuguese relatives and friends from Angola. Te idea was for her to look for a job and settle down only

34 See Pires et al., Os Retornados; Lubkemann, ‘Race, Class, and Kin’. 35 I met Carmen during my feldwork in 2003, as part of a larger network of Angolans I came to know.

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192  Cecilie Øien temporarily. Te situation in the town in the Alentejo region where she was living was good in terms of employment and housing, so Carmen managed to fnd work and got on with her life. Her father worked for the Portuguese state in Angola, and was fortunate to be able to continue in the same job on arriving in Portugal. Tis was something of a privilege and secured the family economy. Other retornados who arrived in Portugal had to stay in hotels upon arrival and were not as fortunate to have the ‘infrastructure’ her family had. Yet, this did not mean that everything went smoothly for them, ‘Te frst thing I thought was: I am not going to stay here for a very long time! I don’t want to. … My stay was a passage. I always said: One of these days I am getting out of here!’ From the time she lef Angola and for many years to come, Carmen constantly planned to return to Angola. She was not alone among the white Angolans and retornados I met in pointing out the difculty adapting to the climate, the people and the culture in Portugal; it was the biggest challenge in their attempt to create a home for themselves and to develop a sense of belonging to this place that was now supposed to be ‘home’. Most of them felt that they did not ft in when they came to Portugal. Tose for whom being Angolan was not all that important, settling in as citizens in Portuguese society happened quickly. For Carmen, as for many others, however, her identity as Angolan was very important, and continued to be so in the face of the attitudes that Portuguese mainstream society showed towards them. Tese women could tell that among work colleagues, neighbours and others who realised they were retornados, they were not accepted. Tey were used to a diferent kind of conviviality and sociability than Portuguese people who had not been living in the colonies, and the dress code had also been freer for women in Angola than in mainland Portugal. Te regime had held a tighter grip over people in Portugal than the settler populations of the colonies. Retornadas were being treated as diferent in a place they had expected to be ‘equals’. Decolonisation was a victory for the black political movements over the colonisers, but it was also the end of a very painful period for the Portuguese families whose sons had been sent to fght in the colonial wars. Te white retornados and Angolans who came to Portugal afer decolonisation were a reminder of what Portugal would no longer be, and of a past that many Portuguese wanted to distance themselves from. Ovalle-Bahamón explains this, when writing, ‘Te resulting situation pitted local Portuguese against retornados, forcing them to compete for housing, employment, and social services, and distancing “white” Angolans from Portugueseness.’36 On a personal level, Carmen experienced the break from Angola and coming to Portugal as a massive disruption to her life.37 Tis feeling stayed with her, although in the years that followed several of Carmen’s friends from 36 Ovalle-Bahamón, ‘Te Wrinkles of Decolonisation and Nationness’, p. 160. 37 Cf. Becker, Disrupted Lives.

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Of Homecomings and Homesickness  193 Angola appeared in Portugal, and together they constituted a network of people with a background in common. Today they all still live in connection with the network of friends they have had since living in Angola, and have to a varying degree included Portuguese people into their circle of friends.38 For Carmen, Portugal became a more familiar place when her social network developed and when she could recognise herself within this new world. She could start ‘feeling at home’, and I suggest that this is when her ‘home-making’ in Portugal started. Over the years she has become emplaced in Portugal, but the form of sociability that is a marker of being Angolan for Carmen is a marker of diference in relation to the Portuguese and she felt that life quality was better in Angola. When Carmen envisaged a ‘better life’, she implicitly referred to what resonates with an ‘Angolan way of living’ she remembers from her childhood, and that she and her family and friends have tried to hold on to afer they arrived in Portugal.39 White Angolans drew attention to their belief that it is ‘living life the Angolan way’ that makes them Angolans and not Portuguese. Carmen’s social network consisted almost exclusively of people with a history in Angola. Many of them are white, but, as is the case with a few of her friends, Carmen’s partner Henrique, a man who was in his mid-sixties when I came to know them, is a black Angolan. Tey had no children together, but Henrique had a middle-aged son from a previous relationship who was Carmen’s age. Te two got together in the early 1990s and lived together in Lisbon. Henrique himself came to Portugal in the late 1950s and because of the time and his background he had a very diferent migration pathway from Carmen. As a white woman with a black partner, Carmen was troubled by the racial discrimination in Portugal. Carmen worked in a public institution and ofen found that people forgot that she was in a relationship with a black man. She was thus included in the comments and stories her white Portuguese colleagues told each other about black people. Sometimes this included reactions to her partner, a sociable man for whom being well-mannered and educated (in all senses of the word) was a virtue. ‘When Henrique and I meet outside work afer hours it is still difcult. At work, for example, people still say: “Tere is a guy who wants some information – it’s a nigger (é um preto).” Tere still exists a lot of this mentality and way of being in Portugal.’ Race was a central issue in the relationships of many of her friends, too, who also lived in mixed-race relationships. I suggest that in being in a relationship with a black man Carmen had to face up to ‘race’ as a fundamental marker of diference and belonging in her life, and more generally in Portuguese society. 38 While I did my feldwork in 2002­–3, I have kept in touch with individuals in this network since then and know that this continues to be the case. 39 In the Portuguese city where Carmen lived at the time, this was not a difcult lifestyle to sustain as, according to her, at some point 90 per cent of all the people living in the region were from Angola or other Portuguese-speaking African countries or so-called PALOP (Países Africanos de Língua Ofcial Portuguesa) countries.

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194  Cecilie Øien I found that in her accounts Carmen’s whiteness was somewhat understated, as she was prevented from taking her whiteness for granted because of how she had positioned herself politically and also through her sexual relationships. In White Women, Race Matters: Te Social Construction of Whiteness, Ruth Frankenberg contends that ‘white stands for the position of racial “neutrality”, or the racially unmarked category.’40 Frankenberg’s aim was to challenge the boundaries and ‘givenness’ of whiteness, and how people negotiate racial identities. Carmen, being a decolonisation migrant and defning herself as Angolan, partly contradicts that whiteness stands for racial neutrality as she had over the years been confronted with how ‘absurd’ others might fnd her identity and the ‘unnaturalness’ of a white woman of her generation to be in a relationship with a black man. It seemed to me that there was an implicit awareness in place in the way she presented herself: it was not a given that she would be ‘accepted’ as an Angolan, either by Portuguese people or by Angolans. Among the former, she might be automatically included as one of ‘us’, exactly because of her whiteness. By the latter, her whiteness might mark her as ‘non-Angolan’, depending on the vision of Angolanness she was met with. I would occasionally hear black Angolans express their irritation over the fact that people like Carmen can choose when they are Portuguese and when they are Angolan. I argue, however, that the attitude that met some white people who call themselves Angolan is not only linked to the fact that they lef Angola in the period just before or afer Independence – ‘when things were difcult’. Tis was problematic enough, as it was ofen seen as a lack of solidarity with the situation of their black compatriots. More pertinent to how whiteness and blackness are dealt with in the diaspora and in Portugal more generally is the way in which Portuguese and Angolan national identities are racialised in specifc ways. For Carmen and many others, having to move from Angola was a personal trauma, but the fact that it undoubtedly also was a national trauma in the country they moved to frames their stories in a particular way. In terms of Carmen’s sense of belonging and her vision of the world, decolonisation represented a ‘fateful moment’ in the way she understood herself.41 It was the big ‘before and afer’ in her life (it changed her world completely) that is her vision of the world and her self-perception. Smith describes Carmen’s experience when she writes: Imperial master narratives were developed, propagated, interpreted and to varying degrees believed in by those in the colony. A sea change in worldviews has led to a fatal challenge to the foundation on which these narratives were built. What happens to individuals when the wider narrative that gave meaning to their world can no longer be told?42 40 Frankenberg, White Women, Race Matters, p. 55. 41 Cf. Giddens, Modernity and Self-Identity, p. 113. 42 Smith, ‘Introduction: Europe’s Invisible Migrants’, p. 27.

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Of Homecomings and Homesickness  195 Tis is what happened with many of the whites in Angola, but Carmen had in many ways adapted her interpretation of events so she could create a present in continuation with the past. For when Carmen talked about never having lost her roots, she was not only alluding to her memories of Angola, but also to her perceptions of belonging as they played out in everyday life and in her social network. Like many of her generation, she had not been opposed to the end of colonialism. In fact, a lot of her friends who had family where the majority were of white Portuguese origin supported the African resistance against the regime. Both in Portugal and Angola, her generation was one of the strongest forces in the resistance against the New State regime. Still, it is difcult to know if this is a view she held at the time or if it is a position she developed later as a consequence of living in Portugal, basing her life on relationships with other Angolans. It makes sense to imagine that Carmen’s story changed over the years as she was appropriating her place, or becoming emplaced, within the changing conditions of the diaspora. Belonging can thus evolve ‘afer the fact’, as a new perception of personal identifcation and in the continuous reanalysis of one’s memories. More importantly, we encounter the contestation of the past and of belonging, which is a struggle about who has the ‘right to the truth’. Nevertheless, ‘the issue is not, of course, whether the story this and many other informants have constructed around their families’ pasts is true or false as much as how and why this particular narrative comes to dominate and shape a new exilic imagination.’ Basu claims that the explanation for the dominance of one narrative form over another may partly be located in the concept of ‘homeland’ itself.43 Moreover, because belonging is a process, it can also ‘come to an end’ in dramatic redefnitions of world view. Carmen’s ‘homeland’ may have been ‘irrevocably lost’44 and exist only through her own ‘memory work’,45 but her sense of belonging and her ‘home’ were also constituted through her contemporary social relations and her continued afection for Angola.

Hanging on to the Past as a Way to Deal with the Present? Tis was also the case of Dona Rosa.46 Te history of this family made me sensitive to the ways in which the Portuguese categorise and classify race, and how this again is understood in light of the country’s colonial past. In hindsight, the

43 44 45 46

Basu, ‘Roots Tourism as Return Movement’, p. 138. Smith, ‘Introduction: Europe’s Invisible Migrants’, p. 26. Cf. Stoler, Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power; Werbner, Memory and the Postcolony. I came to know Dona Rosa and her family during my stay in Portugal in 1998. Sadly I have not been able to keep in touch with them and thus do not know how the end of the civil war and more recent developments in Portugal and Angola have afected the way they perceive their background and belonging today.

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196  Cecilie Øien family proved to be an important place for grasping some of the complexities related to colonial experiences. Te family members identifed diferently as being Angolan, Portuguese or both. Her family also arrived just before the decolonisation of Angola was completed, and moved in with ­relatives in Lisbon’s city centre. Less than half a year afer their arrival her husband fell ill with cancer and died shortly thereafer. Dona Rosa, who had been born in Angola and had never been to Portugal before, had a hard time settling in and fnding a job to support her family. She would ofen talk about Angola as her homeland. She was passionate about her identity as an Angolan and told me a lot about how she and her husband (who was a cartographer for the Portuguese in the interior of Angola) had decided to move to Portugal. Tey partly did so because they were worried that if they stayed their teenage sons might join (through their own choice or by others convincing them) one of the radical groups of the black opposition in the country. Her youngest, adopted son Gabriel was mixed race and she explained how the older siblings knowing his history might have spurred their fear of something like that happening. Gabriel was aged two when Dona Rosa and her husband adopted him because his mother had died. Gabriel’s mother had been the maid of the family, and her son was born afer a short relationship with a Portuguese man who was known in the area because of his many adventures with local women. Gabriel’s identity was ambiguous because most of his life he had perceived of himself as, and been treated by others, ‘like a white person’, but over the years he had encountered attitudes that made him realise that due to his racial background he was never going to be fully accepted as Portuguese. He was aged four when he arrived in Portugal with his family, and because of his particular history he no longer held any links to Angola whatsoever. But as he got older and experienced being treated as a preto or ‘nigger’ on several occasions in his workplace, his interest in returning to Angola grew. It became a possible future home, an unexplored possibility in his search for somewhere to belong. As for Dona Rosa’s three other children, they gave the impression of being uneasy about the position their family had inhabited as Portuguese in Angola. Whereas their mother would always be quick to tell people she was Angolan, the situation was much more ambiguous for her children. Her oldest son Rogério, who was forty-two years old in 1998, was the one who felt most Angolan and who most missed the place in which he grew up. João was aged thirty-eight and very emotional in regards to what had happened to his place of birth afer they lef: ‘Look at the natural resources of Angola – and look what has happened since 1975! Angolans have completely destroyed their own country even though they had all the chances in the world to be living in the best country in Africa.’ He thus distanced himself from the place through the events that had taken place since Independence, as these were alienating processes he could not identify with.47 Despite the diferences in their sense of 47 He made this statement in 1998, and Angola has changed considerably from what it

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Of Homecomings and Homesickness  197 belonging, neither of the two men wanted to go back to Angola for a visit, even though they still had family there. Dona Rosa’s daughter Milena, who was aged thirty-six at the time, had no real wish to go there even for a holiday. For her the memories of the landscapes and animals she could remember from her childhood were precious as just that: memories. Apart from that she thought of herself as Portuguese and was happy to be where she was. Milena considered Portugal as her ‘home’, while her mother in her eyes still held on to the past. Milena was properly emplaced in Portugal: she defned herself through the social relations and life she had established for herself there. Her mother on the other hand had a home in Portugal, but she still felt she belonged in Angola. Te time span between the loss of her homeland and the death of her husband seemed to have converged, and intensifed her sense of loss of what in the past had been home. Te circumstances of her family never gave her a chance to digest these experiences because she had to struggle for their survival every day. Now, the family as a whole was successful in terms of integration, and the children had all managed to get a higher education and good jobs. However, this had been a fght for Dona Rosa who in periods ­struggled to put food on the table and shoes on her children’s feet. Te bitterness she felt in relation to the downward mobility her family faced afer moving to Portugal and, in particular, afer her husband’s death, was still intense. In Angola she stayed at home with the children and had a comfortable lifestyle, but moving to Portugal the family had to stay with elderly relatives of her husband. Dona Rosa’s account was that they were very unwelcoming to her and that she had to do everything they asked her to do. Worst of all, however, was that she had to fnd paid work and take on the role as the breadwinner in the family, a role she found would be better suited for men. Yet, she had succeeded in her eforts, as had her children who had managed through their own hard work to earn enough money to take higher education. From the conversations I had with the diferent family members it was my impression that Dona Rosa’s children were a little annoyed with their mother for not ‘letting go’ of the past. She would never again be able to live the life she had had in Angola, so why could she not just accept the situation as it was? Dona Rosa, who truly felt that she had lost her homeland, in many ways retreated to ‘the work of the imagination’48 when envisioning where she belonged and where she wanted home to be. Dona Rosa is a representative of a group of people that were ‘assertions of a past that risked getting in the way of a future’ and who thus ‘had no right to exist’.49

was when I knew him. I can only speculate that he would have spoken diferently about Angola today, but this reinforces my argument that perceptions of home and belonging change over time, and that the way in which people narrate their lives is linked to the discourses about society and history available to them at any given time. 48 Smith, ‘Introduction: Europe’s Invisible Migrants’, p. 26. 49 Cooper, ‘Postcolonial Peoples: A Commentary’, pp. 173, 169.

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198  Cecilie Øien Still, Dona Rosa had far from ‘abandoned Africa’. When I knew her, in 1998, her mother, who was over eighty years old at the time, and two of her sisters and their families were still living in Angola. Dona Rosa was not well of but had herself been back several times, and afer her children moved away from home she tried to go at least every second year. As much as she would have wanted, she could not imagine moving back to Angola permanently. Her health was bad and did not allow for her to go somewhere where the health service was even worse than in Portugal, she explained. Moreover, it would mean losing the bonds she had with her children and grandchild, and she would once more have to start all over again. Tis was a sacrifce she was not willing to make.

Conclusion: Afer the Empire Te memories, experiences and visions related to this era were and are reinforced in everyday practices and social relations, as well as through the experiences Angolans have as migrants to Portugal. I have wanted to make a distinction between diferent kinds of self-perceptions among these decolonisation migrants. Today many Portuguese nationals and Africans in the diaspora alike still have vivid memories to illustrate the (national) dramas the colonial wars and Independence represent in Angolan and Portuguese histories. In the wake of decolonisation, maps were redrawn, names of places changed and the politics of identity both in Portugal and Angola had to adjust to the new situation. Some Angolans described the Portuguese withdrawal and Independence as the historical moment when Angolan people were fnally in charge of their own ‘home’. At last the ‘guests’ had gone. Tis was a particularly strong feeling among those informants who had continued to live in Angola through the 1970s and 1980s; the time before the great optimism many shared in regard to the future of this new nation state was substituted with the pessimism incited by civil war and economic stagnation. For those who migrated to Portugal in relation to decolonisation, the issue was one of continued coexistence with the Portuguese. In presenting these stories I have wanted to show how blurred the distinction between retornados, white Angolans and Portuguese can be. Te signifcant diference between retornados, white, mixed-race and black Angolans lies, as I see it, in their contrasting perceptions of home and belonging – not whether or not they had continued living in Angola afer Independence. Teir visions of what it means to be Portuguese and Angolan are of a diferent kind, and these are based in very diferent politics of identity. Te issue of white Angolans and retornados poses many interesting questions as they mark the margins of the African diaspora in Europe in terms of race and belonging. Can Angola still be defned as ‘home’ for Portuguese retornados and white Angolans who arrived in Portugal as a consequence of Independence? If home

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Of Homecomings and Homesickness  199 is defned as their place of origin, then ‘home’ for many of them is located in the past and is no longer available for return.50 For some of my informants it was like Angola as a physical landscape and an actual place had ceased carrying importance for them. Home for them would be the place they were living in the here and now, in Portugal. For white Angolans and retornados who did not have relatives living in Angola any longer, going back was not necessarily something they would dream about or wish to do. It was only a space in their imagination, and the role it played today was through the continuing relations they held with other people who themselves were connected to Angola in some way or another. Tese stories challenge the ‘dominant cultural narrative’51 of decolonis­ation and post-coloniality in Angola and Portugal respectively. In this vision of nations and nationality, white people and those of Portuguese origin belonged in Portugal – that was their home – whereas black Africans and those who otherwise were considered ‘native’ to Angola, belonged there. In this sense, the rhetoric used to describe the current non-belongingness of white Angolans and retornados coincided with contemporary discourses about ‘immigrants’ as foreigners in Portugal and Europe. Te consequences of categorisation of people as outsiders, or of these ‘strangers amongst ourselves’, is that they are denied the right to create a ‘home for themselves’ within a national space where their racial, socio-economic or geographical background is deemed as not belonging to ‘us’. Te ‘national order of things’ tends to be organised through markers of diference and belonging that are taken for granted, and the border between ‘us’ and ‘them’ tends to be subtle and shifing; the modern histories of Portugal and Angola are good examples of this. In view of the so-called economic crisis Europe is undergoing at the beginning of the 2010s and in which Portugal has been hit hard, as well as the stabilisation that has taken place in Angola in the decade following the end of the civil war, we may have to reconsider the interpretations of (post-) colonial relations and history that I have presented in this chapter to allow for yet other analyses of how lusophone Africa is understood in contemporary Portugal. As early as 2003, a year afer the civil war ended, the Angolan embassy in Portugal reported a high number of Portuguese applying for visas. Because of the recession we are once again seeing a large number of Portuguese seeking to go to Angola for work,52 while few Angolans are coming

50 See Long and Oxfeld, Coming Home? for an analysis of various issues related to ‘return’. 51 Cf. Basu, ‘Roots Tourism as Return Movement’, p. 135. 52 In 2003, the Portuguese population in Angola was reportedly 21,000 people, while in 2010 it had increased to over 90,000 persons. Te news about the ‘reverse fow’ of migrants was also reported in the international press in 2011. One example was the New York Times: ‘Fortunes, and Tables, Turn for Portugal and Angola’. www.nytimes. com/2011/11/20/world/africa/portugals-financial-crisis-leads-it-back-to-angola. html?_r=1.

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200  Cecilie Øien to Portugal ­compared to a decade ago. Yet, rather than seeing white Angolans and retornados as remnants of the ‘old world order’ and reminders of Europe’s imperialistic past, I suggest we need to consider the transnational practices between Africa and Europe in the long twentieth century. Te vision of the world of white Angolans represents perceptions of home and belonging that contest the categorisations of contemporary mainstream nation states – be it in Angola or in Portugal.

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Chapter 11

Blackness over Europe: Meditations on Culture and Belonging Donald Martin Carter

Newcomers from every corner of the globe now share the everyday rhythm of life in many European cities. Te contours of their lives are of necessity lived shuttling between nation states, cultural worlds and more ofen than not generations – generations that are growing up in this new context or are coming to terms with it having grown up elsewhere under very diferent circumstances. For the ethnographer or anthropologist this unfolding world provides a window into the lives of people struggling to survive today’s global economic crisis and weathering the storms of public opinion and government policies that accommodate or inhibit legal population fows. As an anthropologist I have been increasingly concerned with the presence of people of the African diaspora, their trials and accomplishments, and the manner in which they have begun to craf a new subjectivity while living a decidedly transnational existence. Contemporary anthropologists working in Italy have recently documented the changing nature of Italian society, particularly the dramatic demographic transformations leading to a tendency towards smaller family units.1 Tey have also given attention to the reception of newcomers in the wake of devastating economic shifs as traditional communities deal with less than transparent government practices, double-digit unemployment and the increasing demands of a globalising world.2 A portrait of the new residents of Europe emerges for me from intensive observation, conversations and participation in the communities of Senegalese and others who work as welders, food service workers in agriculture and as caretakers of the elderly in Italy. In this chapter I speculate on the nature of an emergent community 1 Krause, Unravelled. 2 Herzfeld, Evicted from Eternity.

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202  Donald Martin Carter which is ofen relatively invisible to Italians but whose members are at the same time hyper-visible as outsiders.3 In the introduction to Unsettling Europe – a study by American journalist and European correspondent for the New York Times Jane Kramer, compiled in part from portraits of various European communities that European journal­ism had neglected over the years – a striking characterisation is made of the sometimes elusive signifer Europe: ‘Europe is cynical in ways that foreigners, and especially Americans, have trouble understanding’, Kramer writes. Te part about Americans is familiar, but she continues, ‘Tis was true when Henry James was writing, and it is true now, a hundred years afer Te Europeans was published.’4 Te rest of this passage captured my attention the frst time I read it and has haunted me in my feldwork ever since: Europe plays with identity. When necessary, it can arouse identity. Its elegant manipulations, its style and sophistry, have to do with the myths of Nation and Citizen it has mastered. And despite the lessons of Nazism and then Stalinism, it has gone right on with causes and ideologies that are still never really expected to threaten the complacency within its borders. But now outsiders – native and foreign – have broken the mould of European life by the sheer force of their helpless and extravagant diference. Tey are part of a new mould. Tey are a social and political and certainly an economic fact of life, and they have made of Europe a more polyglot, more various sort of place. But Europe has yet to settle on an ethic, or even an appearance, appropriate to its new reality.5

Certainly there is an irony in the fact that this comment is made to an American audience which tends to ignore historical continuities in its own migrant population, treating many as if they have come completely unexpected from some strange planet when in fact they have come to join their families, pursue educations and otherwise follow the example of previous generations of new Americans. But it is nevertheless perceptive. Te ‘extravagant diference’ of which Kramer writes is a fact of life in Porto Palazzo and now even the great expanse of barriera di Milano in Turin, where the streets of the open market open up onto a world of Chinese merchants, Nigerian grocery stores, Senegalese cloth sellers and Halal butcher shops that a decade ago did not exist. Although the global economic crisis has taken its toll, stripping away countless precarious jobs from those already hanging by a string to marginal economies, the diaspora has become the home of newcomers who are crafing a new blackness over Europe – a Europe still struggling to fnd its new ethic and most recently its balance in a world economy. Bennetta Jules-Rosette’s Black Paris: Te African Writers’ Landscape explores the world of African writers in France and the relationship this group of 3 I have dealt with this in detail in Carter, Navigating the African Diaspora. 4 Kramer, Unsettling Europe, pp. xiv–xv. 5 Ibid., p. xv.

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Blackness over Europe  203 artists maintains with the broader process of diaspora formation. Te work of the writers spanning new generations resonates with the tropes of longing and belonging, between nation and the making of a black diasporic subjectivity, a split as Du Bois once suggested between ‘two souls … two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder’, and sufering on both sides of the hyphen.6 Te fact that people of the African diaspora live in two worlds is nothing new, as European-styled educations and other post-colonial legacies have ensured that negotiating a delicate balance between alternate understandings, orientations and dis­po­sitions is a part of the day-to-day experience of countless European newcomers. As Jules-Rosette suggests, ‘African writing in France expresses cultural displacement and longing.’ On the one hand the writing invokes the ‘longing for a pristine past’, as found in the foundational works of Léopold Sédar Senghor and Camara Laye. Tis contrasts sharply, though, with the narrative of ‘belonging to a new culture’ devised by more recent authors who have taken up permanent residence in France. Tey identify with its unique attractions and the promise it holds out that the subject may take a ‘leap into the future’, embracing this new social context and envisioning a life for themselves and their children. But Jules-Rosette also points out that the revenge of the other portion of the soul is great, as ‘[t]he desire to belong is counterbalanced by a wish to retain cultural uniqueness, integrity, and autonomy’.7 Te threat of this loss of ‘connection’ is felt like a collective shudder in an episode that occurred in a Western Union shop in Turin owned by Fatima, a Senegalese woman I have known for many years. Te key function of the barbershop in maintaining communication and community in African American neighbourhoods is well known.8 In Italy, the Western Union ofce fulfls the same functions. It has for some time become the meeting place for a community of newcomers – sending emails, making phone calls, expressing money back home and catching up on the local gossip. At any given time people are waiting for a booth, counting out cash, telling jokes or just stopping by for a few minutes on the way to work. Home, work, the lives and ex­periences of children and encounters with the Italians are all appropriate fodder for conversation here – and in this place that crosses through the internet, phone lines and inter-subjective connectivity the idea of dropping a lifeline to an ‘originary homeland’ is never far from people’s minds. On this occasion a young Moroccan woman entered Fatima’s shop with an elderly relative and her two young children in the middle of a hot ­summer’s afer­noon; a mutual friend, a young Senegalese, began to toss friendly questions to the young boy and his sister. ‘Are you going to visit your grandparents this summer in Morocco? How is your Arabic coming along?’ moving ­delicately 6 Du Bois, Te Souls of Black Folk, p. 9. 7 Jules-Rosette, Black Paris, pp. 8–9. 8 Harris-Lacewell, Barbershops, Bibles and BET.

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204  Donald Martin Carter through more intimate details, as the speakers are well known on to another. Te heat of the day rising the children are ofered drinks and begin to make their playground extend in and out of the shop and in and around those sitting and standing in the place. Te glass walls of the telephone booths mark a fragile frontier and the children are cautioned from time to time to lower voices and with a gesture of the hand stay clear of the glass. Afer a few minutes the boy said, ‘I don’t really want to go to down there – I would rather stay here with my friends.’ At this point his mother bowed her head as if to shake of the shame; she quickly rebounded, turned to the people in the small shop, actually turning in a semi-circle to take in the gaze of every one in turn, and began apologising for the statement of her son, and then added, ‘But his future is here.’ To this many nodded their heads and some repeated the statement: yes, his future is here. Te boy, his sister, other Senegalese children in the shop and those in the quarter are acknowledged by their parents (although not by much of the rest of society) to be Italian.9 If there is a Black Europe they are at its core. And although a collective sadness arose from the shop like a bit of liquid evaporating from the sizzling walkways outside, all had to acknowledge that try as they may the children had become something many of them would never be, for better or worse, new Italians. An emergent Black Italia. Tat is, the Italian on the inside has become one of the most remarkable characteristics of a new generation living between two souls. For others they are just Africans or neri (blacks), or a host of other euphemisms denoting their diference and outsider status. But as quarters settle with the everyday coming and goings of newcomers their presence seems as constant as the trafc in large cities and small villages. Winthrop D. Jordan begins a section of his classic White over Black: American Attitudes Towards the Negro, 1550–1812 entitled ‘Te Blackness Without’ with the words, ‘Te most arresting characteristic of the newly discovered African was his color.’10 Indeed, from the sixteenth century, this ‘blackness without’, an arbitrary feature, has been spun into one of the most complex discursive tissues of diaspora formation and Western popular culture. Its texture, indeed the nature of blackness, is diferentially elaborated in diverse locations and manifested in novel ways through time; as Minkah Makalani suggests, the distinctiveness of the African diaspora is ‘not merely that the process of racialisation was central to and concomitant with dispersion, but that dispersion involved multiple racial formations’, many creating identities ‘other than black’.11 Tis state of play in the making of blackness is, I would suggest, always an integral part of the social process, and not as Makalani implies restricted merely to the ‘large segments of African-descended populations in places like the Dominican Republic, Brazil, lusophone Africa, 9 On the making of immigrant space, see Merrill, An Alliance of Women. 10 Jordan, White over Black, p. 4. 11 Makalani, ‘Introduction: Diaspora and the Localities of Race’, p. 1.

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Blackness over Europe  205 and Europe’.12 And, as Tina M. Campt has recently pointed out, the African diaspora with its anchor in ‘diasporic blackness’ is both a process and product of ‘an imaginative and compelling formation to which black people look when envisioning their diverse histories and cultures’. Examining photography of black German life, she suggests that we must consider ‘diasporic dwelling’ rather than privilege migration or displacement, as we fnd here no common or even imagined ‘“originary” homeland or elsewhere’, and this demands that we look more carefully at the forging of black subjectivity in the mundane details of family life and its visual record.13 Paradoxically, it is even more difcult to image someone who results as diferent as part of the nation when they have no recourse to an elsewhere. In families that have adopted children who do not look like them, or whose children visibly combine racial or ethnic characteristics that have been relatively separate in the eyes of cultural convention, the children and families face curious others perplexed by an abundance of unexpected ‘diference’. Tis cultural distancing is even more remarkable as it bring the diasporic experience even closer to people who have no link to it but their rejection by ‘insiders’ like (or unlike) themselves. Tis leaves some to wonder at this peculiar ‘doubleness’, induced by an assumed cultural experience where no such experience exists. When the daughter of friends I have known for over twenty years was planning to adopt a child from Africa, she called up the radio show of a right-wing Italian politician known for his anti-immigrant stance to express her fears for her child in such a climate. She received reassurances that since the child would be Italian this was quite a diferent matter from the migrants that plague the country. Tis did nothing to reassure her, as in these matters there is little room for nuance. If we are to take up the rich and suggestive work of Jordan, then, we must say that blackness has from the very beginning of an encounter with Europe been posed over and above the taken-for-granted universal baseline of the European. Now it hovers over Europe like an early morning fog foreshadowing perhaps a world in transformation. Reactions against it can be strong; the recent push against undocumented workers in Italy has had a dramatic impact on communities of newcomers, thinning their numbers and forcing many into clandestine lives. It is only ftting that we are considering fipping the terms and exploring the nature of belonging in our times. Certainly what it means to be inside or outside the nation is no more fxed than the conventional story of the coming into being of any nation; all is subject to the play of time, memory and the shifing sands of historical discourse. Te climate for migrants in Europe has become increasingly inhospitable particularly during the period from the early 1990s to the present. Te evolving integration of the European Union has contributed to a great deal of anxiety over such issues as immigration, with no coordinated policy and the 12 Ibid. 13 Campt, ‘Family Matters’, pp. 86–7.

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206  Donald Martin Carter mechanisms for the protection of human rights in their infancy. In Italy, for example, under Berlusconi, the Italian government restricted entrance to those coming into the country to take up specifc jobs, in an echo of contract labour schemes. Tis prompted the late migrant activist Jean-Marie Tshotsha to say to me one afernoon, ‘We are now only things to be manipulated, we have no humanity.’ Tis form of objectifcation drains labour of its social value as it helps to compartmentalise workers along national lines. And it efectively isolates them from Italian society, as they are seen as merely temporary sojourners and not community members. As migrants become part of local communities they begin to work against the efacement of the workplace. Local shopkeepers, community artists and others notice their daily rhythms. Viewed from the supra-local standpoints of government and the media, migrants live in a subterranean world that tends to cut them of from full social personhood/participation. And yet their presence maintains a kind of hyper-visibility, as the issue of ‘immigration’ has become one of the permanent features of national discourse in a political context increasingly dominated by right-wing political factions. In fact, whatever its material dimensions, over the past twenty years ‘immigration’ has taken on symbolic force as an integral part of the political landscape of the new European Union. In this process, the key notion of visibility turns on what it means to be seen or unseen in a world in which your very existence has become a subject for debate. What comes to be seen and what is relegated to invisibility is an index of the workings of power over time and its insinuation into the taken-for-granted foundations of everyday life. Tat is, what concerns us here is not optics but the phenomenology of optics and the play of its politics. Te Senegalese and other migrants I have worked with over the years are the true architects of blackness over Europe and the two (an imagined/lived Africa and Europe) are always locked in a dialectical relationship, as the agents of this identity and location are to some extent also spectators of their own subjectivity and consumers of the world they create and inhabit. In such a world we are drawn to recast Europe as the most appropriate contemporary context in which to navigate the African diaspora, its creations and contours, its struggles and triumphs.14 Tis very productive diference alerts us to the manner in which ‘diaspora, as a social formation’, in Makalani’s words, ‘is simul­taneously framed by relationships of domination and is itself a structured hierarchy’.15 Of course this ‘structured hierarchy’ is at once sociological and discursive, historical and contemporary, deriving its strength from both the depth of a kind of genealogy of black caricature and the specifcity of local histories, antagonisms and social memories. When I begin to think about the problem of blackness over Europe as an anthropologist I am ofen moved to think about the portrait of the present 14 Carter, Navigating the African Diaspora. 15 Makalani, ‘Introduction: Diaspora and the Localities of Race’, p. 1.

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Blackness over Europe  207 that as a social scientist I am not quite able to paint. What disciplinary practice evades or omits is at times vividly drawn in works of fction. Refecting on my conversations with Senegalese in Italy I was drawn to the work of Bernard Binlin Dadié, An African in Paris (1959). One of the francophone African writers of the 1950s, Dadié crafs what Jules-Rosette has called ‘a powerful fctional statement of the narrative of belonging’.16 Te work recounts the travels of Tanhoé Bertin from Dakar to Paris in which a round-trip journey ‘unleashes a Rabelaisian adventure’, through the means of an informal letter back home. Te observations of Parisian manners and customs and the infectious manner in which the traveller is drawn into the pace, beauty and ordering of a seemingly irresistible Parisian life are reminiscent of Montesquieu’s Persian Letters (1721), as the work charts the observations of Parisians at a distance, and that distance is the distance of culture. While the chronicle provides tools to critique life in France, the form is transformed in the hands of Dadié. His chronique, rather than presenting a pseudo-foreign letter as in the case of Montesquieu’s extraordinarily popular work, creates the foundation of a new Black subjectivity, encompassing a future-oriented personal landscape which unfolds through the text and the encounter of an African with Paris. Parisians are, Tanhoé writes, a ‘people of protocol’, a people who ‘adore hierarchies and formalities’, although there is a kind of integral fuidity and movement in the Parisian domain, as the past courses through the present and the incessant fow of the Metro. Te city, our traveller alerts us, ‘breathes, coughs, vomits and swallows, resists and rebels through the metro; the metro is at once its mouth, its lungs, arteries, veins, and heart’.17 What is striking about this meditation is that the European comes so sharply into view even as the African is taking shape through the narrative. Tis work has been called Parisianism, and in literature Dadié’s work has inspired a new generation of writers. Indeed, the term ‘Parisianism’ has been used by authors to describe their own ‘cultural claim of belonging to French society’, as well as by critics mocking their attachment to the city of light. During the 1980s, writers like Yodi Karone, Simon Njami, Calixthe Beyala, Blaise N’Djehoya, Felix Bankara and others became both benefciaries of the legacy of the Présence Africaine movement and literary networks and established contacts, publishing and lecture circuits extending beyond Paris throughout Europe, Africa and the United States. Te emergence of this ‘new category’ of black writers runs parallel to the changing demographic reality of contemporary urban France becoming ‘a landscape of memory’ that encompasses, according to JulesRosette, ‘the subjective perspectives of African writers’, shaping discursive revelations and positions that have ‘fltered into the public domain’.18

16 Jules-Rosette, Black Paris, p. 9. 17 Dadié, An African in Paris, p. 60. 18 Jules-Rosette, Black Paris, pp. 148–9.

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208  Donald Martin Carter Te peculiar circumstance of blacks in the West, and in Europe in particular, and its impact on identity, has been a preoccupation in the cultural production of the African diaspora for some time. Te earliest short African flms shot in Europe explore this theme, as do many works of literature in which the travels of African subjects come to be interrogated against the backdrop of colonialism, race and social exclusion. René Maran’s Batouala is an early example of such literature, frst published in 1921 and suggesting both a black modernity and complex black identity that included aspects of an assimilated European-ness and identifcation with blacks internationally. Perhaps the most controversial part of the work was the introduction in which Maran, himself a veteran colonial ofcer of French colonial service born in Martinique, although having spent many years since childhood in parts of Africa, ofers a critique of colonial policy. Te reception of the book on its own terms was drowned out by a discursive French folk ideology constructing blacks as permanent strangers in the francophone world. As Brent Hayes Edwards writes, the reception of the book at the time was characterised by dominant stereotypes, racial tonalities and the strict subordination of the colonial subject: It is simply overwhelmed by the force of a discursive context that insists on reading any expression of the black modern as a threat – for … the modern self-construction of France relies on an array of representational strategies to distance the nègre as silent Other, as well as political strategies to mitigate against any black internationalist alliance undermining the smooth borders of the nation.19

Te most recent literary work refecting on the African diaspora in Europe may hope to fnd a more positive resonance. Elleke Boehmer’s novel Nile Baby charts the world of two children in search of their pasts and the mysteries of their parents, and ofers an intimate and revealing look at the insinuation of African cosmologies in contemporary England.20 Fiction can ofen alert us to what is being experienced in hospitals and workplaces, where divergent cultural worlds are being negotiated as people from diferent backgrounds struggle to understand the origin of an illness in the family or navigate the labyrinthine structure of a local Italian institution. Back in the 1950s, Dadié’s Tanhoé laments his invisibility to the Parisians: I no longer feel as though I’m forced to endure the Scottish mists when it comes to making friends with these people. But they do everything they can to ignore me, and this gets frustrating afer a while. Tey no longer look at us as though we were some sort of curiosity piece; nor do they even touch our skin to see if the colour comes of. Tey do nothing, my friend, absolutely nothing! But I refuse to withdraw; I refuse to give up. I just keep right on running like 19 Edwards, Te Practice of Diaspora, p. 97. 20 Boehmer, Nile Baby; see John Masterson’s interview with Boehmer in this volume.

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Blackness over Europe  209 Parisians, who don’t even notice me since I too am doing what they’re doing. In sum, I’m adapting – more or less.21

Te invisible traveller in today’s world is the newcomer who represents a black culture that is emerging in quarters where children are poised between the world of their parents and that of their schoolmates, teachers and society at large. In Italy, as there is no legacy of a historical writing community, black writers are constructing for the frst time access to publishing outlets and ofen resort to online journals or national competitions to promote their work.22 But the basic problem of considering what it means to be a problem, in Du Bois’ phrase, remains a constant and refracts the lived experience of people bound both by social invisibility and a hyper-visible status as newcomers. Te work of a new generation of writers of an emergent Black Italia who are exploring the new texture of Europe ofers an opportunity to examine both European-ness and blackness as protean fgures of the cultural imagination. Authors like Maria Viarengo and Tahar Lamri, and others writing in Italian, explore in autobiographical journeys and short fction not only the rich languages and cultural worlds of their childhood but also the dialects and cultural diferences of Italy through the critical eye of the engaged cultural observer.23 Viarengo describes being subjected to the racialising gaze of people of colour and others: ‘I have learned the art of seeming,’ she writes, and continues, ‘I always seem to be whom the others want me to be. I have been Indian, Arab, Latina, Sicilian.’ At times her diference seems insufciently exotic, as in her very Italian sounding name: ‘My name so boringly Piedmontese disappoints them.’24 Trough what Lamri calls a kind of pilgrimage of the voice his work explores the infection of Arabic, French and Italian in its many dialects in order to uncover the new narratives; through the voice of one of his characters he reminds us that in fact the movements of the stranger from place to place in and out of various afections and landscapes becomes a kind of ‘geography of the soul’, a form of death ‘in life’ known through the experience of each newcomer.25 Te geography of the soul is protean. Subjectivity is not a once and for all event but a recursive process of becoming through which we are ofen relegated to invisibility even by those closest to us, neither home nor the elsewhere are defnitive positions at rest or can be easily fxed in time and space.26 Te new Italians are fuid, moving in and out of traditional languages, social contexts and memories of former selves. For the youngest, hearing the music of their parents’ language while slipping into the local

21 Dadié, An African in Paris, pp. 62–3. 22 See the chapter by Christopher Hogarth in this volume. 23 Tahaar Lamri, I sessanta nomi dell’amore; Viola Chandra, Media Chiara e noccioline; Jadelin Maiba Gangbo, Rometta e Giulieo. 24 Viarengo, ‘Scirscir N’Demna?’, p. 70. 25 Lamri, I sessanta nomi dell’amore, p. 41. 26 Carter, Navigating the African Diaspora, p. 13.

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210  Donald Martin Carter dialect or turning to complete their homework in ofcial Italian, the textures are diferent, the challenges unprecedented. Teir cultural fuency is the currency of a new world yet to come. If things go their way, they may insinuate into the everyday a ‘global’ others have only cloudily imagined, up to now. At the dawn of the 1990s, in the context of a rising awareness of African immigration to Italy, Italian cultural critic Umberto Eco suggested that Europe was on its way to becoming a kind of Afro-Europe. Te infuence of newcomers was a certainty, one that merely had to be accepted: ‘We must simply prepare ourselves to live in another season of culture, Afro-Europe.’27 Tis would require of course acknowledgement of the newcomer, acceptance of the full signifcance of a new context of cultural and social encounter, but the matter – as Eco suggests with a dose of wry humour – is far from simple. Tere is, however, a veiled threat implied in this bit of humour; as political philosopher Lewis R. Gordon points out, the Western discursive treatment of blackness implies a preoccupation with reproduction: ‘Black reality crosses borders of quantity.’ Tat is, there is always a concern with there being too many. And in the context of Italian anxiety about belonging to Europe the idea of an African side of the hyphen cannot assuage their fears; as Gordon notes, ‘In a world whose objective is to distance itself from blackness, any blackness is too much.’ As a fgure in the ethno-sociological imagination blackness increases exponentially, and ‘exponential blackness’ threatens to overwhelm the European wing of the hyphen.28 Te resulting anxiety over a world abandoned to a rising tide of ‘exponential blackness’ can be seen in the rhetoric of anti-immigrant groups, in the preparedness of border patrols and detention centres and the concern with clandestine immigration. Although there are real dangers in the world today, and legitimate concerns with protecting and preserving one’s home, it is easy for discourse to tip over the line from anti-immigrant to anti-democratic. If one could imagine a kind of liberal democratic fatigue having set in it might look something like the present. Some relatively new terms, like Afro-pean and Afro-Metropolitan, arising mainly on the music and cultural scenes, suggest an acknowledgement of complex heritage and cultural location.29 Te complex historical encounter between Europe and Africa has lef a deep and abiding experience of social and cultural ambiguity that leads us to consider the very nature of political belonging and new cultural meanings which we attempt to capture with such notions as hybridity. At the same time the constellation of black caricature has solidifed, particularly in Italy, into a host of generic terms. A string of labels is applied to newcomers, denoting a kind of imagined time depth since arrival and the promise of departure: extracommunitari (people coming from

27 Eco, ‘Quando l’Europa diverterá afro-europa’. Cf. the use of the term by Blakely, ‘Te Emergence of Afro-Europe’. 28 Gordon, Existentia Africana, pp. 162–3. 29 For ‘Afro-Metropolitan’, see Keaton, Muslim Girls and the Other France, p. 68.

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Blackness over Europe  211 outside the European Community) began the list long ago, followed more recently by notions like badante (home nurse) and immigrati – a container category that, as Alessandra Di Maio points out, has undergone a semantic shif to refer indiscriminately to ‘refugees, asylum seekers, seasonal migrant workers, and naturalised citizens’ alike.30 It is interesting that in Italy the marker seldom registers legal status, as this has itself been an ambiguous and frequently changing signifer over the last twenty years. ‘Immigration policy’, if it can be called that, has bounced back and forth between periodic sanatoria or amnesty operations regularising newcomers resident in the country and measures like compulsory fngerprinting, and restrictive periods of stay linked directly to labour contract. No comprehensive legislation has yet emerged, despite early promises. Each arriving immigrant group thus has to fnd its own way to ambivalent belonging and ambiguous visibility. Somalis and other refugees whom geographer Heather Merrill and I interviewed in Turin during the summer of 2010 have essentially had to occupy buildings in order to fnd proper housing. Some have turned to the old system of public baths and volunteer organisations for help. Although many Italian groups provide food and other materials to the refugees, ofcial support has been largely absent. Relatively isolated from the general population they are ofen mis-identifed by locals as clandestine migrants. ‘Tey don’t want us here,’ one young Somali man told us, and yet they have been the same groups ofered hospitality by the ofcials of the state. Is it just that the person on the street does not know this, or has the fne line between guest and outsider been blurred by a taken-for-granted social apparatus that identifes friend or foe? Tese people are in many ways still coming to terms with what it means to be ‘African’ in a European context dominated by the notion that they are outsiders, and not just to Europe and the local labour market but somehow to modernity itself. Negating the black modern was part of a project of denying a claim to parity and vacating the ‘subject’ status of the colonial world. Today young people associate this dilemma with their need to prove that they are deserving potential members of the political community of Europe and that their connection to other people like themselves in no way threatens this sense of belonging. Tis harks back to the way in which blackness in the west in its discursive sameness has historically contained an association with a kind of ‘ambiguous humanity’, now glossed in terms of ‘citizenship’ but in any case suggesting the existence of another, perhaps more fundamental and irreconcilable, belonging that is capable of invalidating all other forms. Te suspicion that black could be in modernity but not really of it has shadowed the curious categories employed by social scientists and others for some time. In American sociology and anthropology, for instance, some blacks have been relegated to black ghettoes while others lived in ethnic enclaves. Teir ‘eth­nicity’ seemed to melt into the collective memory over a generation or so, 30 Di Maio, ‘Black Italia’, p. 124.

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212  Donald Martin Carter and yet race was never given the prospect of dissolving over time with any certainty. While some wish to see the age of Obama as the dawn of a postracial society, we need to remember that even a recent former president’s black secret service detail had trouble being served at some American restaurants. Te United States is still a land where the liberty bell rings louder for some than for others. Certainly the idea of ‘Te African’ or ‘Te European’ is an evolving project contested and recast, not as a once-and-for-all enduring identity, but as a product of the discussions, corrections, writings, lives and thoughts of men and women ‘over time and across the world’.31 To be sure, ‘identities can be displaced’ or recaptured, be experienced as ‘hybrid or multiple’.32 But these identities are also subject to the discursive production of theorists, nation builders and others who through time employ subjectivity in the service of political objectives and various claims indexed by race, class, gender and social status. While in the heart of Europe newcomers are thought to be culturally remote, in a move that seals their position as strangers or easily excluded social anomalies, they come to defne a kind of social border. It is as if they had to cross modernity in order to reach the shores of contemporary Europe, while this remains impossible because they are constructed as a permanent other. Tis strange condition has I think accounted for a kind of vigilant and self-refective posture not uncommon among peoples of the African diaspora – a kind of defensive posture. A peculiar cultural positioning has defned people of African descent in the West as permanent outsiders, strangers in a strange land, following the essential logic of stigma and pointing to an indissoluble diference that might justify permanent exclusion. Perhaps this is more acute for the ‘refugee’ who may languish in a kind of in-between world hovering between an ofen war-torn past and an uncertain reception; many from the Horn of Africa sit virtually warehoused in Italian casermas (barracks) and other holding facilities. Indeed, as the late Holocaust survivor Primo Levi once warned us, we have to be constantly on guard against the conviction that ‘every stranger is an enemy’, an idea that may inform zealously confgured political visions.33 Once a great industrial city where many worked and crafed lives in the large world of the factories, Turin is now reeling with youth unemployment and retooling itself for the so-called global economy. Increasingly, the city consumes produce that has passed through the hands of migrants, and its shops, kitchens and industrial sites are peopled with newcomers, its elderly cared for by people who were not born in Italy and perhaps who will not live out their own golden years there. But as one walks through the streets of the city’s gentrifying neighbourhoods, the voice of Arabic-speaking construction 31 Davis, ‘Exchanging the African’, p. 72. 32 Sarup, Identity, Culture and the Postmodern World, p. 1 33 Levi, Survival in Auschwitz, p. 5.

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Blackness over Europe  213 workers rings out from the building sites of what will become expensive apartments. And although the cry of ‘let’s send them all back where they came from’ is coursing through the newspapers and blasting through the popular radio stations, there are other more hopeful signs of the future of Black Italia. On an afernoon stroll through the streets of Turin one might fnd the city little changed, but at the end of the day, when people begin to return from work and pick up their children from school or visit one of the great super-shopping sites or a local cinema, the changing urban social complexity will reveal itself. A quiet revolt is settling into the quarters, schools and day care centres as a new generation of newcomers takes shape – one that may be unaccustomed to taking a back seat in the social world. Te migrant communities are growing by increments while the Italian population hovers near zero growth, as many young Italians are in efect stalled, failing to enter the workforce, prolonging life with their families and creating a social life that literally flls the evenings in sidewalk café and restaurant/bar settings where they pass the evenings. Many of the workers in these establishments are newcomers from Eastern Europe or parts of the African diaspora facing the heat of kitchens and the monotony of service work that caters to a largely unemployed and highly educated group of young Italians. As Italian labour historian Francesco Ciafaloni recently pointed out to Heather Merrill and myself, the migrants are now the primary working population of the region, and yet they do not and for the most part cannot vote. Te relationship in post-war Europe between the party, the vote and employment and the growth of the trade union is legendary. While many of the youth do not work and those who vote are the former working population of pensioners and other older residents, a new generation is emerging without the anticipated voice of workers of the past. Tis leaves labour in the hands of the most vulnerable part of the population – but also of the group most likely to have a more ‘global view of labour’, expressed through concerns with the nature and direction of the labour process (in what Italians call ‘precarious’ work or we might call ‘dangerous’ work ofen relegated to migrants) and with issues of safety and ofcial versus unofcial forms of labour.34 Tere just might be a new wrinkle in Black Italia yet to come.

34 Personal communication, Francesco Ciafaloni, Turin, July 2010.

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IV Narratives/Histories

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Chapter 12

Middle Passage Blackness and its Diasporic Discontents: Te Case for a Post-War Epistemology Michelle M. Wright

Te Middle Passage Epistemology Just a quick glance at the table of contents of this volume, Africa in Europe, points to a signifcant and welcome diference from most of the other volumes on the Black/African diaspora that have preceded it: it is not framed by what I term the ‘Middle Passage epistemology’, or MPE.1 While academe is ofen derided as the ‘Ivory Tower’, cut of from the exigencies of the ‘real world’, academic production in fact refects the cold economic realities of the postwar era so that those who make up the majority of the African diaspora in fact are not represented. Simply put, this is because the United States, even in what many including myself would consider its last gasps of empire, still dominates the world in terms of well-paid scholars, relatively wealthy universities and colleges, not to mention academic presses and academic publications. As a result, the majority of publications on the Black/African diaspora tend to refect the ancestral experience of many African Americans despite the fact that African Americans, numerically speaking, comprise only 30 million of the some one billion Africans and peoples of African descent that are the African diaspora. Tis is the result, I would argue, of implicitly interpellating ‘blackness’ as a collective group identity through the MPE. 1 While some scholars use ‘black diaspora’ and ‘African diaspora’ interchangeably, others pointedly use one or the other – typically the former if they want to emphasise the Western construct of ‘blackness’ and those peoples of African descent in the West who have had to negotiate the derogatory origins of this identity, and the latter if they want to emphasise the centrality of the continent of Africa, its cultures and peoples, in shaping and infuencing all communities of African descent within and without Africa.

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218  Michelle M. Wright Te MPE is a necessary epistemology, not the least because it lastingly marks a horrifc journey and equally horrifc enslaved survival that at least gives pause to those steeped in the rather insistent myth that the Enlightenment was only an age in which reason dominated and human sufrage was wholly embraced by our most eminent thinkers. Yet more ofen than not the MPE does not do all it claims to do, and in mapping or narrating the African diaspora many are lef behind and this most likely begins with its central myth of a homogenous Black identity that in turn produces a very fxed notion of time. Although the MPE supposedly operates as an epistemology for all blacks in the West who arrived through European and American slave ships, its focus tends to be on American blacks. Even in his celebrated analysis of the ‘routes and roots’ of Black diasporic identity that forms the ‘single complex unit’ of Te Black Atlantic, Paul Gilroy largely ignores Black Caribbean and UK literary, intellectual and philosophical contributions. Although the Atlantic Ocean of course borders the east coast of the South American continent and the West coast of the Eurasian continent, Te Black Atlantic ignores those Atlantic populations to focus on the elite majority within that minority: heterosexual bourgeois American black men. Gilroy is not an isolated example: in a stunning interview given some years ago to the New York Times by our most prominent American Black scholar, Henry Louis Gates, Jr, Gates opined that ‘Middle Passage’ blacks should be given preferential treatment in admissions over black Caribbean immigrants – suggesting that he does not consider black Caribbeans part of the Middle Passage: ‘Tis is about the kids of recent arrivals beating out the black indigenous middle-class kids.’2 Most recently, as Laura Chrisman has pointed out, in his widely acclaimed book Te Practice of Diaspora, Brent Edwards asserts the need to honour the diferent spacetimes of diferent black diasporic communities, yet ignores the ways in which prominent African Americans who travelled to Paris preferred to celebrate their acceptance and ignore that their ‘City of Light’ was also the heart of an empire that practised racism and brutality in Africa and Asia.3 As in most social sciences and humanities, the categories of gender and sexuality are deployed but not acknowledged in most renderings of the MPE, beginning with our mourning the loss of a non-existent past: the hetero­ patriarchal nuclear family unit in which all Africans fourished before being enslaved by whites. Te MPE structures itself as a progress narrative, moving from enslavement towards freedom, but its focus is again on the heterosexual black male. American black men and women together are enjoined to celebrate the masculine leadership of the Civil Rights Movement and the Black Panthers, and yet both groups excluded the black female from the full

2 3

Quoted by Rimer and Arenson, ‘Top Colleges Take More Blacks, But Which Ones?’ Laura Chrisman, ‘African Connections’.

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Middle Passage Blackness  219 privileges they sought for black men.4 While most Introductions to (US) Black Studies classes celebrate these moments in history, the Combahee River Collective and the black queer movements are deliberately neglected, as if they are somehow too corrupt, perhaps too similar to the American white women’s movement and queer movements to be acceptable.5 In the seminal Te Signifying Monkey: A Teory of African American Literary Criticism, in which the West African oral traditions are linked to contemporary American black oral culture featuring monkey tales and the ‘dirty dozens’, Henry Louis Gates Jr ignores the misogyny that is the hallmark of the ‘dirty dozens’ (in which young black men trade insults about each other’s mother, usually in terms of how ugly, fat, stupid, poor she is), asking us instead to celebrate this ‘African’ cultural artefact. In like kind, he blithely ignores the misandrist cast of abusive black male characters in Alice Walker’s multi-million-dollar best-seller Te Color Purple, choosing instead to pretend that Walker is in fact indicting white men’s racism as the origin of black misogyny. Just as American Indians are enjoined to celebrate the day (Columbus Day) that signals the beginning of their near-extermination, and black Americans are enjoined to celebrate the victory of white slave owners and merchants over British slave-owning monarchists (4 July), so are black women and queers pushed to celebrate their marginalisation and erasure from black history in the MPE. Yet these failures are not unique to the MPE, but rather are structural, directly due to assumptions of a concrete origin for that group, an erasure of intra-group bigotries, and an insistence that all members of that group beneft equally. Te most obvious problem with origins, of course, is that as badly as we want them, they can only be sustained through the endless reproduction of myths, mostly about discretely bounded identity categories. Just as Britons are a mix of ancestries that long pre-date and long post-date the ‘founding moment’ of Magna Carta in 1215, so are American whites and American blacks the complex, diferentiated products of a broad array of invasions and amalgamations both forced and voluntary. In order for a group’s origin to retain its symbolic meaning, the collective seeking to interpellate itself through an epistemology must imagine itself as fxed and unchanged from its origin – intermixing, emigration out from and immigration into the collective must be erased.

4 See Dubey, Black Women Novelists and the Nationalist Aesthetic and Wallace, Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman. Figures such as Dorothy Height, Rosa Parks and Coretta Scott King were absolutely crucial before, during and afer this period but it is notable that Parks, a veteran activist, was instead deliberately chosen to play the role of a frail woman wronged; despite her central contributions to the success of the March on Washington, Height was denied, as were all black women, the right to speak on that day. 5 I use the term ‘queer’ to signal any kind of sexual practice or sexual identity that deviates from heteronormativity, and not just bodies that prefer same-sex physical relations.

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220  Michelle M. Wright Tis notion of a fxed temporal identity (i.e., the defnitive origin of a group from which anyone who wishes to be recognised as more than an ‘honorary’ member of the collective must trace an ancestry) is usually not much of a problem for a dominant group. As a dominant group, their goal will be exclusivity, in which case ‘fxity’ and absolute origins can only add to the prestige: all traits attached to the superior group are superior because they belong to this group. For a subaltern group, however, fxity is a problem because it is ofen deployed as a marker of inferiority by dominant groups in the West: to be of fxed origin suggests one is incapable of progress and therefore ‘backward’ and out of step with the dominant timeline. In the MPE, Africa becomes a fxed origin to which we must return – if not physically, then spiritually, socially, politically and economically. Yet the ‘Africa’ of our origins is roughly 400-some years old – it no longer exists; ‘Africa’ therefore remains in what Dagmawi Woubshet has referred to as ‘romantic arrest’.6 We imagine this complex post-war continent as homogenous and pristine, uninterrupted by the infamous Scramble for Africa, a century of colonialism, two World Wars, and the endless upheavals of nations still viewed as promising fodder for the cofers of multinational corporations. As such, the continent of Africa begins to resemble the image accorded to it by anti-black racists: outside of time, peopled with one group who speak in one language and enjoy a life of peaceful existence, untroubled by the complex conditions demanded by the civilised world. Rooted in the past, the MPE ofen fails to take into account the ways in which ‘African Americans’ have changed and, if forced to look those changes in the face, falls back on racial stereotypes. Te MPE cannot account for black conservatism because it defnes ‘blackness’ through slavery and the determination for freedom in spite of a racist nation and state apparatus, the latter of which black conservatism rejects as irrelevant. Te MPE cannot account for recent African immigration to the United States because Africa is meant to be the promised land to which all United States-bound blacks would fee if able, not the other way around. Te MPE fails to account for the wide range of economic classes that blacks around the globe inhabit, from the utterly destitute to the ridiculously wealthy. Because it understands all Africans and peoples of African descent as victims of slavery and/or racism, it cannot explain disparities in black wealth as opposed to a sharing of wealth. Te MPE cannot imagine black-on-black violence unless it can imagine a white malefactor (or institution, such as the state) behind the machinations. In these ways the MPE rejects all forms of black agency and, of course, black diference. Conservative blacks are ‘traitors’ or naively misled; wealthy blacks are also such, the puppets of white power.7 6 Woubshet, ‘Tizita: A New World Interpretation’, p. 629. 7 To my knowledge, no one has written on the Middle Passage and its efect on black francophone politics, culture or society. Te Middle Passage is most famously

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Middle Passage Blackness  221

PWE: Te Second World War and the Post-war Epistemology Yet there are other epistemologies that do allow for the exploration of black agency and the complex, diverse relationship diferent black collectives have to one another as well as to white collectives and white nation states. For the rest of this chapter I will focus on what I call the ‘the Second World War/Postwar epistemology’ (or PWE) to argue that this epistemology – in terms of both its structure and geographic range – is a far more comprehensive and inclusive frame for analysing the African diaspora as well as many contemporary American blacks or ‘African Americans’. Unlike the MPE, the PWE does not structure itself with an etiology or a linear progress narrative, instead taking the ‘moment’ of the Second World War as its mediating point to which one can link preceding and/or proceeding events. Unlike the Middle Passage, which has a defnitive starting point and one overriding meaning (the wholly unjustifed and deeply immoral enslavement of freedom-loving African peoples by an avaricious white West), the PWE understands the Second World War – in opposition to most dominant narratives – as having no one starting point, nor one geographical centre, nor one overarching interpretation. Most schoolchildren across the globe are taught that the Second World War ofcially begins with Hitler’s invasion of Poland in 1939, but we can understand the Second World War as beginning in 1914, the inevitable sequence to the deeply asymmetrical power relations lef in Europe at the suspension of hostilities in 1918. And 1914 itself can be seen as a consequence of the failure of the 1884/5 Berlin Conference to satisfy the appetites of Africa’s European predators. Even within these rigidly Eurocentric frames one fnds easy access to the African diaspora, the most popular route being the voluntary and involuntary conscription of African men under British and French colonial rule that started in the First World War and was continued in even greater numbers in the Second World War. Scholars such as Alberto Sbacchi and Anthony Mockler point to Mussolini’s invasion of Ethiopia in 1935/6 as the origin of the Second World War (in that it mobilised France and Great Britain to begin the forcible recruitment of their colonised male populations in anticipation of Italy’s attempt at expansion).8 One can also take this latter argument to posit the Second World War as beginning once Europe had ‘run out’ of territories to colonise and took aggressive alarm at non-Western nations, such as Japan, that now sought to expand in the same brutal fashion. As such, one can r­ eferenced in Aimé Césaire’s Cahier d’un retour au pays natal, where it is ambivalently celebrated as part of black Caribbean identity, with all of its pain and humiliations. More recently, Patrick Chamoiseau’s Texaco (winner of the 1992 Prix Goncourt) and Nalo Hopkinson’s celebrated Te Salt Roads incorporate the Middle Passage into black francophone identity by meshing its deep and complex psychic wounds with the ­capacity of some characters to control time and space, life and death. 8 Sbacchi, Legacy of Bitterness; Mockler, Haile Selassie’s War.

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222  Michelle M. Wright approach this ‘mediating moment’ from a variety of perspectives and frames. Also unlike the Middle Passage, the Second World War is most likely the one historical event in which the overwhelming majority of Africans and peoples of African descent directly participated or by which they were at least directly afected – not to mention much of the rest of the globe. Here, as in the MPE, the black male enters as a conscript, but unlike slavery his conscription means being trained and armed – and then using these (white) Western techniques to help secure independence from those same commanding ofcers and colonial authorities. By taking wartime as its mediating point – and a global confict at that – the PWE at once ofers an analytical frame that (1) unlike the Middle Passage, includes almost all African and peoples of African descent; (2) ofers a broad and decentring range of geographic locations so that, unlike the MPE, looking at blacks in Japan does not strike one as odd or marginal; (3) establishes an amoral space of great complexity that can resist easy moralising and simplifcation as one is surrounded by victims of all shapes and sizes as well as victims who are also perpetrators, and vice versa; (4) provides a greater focus on the role of economics, especially in the post-war space where the blacks who fought for the victorious Allies are returning to penury while post-Nazi Germany is receiving billions in aid to ensure a smooth economic recovery; and (5) enables a more relevant framework for many contemporary issues that the MPE cannot speak to (as listed earlier, such as black conservatism and African immigration to the West). It is important to note that the PWE does not inherently ofer these frames – afer all, most wartime narratives tend to be deeply hetero­patri­ archal, regardless of the culture producing them. My research into black West African women during the Second World War, for example, has churned up reams of books and articles on the sufering of black African veterans, but most works wholly ignore women even as they purport to study the impact of the war on an entire African nation. Nonetheless, the PWE ofers more possibilities for more inclusive interpellations than the MPE, not least because it ofers a greater wealth and wider range of frst-person narratives by and about black lives. Just as new critical formations, such as queer studies or the explosion of interest in the quotidian lives of working populations, created new avenues and insights into the past, the PWE allows us to ‘go back’ and trace those things that the MPE cannot even acknowledge to exist, such as non-heteronormative alliances, relationships and identities. While one would struggle with an archive-based ‘queer history’ of the Middle Passage (and given that the Middle Passage begins before sexuality becomes a quantity that German sexologists can carve up into discrete categories), one could begin with the queer organising and activism that began afer the Second World War, and compare and contrast white, black and Chicano/Latina individuals, discourses, publications and organisations as well as histories as one used the knowledge of the most recent moment to search for preceding actors and acts.

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Middle Passage Blackness  223 Tis is still not, as we American folks would say, a ‘cake walk’, but it is a concrete material place to begin. Isaac Julien’s surreal 1989 documentary Looking for Langston proved a watershed event in Black Queer US Studies because Julien, a black Briton, used the aporia in Hughes’s recorded sexual life to explore that life. In what could be called a ‘lateral relationship’ (which I explore further below), by showing photographs of Hughes with known queer male fgures from the Harlem Renaissance and aferward, such as Richard Bruce Nugent and James Baldwin, and using the known queer culture in Harlem at this time as background, Julien unambiguously brought queer identities and culture into a central site of African American culture and atti­ tudes. In the United States, Black Queer Studies has continued to ‘interrupt’ mainstream American black heteronormative historical, literary, political and cultural epistemologies. By contrast, black German activist and scholar Fatima El-Tayeb (who also made one of the earliest German flms featuring a black lesbian relationship) is documenting the proactive ways in which queer black European activists, through a variety of alliances and strategies, are fghting back against increasingly oppressive legislation that attacks a broad swathe of economically and politically vulnerable citizens, and not just those who self-identify as ‘queer’.9

Interpellating African Identities Rather than reify the dominant rendering of the Second World War as the ‘good war’ in which the morally superior, anti-racist Allies defeated once and for all the relatively aberrant tradition of racist intolerance, aka fascism, from Western borders and the Western tradition, if there is one shared telos to the PWE, it is to subvert this understanding. In Morgenrath and Rössel’s anthology of oral histories, Unsere Opfer zählen nicht: Die Dritte Welt im Zweiten Weltkrieg (Our Victims Do Not Count: Te Tird World in the Second World War), scholar and activist Kum’a Ndumbe III does just this, noting in the Foreword: Te history of the Second World War has proved, like every history, to be that of the victors, but also that of the wealthy and propertied. In spite of their military defeats, Germany and Japan are still counted among the victors in the writing of this story: Even though the historiography produced by both countries has had to submit to critical scrutiny and corrections, they are still accorded an equal ranking in the scale of humanity. However, those who were forgotten afer the War – as if they had never even existed during the war – who, with their children, must (re)learn this history without ever fnding their own deeds

9 El-Tayeb, European Others.

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224  Michelle M. Wright in the historical narrative, they belong in fact to the defeated. Defeated and without a voice, this is how hundreds of millions of people and their descendants still live even today in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Pacifc region.10

What the anthology does provide is in fact a corrective to this reality, even though it must also be pointed out that Ndumbe’s framing of victors and losers does not distinguish between those black Africans who have in fact enriched themselves from decolonisation and the increased presence of nonAfrican multinational corporations such as Citibank in Kenya, or Shell Oil in Nigeria who make billions of dollars each year through economic colonialism. In short, even though Ndumbe begins with a brief narrative of global capital to note military losers becoming economic victors, that frame stops short of the non-West, thus presuming what is ultimately a false binary that attempts to align economic diference among racial lines (the white West is rich; the rest of us are not). Ndumbe also fails to account for the fact that even the small number of volumes such as Gregory Mann’s Native Sons: West African Veterans and France in the Twentieth Century and O. J. E. Shiroya’s classic Kenya and World War II: African Soldiers in the European War and flms such as Rachid Bouchareb’s Indigènes (translated into English as Days of Glory), render heroic the exploits and struggles of black African men pressed into Allied service. And yet there is so far not a single book, article or short flm focusing on the lives of black African women during World War II. Indeed, outside of those privy to oral histories, we simply do not know what the experience of some 300 million human beings was during this time, a time that is rich with all sorts of other documents, newsreels, oral histories and personal writings, not to mention material artefacts. Notably, this is not true of all African women or women of African descent. Tere is more scholarship (not much more, as with each we are discussing fewer than ten titles) on African American women during the Second World War than on African men – despite the fact that there are at least ten times as many of the latter as of the former.11 Tis is perhaps what makes the PWE such a striking analytical frame. Volatile as it is, it forces us to attend to those hierarchies and blockages which we are ofen unwilling to see: the study of American black women during the war, while it has so far produced far fewer publications than work on American black male veterans, nonetheless can boast of social, cultural, intellectual and above all economic resources that far outweighs those marshalled in favour of studying black African men. And

10 Ndumbe, ‘Vorwort’ p. 9. Translation my own. 11 Tere is also one study on black Caribbean women: Bousquet and Douglas, West Indian Woman at War. See also Maureen Honey’s tellingly entitled collection Bitter Fruit: African American Women in World War II; Martha S. Putney’s When the Nation Was in Need; Brenda L. Moore’s To Serve My Country, To Serve My Race; and Charity Adams Earley’s autobiography One Woman’s Army.

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Middle Passage Blackness  225 then the gender imbalance shifs again when we see that black African women are virtually invisible in scholarly studies on the Second World War.12 Even though the focus of Native Sons is on black African male veterans, Mann does take some pages to note what black African women were doing at this time. Focusing on men as veterans, Mann is not interested in women’s identity outside of their connection to his black male subjects, and, as a result, his eye is on wives and widows and pensions and pay packets. What little we do know of black African women during this time tells us that they faced the double challenge of raising food and earning money, as these two activities had been wholly separated by the colonial regimes. What women were doing in wartime is a question of some import, as we already understand that the British and French colonial systems were disrupted by their need for colonial soldiers. How then did black African women survive, and in what way did they reshape these wartime colonies, largely in the absence of able-bodied white and black men? While scholars such as Shiroya and Mann debate whether or not it was service in the Second World War that led to successful anti-colonial revolts in the 1950s and 1960s, their discussion reifes a simplistic chronotope of Africa in which men are actors and women belong to the landscape with the rest of the historical objects that do not drive the narrative, but rather are acted on by it. Because these narratives and discourses fail to understand women as more complex beings than exist in the heteropatriarchal imagination, we are lef with a simplistic timeline that is determined by which ‘race’ of men were in control – a chronotope, we can remember, that Ndumbe has employed to forceful yet misleading efect in his alignment of whites with control, non-whites with loss thereof. Both Mann and Shiroya use ‘pre-colonial’, ‘colonial’ and ‘post-colonial’ as their defning temporal borders, which, in highlighting military control to the exclusion of all other forms of power and infuence, efectively erases black African women as subjects. Men face a daunting dichotomy as well, as they can only exist as either ‘ruler’ or ‘ruled’ in this chronotope, erasing the interstitial nature of their service as colonial troops and/or their attitudes towards European empires or European fascism. While it is dichotomising confict that leads to this simplistic chronotope, using an epistemology grounded in confict – the PWE – can actually belie the assumption that confict is in essence always already bifurcated. One cannot simply determine all black African men to have been wholly oppressed by the colonial-cum-fascist regimes now defning so much of the world in the 1930s and 1940s. While the MPE ofen constructs the Italian invasion of Ethiopia as the threshold of contemporary black diasporic ­consciousness (i.e., an 12 People tend to want to read and write about themselves – and I would suggest the number of volumes does not necessarily correlate to existing interest in the topic but to the socioeconomic wherewithal of those represented and/or underrepresented. Here, I would venture to argue that black African women have the fewest resources to read and write about the impact of the Second World War on black African women.

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226  Michelle M. Wright anti-colonial, anti-racist consciousness), the PWE subverts this chronotope because a closer analysis of the black African male experience during the Second World War shows that Africans and peoples of African descent fought on all sides of the confict. As Tina Campt details in Other Germans, and Unsere Opfer notes, some black Germans did indeed fght in the German army, and Mussolini also recruited soldiers from the Italian colonies. In other words, one cannot align black men or women all on one side of the political confict or the economic divide.13 Tere are also other key asymmetries that come into play when one looks at how, for example, many Senegalese and other black Africans in French colonies resisted conscription, even with promises of post-war independence, while black men and women in the United States fought for the right to join an army that (at least at frst) did not want them.

Africans in Europe? Yet the Second World War has been used to argue for a specifc black political alignment: in the United States both men and women used their military service – as they had in the First World War, though to little efect – to demand the full rights of citizenship.14 In Great Britain, it is the ‘Windrush narrative’ – or ‘epistemology’ (because it serves the same function as the MPE and PWE, namely to interpellate a collective identity) – that is ofen deployed to frame and defne contemporary black British populations. Named afer one of the frst decommissioned warships to transport black Jamaican and Trinidadian British subjects to England in 1948, the ‘Windrush narrative’ is the dominant ‘story’ for twentieth-century black Britain. A BBC documentary and anthology of oral histories were issued under the same name (Windrush: Te Irresistible Rise of Multiracial Britain),15 and this epistemology has also informed the chronology of a number of popular black British novels, including Zadie Smith’s White Teeth; Andrea Levy’s Never Far From Nowhere, Every Light in the House Burnin’, Fruit of the Lemon and most memorably Small Island; Samuel Selvon’s Lonely Londoners trilogy;16 George Lamming’s Te Emigrants; and Caryl Phillips’s Crossing the River and Te Final Passage as well as his travelogue Te European Tribe. Tellingly, in every single one of the novels with the exception of White Teeth (which breaks with the Windrush tradition in a number of subversive ways), the dominant metaphor we are given for the formation of black British identity is a specifc interracial heterosexuality (in most cases it is a white 13 Morgenrath, ‘Der Beginn des Zweiten Weltkrieges in Äthiopien’, p. 55. 14 See Singh, Black is a Country; Von Eschen, Race Against Empire; Hine, Black Women in America. 15 Phillips and Phillips, Windrush. 16 Samuel Selvon, Te Lonely Londoners (1956), Moses Ascending (1975), Moses Migrating (1983).

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Middle Passage Blackness  227 English woman – in Levy she is even nicknamed ‘Queenie’ – who has a sexual relationship with a black Caribbean male), thus establishing this community only through masculine heterosexual relations. In Small Island, Levy even ends with Queenie’s biracial baby being adopted by the once quarrelling now reconciled (stubborn, demanding Hortense has learned to be more amiable towards her man) black Caribbean couple, suggesting that black and white Britons may live near one another, and may have sexual contact, but their communities and ofspring (i.e., the future) must remain racially segregated. White Teeth breaks with this formula by producing the Second World War as the basis for contemporary multiracial London, but it is a London whose inhabitants have developed their own home grown nativisms, so to speak. Te one exception is an interracial couple and their daughter, who undergoes a crisis of identity because her multiracial friends are indeed so nativist. As we begin to suspect and then have confrmed at the end of this novel, the Second World War does not signal the end to eugenics, racism, fascism, nationalism or nativism, but instead its transmutation into highly proftable genetics research and a panoply of small-minded cottage industry political fringe groups who are united only in their deeply felt view that their politics make them intrinsically superior to all other human bodies. In Germany, by contrast, autobiographies, anthologies and scholarly studies by black Germans frequently feature the Second World War as the seminal moment for their group formation, but to very diferent ends.17 Indeed, it is useful to note that Germany is the one country whose black population achieves a critical mass through the humiliating defeat of the nation in two world wars – where most other nations achieved their black citizenry through colonialism and the slave trade. As explained in Farbe bekennen: Afro-deutsche Frauen auf den Spuren ihrer Geschichte (Showing our Colors: Afro-German Women Speak Out), the Afro-German community changed radically from one era to the next, and ofen confounds traditional notions of community (a racially homogeneous heteropatriarchal nuclear family liv­ing near other families of exactly the same or similar origin). Beginning as far back as the eighteenth century, the frst ‘black Germans’ arrived as individuals, sometimes as servants to German nobility, and then, towards the end of the nineteenth century, more frequently as children of the African elite training for careers in the German colonies. At the end of the First World War, the occupation of the Rhineland by French African troops quite literally gave birth to a few hundred ‘Afro-Germans’, all of whom grew up without their biological fathers. Tis process repeated itself afer the Second World 17 Here I use the terms ‘Afro-German’ and ‘black German’ interchangeably, but must note that the latter term also includes Germans of South Asian and Turkish descent but can also denote only Germans of African descent. Most wonderfully and confusingly, the latter term is used far more frequently than the former, and the denotation seems to be based wholly on context – in other words, the bodies it claims are never fxed but are scenario-specifc.

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228  Michelle M. Wright War, and the American occupation led to liaisons between black US soldiers and white German women, again with the former always absent following the birth of the child. Today, the contemporary black German population is a mix of the successors to these earlier ‘communities’ as well as the children of white Germans and black African immigrants, with the signifcant diference that many of these children do in fact have access to their black parent and/ or black relatives. Te Second World War, then, serves as a mediating point that points to both past and future generations, rather than a discretely bounded origin, in the spirit of the PWE. Both the multi-generational and dialogic anthology Farbe bekennen and Ika Hügel-Marshall’s autobiography-cum-diasporic family travelogue Daheim unterwegs (changed to Invisible Woman in the English translation) locate identities at an intersection in which it is not their biological father’s origin that defnes them, but (white) German culture, their (usually white) German families, as well as the alliances and marginalisations they experience in feminist and queer movements not to mention their black parent’s nation of origin, whether that be Kenya or the United States. Perhaps most strikingly, the majority of these black German authors are female, and more than a few identify as queer, creating in both social activist circles such as ADEFRA and Initiative Schwarze Deutsche, academic publications such as Mythen, Masken und Subjekte and Te Black Book, and activist, academic and artistic conferences such as BEST (Black European Studies) a lateral diaspora.18 Most diasporic explorations are vertical: actors derive their identity from their parents – and it is usually the father that provides that identity – so most explorations of the diaspora explore it through generations, mostly following the men and who they marry, tracing the children through the last names and lens of the men as their successors. A lateral diaspora (which can still be partially or even wholly patriarchal) crafs identity through the social and intellectual afliations of that person, not unlike the student body of a university campus (however temporarily). Unlike a vertical diaspora, in which identities are inherited and then performed or subverted but regardless reify their origin, a lateral diaspora pushes the subject to understand him or herself outside of those identities we are handed passively and more towards identities that refect one’s own movements and aspirations. In White Teeth, Zadie Smith ofers us both a lateral and vertical diaspora: the children of the principal protagonists, Archie and Samad, form bonds with one another (still vertical), but they also go on to form lateral ties – intellectual afliations that broaden their identities outside of the family structure. Lateral diasporas can allow us to pursue queer relationships, meaning not just homonormative, gay,

18 Antidiskriminierungsbüro Köln and CyberNomads, Te Black Book; Eggers, Kilomba, Piesche and Arndt, Mythen, Masken und Subjekte. Some of the activists, academics and artists include Fatima El-Tayeb, Olumide Popoola, Peggy Piesche, Grada Kilomba, Maureen (Maisha) Eggers, Nicola Lauré al-Samarai and Ekpenyong Ani.

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Middle Passage Blackness  229 lesbian, bisexual, transsexual and transgender relationships, but those intense alliances that are not sexually based. For example, a vertical diasporic analysis follows the black African men who were drafed for service in the colonial armies, but it necessarily leaves behind the women. While the narrative can allow for the women to appear, it is usually to demonstrate how the men are sufering by being unable to fulfl their traditional roles as leader and provider of the family. While the PWE is prone to vertical diasporas, the way in which the Second World War ejected millions of individuals outside their family structures to form sometimes life-changing alliances enables a much diferent path for exploration. To be sure, the chaos of the Middle Passage also rent families apart, but given the lack of primary documentation from the slaves who underwent that journey we can only guess. By contrast, the post-war era, with its ofen unpredictable mixture of latent chaos and enormous state and economic muscle reimposing order over that chaos, enables one to follow an individual through a series of encounters that lead to socio-political organisation which in turn produces a tangle of vertical relationships that are also lateral, such as the African and Asian veterans who successfully overthrew their colonial oppressors. Given the heteropatriarchal nature of this war – a nation aroused to follow or defeat one man, deploying only heterosexual men to defend that nation, etc. – one cannot deny that vertical explorations are a worn groove in its endless (re)production. Yet it does not prevent the exploration of lateral analyses, such as a transnational study of black and white feminisms and non-heteronormative (queer is too Western-oriented) social, political and economic movements of the post- and pre-war eras. As regards the focus of this book, Africa in Europe, the PWE allows us to tie a vertical diaspora – such as the African American GIs who the MPE vertically follows from the home front to the theatre of war and then back to the home front to marry and reproduce – to a lateral diaspora, in this case the many GIs who fathered the black German children that would then go on to create an organised black German movement, resulting in a number of queer relationships and alliances. To read black Britons and black Germans vertically – as the children and grandchildren of Africans – consigns them to a limited consciousness and limited contribution; reading them horizontally, however, allows one to read them through Africa, and Europe … and the United States.

Africans in America Te earliest discursive example I could fnd that embodied so many aspects of the PWE was in the writing of someone who spent most of the rest of his life interpreting his black characters through the MPE but who, in one volume and then sporadically in the novels that preceded and followed, spoke to the issues of agency, morality, lateral identities, black diferences, socioeconomic

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230  Michelle M. Wright diference and the importance of analysing one’s positionality through a diverse cross-section of identities. I am writing of the black American writer who has nonetheless endeared himself to a broader and broader number of successive generations in a number of diasporas, James Baldwin. Te volume I am speaking of is Notes of a Native Son. Written mostly following his arrival in post-war Paris, Notes begins with an attack on the frst US black writer successful enough to support himself through writing: Richard Wright. In the opening essay, ‘Everybody’s Protest Novel’, Baldwin attacks Wright’s international bestselling novel Native Son, comparing it to an infamous two-dimensional portrayal of slavery in which whites may embody the entirety of humanity but blacks exist only as a moral argument: Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Baldwin opines: For Bigger’s tragedy is not that he is cold or Black or hungry, not even that he is American, Black; but that he has accepted a theology that denies him life, that he admits the possibility of his being sub-human and feels constrained, therefore, to battle for his humanity according to those brutal criteria bequeathed him at his birth. But our humanity is our burden, our life; we need not battle for it; we need only to do what is infnitely more difcult – that is, accept it. Te failure of the protest novel lies in its rejection of life, the human being, the denial of his beauty, dread, power, in its insistence that it is his categorisation alone which is real and which cannot be transcended.19

What at frst seems a rather simple plea (embedded within a rather vicious critique of Wright) becomes ever more complex in its execution on further refection: how does one study peoples of African descent outside of the category of ‘blackness’ – or, rather, study their blackness without allowing that blackness to become the dominant category? Notes itself is instructive on this matter. In ‘A Question of Identity’ Baldwin begins by discussing the ‘American student colony’ in Paris – which one would expect, from the title and the newly found fame of its author, to be about African American identity. Instead, Baldwin ofers a series of juxtapositions, mainly between the ‘colony’ through the changing generations of Paris and the efect of military veterans on it. Refusing to be racially specifc, Baldwin instead explores the imagined mindset of the US GI veteran as he – both black and white – realises his nation is one of plenty and the fabled Paris is a world of material lack, a lack that predates the German invasion. As a result, Baldwin concludes, ‘From the vantage point of Europe he discovers his own country. And this is a discovery which not only brings to an end the alienation of the American from himself, but which also makes clear for him, for the frst time, the extent of his involvement in the life of Europe.’20 In brief, here Baldwin argues that vis à vis French culture, there is much more that the white and black American GIs share with 19 Baldwin, Notes of a Native Son, pp. 22–3. 20 Ibid., p. 137.

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Middle Passage Blackness  231 one another across racial lines rather by virtue of nationality – at least in this specifc post-war moment. Because the PWE takes the Second World War as its mediating point, it also encourages and enables an easier comparative frame among diferent minority and majority groups than the MPE, not the least because the latter tends to bifurcate the world into blacks and whites and thus erase, for example, the American Indian presence at the time of the slave trade.21 As we see in Baldwin, the PWE easily and compellingly allows a comparative frame for an immediate post-war black American identity. In ‘Encounter on the Seine: Black Meets Brown’ Baldwin breaks with the prevailing logic of pan-Africanism that blackness is a transcendental category, an identity that is also a lingua franca allowing men from a variety of diferent nations, castes, classes, religions, cultures, languages, ethnicities and history to connect with one another and fnd common cause. Instead, he ofers a ‘Negro American’ and the ‘African’/‘French African’/‘African Negro’ staring at each other with more than a little confusion, understanding that they share a connection and yet struggling with all of their diferences many of which, Baldwin writes, are the result of the ‘Negro American’ possessing an ‘American point of view’. In other words, like his white American counterpart, Baldwin’s ‘Negro American’ views the ‘French African’ as coming ‘from a region and a way of life which … is exceedingly primitive’.22 Contrary to what both the MPE and pan-Africanist discourses would assume, there are diferent kinds of blackness and their bearers can be prone to regarding each other through an ignorant, racist lens. Te last essay of the volume – whose title is ofen misquoted by adding the indefnite article ‘a’ to the beginning – ‘Stranger in the Village’ documents the author’s experience in a small Swiss village which began with its denizens, young and old alike, wondering if this black man might not in fact be the devil. What Baldwin concludes, however, is that his initial treatment (which gradually ameliorated into something more tolerable) is best understood not through a history of anti-black racism in Europe, but through provincialism and the fact that ‘Europe’ is not simply Paris, Rome, London, Liverpool and Berlin, but also rural villages that bear little resemblance to the fevered American imagining. As such (in a connection that would go on to inspire Gates, Gilroy and others) ‘blackness’ represents cosmopolitanism rather than the primitive, the advent of Western modernity rather than its obverse. It is important to note that all of the essays mentioned above are located in a specifc space–time coordinate: Western Europe, still sufering from the ravages of its second mass confict. Baldwin uses this particular coordinate

21 Hence the comment common in American Indian studies about their black American counterparts: ‘When Blacks demand their forty acres and a mule, whose forty acres are they talking about?’ 22 Baldwin, Notes of a Native Son, p. 121.

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232  Michelle M. Wright not just to look forward, but to look both back and forward, suggesting that the experience of the Second World War for both the black and white American not only changes our future, but our understanding of our past. When it comes to the realm of scholarship on the African diaspora, it makes sense to use a lens as broad and fexible and heterogeneous as the PWE, which does not place blacks as frst and foremost victims of history, but one of its many complex agents. I think this is less true within African American Studies, where the MPE must remain to play a necessary role of reminding those who wish to forget that the United States of America was founded and largely developed through genocide and slavery. Yet even in African American Studies in the United States – a common home for scholars of the black/African diasporas – there are other moments, where we must foreground the social and economic and ethnic diversity of African Americans, and I believe this is most urgent in the case of the African immi­ grants who have been coming to the United States (among other Western nations, to be sure) and who largely remain scripted out of our implicit defnition of ‘African American’ meaning ‘of Middle Passage descent’. Rather than enjoining these immigrants to replace their actual histories with one of ‘Middle Passage blackness’, the PWE provides room for both as well as the complicated and sometimes unforeseen routes through which we encounter one another without insisting that because both groups are ‘black’ there are no appreciable diferences to examine and discuss. Finally, if we want to discuss world afairs and place ourselves in them, using the MPE garners very little attention, fashioned as it is as an experience that is not global but largely limited to slaves and slavers. Given the myriad ways in which the analytical and interpretive narratives the Second World War and its post-war era are used by nearly everyone – George W. Bush used them to justify the invasion of Iraq while Iran’s Ahmadinejad used them to defend the domestic development of nuclear power plants, and Russia’s leadership uses them to justify a brief game of ‘on/of’ with the natural gas pipelined to Western Europe – the PWE provides African and peoples of African descent with a space to locate ourselves in the world rather restrict ourselves only to events and narratives that speak directly to us and only us. Te vast majority of written histories, analyses, creative works and documentaries on the Second World War misrepresent the confict as one that principally concerned only white and the Japanese populations. Tey do not mention the central role colonial armies played in both world wars, nor the fact that the American, French and British governments quickly realised they had no chance at victory without using colonised peoples.23 Te rhetorical damage done by naming these conficts ‘world wars’ and yet excluding the 23 I suspect that Field Marshall Rommel’s Afrika Korps also conscripted blacks for more than menial duties, and have heard some anecdotes, but have yet to start researching this topic.

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Middle Passage Blackness  233 majority of its players needs to be corrected, especially in a Western culture that too easily understands ‘the world’ as one dominated by white civilisation with a few non-white players making guest appearances. Because the United States dominates so much of the scholarly work on the African diaspora, it is important to underscore the ways in which diasporic communities in the United States beneft from adding the PWE to what should be an arsenal of interpellative frames of collective identity. Given the hundreds of thousands of African immigrants who have settled in the United States since 1970, not to mention the one who studied there briefy and fathered its forty-fourth president, the MPE cannot be the only legitimate lens through which to defne, anchor, analyse and understand the operation of blackness as a collective identity. Given that ‘MPE blackness’ is ofen assumed and deployed as a generic, transcendental blackness to which all black Africans and peoples of African descent should subscribe, it seems all the more important actively to identify and present all of the other epistemologies of collective black identities that comprise a diaspora that is both inspiring and daunting in its diverse unities. Te PWE cannot claim to do all of this work, and it too has its limitations. Yet in consciously calling for greater agency, inclusivity and moral responsibility in representations of collective black identity, the Second World War/post-war epistemology can understand and champion discourses that refect complex and multifaceted identities that are mediated through the post-war turn, rather than rooted in the Atlantic slave trade.

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Chapter 13

Black and German: Filming Black History and Experience John Sealey

Tere are … critical points of deep and signifcant diference, which constitute ‘what we really are’, or rather – since history has intervened – ‘what we have become’.1

Te constant battle that the flmmaker has (and will always have) is to fnd the most appropriate way to reproduce an idea, a thought process or a meaning of an experience in the formal structure that we can describe as a flm. As a black flmmaker seeking appropriate methods by which to represent the black subject and black history, my battle manifests itself as a search for meaning within practice methodology. For me, it is the formal structure of narrative flm that contains (and constrains) the building blocks for representation in cinema, and in this chapter I will explain how I have appropriated narrative forms within my practice for a specifc purpose. Although individual artistic approaches to flm practice (or the practice of flmmaking) vary with each flmmaker, conficts become apparent if we attempt to discuss specifc approaches in formulating a piece of work.2 For example, the British flmmaker Alexander Mackendrick posits flmmaking as a craf, with outcomes that result in ‘nothing more than a series of visual conventions based on the contract that exists between flmmaker and audience’.3 In contrast, the French flmmaker Robert Bresson recognised that the cine­ matic process is inextricably linked with – though separate from – other pure art forms such as photography, sculpture and theatre. It is Bresson’s complex 1 Hall, ‘Cultural Identity and Diaspora’, p. 394. 2 In the main, I am referring to the traditional classical structure and formats of the flmmaking process: scriptwriting, story development, storyboard, shooting styles, etc. 3 Mackendrick, On Film-making, p. xxxvi.

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Filming Black History and Experience  235 methodology that has made some critics suggest that his work exhibits a transcendental quality.4 Bresson believed that flm practice (the process of making flms) serves only to highlight the difculties inherent in the task of translating ideas – that in truth, a flmmaker who sees himself or herself as an artist is constantly searching for an unknown element that can only be found within the practice itself: ‘My movie is born frst in my head, dies on paper; is resuscitated by the living persons and real objects I use, which are killed on flm but, placed in a certain order and projected on to a screen, come to life again like fowers in water.’5 In his work, Bresson attempted to reduce the accoutrements of flm practice (acting, lighting and plot) to the most basic principles of style in order to create a world that has its own vernacular. For example, he rarely changed the angle of his camera because he believed in mimicking, as much as possible, the actual viewing experience of human interaction from a single position. Te resulting slow narrative pace of his flms adds a distinct layer to the language of cinema. Tis example of a flmmaker who is creatively battling with practice methodology is familiar to artists in all disciplines and at every level as they strive to produce new and original work. For this reason, it is a key infuential thread running through the flm that I will be discussing in this chapter. When I was a child, my enthusiasm for watching flms spread across several genres: flm noir, the western, melodrama and thrillers. By the time I was given the opportunity to make my own flms, this generic infuence (the urge to reproduce what I had already seen on the screen) was as immense as it was inevitable. However, even from an early age, I had always been conscious of the issue of visibility on the screen in relation to race and ethnicity – of fnding people who looked like me in flms. I could not see them in flm noir, I could not see them in westerns, I could not see them in science fction. In consequence, my work has been informed by two imperatives: I try to tell the best story that I can within the parameters of circumstance (budget, genre, cast, location, time etc.), but at the same time I will always include myself as part of the equation: how the person that I am (my identity and cultural background) situates itself within the work that I produce. Tis positioning does not mean that my work is produced from a location of pre-set, existing narratives with ulterior motives. Rather, it acknowledges that representation in flm is merely a refection of a series of constructs that are both internal and external; as we see ourselves and how we are seen. In this sense, I align myself with Stuart Hall when he says that ‘practices of representation always implicate the positions from which we speak or write – the positions of enunciation’.6 Tis positioning of myself as an enunciated subject is an element that has always been present in my work. As a black British flmmaker, I have taken 4 Schrader, Transcendental Style in Film, p. 3. 5 Bresson, Notes on the Cinematographer, p. 23. 6 Hall, ‘Cultural Identity and Diaspora’, p. 392.

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236  John Sealey

Fig. 10 Te enunciated subject: a point-of-view shot from the position of the black soldier entering the prisoner of war camp © John Sealey

a conscious decision to make flms that to all intents and purposes have ‘black’ narratives (irrespective of the structural framework or flm style). Tat is, a black character is more ofen than not at the centre, within the story (Figure 10). What lies behind this approach is the intention to ofer a visual counterpoint to what I have seen – frst as a viewer and now as a practitioner – as an acute problem regarding the lack of visibility of black and minority ethnic narratives and their makers within the mainstream of popular cinema and television.7 Currently, there exist a multitude of media platforms (digital or otherwise) distributing popular as well as diverse and obscure moving image content for those wishing to explore alternative narratives or practice. But during the 1970s and early 1980s, these opportunities were sparse; to ex­ perience black narrative cinema was not a straightforward process. Landmark 7

Since the production of Ové’s Pressure, there is evidence of a changing landscape regarding black cinema and television in the UK. Te BBC’s ongoing Equal Opportunities policy and Workforce Targets recognise that the key to creating a more diverse output in terms of its content is the diversity of its employees. Te director Gurinda Chadha is a good example of the breakthrough of flms with BME (black and minority ethnic) narratives into mainstream popular cinema, with works such as Bhaji on the Beach (1993), Bend it Like Beckham (2002) and Bride and Prejudice (2004). However, there still remains a disparity if we look at this situation in comparison to the overall number of flms being made.

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Filming Black History and Experience  237 flms such as Pressure (Horace Ové, 1972) and Burning an Illusion (Melelik Shabazz, 1981) did not exist for me – in the sense that they were not accessible. My world was populated mainly by television sit-com re-runs such as Mind Your Language (1977) and Love Ty Neighbour (1972). Whatever the original intentions these shows may have had, they seemed only to highlight the lack of knowledge and empathy towards ethnic and cultural diversity. Television, with only three main channels to choose from, provided little in the way of programming aimed specifcally at Black British culture. With the advent of Channel 4 in 1982, there began a reassessment and refection in programme making. With reference to the inner city disturb­ ances in London and Birmingham, Karen Ross notes that the fnancial remit of Channel 4 television became inextricably linked to a policy of alternative programming: ‘As civil disturbance made the “management” of black communities an urgent priority, 1981 also saw the establishment of Channel 4 television (C4) which, with its mandate to cater for minority tastes and interests, immediately began to play a signifcant role in the expansion of the independent flm sector.’8 In the years that followed, however, and with the emphasis more on competition in the marketplace, there seemed to be a return towards a more common populist agenda, and in my view the problem of non-visibility is still being ignored. Te flms that I make as a result are in part a response (and in some ways, a riposte) to that non-visibility. Te idea of trying to challenge representations in cinema can also be seen as a reference to and refection upon myself: a diasporic practitioner in search of my own visual style within an art form dominated by a classical approaches. Tis duality – the use of a hegemonic Eurocentric practice aligned with the aims and outcomes of a diasporic flm maker in search of his/her own visual identity – is what Stuart Hall refers to when he states: ‘Young black cultural practitioners and critics in Britain are increasingly coming to acknowledge and explore in their work this “diaspora aesthetic” and its formations in the post-colonial experience.’9 Te term diasporic or diaspora is crucially important to the work that I am discussing in this chapter. It is also important to note that my interpretation of the post-colonial experience that Hall describes operates in a semantic way. I do not use the term in a way that is descriptive of the places, literature and events that have come afer the period of colonial rule, or as a way of delineating or defning a work that has come from a certain place (work that has been produced within a country that has been under colonial rule). Rather I use it as a concept, to be used selfconsciously as part of a process of practice as refexion (in that double sense of refexion as representation mirroring, and refexion as thought). Kalra, Kaur and Hutnyk concur with this more conceptual notion of diaspora; it is

8 Ross, Black and White Media, p. 34. 9 Hall, ‘Cultural Identity and Diaspora’, p. 402.

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238  John Sealey not something to be looked at from without, but as something that can be projected and used to look out from, ‘as a way of looking at the world which disrupts homogenous ideas of nationality’.10 And it is precisely this principle of disruption that is the starting point for this discussion. Tis chapter explores the way in which the black subject is constructed and represented in my short flm Te Greatest Escape (2003).11 Te flm exemplifes the way in which my practice is structured around intertextuality. Tat is, I deliberately draw on other texts which have omitted and marginalised – or simply do not focus on – the black subject as a way of commenting on them. My attempt to reinscribe representation begins by creating a dialogue between flm texts of a similar nature. So, in making a flm about war, I will draw on existing motifs from texts such as Te Colditz Story (Guy Hamilton, 1958), Te Great Escape (John Sturges, 1963), Hell is for Heroes (Don Siegel, 1962) and Te McKenzie Break (Lamont Johnson, 1970). Tese are some of the flms that I ‘talk’ to, in order to understand and then begin to re-order existing signifers. In reference to the marginalised black subjects in these flms, it could be argued that this methodology creates a paradoxical form of enunciation, in that their position is not my own, although I have chosen to adopt it. Tis is something that I am aware of and which I try to refect upon in my practice. Set in 1941, Te Greatest Escape tells the story of a French Colonial tirailleur Sénégalais and his attempt to escape a German prisoner of war camp. Te tirailleurs Sénégalais (Senegalese rifemen) were an army consisting mainly of West Africans, put together by the French Colonial rulers. In his book Colonial Conscripts, Myron Echenberg comments on the ofcial formation date of this force as 1857, though he notes that their origins go back to the beginnings of European rule in seventeenth-century Senegambia. Seven of the eighty divisions mobilised in metropolitan France during the Second World War were African.12 In the flm, the black subject is not only confgured or confned within the parameters of a prison, but also (at least to start with) within the limitations of a prescribed classical narrative structure.13 Te generic conventions of the POW or war flm set up preconceived expectations in the spectator as to how the flm should behave. Genre is a key element in the narrative of the war flm and I deliberately exploit its iconography to reassure the spectator by providing a familiar idea or set of cinematic codes of presentation. For the war flm, these may include black and white cinematography, uniforms and violence. 10 Kalra, Kaur and Hutnyk, Diaspora and Hybridity, p. 28. 11 Te flm can be viewed on the University of Plymouth upmedia website: http:// upmedia.plymouth.ac.uk/Default.aspx. 12 Echenberg, Colonial Conscripts, pp. 7, 88. 13 ‘Classical technique is usually motivated compositionally. Te chain of cause and efect demands that we see a close–up of an important object or that we follow a charac­ter into a room.’ Bordwell, ‘Classical Narration’, pp. 24–5.

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Filming Black History and Experience  239

Fig. 11 Te constructed (constricted) subject: the black soldier with armed guard © John Sealey

My intention in making my own ‘POW flm’ was to manipulate these cyclic, replicated flm forms of genre and the classical narrative (Figure 11). From this starting point I developed an idea that could be located within the generic schema of the prisoner of war flm in order to comment on ideas of race and representation. Te prison acts as the metanarrative for the constricted (constructed) black subject. And, as we shall see, it is only when the narrative form is intentionally shifed half way through the flm, from the classical to a more unfamiliar or avant-garde one (through the juxtaposition of formal elements which are seemingly contradictory), that the work begins to transcend its formulaic boundary and the narrative begins to take on the quality of allegory. When this happens, it can be said that the flm is acting as a direct embodiment of my idea and an illustration of the enunciated paradox at work. My account of the flm begins with the ways in which, as a black flmmaker, I approached the task of thinking around historical narratives and deciding how to transform them into a cinematic one – the research that went into producing Te Greatest Escape. It ends with an explanation of how, in elaborating and subverting familiar forms of cinematic representation, I want to make narrative work to provide a new language for representing the black subject.

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240  John Sealey

Dogs of War Te most difcult part of beginning any story, any project, or any study but especially any history lies in the choices and decisions we make with regard to context.14

At the beginning 2003, I began preparations to make a flm as part of my dissertation in flm practice for the MA flm studies programme at the University of Exeter. Te dissertation brief required the student to produce a flm of between eight and ten minutes in length but with no restrictions on form, style, genre or narrative. Although clear about my desire to make something that contained a black narrative, I was open as to the subject matter. It was during this initial research period in search of ideas for my flm that I recalled a documentary programme that I had seen a few years earlier. Moise Shewa and David Okuefuna’s Hitler’s Forgotten Victims (Channel 4, 1997) was a flm that explored two strands of the black experience in Germany (and to a lesser extent, France) during the Second World War. Te frst strand looked at French Colonial African soldiers and their treatment in German prisoner of war camps. Te second strand focused on the day-to-day lives of Black Germans living in Germany and in exile in France during the same period.15 Te term ‘Black German’ was used in this documentary to describe Germans of African descent, born in Germany. Tis umbrella term immediately seemed redundant as the flm unfolded and we were introduced to characters whose ethnic and racial background refected a much broader spectrum. My unease was echoed by Tina Campt in her critique of Okuefuna’s documentary structure: Te flm presents individuals’ testimony and the supporting historical source material in an extremely narrow context: Afro-Germans are essentially rendered one-dimensionally, solely as victims of Nazi persecution. Even at obvious moments in the flm when narrators ofer fascinating accounts of their lives in the Tird Reich – recounting, for example, their membership in the Hitler Youth or military service … the ways in which such accounts complicate the status of victimhood are lef wholly unexplored.16

In another context, Clarence Lusane too insists on the complexity of the position of people who did or might be expected to identify with both the terms black and German: Te existence of blackness under Hitler raises not only the issue of identity and resistance but also the issue of an identity of resistance. Te construction (in

14 Campt, Other Germans, p. 1. 15 Black Germans: also known as Schwarze Deutsche or Afro-Deutsche. 16 Campt, Other Germans, pp. 3–4.

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Filming Black History and Experience  241 many ways imposition) of blackness from above struggled with the reality of an uninformed blackness from below. Tis combination created a complex and unstable racial landscape for people of African descent.17

But I was particularly fascinated by the personal stories of these African Germans. Teir stories were tinged with humility and sadness, but also with hope: the hope of survival in an environment where one’s ethnic or racial identity was literally a matter of life or death. Te documentary also contained archive footage of black Allied and Colonial troops in German prisoner of war camps. I recalled my initial thoughts on viewing the flm for the frst time: horror, disgust, and eventually bemusement. I felt bemused, because I realised that it had never actually occurred to me to consider the black experience or African history from a German perspective. I had mainly considered my own narrative, that which was enunciated from my own position of living in London. Even taking into account the black historical narratives of the Americas, I could not seem to relate to the predicament of the people I saw being interviewed, though I felt that in some way I should. Why was this and why did I feel so uneasy about it? First, I could not understand how it was possible to survive as a black person in Germany, which I assumed (erroneously) was a place where a strict racial doctrine was adhered to in respect of people of African descent. It brought to mind familiar stories that I already knew – of the sterilisation programme led by eugenicist Eugen Fischer and the general defamation of Black and African art and culture by the Nazis in racist posters, newspaper articles and exhibitions, whose sole purpose was to validate and enforce an ideology that asserted the superiority of one race over others. Indeed, in the television flm, one interviewee, a Black German, claimed that when the Russian soldiers entered Berlin in 1945, they were going to shoot him as they believed that it was not possible to remain alive in Berlin with dark skin, and that he must have been collaborating with the Nazis. Ironically it was his enunciation (the perfect diction of the German language) that saved his life. Te Russians did not shoot him once they heard him speaking his native tongue fuently. Here was a perfect illustration of the enunciated paradox in play. Returning to this subject only deepened my curiosity. But as I viewed footage of emaciated soldiers from Cameroon dancing before the camera in a German prisoner of war camp, it only seemed to confrm my initial thoughts about the unlikelihood of the survival of people of African descent in such a climate. Tere was an obvious mismatch between these images and stories and the more popular Second World War cinematic narratives, and it struck me that this would be an interesting theme to explore in a flm that consciously drew on the tropes of the classical narrative. From here, I developed my frst research question: If you were a black colonial soldier 17 Lusane, Hitler’s Black Victims, p. 3.

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242  John Sealey in German prisoner of war camp and you managed to escape, how would you then be able to traverse enemy territory and still maintain a racial identity? It seemed to me that this question was an obvious one (with regard to the African soldiers in the camp) and it remained at the forefront of my mind as I began to develop my ideas. My research began in the reading room at the Imperial War Museum in London, where my frst important text emerged: Myron Echenberg’s Colonial Conscripts: Te Tirailleurs Sénégalais in French West Africa, 18571960. Echenberg’s thorough research into the long history of these African troops and their connection to France established my frst connection with the individual stories of the soldiers whose story I wanted to tell. Echenberg also draws on the case studies taken from Nancy Ellen Lawler’s documentation of veterans from the Côte d’Ivoire. One story in particular encapsulated everything that I wanted to achieve with my flm: In April 1940, I was in the 24th company, 24th BTS … It was the big German ofensive. We were sent to the front. It was awful. So many were killed, wounded. We retreated all the time. We couldn’t stop. We couldn’t rest. By June we were in the Chartres region. Tere were refugees along the road everywhere … We could see dead French soldiers everywhere. Te Germans had cut the wires. Tere was no place to hide – just wheat felds. We tried. Te Germans said: Come. We said: No. Te general headquarters was supposed to be in town. In reality the generals had all lef. We were jammed together. Machine guns fring on us. So many killed as they tried to escape – to hide themselves … Tings were all right at Chartres. Afer a while the Germans decided we weren’t so bad because we never tried to escape. With black skin it would have been difcult to do.18

Tis fnal sentence refected, or even validated my research question. If I had intended to explore this one single aspect in my flm – that of the French colonial POW – it would have been a simple process of transformation, from a historical narrative to one of moving images. But I didn’t want to abandon the Black Germans. However, although the notion of diaspora obviously linked the French and the Afro-German narrative, I felt that it would be difcult to incorporate them both within the given time scale of a ten-minute flm. I needed something else, something unusual that could signify and refect both these emotional and powerful moments.

Te Nazi and the Surrealist Lufwafe Oberleutnant Dietrich Schulz-Koehn walked along the railroad tracks near St Nazaire with three other ofcers … An African American ofcer who had been admiring Schulz-Koehn’s Rolleifex asked: ‘How much do

18 Lawler, Soldiers of Misfortune, pp. 103–5, cited by Echenberg, Colonial Conscripts, p. 93.

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Filming Black History and Experience  243 you want for that camera?’ ‘It’s not for sale’. Te lanky bespectacled German liked Americans, particularly Afro Americans. … ‘How about three cartons of Luckies and four pairs of nylons?’ No, that was not enough … Why Not? A few beats went by. Te war was almost over anyway. Schulz-Koehn straightened up and adjusted his leather coat. It was worth a try: ‘Do you have any Count Basie records?’19

I have long been an admirer of the work of the Spanish flmmaker Luis Buñuel, best known for his absurd or surrealist collaborations with Salvador Dali, Un Chien Andalou (1929), L’Age d’or (1930) and his own Le Charme discret de la bourgeoisie/Te Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972). Unlike other, more ostentatious directors whose work I would study for specifc ideas related to camera movement and placement, Buñuel by contrast was very minimal with his style. I was drawn to his work for other reasons: the way he uses a surrealist narrative as a storytelling device. One of his flms in particular is a good example of how this device is used and I deployed it to provide the structural backbone to Te Greatest Escape. El ángel exterminador/Te Exterminating Angel (Luis Buñuel, 1962) follows a group of bourgeois characters who attend a dinner party. All seems well until the end of the evening when they slowly realise that none of them can leave the room, despite the fact that the door is wide open. Buñuel uses the remainder of the flm to examine and comment on what he considers to be the absurd behaviour of the host and his guests. Not only can these people not leave the room, they are also constricted (initially) by their reluctance to discuss their dilemma for fear of committing a faux pas. Inspired by the way Buñuel incorporates a classical narrative storytelling structure as part of the problem as to why the characters cannot set themselves free from their psychological prison, I wondered how I could also embed this dilemma into my POW narrative. I began sketching out a loose narrative that incorporated the historic timelines of both the French Colonial Soldier and the Afro German. Serendipitously, during this research period, I manage to listen to a Radio 4 documentary narrated by Miles Kington, entitled Playing a Dangerous Game: Django, Jazz and the Nazis (2003). Kington draws on work of Mike Zwerin in describing the popularity of jazz music with the occupying German forces in Paris. Tis leads on to my discovery of the photograph in Zwerin’s book that was taken in occupied Paris. Te image shows the jazz-loving Lufwafe Oberleutnant Dietrich Schulz-Koehn standing next to the jazz guitar legend Django Reinhardt (a Gypsy), four black musicians and a Jewish man outside the venue, La Cigale. For Zwerin, jazz music stands as a metaphor that transcends the social, political and racial divide, as Schulz-Koehn explains: ‘All I am or own was made possible by jazz. If I hadn’t been so keen on it, perhaps I would have remained as stubborn as the Nazis. Jazz opened my mind.’20 19 Zwerin, Swing Under the Nazis, p. 3. 20 Ibid., p. 35.

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244  John Sealey Before I began writing the script, I travelled to Berlin to meet the African American historian Paulette Reed-Anderson. Paulette’s work focuses on the historical infuences of the African diaspora in Berlin. She told me about the trading agreements of the late nineteenth century between Germany and Africans in countries such as Togo, about the African language teachers who worked in universities as part of the colonial institution, and about the many individual stories of ordinary African Germans. Some of this colonial legacy can be clearly seen today if we look at Berlin street names such as Kongostrasse and Togostrasse. In Paulette’s work, I also read something that not only complemented the Lawler story about the Côte d’Ivoire POW, but also confrmed the direction in which I want my narrative to fow and provided the impetus in bringing together the two diasporic experiences: to re-present the black subject in flm through the enunciated subject. Te account I read was that of Berlin-born James Wonja Michael; his father was a migrant from Cameroon and his mother German born: We were in Paris and had just pulled down the circus tent. My passport had just run out, so I went to the German consulate to have it renewed. I went in and said: ‘Good morning’ … Tey told me: ‘Here we don’t say “Good morning”, we say “Heil Hitler!”’ … I also said, ‘Heil Hitler’. ‘What do you want?’ the clerk demanded. ‘To renew my passport’, I answered. ‘Your passport!’ he said. ‘What are you, are you German?’ ‘Yes, here is my passport’, I answered. He examined it. ‘Born in Berlin on 2nd October 1916 and so on and so forth’. Ten he took my passport and went away with it. A quarter of an hour went by before he returned – but without my passport. I said: ‘I thought you were going to give my passport back to me.’ He said: ‘No, we are going to keep your passport. You are no longer German. Black Germans do not exist.’21

My fnal piece of research into Germans of African heritage led me to Hans Massaquoi’s Destined to Witness: Growing up Black in Nazi Germany. Massaquoi’s story provides yet another unique aspect on the African German experience, particularly in the years from 1933 to 1944. Two pieces of information struck a chord with me. Te frst is when Massaquoi describes how he felt when he was in the school playground, surrounded by children shouting ‘Neger, Neger, Schornsteinfeger’ (Nigger, Nigger, chimney sweeper). Bearing in mind my appropriation of Hall’s idea of the unique position of enunciation, here was a situation which I had seen and in some cases experienced in my own youth. It shows that, despite the distance in time and space (past and culture) between Massaquoi and myself, the notion of diaspora can still apply in my sense of a shared cultural experience. Te second moment comes when as a young man Massaquoi attempts to join the German Army. Afer being initially rejected for being malnourished, he is informed by a passing Oberstleutnant that ‘Non-Aryans are barred from service in the German 21 Reed-Anderson, Berlin and the African Diaspora, p. 80.

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Filming Black History and Experience  245 Wehrmacht … Germany is not, and never will be, so hard up as to need the likes of you to win the war.’22 Tis second scenario exemplifes the schism between the internal and external construct. And it was this schism that I wanted to illustrate.

Te Greatest Escape Where are you from? Why are you here? (Te Commandant, Te Greatest Escape)

Te Greatest Escape is set in 1941, afer the German invasion of France. Te flm begins when a French Colonial soldier, a tirailleur Sénégalais, wakes up in a German prisoner of war camp. Te African soldier shares a hut with three other soldiers who are Dutch, Polish and Czech. Te three European soldiers are curious as to why the black soldier is there, and despite the language barrier they make a tentative approach to befriend him. Afer being humiliated in front of the European soldiers during the recreation period, the black soldier is summoned for questioning in the Commandant’s ofce. Te three European soldiers take the black soldier into their confdence. Tey show him a tunnel that they have been building to escape. Te black soldier joins them in fnishing the tunnel. When the tunnel is fnished and the men are ready to leave, the European soldiers have a secret meeting. Tey realise that they have a problem: if they manage to escape with the black soldier, it will be difcult for them to travel incognito through Germany with someone who is black. Tey reach a compromise and communicate through gestures to the black soldier that once they have entered the tunnel, he must wait for one hour before he can enter. Te black soldier agrees. As he attempts to leave, the tunnel collapses. He remains calm and casually strolls into the Commandant’s hut. Te Commandant is preoccupied listening to Louis Armstrong on his gramophone, and the black soldier steals his uniform. Now dressed as a German commander, the black soldier confdently walks out of the camp, speaking German to the guards, who recognise him as their commanding ofcer (Figure 12). Earlier, I mentioned the importance of intertext in my work and its use in communicating new ideas regarding representation of the black subject. Te above synopsis of Te Greatest Escape reveals several existing texts and styles that are embedded within it. In the frst instance, it is the idea of spectator identifcation through genre that transports us to 1941 using historical photographs within the title sequence. Te image of uniforms reinforces this idea along with the stark black and white photography.

22 Massaquoi, Destined to Witness, p. 153.

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246  John Sealey

Fig. 12 Te Buñuel-ian moment: the black soldier leaves the camp dressed as a German commanding ofcer © John Sealey

My handling of language, too, has developed in dialogue with generic conventions. Although the European soldiers cannot communicate through language with the black soldier, it is implied (though not stated) that the Europeans actually do not understand one another; though they speak amongst themselves, they do so in their own languages (Polish, Czech and Dutch). Tis is signifcant in that it indicates that the European soldiers have the potential to breach the barrier of language, but not that of race. Tis is something we are made aware of when they enter the tunnel without the black soldier. Tis use of language is my response to the war flms that are shaped by an implicit ideology of cultural hegemony. Te Greatest Escape is thus a riposte to techniques used in a flm such as Where Eagles Dare (Brian G. Hutton, 1968), in which a British soldier played by Richard Burton infltrates his way into the German high command, using the same language throughout the flm: English. Te tunnel collapse represents not only a diferent act, but a diferent narrative, the shif from the classical to the Buñuel-ian (surrealist). Up until this point, the flm has employed a classical structure; we are aware of the characters, their relationship to one another and the space that they inhabit. When the narrative shifs and the black soldier steals the Commandant’s

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Filming Black History and Experience  247 uniform and exits the camp as a German commanding ofcer, the narrative is fnally ruptured. Te Commandant on whose uniform the action turns functions as a paradoxically authentic link between the genre world of stereotypes and a surprising truth. He represents the historic anomaly that revealed itself in my research. He is the Lufwafe Oberleutnant, Dietrich Schulz-Koehn, characterised by his taste for jazz (Louis Armstrong) and his inquisitive attitude to the black soldier. But if the encounter between a black soldier and a devotee of black music is impossibly serendipitous, the spectator understands that what follows is positively absurd: it should not be possible for the black soldier to leave the camp in the way he does. Tis sequence is a transformation of Hamilton’s sequence in Te Colditz Story, in which British soldiers escape a prisoner of war camp posing as German ofcers. Te transformation exposes the narrative logic in relation to the internal/external construct in my flm. Tough the processes of escape in the two flms are diferent, the resulting outcomes of Te Colditz Story and Te Greatest Escape are the same: it is the uniform that is the dominant icon in play when the soldier/s leave the camp ‘as German’. Te contrast between the spectator’s reactions in the two cases exposes the narrative in both of these flms as a construct. Taken together, these elements are designed not simply to subvert expectations or destabilise familiar images. In the fnal analysis, Te Greatest Escape has a positive message. It invites the audience to see that facets of representation can exist concurrently in one person as a series of constructs made up of the personal, the enunciated and the external self. What it also proposes, though, is that a self-aware enunciated subject (in this case, the protagonist and the flmmaker) will always produce a meaningful and powerful representation. Some time afer I made Te Greatest Escape, I was approached by somebody who had seen the flm and was fascinated by the subject matter and the historical references to the African contribution to the Second World War. She was fascinated and confused; not by the narrative rupture of when the black soldier turns into the Commandant, but by the idea that there might have been black people in the German army; she thought this aspect itself was too surreal to contemplate. Rather than enter into the complexities of my flmic structure, or reveal the fact that there actually were black people in the German Army and Air force, I simply allowed this Buñuel-ian moment to linger. For it is this ambiguity that makes the flm, above all, enigmatic: Black Germans do exist.

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Chapter 14

Excavating Diaspora: An Interview Discussing Elleke Boehmer’s Novel Nile Baby John Masterson with Elleke Boehmer

Te following conversation grew out of a presentation on Elleke Boehmer’s novel Nile Baby (2008) at the ‘Africa in Europe’ conference in Liverpool in October 2009. Te concept of ‘Africa in Europe’ provides a discursive framework for the interview as a whole. In her fctional as in her non-fctional work, Elleke Boehmer has long been concerned with questions of migrancy, belonging and diaspora. Likewise, the interviewer John Masterson’s fascination with Nile Baby stems from his own research interests in these areas, as well as how they intersect with contested ‘body politics’ more widely. Whilst the seed for the interview was planted in the UK, it was cross-fertilised between the African and European continents, as seems entirely appropriate in relation to some of the overarching and transnational concerns of both conference and novel. On both sides, the conversation was self-consciously informed by that contrapuntal principle so integral to the vision of the late Edward Said, with the play between question and response designed to produce its own kind of rhythm.

Interview John Masterson (JM): I would like to start by situating myself in relation to your 2008 novel Nile Baby, which, in turn, should set up some of the areas we might cover throughout the interview. I was in the audience when you read an extract from your book at the ‘Tings Fall Apart at 50’ conference at SOAS, London in October 2008 alongside Abdulrazak Gurnah and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I want to explore the issue of literary infuence, and of Achebe in particular, a little later, but I wonder if you could say something about 248 Downloaded from . , on , subject to the Cambridge Core terms of use, available at .

Excavating Diaspora  249 your experiences of reading your work in front of a predominantly academic audience. You of course did this at the Liverpool conference, around which this volume is based, and I am intrigued to know a little more about how such symposia allow you to balance your roles as novelist, critic and teacher. Do they all require diferent levels of performative intensity? If so, do you fnd this exhilarating, or exhausting? Elleke Boehmer (EB): Te ‘Tings Fall Apart at 50’ conference is a very good moment with which to begin. Reading from Nile Baby at that conference was for me an extremely exciting experience, and in some ways moving also, as the novel on several levels ofers homage to Achebe. It was an immense opportunity to be allowed to express that homage by reading in his presence. Perhaps Nile Baby did not begin as an intentional homage to Achebe: such motivations are very embedded and largely shadowy to me. However, as I began to write about the ways in which Africa haunts Europe, or how Europe’s history in Africa shadows Europe, I found I was writing back to or through Achebe. More of this later, I’m sure. Yet I think it’s also worth saying that though I appear in recent years to have presented my fction at more academic than public forums, this has not always been the case. My creative–critical emphases and roles have shifed over time; or, more precisely, they have jostled around the diferent books. Tat said, it is the case that, generally speaking, as a public person I’m probably happier in my skin as a writer than as a critic/teacher. Tere’s more to perform, if you like; a richer range of roles. Tough it makes me sound like I’ve been around for an age, I should put down for the record that I was a published novelist before I was a tenured academic. My frst novel Screens Against the Sky was published in July 1990; my frst permanent job (at Leeds) started in September 1990. Te tightrope walk since has been strung between the demands of the writerly life on the one hand, and the critical/teacherly job on the other. JM: In light of this, could you say a little more about how your novel has been received, both within these academic forums and beyond? Rereading Nile Baby, I consider one of its strengths to be how accessible and stimulating it is, both for those familiar and not so familiar with the slippery discourses of ‘postcolonial studies’. I appreciate questions of intended readership are extremely problematic, but could you say something about this and perhaps also about the relationship, if any, between this work of fction and your other recent research activities? Perhaps you could also link this with some of the primary objectives of the ‘Africa in Europe’ conference. EB: Here I may have to begin by disappointing you, though I will eventually steer back to address that key theme of postcolonial diaspora. First of and with emphasis: I did not set out to write Nile Baby for an academic audience, and certainly not knowingly for a postcolonial studies audience. No novelist, even a novelist with an agenda, could write that programmatically: it would kill the story. A novel is not a colour-by-numbers exercise. It is possible to say I was perhaps imagining readers with an interest in Africa, with interests

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250  John Masterson with Elleke Boehmer also in diferent, ramifying, post-colonial diasporas, whether in the UK, the Netherlands or elsewhere in Europe, though readers also comprising diferent generational and regional perspectives. So I was imagining readers not only of African background, yet certainly including them. However, although Nile Baby is so obviously about ‘arrivants’ to Britain, as George Lamming once called immigrants, it is also at another level the story of a particular locality. It maps long journeys yet also tracks the dimensions of staying put. Te balance is important. For those who know the area, and I have had numbers of local readers noticing this, Nile Baby fnds itself on or around the wide Tames food plain not too far from where it was physically written. It presents a portrait of a certain defnable area, marshy and shifing, but watched over by the longstanding Bronze Age sentinels of what I call the Winborne Clumps – earthy outcrops visible from the train as you travel from Reading to Oxford. As in one of those picture puns where you see the old woman from one point of view, and the young woman when you blink and look again, the movement and the stasis are there at the same time, within the same space of the novel. Similarly, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the range of audiences for Nile Baby I have encountered at readings and at conferences and the diversity of things they’ve liked in the book. For example, the Year 6 groups (eleven year olds) at some of the primary schools where I have read felt drawn to the oddball characters of the child narrators. Local book groups have related, I’m half-guessing, to some of its bizarre combinations; that the novel is at once a story of babies and of haunting, of Africa and of Europe, of bodies and of dreams. Considerable interest has been expressed by these groups in the book’s less than predictable conjunctions and oppositions. Speaking of babies and haunting, it’s important to say, too, that one of the book’s primary imaginative impulses came from the sorrows of baby loss experienced by women across cultures. Tis is what Igbo people characterise as the ogbanje phenomenon, something I’m sure we’ll return to. For a long time I’ve been preoccupied with how women’s lives are shaped not only by the presences of the children they have had, but by the presences of the children they have not had, or not had to keep, or have had only for a short while. Hilary Mantel has a beautiful passage on this in her memoir Giving up the Ghost where she talks about the ghosts of possibility that such almost-children and wished-for children have represented in her life as a woman unable to have children. By way of background research for Nile Baby, I carried out interviews with women who had lost babies in one way or another, and were still involved in the memories of these losses, and preoccupied with the lost possibilities they represented. I was interested in the absent presences, or present absences, these one-time or even phantom babies represented. Relatedly, I was interested in what might be called the numinous of the everyday, in instances of domestic haunting. It was therefore important to me to make copies of Nile Baby available to the women I had interviewed once it was published. One or two said they were struck by the character of Katrina.

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Excavating Diaspora  251 Tey related to what she had to say about her lost babies though she came from a diferent national-cultural perspective to theirs. I cannot deny of course that the novel’s action also concerns the knotty complexities of migrant and diasporic experiences. Trough the goings-on involving the half-African (or half-Sudanese) and half-English Alice and her friend Arnie, readers gradually discover how difcult it is to draw sharp distinctions between those who are familiar and those who are unfamiliar within a community, those who feel they belong, and those who don’t, and between times in history when we felt we were all the same, and when we felt diferent to one another and strange. I also cannot deny that these are concerns that in my other work I call postcolonial. JM: Your answer anticipates some of what I’d like to discuss in more detail. Yet, I’m interested in this gesture towards the ‘critic’ in you. Tis seems to tie in with an interview you conducted with David Attwell about his work on J. M. Coetzee, which was published in Wasafri in 2010. Here, you use the term ‘writer–critic’ to refer to the Nobel Prize-winning author. In relation to my previous question, what does such a label imply and would you be comfortable applying it to yourself, particularly in the light of Nile Baby? EB: ‘Writer–critic’ is a fascinating locution that Coetzee uses of himself, and of his own writerly practice, in his conversations with Attwell recorded in the book Doubling the Point. It suggests to me that in the early 1990s, when these conversations were conducted, Coetzee, the then Professor of English, saw himself as a complex of writer and critic at once. He must have seen himself, through the medium of his highly self-refexive fction, as embodying the copula. Tough I don’t wish to insinuate analogies between Coetzee’s work and my own, ‘writer–critic’ has become, afer refection, a term that captures that duality in my own writing practice I referred to above; the way those identities of writer and critic ceaselessly shif and transpose, with now one and now the other expressing more strongly at diferent points. In other words, the hyphen should not imply a balance, or an ordering. Critic–writer might also apply. I have in mind a weather house, where now the fgure predicting rain, and that standing for sunshine, comes forward, but at any one time both fgures are present in and around the weather house. In short, the roles of writer and critic provide diferent ways of animating or dramatising related sets of ideas. JM: I’d again like to use my initial encounter with the novel at the Achebe conference as a springboard. Ten, you shared a platform with two other diasporic Africans who we might also defne as ‘writer–critics’. In Gurnah’s 2001 novel By the Sea and Adichie’s 2009 short story collection Te Ting Around Your Neck, there appears a self-conscious attempt by both authors to write against the grain of what might be called the ‘mythologisation of migrancy’ ofen associated with the work of postcolonial theorists such as Homi Bhabha. Do you see and/or did you intend Nile Baby as working in the same way, that is, as ‘regrounding’ some of the rather more pallid elegies

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252  John Masterson with Elleke Boehmer to globalisation and diasporic networks as fuidity and fow that sometimes emerge in postcolonial discourse? Is this part and parcel of what you consider your role as a writer–critic, or critic–writer, to be? And did this resonate with some of the concerns of the ‘Africa in Europe’ symposium? EB: I like the implied intersection of concerns with Abdulrazak Gurnah and Chimamanda Adichie, two writers I greatly admire, though we of course come at the concerns we share from very diferent perspectives and through diferent stylistic media. Tough I must reiterate that ‘grounding diaspora’, to adapt your terms, was not a conscious intention as I set to work on Nile Baby. Tere was a strong interest for me as writer, not so much as a writer-critic, in telling a human, grainy, local story about movement between cultures, and the sorrows, frustrations and perplexities that attach to such movement, including these perplexities as they strike children. Migrancy is ofen to do with hard foot-slogging in adverse conditions, dragging between employment ofces in a strange city, between an impermanent home and a temporary and in­hospit­ able place of work. So, yes, it was important to me to bring some of these ideas pertaining to Africa and diaspora down to earth, and to look at what it means to be ‘native’ and ‘foreign’ at one and the same time, as Alice in the novel is, with her faceless Sudanese father. In the form of the Nile Baby himself, the baby in the bottle, I was also interested at a broader existential level, in thinking about human life itself as a brief sojourn in inimical circumstances, as a kind of migrancy. Te one mode of existential travelling is refected in the more obvious historical and diasporic movements, and vice versa. JM: So the image of the weather house is appropriate in this instance as well? Following on, was there a self-conscious move on your part to re­­appropri­ate some of the motifs most commonly associated with what Graham Huggan calls the ‘postcolonial exotic’? I’m particularly interested in the poetics as well as the politics behind your choice of the jar or bottle in which ‘Fish’ is kept. We seem to have come a long way from the pickle jars of Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, which have arguably become totemic images of ‘hybridity’, one of the most used and abused terms in postcolonial discourse. Whilst you deal with some similar themes to Rushdie in Nile Baby – complex genealogies, intertwined narratives, both micro and macro – I remain struck by the visceral intensity of your novel. When you conceived of and then delivered the book, did you make a conscious decision to confront your reader with contested bodies, living, dead and half-dead, in such an uncompromising way? I’m reminded of the phrase ‘body is truth’ from Nuruddin Farah’s Maps (1986). You’ve alluded to the centrality of the corporeal above, but I was wondering if you might be able to say a little more about the relationship, as you perceive it, between disputed body politics, the body politic and that which exists beyond the body in Nile Baby. EB: Te relationship is there, undeniably so. You describe the link well. It all comes down to the body, the living body and the body that is lef when we die (and what is the diference?). But it has also to do with ghosts – the

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Excavating Diaspora  253 ghosts of memory and fantasy as they beset, particularly, the novel’s grown-up characters, Katrina and Jim. I’m speaking here in deliberately non-analytical language. In situations of sufering, yes, and in situations of sufering relating to Africa historically, very much so, the authority of the seemingly silent yet irrefutable body is primary. Farah’s ‘body is truth’ might be set beside something else Coetzee says: ‘the body is not “that which is not”’.1 And also, Friday, in his novel Foe (1986), is in the place where ‘bodies are their own signs’. Fish or Nile Baby in my novel exerts all the authority of his mute embodiedness. Tis is why it is forbidden and wrong for Alice to cut into him with her scalpel. She knows this as soon as she has done so. And this is why Arnie must ‘escape’ him and set out travelling with him. Ten again, moved as I felt in writing of Fish or Nile Baby, I was residually also bemused, from time to time, by the joke of the stereotypical poco jar that wanders through my story – and moreover a jar which carries not spicy chutney but rotting, non-generative contents, contents that, in this English story, begin to smell like nothing so much as chips in vinegar. JM: I’d like to return to this notion that Nile Baby is an English story. Yet, do these corporeal preoccupations also chime with some of the concerns you’ve outlined above? I’m particularly interested in your point about the ways in which your varied audiences, from schoolchildren to women who have and/or have lost children were afected by your book. Might we see this in relation to a desire on your part to broaden our mappings of diaspora, thus placing the emphasis on interfaces that take place in an ‘everyday’ context? To what extent did your desire to write a ‘human, grainy, local story’ compel you to at once map the text in relation to the Tames food plain above London, but also to look at a variety of places of interaction beyond? Perhaps you could discuss this in relation to Liverpool, for example, as an appropriate context for the discussion of African diasporas in Europe. EB: Liverpool with its rich yet ofen infamous history as a key port within the infernal triangle, provided a resonant, even haunted, context for the conference’s discussion of African diaspora and the everyday. As my hotel during the conference was close to the docks, I spent some time around the quays on the frst evening, trying to imagine in the suggestive darkness how it might have looked 200 years ago, trying perhaps to see things in the rising mist. Caryl Phillips’s work in his non-fctional essays on black Liverpool was important to me in this respect. As for the focus on the everyday dimensions of diaspora, Nile Baby contributes to this, with a concern with the buriedness and even invisibility of many stories and histories of diaspora in our present day contexts. How these stories and histories are sometimes covered over by the course of the everyday itself, to the extent that in the end it is down to a pair of misft children with time on their hands and lively imaginations,

1 Coetzee, Doubling the Point, pp. 247–8.

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254  John Masterson with Elleke Boehmer to uncover that buried history of the black ‘everyday’ and animate it again. Other than Phillips’s writing, and Bernardine Evaristo’s Te Emperor’s Babe, which ofers a poetic, and wonderfully comic take on the subject, there are few narrative works in English, to my knowledge, that labour to extend the networks of African diasporic history back into British history. JM: I’d like to come back to your use of ‘uncover’ and ‘buried’ as they gesture towards an archaeological concern that runs throughout your novel, on both quotidian and broader discursive levels. Yet, perhaps a return to the jar motif might allow us to situate your work in relation to the current geo-political context, both nationally and more transnationally. ‘Purity’ and ‘preservation’ are words-come-ideological constructs beloved and bemoaned by novelists and politicians alike. 2009 may partly be remembered as the year when the British National Party, which enjoys some support in the North West of England especially, attempted to assert itself on the political main, if not centre, stage. Prior to Nick Grifn’s appearance on the BBC’s Question Time programme, he stated that, ‘Te only measure, sooner or later, which is going to stop immigration and stop large numbers of Sub-Saharan Africans dying on the way to get over here is to get very tough with those coming over. Frankly, they need to sink several of those boats.’ Whilst I’m uncomfortable juxtaposing your novel with such bile, I do feel Nile Baby makes for incredibly prescient reading when considered in this context. Have you any thoughts about this? Did you, for example, feel that your audiences were connecting your work with some of the debates raging beyond the conference or school hall? Tis corresponds with the broader motivation for ‘Africa in Europe’. Do you feel the writer–critic can encourage more sensitive engagements with the past, particularly in relation to those diasporic networks so central to Nile Baby, in order to stimulate more sensitive engagements in the present? EB: To that last question, my answer is a strong yes. Tough without ever being programmatic, the writer can dramatise and embody collective ­anxieties and fascinations in a way that stimulates readers to think about these issues and bring them into conversation. Looking back, there does seem to be a prescience to Nile Baby’s emphasis on how inextricably interlinked Africa and Europe are in these divers islands of Britain, and elsewhere, and how linked the so-called native and foreign can be. Ten again, if we consider the novel was written across the mid-portion of the 2000s, when the BNP was unmistakeably on the rise in certain areas, that prescience is perhaps not so marked. What has been very noticeable to me, reading the novel in public forums from 2008 into 2009, is how audiences have hit more forcefully on certain touchstones in the book, for example on the relative delinquency of the white parents against the warmth of the caring adult black characters in the novel. Many readers have also been interested in how Nile Baby imports into Britain’s own spatial textures, not only bodies from elsewhere, but stories and myths, like that of ogbanje (which may also bring to mind the story of Moses in his basket on the Nile). For me, the travelling of motifs into and through the

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Excavating Diaspora  255 narrative echoes, if you like, the travelling of the characters, and vice versa. Audiences seem to have been taken by how these ‘foreign’ tales have been woven into a story of the here and now, in Britain today. JM: To invoke your earlier image, might we say the novelist adds some vinegar to the chips of public discourse? Whilst it may bring tears to the eyes of some, it undoubtedly results in a more satisfying dish for others … But, chips aside, I’d like to turn to the novel more directly. We piece the narrative together from the perspectives of the pre-adolescent misfts Alice Brass Khan and Arnie Binns, alongside the interjections of a third-person narrator. Tus, Giles Foden’s description of the book as ‘Grange Hill crossed with Frankenstein’ seems spot on. What was the peculiar attraction of having two twelve-year-old protagonists? How do their own identity struggles and attempts to get ‘Fish’ home correspond with your interest in exploring generations of diasporic dislocations and, equally as importantly, connections? EB: My response to this question is to come round to talking about one of my primary concerns in writing the novel, which is an abiding interest in friendship. Te importance of trust, of opening to another especially in contexts of shif, change and unfamiliarity was central to and deeply involving for me as author. Hence the sharing of the novel’s narration between two preadolescents, already relatively independent of their families, and resourceful, self-contained, able to set out on and plan journeys, yet also still relatively unbothered by prejudice and sexuality; not yet closed from each other by desire, able to share experiences as friends. JM: Building from this, I remain fascinated by your representation of Africa and its lineages. Te absent presence of Alice’s Sudanese father haunts Nile Baby and, for me, some of its most powerful passages come from the exchanges between her and sister Laura. Could you say something about the signifcance of these various diferent lineages throughout your novel? EB: Concerning lineages in the novel, I was also thinking of river systems, which, I’d venture to say, form one strong undercurrent of imagery – imagery that, of course, resembles the dendritic patterns of genealogical trees. We could say Alice’s British-Sudanese family background connects the Tames and the Nile, two branching river systems, both ending in deltas. With the Tames and the Nile linked in our minds, we could connect Stonehenge, the Pyramids and the Egyptian Book of the Dead, as cited in the novel, or Conrad’s Heart of Darkness with its opening Tames Estuary scene, and Tayeb Salih’s Conrad-infuenced Season of Migration to the North, which is set in the Sudan, on the Nile. Te imagistic point is that if we allow our geographical imaginations to think of the world not so much in terms of continental land systems surrounded by seas, or bisected by rivers, but rather as watery systems that happen to be bordered by dry lands, then we are able to focus more clearly on the routes, passages and exchanges between these lands across the centuries, and how fuidly interconnected they have been, if only through washed-up fotsam and jetsam, the detritus of histories of travel and trade.

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256  John Masterson with Elleke Boehmer JM: I fnd this materially and historically sensitive interest in river systems a good deal more satisfying and suggestive than more abstract references to ‘fuidity and fows’. I’d like to use part of the text to approach an earlier question from a diferent angle. Towards the close of Nile Baby, your two protagonists grapple with how best to conclude their encounter with Fish and all it/he signifes. For Alice: He’s dead, Arnie, and always will be. He didn’t come alive for you on your travels, not really. Even if you were some higher Force and managed to raise him up; well, what’s the point? What would he do with his second wind? Tink how he’s been caught in-between the living and the dead for all these years. So the best thing, I say, is set him free. Let his spirit go free.

I fnd these and similar such passages incredibly rich. You make use of the notion of the ‘in-between’ here. For those who have come across Bhabha’s work, preoccupations with ‘interstices’ and ‘liminality’ will be all too familiar. Were you trying here and elsewhere to anchor these ideas at a more em­ bedded level? I was also wondering whether a concept such as Wilson Harris’s ‘Limbo Gateway’ and/or a novel like Toni Morrison’s Beloved, with its own pronounced interest in contested bodies, spirits and the spectral return of the traumatic repressed, might serve as useful intertexts for readers of Nile Baby? EB: I’m grateful to you for pointing to these evocative cross-references for Nile Baby. I can only agree that it was very important to me to realise Fish’s neither-here-nor-there status, his in-betweenness, in a visceral, material, gritty way. I wanted to make it as ‘real’ as possible. Which is paradoxical, of course, as another in-between I’m exploring, as does Morrison I guess in Beloved, is the interstitial place between the living and the dead, which is a zone which the Fish Baby inhabits, at least in the central character Arnie’s imagination. If anything, in writing Nile Baby I became more open to, or less sceptical of, the numinous; those surrounds of energy, intuition, spirit and ‘trace’ that accompany our activities in the real world, as animist belief systems have long recognised. JM: I’d like to focus on the integral role of ogbanje in the novel, which you gestured towards earlier. In the same year Nile Baby was published, Alex E. Asakitikpi published an article entitled ‘Born to Die: Te Ogbanje Phenomenon and its Implication on Childhood Mortality in Southern Nigeria’, in which he provides the following summary: It is generally held among the Oruba, Igbo and Urhobo of southwestern, southeastern and Midwestern Nigeria respectively, that in the distant past, some children were born into this world but realised, with their psychic power, that the world would be too difcult for them to make any signifcant mark due to the stif competition that characterizes it … Not to be regarded as non-achievers in life, they decided to form a society in the spirit world with a selected forest as their abode. Teir rendezvous is usually on big trees such as the baobab and other similar trees.

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Excavating Diaspora  257 Could you give a sense of why you were so drawn to a fctional exploration of ogbanje? EB: It’s a key question and this scene-setting quotation emphasises another of the novel’s key concerns; how the strength of our visual perceptions dominates our sensory world to the extent that other modes of awareness are downgraded or disregarded. Ogbanje reminds us of alternatives to this view. Ogbanje in England – it’s a provocative juxtaposition, a risky imbrication and as such it asks questions about the myths we live by, how successfully they travel and also about the stranger in our midst. Te ogbanje child is always an imposter child, barging into this world from the other where s/he belongs or feels happiest. In the novel, the ogbanje child, Fish, is the primary stranger, and the stranger the ogbanje. But the stranger is also the strange ogbanje myth itself, that has arrived here from elsewhere. Another key question, of course, is does the ogbanje myth have purchase in a culture where it did not grow up? Tis was pointedly asked me by one of the delegates at the ‘Africa in Europe’ conference: what was going on with this importation of Igbo myth into England? Was this not an unjustifed displacement, a slightly bizarre form of de-contextualisation? One answer is that powerful stories travel. Tough ogbanje has distinct local and regional reference points, it is at the same time a myth with wider, even universal, resonance. Practically speaking, it explains, in the form of narrative, why a woman may be subject to multiple miscarriages. Symbolically, it can provide a way of accounting for the drif between the zones of the living and ‘the dead’ (to use a catch-all term) that can happen to dreamers, the mentally ill and depressed, the very ill. JM: As you were implying earlier, you deal with the ogbanje phenomenon in a thematically and structurally central part of the narrative where Arnie Binns ends up at his errant father’s house in Leeds only to be met by his Nigerian girlfriend Katrina. Is there some kind of connection between pre­ occupations with ogbanje and wider discourses surrounding the experience of dislocation? By this, I mean that the ogbanje is associated both with a spiritual, liminal, even interstitial position in the cosmological order of things yet, critically, it also has a physical dimension, with the bodies of children suspected of being ogbanje ofen scarred or marked so they might be barred from entering Heaven. Are you asking your reader to think about potentially provocative overlaps between experiences of dispossession, conceptual, corporeal and existential? EB: Yes, absolutely. Returning to that question regarding the dislocation of ogbanje stories from Igboland to Leeds, another response would be, is such borrowing not irresistible in contexts of the continental shif of peoples? As I’ve argued in an essay on Achebe for Interventions,2 the ogbanje story represents such marvellously rich material for a writer. It allows us to speak of spiritual as well as corporeal dislocations and wandering. It suggests haunting 2

Boehmer, ‘Achebe and his Infuence in Some Contemporary African Writing’.

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258  John Masterson with Elleke Boehmer in diferent dimensions, of limbo, say, or the hauntings that are lost oppor­ tunities, whilst also speaking of the interstitial and the in-between. JM: Yes, this also works powerfully with feelings, shared by several of Nile Baby’s characters, of what we might call unbelonging in their skins. Ten there is the reference to the scarifcation of ogbanje babies, how they are ‘marked’ to be identifed when they return to plague the same mother. I hardly need to go into how powerful this idea is: the imposter branded, stamped with their ID. Wherever they go, home or abroad, they will be found out. You’ve spoken about how your novel has been received by various audiences, but could we broaden out this discussion of distribution and reception? As well as being associated with Ayebia Clarke Publishing in the UK, Nile Baby is also co-published with the Centre for Intellectual Renewal in Ghana. Tis seems ftting in relation to the shared diasporic concerns of both novel and conference. Where did this co-publishing decision come from? How has the book been received in Ghana and elsewhere? Have you participated in discussion forums in Africa and, if so, how does this compare with your experiences of presenting your work at European conferences? EB: It felt appropriate to publish this book about the long presences of Africa in England with Ayebia Clarke Publishing, as they have published and showcased African writing in Britain for some years. It was an honour and a privilege to be able to launch the novel and discuss it with South African readers at the Cape Town Book Fair 2008. In the context of the debates over xenophobia in 2008, a number picked up on Nile Baby’s preoccupation with representations of the stranger. Tat said, British audiences, ironically perhaps, have been more keyed into the diasporic dimensions of the story than African readers. JM: Sticking with questions of African lineage and infuence, I was struck by how the text’s paratextual features, like the blurb and commendations from fellow critics, resonate with its major concerns. Te blurb, for instance, credits you with melding the somewhat fractious literary pairing of Chinua Achebe and Joseph Conrad. You spell out your debt to the former in your acknowledge­ments section. Yet, could I ask about Conrad, who you’ve mentioned in Salih’s company above? Your reader ends close to the same Tames on which the Nellie sits motionless in Heart of Darkness. You’ve already provided us with a useful mapping of this locale. In terms of Conrad, how close to him do you feel as writer–critic? EB: I have long felt an allegiance with Conrad, as so many writers who work outside their mother tongue have done (Nederlands being my mother tongue). Conrad is also a writer of the Indian Ocean, on whose shores I was born. I feel a strong connection with those waters, and will write something around or about them in my next book. Te pairing of Conrad and Achebe may look provocative, but it was genuinely meant. Both writers have, in their diferent ways, shown me how to write not only about Africa, but specifcally about the African body. With Conrad, I’m thinking of that grove of trees

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Excavating Diaspora  259 Marlow stumbles upon in Heart of Darkness, where shackled men lie groaning. Both writers, on diferent levels, continually remind me that, in Achille Mbembe’s words, when we write of Africa, we should remember that this should not merely be a pretext to write of Europe. In Nile Baby I’ve tried directly to reverse this postulate. In it, my writing of Europe/Britain is a pretext for writing about Africa. JM: Sticking with questions of Conradian intertextuality, I’m struck by the suggestive overlaps between this Nile Baby extract and Heart of Darkness’s brooding opening. On the second-last day of the extended dig, Laura reported that the skeleton had been confrmed as male: about twenty, extremely tall and strong, and male. He was so tall in fact, his thigh-bones so very long, his skull so high and domed, that the dig-leader had speculated he might have come all the way from the far southern and eastern reaches of the Empire, from Egypt, Nubia, even Libya perhaps. Tere were numbers of African soldiers fghting in the Roman army in Britain in those early years, he’d said. Tey’d send him for carbon dating to make sure.   He could have been a Moorish legionary. Laura spoke her thoughts aloud to Alice, her voice wobbling with some powerful emotion. Or even a Nubian ofcer from a prosperous town far down along the Nile; a Sudanese man, one among the tallest to walk on British soil, brought over to patrol the Empire’s coldest frontier.

It reminds me of the enigmatic beginning of Conrad’s novella, where Marlow talks about Britain as a formerly colonised space. ‘I was thinking of very old times, when the Romans frst came here, nineteen hundred years ago – the other day.’ Tese passages capture both novels’ interests in exposing more complex historical narratives. I’m fascinated by the provocative pairing that sees such historical exploration as both a process of archaeological excavation and a journey down Tames and Nile simultaneously. Might this correspond with Marlow’s temporal evocation of it being ‘nineteen hundred years ago’ and ‘the other day’? EB: Exactly. We walk upon the layers of time past even as we walk upon the apparently ordinary earth. Te Tames food plain is in fact incredibly rich in the leavings of many past generations: Roman bones and oyster shells mixed in with Anglo-Saxon implements and Iron-Age fortifcations. Te earth beneath us is thus a palimpsest of times past. To dig into it is much like sinking through the layers of collective historical memory, or travelling up-river, whether up the Tames into England, or up the Nile to its source. As Peter Fryer long ago revealed to us, Nubian legionaries patrolled Hadrian’s Wall in defence of imperial Rome. How immense is that! In the summertime amateur archaeologists dig a Roman temple site not far from where I live. Who is to say that some of these Romans were not North

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260  John Masterson with Elleke Boehmer Africans, Libyans, say, or Egyptians? Black people have lived ordinary lives and died their deaths on these islands for hundreds of years. JM: Tis segues into my fnal question, which concerns the slipperiness of Africa, and indeed England, both in relation to Nile Baby and your participation in the ‘Africa in Europe’ conference. Simon Gikandi commends the novel for ‘[challenging] our sense of what we think are African stories’. Could you comment on this by saying something about his use of collective pronouns? Could we supplement and/or problematise this with your own earlier suggestion that Nile Baby is an ‘English story’? On a more personal note, do you consider yourself to be a teller of African stories? Tis leads me to the deceptively complex question of whether you think of yourself as an African. EB: Tough I don’t want to put words into Simon Gikandi’s mouth, what I think he was trying to say was that many African stories to date have been about location in Africa, about African spaces and histories, not so much about Africa displaced; for example, Africa in Europe. Nile Baby is a novel about movement rather than belonging; about friendship as well as struggle. It shifs the focus of how we understand Africa in relation to Europe. Generally, Africa is seen as an outer periphery of Europe, at least geo-politically speaking: it lies outside fortress Europe. In Nile Baby we are rather being asked to see Africa and Europe as rhizomically interconnected; Europe as an outer cultural edge of Africa, the Tames as a distant ‘tributary’ of the Nile. As for whether I see myself as an African, I was born on the shores of the Indian Ocean, on the South-East African littoral. Tough I have lived over half my life away from Africa now, if I am from anywhere it is from that balmy interstitial zone, that watery African-Indian geography.

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Chapter 15

Aferword Susan Dabney Pennybacker

Since the convening of the conference ‘Africans in Europe in the Long Twentieth Century’, the northern stretch of the African Continent has changed it spots, its colours no longer recognisable, as the Tunisian and Egyptian springs cast shadows across the terrain from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea and beyond. In the wake of the conference, NATO planes bombed Tripoli and the divisions among African peoples became sharply discernible: migrant worker refugees fed south to the Sub-Saharan nations and north to Italy from makeshif shelters, discarded by employers and states which exploited their labour in better economic times, and were pursued as villains when the political guard changed hands. One asked: who is African and who is European, in the quickly altering circumstances of pro- and anti-NATO action, and the onset of revolutionary violence? It is now as if the conference had in some respects documented a world already vanished – issues and peoples that remained invisible in those rainy days in Liverpool erupting from underground to take centre stage in events that will afect any future conversations. In the rapid fre of actions on so many fronts of the two changing continents, what can be savoured from what was said and written in the months between the autumn of 2009 and the ‘Arab Spring’? How can these essays serve as guides to subsequent researchers, even as we recognise that history will not be made as we choose? Te boundaries that separate ‘Africa’ and ‘Europe’, both material and imaginary, remain crossing points for only small fractions of the peoples of the continents in question; each crossing, each way – be it port or airport, highway or checkpoint, a swim or a mountain descent, is a veritable ‘eye of the needle’ for rich and poor alike. More Europeans come as tourists than in Livingstone’s or Rhodes’ days and fewer as mercenaries or soldiers than at the 261 Downloaded from . , on , subject to the Cambridge Core terms of use, available at .

262  Susan Dabney Pennybacker height of the years of intense warfare. More Africans seek education, work and permanent homes in Europe than ever before, but most people still do not make the journey either way; this fact shapes and informs all the work in this volume. Nor were its authors convened to discuss the European presence in Africa, but, instead, the African presence in Europe; it is in that framework that any aferthoughts arise: not thoughts of Europe in fight, but as a receiver; not thoughts of Africa as a destination, but as a point of departure. Te con­ tributors wrote about the exceptional individuals, the minority who may or may not represent a larger continent. Te essays presume the vulnerability of being fewer, of being diferent, of appearing new. Even if these authors do no share a unitary commitment to African or global history (and the contributors are not all historians), a version of ‘history’ is endemic to the study of the trafc of peoples – multiple peoples with histories that may be in confict, that may challenge, and that may have very diferent futures in mind. Tese remarks seek out common ground amongst the disparate essays. Te particular thread drawn here is that of thought organised as politics; in an efort to fnd coherence and inspiration in the volume, political meaning is at centre stage. Te visually perceived African haunts the text. Albert Gouafo tells us of Prince Dido and the enclosure and display of human beings in Wilhelmine Germany, practices that were common across Europe and grew in scope and controversy in the later nineteenth century. Whether a prince or not, Dido connected the German empire with the Reich at home, and he took his oppor­tunity, in Gouafo’s terms, for ‘staging’ versions of his personality, through ‘practices of self representation’.1 In the efort to establish an ‘authentic African’ for public consumption and the promoters’ profts, the theatre and variety stage, the human zoos and the expositions that became more elaborate in the frst half of the twentieth century, always bore within them the potential for self-expression. Tey provided scenes for refashioning and for conveying messages both existential and political that might well not be those that the European impresario had in mind. Yet Gouafo does not interpret Dido as an agent of oppositional culture or subversion. Instead, he follows him moving among elites, seizing the opportunity to regard himself as diferent from both the seafaring labourers of the Hamburg docks and the educated and privileged (like W. E. B Du Bois or George Padmore, who came to Germany as graduate student and communist organiser respectively, in the decades between 1890 and 1933). Te attempts to degrade and deride the entertainers like Dido did not always succeed; while most of them were not propagandists, they were the most commonly and closely observed segment of the African-descended population to be seen by Europeans, and they knew it. African migrant service workers, estate labourers and even professionals and politicians may today surpass the show personalities in popular recognition and visibility, but 1 See Crais and Scully, Sara Baartman and the Hottentot Venus, a crucial revisionist account of the legendary Hottentot Venus.

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Aferword  263 Dido was known in his time, Paul Robeson in his, and Louis Armstrong was as recognisable to Europeans before the Second World War as Miles Davis was aferwards. If ‘display’, as Gouafo puts it, was ‘always designed to contain an element of humiliation’, the intuition of the performer and the imagination of his or her onlookers may not have been so easily manipulated or predicted. Did this ‘entertainment’ ofer a critique of European society, in the way that double entendre sufused the British music hall and variety stage? Tis form challenged the established order, but not necessarily with an alternative social vision; instead, satire and self-deprecation could mix with social patriotism.2 From the stage to hearth and home, Africans married and cohabited with Europeans and in so doing constituted a source of friction and compati­ bility in disparate communities across time and space. Miscegenationists, immigrants and refugees, their habits, customs and ofspring became objects of curiosity extending to police and court scrutiny. Eve Rosenhaf’s treatment of the ‘politics and poetics of mixed marriage’ in her case study of two generations of the Misipo family presumes a baseline of ‘relative normality and sustained intimacy’ that begs future investigation. She asks about those on both sides of the racial divide: what was in it for them?, underlining through an elaboration of the case of people who were subject to both the German and French states just how diferent each European power was in its treatment of spouse and partners in the Euro-African marriage. Te spectre of Dualla Misipo’s German wife being rendered ‘an African’ through the force of marriage, as it was interpreted in fascism and occupation, was a profound test of the French notion of cultural assimilation. She was not treated as an enemy alien, as other Germans were in both France and Britain and in their colonies afer 1933.3 Yet in order for her to avoid incarceration, her husband had also to ‘become’ irreducibly African, if an undesirable category of African, under law. Te disembodying of memory from the legal entity one had to become is a feature of all the categorisations, transfers, seizures and, indeed, eliminations of peoples on a global scale, that were prosecuted by governments from Versailles to Nuremberg. In the case of the senior Misipos, survival meant being African, not being mixed, and not being German. Te metamorphosing of the person into a fxed category, and the nostalgia for a previous, more afective defnition of couplehood, substituted for individual destinies in the face of war and impending genocide. Te ‘utopian notion of biological assimilation’ that Rosenhaf ascribes to Ekwé Misipo still rested on a uniformity of category and defed the freedom of diference. Here, politics invaded private relations, using racial diference – defned in several ways – as a protection, but preserving its inhibiting force, reifying it; this precedent would not be lost on the post-war years. 2 3

See Bailey, Popular Culture and Performance. Among many other sources, see Nowhere in Africa/Nigendwo in Afrika (2001), ­directed by Caroline Link.

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264  Susan Dabney Pennybacker Jennifer Boittin’s re-creation of the polyglot proletarian French dockside communities of the Misipos’ interwar era provides an urgent widening of the lens; here is the black working class, shorn of relations with whites at the core of community, so much so that the indubitable presence of some white French men and women will surely emerge in a larger rendition of this narrative. Te ideational landscape in which Boittin’s migrant workers and resident l­abourers moved across the French ports in years of political energy and tragedy is the core of this treatment: ‘the mundane, political and global perspectives’ of the militant, the autodidact, and of what our news media pundits now so glibly dub the generic ‘street’. Boittin reminds us that many French colonial workers living in poor French immigrant communities did not enjoy the much-vaunted French subject rights in practice. And itinerant workers from the former French Africa were distinguishable from African Americans, Afro-Caribbeans or other African migrants, including those from the Middle East and North Africa; there was not a single shared identity. Tese workers were hesitant and careful in their politics, with much to lose. Te Communist International was not as persuasive as those looking out from Moscow or Paris might have assumed; the need for endurance and survival necessitated political circumspection. A successful, inclusive transnational appeal to all workers, irrespective of background, could earn an audience, but the caution of the vulnerable acted as a brake upon association with the celebrity lef – they of Parisian, educated and cosmopolitan origin. Boittin’s essay poses an underlying interrogative, also explored by Michelle Wright: was the Second World War a watershed event so seismic in its impact that new unities were forged among workers of colour, among those who remained from the international lef, among those who sought collectively to overthrow a shared empire? Boittin’s subjects were self-reliant; if they knew what was to come, it was because they had ‘theorised their connectivity’ well in advance of 1945. Tis essay revives a lost internationalism, simultaneously showing readers precisely why it was lost. Daniel Whittall treats the origins of just such feeting solidarities in his study of interwar London. As a geographer, he fnds spaces that formed the connective tissue of black London, frst and foremost based upon where work could be had. Jim Crow British-style, circumscribed available labour in restaurants and hotels, while the dockside jobs were not occupied by intellectuals or students. Whittall maps the associational life of London in ways akin to Boittin’s French port cities, establishing a taxonomy of organisations that sought to represent black Londoners both resident and newly arrived, running the gamut from reform advocates to radicals. Whittall’s characters looked toward the war’s end as a new day, and his cultural geography serves as a harbinger of the ‘Pan-African’ energy and commitment explored in Manchester in 1945, that would proliferate in a new post-war black geopolitics. But Whittall likewise notes the internecine debate and antagonism among black Londoners and their allies in the progressive political scene. His is a

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Aferword  265 cautionary tale: was the only moment for international black solidarity lost in the war’s fnal acts? Once independence movements arose, did the ‘national’ supersede global solidarities? Where did these interwar politics land? Te arts may have shielded many from the failures of international solidarities, partly because they ofered so many opportunities for global exchanges and mutualities. In shifing from issues of identity to those of cultural production, James Smalls asks if modernism need imply a notion of racial progress, and, in so asking, refocuses our attention toward a scepticism about politics alluded to in other essays, but not a scepticism about the political use of art. For Smalls, Féral Benga’s revisionist afromodernism featured a ‘combined racial and sexual identity’. Benga was disciplined in what he presented audiences; he was fully conscious of his own agency. Tose who then represented him and interpreted him in other art forms confronted the erotic and social message of his performative body: his desire to ‘disrupt the oppressive weight of racism and colonialism’ was a distinctive contribution to modernism of particular substance, and an inspiration to white artists like Jean Cocteau and the photographer Lee Miller. Benga’s explicit dissent, and the recognition aforded him by others as an independent sexual and artistic entity, outdistanced Prince Dido. What would they have had to say to one another? Yet Benga was neither activist nor propagandist. Not all artists of the Africanist avant-garde were so politically reticent. Ani Mukherji’s exploration of the interwar Soviet context and its multiple contestations of blackness through the medium of the arts, takes as its starting point the recruitment of numbers of black Communists to the national party sections afer the Great War. Some of these cadres, as well as many fellow travellers, made their way to Russia. Here, the volume admits Russia to Europe, leaving the question of the place of the greater USSR and its Central Asian republics to one side. Mukherji’s subjects take us back to the explicitly political, and the world engaged by Boittin and Whittall. Te travellers to Russia ofen idealised the revolution of 1917 and its afermath, absorbed in a ‘romantic sense of internationalism’, one not shared by many residents of metropolitan black communities in North America or Europe. But their inspiration lef a repository of cultural artefacts that bears witness to the hopes for wider social transformation in spite of the ominous turns of events in Moscow. Mukherji reminds us that African Americans joined Africans and Asians in the pursuit of an internationalist vision; in this essay, the transatlantic and trans-European meet in a common global aesthetic. Paul Davis moves the problem of politics and art to the Cold War era through his approach to the paintings of Mamadou Somé’s Bamako circle during the frst two post-war decades. In the face of Malian nationalism, some continued to treat the Soviet experience as racially harmonious, replicating the romantic ideal that Mukherji’s subjects had invoked, and, in so doing, introduced Soviet viewers to the force of African humanity. His essay and Mukherji’s remind us that the Cold War reshaped more than diplomacy,

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266  Susan Dabney Pennybacker reinstating a cold peace by virtue of devastating proxy wars, and profoundly destabilising and realigning movements for global freedom and racial justice. Te Gulag was not compatible with ‘civil rights’, while Malaya, Vietnam and South Africa exposed to view western democracy’s anti-communism in its most hypocritical and murderous dimensions. Te African students whom Davis describes were emissaries of a peaceable world community that came alive through visual art. Tey sought to use ‘transcultural spaces’ as shelters from the ideological imperatives of the time. Tis was art conceived as a force for human liberation – did it exude an ethic above politics? In another commentary on intercultural communication, Christopher Hogarth’s work signals the striking plurality of linguistic facility that the African in Europe must possess; on both the African and European continents, such fuidity of language is not just the prerogative of the educated. He poses the challenge of recognising transnationalism in literary form, and the increasing openness to it on the part of Africans and Europeans alike. His subjects are reading – in Italian – a literature that increasingly ofers not only representations of Africans, but texts written by Africans residing in Italy. Te irony of francophone African writers publishing in Italian because it is understood as a non-colonialist form captures the spirit of newness and creativity which his essay explores: the desire to launch a new literature, African in its texture but European in its linguistic and geographical site of production. Language presents itself as a powerful weapon for those seeking new venues of expression. Its politics are not those of Italy per se, nor do they accept the constraints of assigned linguistic form; an old terrain becomes a new forum. Cecilie Øien similarly fips the meaning of the terms of residence in Portugal of the retornados, those who are not accepted as fully Portuguese and do not defne themselves as fully African, but still identify themselves as Angolan, nevertheless. Tough their arrival afer Angolan independence helped the Portuguese ‘at home’ to see themselves as counterposed to their former colonies, the defnitional gambit played suggested to Øien that ‘maps [be] redrawn in the face of decolonisation’, rather than revivifed in the old ways. Te challenge is to jettison the ‘exclusive Portugal’ to embrace those discarded by Africa, or self-exiled, and she implies that Angola must also be prepared to think transnationally about the retornados, demanding of her readers, ‘who has the right to the truth?’ Øien and Smalls are particularly insistent on the role of sexuality and notions of ‘exotica’ in the interpretation and cultural representation of Africa. For Féral Benga, sexuality was an ineluctable element of pride and self-awareness; for the retornados, miscegenation and the association of female sexuality with African exotica inhibited both an assertive welcome to arrivals and the willingness of the retornados to undertake or tolerate assimilation. Here, politics inheres in status, in inclusion; people in transit become still, calm, only if a polity can redefne itself anew. Anthropologist Donald Carter pushes even further into the quotidian and ethnographic dimensions of migrant communities in his portrait of the

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Aferword  267 Senegalese arriving in Italy; he sees them ‘crafing a new subjectivity … an emergent Black Italia’, yet in the reactionary climate of much of present-day Europe with regard to immigrant rights, he is bound to observe that the primary workforce in the region of his investigation has no right to vote. His work displays the tensions and preoccupations of the everyday, as an increasing fow of migrants, seemingly unattached to politics, build homes and create networks meant to last. Yet this is also the Italy of the Northern League. Like so many of the essays in this volume, this work raises the question of how wider political events – like the development of the European Union, the shifs in American foreign policy, or the wars and dislocation of North Africa with which these notes began, will leave their imprints upon neighbourhood and community life. Te need to provide scholarly contexts for a discussion of these issues should provoke similar, ongoing ethnographic investigations across Europe, the documentary form contributing to knowledge in urgent and indelible ways. Michelle Wright’s bold suggestion that the Second World War might best replace the Middle Passage motif as the paradigm from which the AfricanEuropean experience can be most understood poses the question of just how far slavery remains as a shared point of reference among Africans in Europe (or the Americas) who do not have Afro-Caribbean or African American ancestry. Is this a central dividing line between and amongst black communities in Europe? Does the Second World War serve as a more inclusive and persuasive marker for movement, politics, family regrouping or the acquisition of rights in many areas – for the lifing of sexual and racial restrictions, of civil and national and ex-colonial constraints? Or are the politics of slavery a shared set of links of identity across many other divides, whether or not one was a descendant of Middle Passage Africans? (As are, afer all, the millions of Afro-Caribbean Europeans.) She points out that the war work experience of the home front and the ranks of the military engaged hundreds of thousands of men and women from colonial backgrounds. Is this indeed the watershed that slavery is not, for Africans? For Europeans? For African-Europeans? One sure point is that the war experience and its legacy join descendants of slaves and those who were not with the millions of Asians who also saw wartime service, returning the reader to Mukherji’s Afro-Asian solidarities. John Sealey rethinks precisely that wartime zone in his cinematic imagin­ary: a black German prisoner fees incarceration by impersonating a Wehrmacht ofcer, reminding us that fxed categories of assumption are open to historical imagination. What was possible for Senegalese soldiers and black Germans cannot be construed as ‘unifying’ for Afro-Europe. Indeed, in a ­parallel question to that posed by Wright, Sealey wonders in more contem­porary terms if diaspora is ‘a shared cultural experience’ for Africans. His flmic conjuring estab­lishes the existence of black Germans in the Nazi era. Sealey does not seek to convince us of the credibility of black Nazis in uniform, credible enough to allow an escape from incarceration. Instead, by taking the known presence

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268  Susan Dabney Pennybacker of black Germans to a fantastical limit, he queries several essentialisms. Te politics of flm are endemic to African-European representations. Are there political brakes upon the licence of imagined history? Did the authority of the uniform, and of the coercive violence with which it was associated, ‘trump’ race, ever? Fiction ofers an equally compelling realm for the exploration of racial and continental rethinking. Te conference included a reading of Elleke Boehmer’s Nile Baby and John Masterson revisits the novel and the conference’s themes in his interview with the writer, who was born in South Africa. Boehmer stresses the interrelationships that form the fabric of her work – the haunting role of empire in marking Europe by Africa and in Africa’s footprints on Europe. She writes of Britain and Europe to write of Africa, her words returning us to the frst questions of this refection by asking if North Africans are Romans, Libyans or Egyptians, unwittingly transporting us to the scenes of the recent ‘Arab Spring’. In the conference’s afermath, that outpouring of activism has been not so much an inclusive festival of the democratic celebration of diference as a point on a spectrum of war and revolution, leading to what we still cannot know. Both the secular and religious nature of events since March 2010 remain opaque and unresolved. Boehmer’s musings prepare us for just this irresolution. Te volume does not pretend to be comprehensive: where are the Balkans, the GDR, Austria, Switzerland and Scandinavia, Spain, Benelux or Ireland? Where lie many terrains of Africa – states, ethnicities, peoples, here un­ recorded? Explorations of gender and sexuality are feeting; of language and religion, sparse; of racial theories and indeed of racism and racial violence, sparingly addressed. Yet none of these is untouched. Tey remain categories that scholars who follow will refne, rethink and remake. In the last moments at Liverpool, the rapporteur asked the conference: do the scholar and the teacher, the writer and the commentator, wish for Africans to keep coming? To depart? To stay in Europe with more rights? To move fuidly and freely? To render the old African Continent and the newer European Continent more equitable, more inclusive? What helps most? And who is helped? And the migrants? When will these be their researches, their footnotes, their conferences? If that road is ahead, here is a volume that brings it closer, that begs the coming passage.

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Index

Abyssinia 120 Achebe, Chinua 248–9, 251, 257, 258 ADEFRA 228 Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi 248, 251, 252 Advisory Committee on the Welfare of Colonial People in the United Kingdom (Colonial Ofce) 89, 94 Africa: East, see Eritrea, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Somalia; North 4, 264, 267, see also Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Syria, North Africans; West 118, 163, 177, 219, 222, see also Cameroon, Togo, Ghana, Gold Coast, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Mali, Senegal, Nigeria African Americans 5, 10, 27 note, 56, 203, 219; ethnic diversity of 220, 232; writing and writers 37; in the Soviet Union 120–41; in Paris 118, 218, 230; in London 76, 80; in Switzerland 231; in the Second World War 118, 224–5, 229 African Hostel Defence Association (AHDA) 86, 94 Africans, North 57, 60, 170, 259, 268, 170; relations with Sub–Saharan Africans 164–5; see also Beurs, Moroccans, Tunisians, Algerians, Libyans ‘Afro-Europe’ 210

Afro-Germans, see Germany ‘Afro-Metropolitan’ 210 afromodernism 101, 104, 111 ‘Afro-pean’ 210 ‘Afrosporic’ texts 167 Aggrey House 77, 80–7, 89, 91–2, 95 Aggrey, J.E.K. 84 Ahmadinejad, Mahmoud 232 Alakija, O. A. 76 Albanians in Italy 164 Algerians 50; writers 171 All-Union Society for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries (VOKS) 132, 140 Alridge, Ira 127 al-Samarai, Laure 228 note amalgamationism, see interracial sexual relationships American Indian individuals and movements 219, 231 Amselle, Jean–Loup 59 Andriamady, Joseph 63 Angerer, Fritz 21, 30 Angola: as Portuguese colony 6, 185–8; civil war 188 note, 198; postdecolonisation 191–92, 195, 196, 199; War of Independence 183, 187 Angolans: black 193, 194; white 2, 4, 15, 183–200, 266

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Index  293 Ani, Ekpneyong 228 note anti-colonialism 8, 11, 14, 44 note, 51, 83, 84, 94, 120–4, 128, 133–5, 140, 146, 225, 226 anti-fascism 51 anti-imperialism 74, 80, 82, 93–5, 120, 146 Antilles (French West India); see also French Guiana, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Caribbean Antilleans, relations with Africans in France 57–73 anti-racism 15, 35, 44, 49, 121–3, 140–1, 223, 226 anti-Semitism 51 Appiah, Kwame 145 ‘Arab Spring’ 5, 261, 268 Arabic, as language of immigrants in Italy 203, 209, 212 Aragon, Louis 118 Argentina 180 Armstrong, Louis 245, 247, 263 Asakitikpi, Alex 256 Asians in Europe, see Chinese, Indian, Indochinese, Singaporean Assare-Addo, Edmund 153–4 assimilation 7–8, 42, 48–51, 55, 73, 138, 186, 188, 263, 266 asylum seekers, see refugees Atangana, Karl/Charles 29 Atti Di Sarro, Alessandra 173 Attwell, David 251 Australia 77 authenticity 12, 26–7, 104, 115, 157, 262 autobiographical writing 36–7, 171; Afro-Italian 165–6, 169, 209; AfroGerman 34–54, 227–8; francophone Black 34–54 Ayebia Clarke Publishing 258 Ba, Saidou Moussa 12, 163, 167–74 176–7 Baartman, Sarah 58, 262 Baker, Josephine 11, 13, 58, 102–4, 131 Baldwin, James 37 note, 223, 230–2 Baldwin, Kate 138 Bamako 142–3, 148, 150, 158, 160, 265 Banankoro 148 Bangoura, Tomas 72

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Bankara, Felix 207 Barthé, James Richmond 99–100, 104, 105–9, 111, 112 note Basu, Paul 195 Baucom, Ian 79 Bell, Ndumbe Lobe 32 Bender, Gerald 185, 186 Benga, Féral 10, 12, 99–119, 265 Benga, Liliane 118 Benhadj, Rachid 176 Benin 65, 109 Berlin 21, 23, 24, 32, 67, 102, 120, 122, 231, 241, 244 Berlin Conference 1884/85 8, 231 Berlusconi, Silvio 206 Bernabé, Jean 58 Beurs 166 Beyala, Calixthe 207 Bhabha, Homi K. 19–20, 251, 256 Bigliazzi, Silvia 170, 172 biography, as an approach to transnational history 13–4 Bismarck, Otto von 21 Black and White (flm project) 121–5, 134, 135–6, 140 Black Atlantic 101, 108, 218 Te Black Book 228 Black Britons, Black British, see Great Britain Black Europe and the African Diaspora 5 Black European Studies 4–6, 228 Black French, see France Black Germans, see Germany Black Horror on the Rhine, see Rhineland black internationalism 5, 80, 95, 129 Black Panthers 219 Black Studies 1, 3, 4, 11, 15, 219; see also Black European Studies Blackman, Peter 83 blackness 26, 55, 57–8, 122 note, 204–5, 209–12, 217, 220, 230–3, 265; transnational 5, 93, 101, 123; and national identity 11, 184–94; and performance 11, 12; and modernity 5, 208, 211–2, 231 Te Blood of a Poet 102, 115–17 body politics 187, 248, 252

294  Index Boehmer, Elleke 208, 248–60 Boittin, Jennifer Anne 78 Bologna 175 Bordeaux 60, 70–2 Bouchane, Mohamed 167 Bouchareb, Rachid 224 Boulle, Pierre 58 Braithwaite, Lloyd 94 Brancato, Sabrina 162, 165, 167, 170, 174, 175 Brazil 11, 185, 204, Bresson, Robert 234–5 Bridgeman, Reginald 85 British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) 226, 236 note, 254 British Council 80 British Guiana 77 British National Party 254 Buñuel, Luis 243, 246 Burgos, Elisabeth 171 Burkina Faso 153 note Burning an Illusion 237 Burns, Jennifer 174 Burroughs, Williana 140 Burt, Ramsay 131 Burton, Antoinette 77 Burton, Richard 246 Bush, George W. 232 Calhoun, Craig 145 Calixte, Clarisse 72 Cameroon, Cameroonians 6, 8– 9, 19–33, 34–54, 241, 244; see also Yaounde Cameroonian National Association of Poets and Writers 45 Le Camp de Tiaroye 52 Campt, Tina M. 5, 38, 205, 226, 240 Camus, Albert 118 Canada 77 Cape Verde 180 capitalism, global 15, 120, 220, 224 Cardif 83, 89 Caribbean 8, 51, 59, 77, 80–1, 93, 218, 221 note, 224 note, 227; see also West Indian, Antillean Catani, Maurice 170–1 Cazenave, Odile 162 Césaire, Aimé 55, 74, 221 note

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Chamoiseau, Patrick 58, 221 note Chen, Jack (Chen-I-Wan) 132 Chen, Sylvia (Si-Lan Chen Leyda) 4, 10–11, 123, 129–35 Chicano/Latina individuals and movements 22 children 6, 14, 26, 39, 40 note, 41, 42, 44, 45, 49, 53, 63–4, 116, 151, 155 note, 158–9, 160, 172, 173, 186, 203–4, 205, 209, 213, 227, 228, 229, 235, 244, 250–7 see also generational relations China, Revolution 130 Chinese: in Italy 202; in Russia 127; see also Sylvia Chen, Ding Ling Chinese Exclusion Act (US) 135 Chohra, Nassera 173 Chrisman, Laura 218 Ciafaloni, Francesco 213 Cissé, Souleymane 157 cities, imperial 78–9 citizenship 7, 41, 65, 187, 192, 211, 226, Civil Rights Movement (US) 44, 123, 157, 218 Clarke, Cecil Belfeld 87 class 57, 59, 61, 67, 72, 74, 212, 220 classicism 103, 108 clothing 27–9, 44, 55, 74, 110, 151, 157, 186–7, 192, 245 Cocteau, Jean 101, 102, 115–17, 265 Coetzee, J.M. 251, 253 Cold War 123, 135, 140, 144–5, 147, 149, 155, 265 Te Colditz Story 238, 247 collaboration: between African and European writers 2, 162–82; between blacks and whites in politics and culture 76–98, 119; see also complicity Collymore, George 81 Colonial Centre (London) 89 Colonial Ofce (British) 77, 80, 84–7, 89, 91–2, 94–5 (also Advisory Committee) colonialism; consequences for Africa and Africans 146, 174; and transnational mobility 4–10 colour line, global 1, 5, 10–12, 76–7 Coly, Ayo 39, 53 Combahee River Collective 219

Index  295 Comintern (Communist International) 9, 67, 120–41, 264 Comité de défense de la race nègre (CDRN) 65–7 Comité de défense des intérêts de la race noire (CDIRN) 65 Communist University of the Toilers of the East (KUTV) 127–8, 133, 140 Communists 61, 65–72, 83, 87, 265 note; see also Comintern community and communities, black 2, 7, 55–76, 82, 83, 91, 95, 169, 201–3, 206, 227, 251; see also neighbourhoods complicity 20, 55, 73–4; see also collaboration Confant, Raphaël 58 Congo (Congolese) 180 Conrad, Joseph 258 conservatism, black 220 Cooper, Frederick 184 Cosmopolitan (restaurant) 79 cosmopolitanism, cosmopolitans 4, 7, 8, 9, 19–21, 95, 123, 140, 145–6, 151–61, 231, 264 Côte d’Ivoire 109, 177, 242, 244 Coulibaly, Mamadou Somé 4, 142–61 creoles, Atlantic 9 note Cullen, Countee 122, Cunard, Nancy 87 Dadié, Bernard Binlin 207–09 Dahomey 68 Dahomeans 65 Dakar 68, 71, 72, 102, 168, 207 Dali, Salvador 243 Damas, Léon–Gontran 14, 55, 56, 61 note, 66, 73–4 dance and dancers 11, 48, 66, 99–119, 123, 129–35 Daniels, Jimmie 112 David–Fox, Michael 124 Davis, Miles 263 De Girolamo, Carla 170 decolonisation migrants:; Portugal, see retornados; France, see pieds–noirs Deeter, Jasper 135 Deineka, Alexander 122 Dell’Oro, Erminia 179

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Dembélé, Moussa 144 note Denmark 102 Department of Justice (US) 135 Department of State (US) 135 Derié, Henri 71, 72 Dewitte, Philippe 59 di Maio, Alessandra 164–5, 211 Dias, Jill R. 188 diaspora 3, 4, 35, 73, 101, 124, 184, 206, 217–33, 242, 244, 248–60, 267; post–colonial 249–50; vertical and lateral 10, 228–9; diaspora aesthetic 237–8; diasporic consciousness 4, 225; diasporic identity 218; diasporic subjectivity 203–4; ‘diasporic dwelling‘ 38, 205; diasporic writing distinguished from writing by non-colonial migrants 162, 167–8; see also ghosts Dido, Depusi 23 Dido, Samson 6, 8–9, 11, 19–33, 262–3, 265 Dikeç, Mustafa 79 Diop, Alioune 45 Diop, David Mandessi 45 Diop, Mamadou 44 Diop, Maria, see Mandessi Bell, Maria Diop, Ousmane Socé 37, 50 dockers 70, 168 note Donnell, Alison 79 Douala 39, 47, 48 double consciousness 203 Dresden 21, 23 Dreyfus Case 51 Driver, Felix 78 Du Bois, W.E.B. 13, 123, 140, 203, 209, 262 Duala 8–9, 19–21, 29, 32, 33, 39 Duncan, Isadora 123, 130, 133 Dunham, Katherine 131 Dunkerque 72 Echenberg, Myron 238, 242 Eco, Umberto 210 Edwards, Brent Hayes 5, 58, 95, 208, 218 Eggers, Maureen 228 note Egypt 259 Egyptians, see Ingy Mubiayi

296  Index Eisenstein, Sergei 134, 136 Eks&Tra (Bologna) 175 Ellerman, Winifred 112 note El-Tayeb, Fatima 223, 228 note England, see Great Britain Equiano, Olaudah 13 Eritrea 179 note eroticism 110–16; see also homo­ eroticism Ethiopia 120, 140, 221, 225 Ethiopians 178 ‘ethnicity’ 211 ethnographic display 102; see also exhibitions European Union 4 note, 8, 164, 205, 206, 260, 267; see also Schengen Evaristo, Bernardine 254 exhibitions 262; colonial 21, Paris 1931 50, 61–4, 66; ethnographic 19–33 exoticism 22, 30–2, 103–5, 110, 115, 150, 153, 157, 209, 252, 266 Te Exterminating Angel 243 La Famille Antillaise (Le Havre) 72 family and families as subjects and objects of practice 34–54, 57, 64, 72, 74, 118, 129, 158–9, 191–5, 196–8, 201, 203–4, 205, 218, 227–9; see also ‘diasporic dwelling’, generational relations Fanon, Frantz 32, 37, 61 note Farah, Nuruddin 252–3 Farah, Ubax-Cristina Ali 178, 180 Farbe bekennen 227 fashion, see clothing, hairstyle fctional accounts of black experience 34–54, 162–82, 226–7, 248–60 flms 176, 208, 223–4, 268; blacks in 121, 235–7; flm theory and practice 234–47; see also Black and White, individual flm titles Fischer, Eugen 241 Fischer-Lichte, Erika 23–4 Fletcher, Yaël Simpson 59 Foden, Giles 255 Fort Whiteman, Lovett 121, 129 note Fortunato, Mario 169, 173 Foyer du Malagache 62

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France 9, 163; black population 41–2, 44–5, 48–54, 55–74, 99–119, 169, 240; 2005 ‚riots‘ 60; 1968 51; colonial empire 5–6, 7, 146; republican assimilationism and the political blindness to race 50–1, 208; see also World Wars francophone African writers; in France 48–54, 163, 168–9, 170, 203, 207; in Italy 165–6, 266 Frankenberg, Ruth 194 Frankfurt am Main 21, 41, 49 Fréjus 68 French Communist Party (PCF) 65–72 French Guiana 56; see also Léon– Gontran Damas French Guinea 68 Freyre, Gilberto 185 Friedrich Wilhelm, Crown Prince of Prussia 26 Frobenius, Leo 44 Fryer, Peter 259 Fulani language 176 Gabriel, Carl 22 Gadji, Mbacké 175 Gates, Henry Louis, Jr 218, 219, 231 Gaye, Cheikh Tidiane 177 Gehring, Eduard 22 Geltzer, Ekaterina 130 gender 10, 38, 39, 40, 49, 53, 57, 60 note, 61, 104, 105, 107, 123, 132, 186, 212, 218–26 generational relations 34–55, 178, 187, 196–8, 203–4, 213, 228 Genet, Jean 118 Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography, Moscow 157 note German East Africa 9 German Southwest Africa 9 German, Yuri 136 Germany 262; black people in 19–33, 34–54, 226, 227–8, 240–1, 244–5; reception of New Negro writing in 37; colonial empire 7–9, 21; see also World Wars Gestapo 53 Ghana 258

Index  297 Ghanaians 153–4 Ghermandi, Gabriella 178 ghosts and haunting as a metaphor for diaspora 14, 249–58 Gikandi, Simon 260 Gilbert, David 78 Gilroy, Paul 5, 59, 95, 101, 108, 218, 231 Glescoe, Margaret 122 Gnisci, Armando 175 Gold Coast 84, 124 note Goleizovsky, Kasian 132 Gordon, Lewis R. 210 Gorer, Geofrey 105, 109–11, 113, 117, 118 Great Britain 9, 102, 119, 163, 208; black people in 76–98, 226–7; black and African cultural practitioners 175, 226–7, 236–8, 248–60; colonial empire, as an object of allegiance 82–5, impacts on metropolitan governance 78, 83, 95; see also England, World Wars Te Great Consoler 137 Te Great Escape 238 Te Greatest Escape 234–47 Grebner, G.E. 121; see also Black and White Grifn, Nick 254 Growing Pains 183 note Guadeloupe 56, 68, 75 Guadeloupians 64, 72, 74 Guatemala 171 Gurnah, Abdulrazak 248, 251–2 Hagenbeck, Carl 22–3, 26, 30, 32 Haïdara, Moctari 144 note hairstyle 186–7 Haiti 56 Hall, Chatwood, see Homer Smith Hall, Stuart 235, 237 Hamburg 21, 22–3, 40, 122, 136, 262 Hampton Institute 122 Hannerz, Ulf 145, 151 Hargreaves, Alec 170–1, 172, 173 Harlem Renaissance 77, 104, 108, 134 note, 223; see also New Negro Harris, Wilson 256 Havre, Le 60, 68, 70, 72, 73 Hell is for Heroes 238

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Herndon, Angelo 139 heteropatriarchalism in Black Studies 218–25 Hirsch, Marianne 38 Hitler’s Forgotten Victims 240 Hofmann von Fallersleben, August Heinrich 47 Holocaust 38, 212 Home from the Hill 189 note homoeroticism 99–119 homosexuality 99–119; see also queer homoutopias, homoutopians 99, 101, 109, 111 Hosenneger 27–30 hospitality 79, 84, 86, 88, 90, 92, 93,94–5, 154, 166 Howard University 73, 114, 135 Howe, Stephen 8 Hügel-Marshall, Ika 22 Huggins, John, Sir 81 Huggins, Nathan 104 Hughes, Langston 10, 12, 108, 121–2, 134, 136, 223 Human zoos, see exhibitions Hunkarin, Louis 65 Hutnyk, John 237 hybridity 8, 19, 27, 49, 101, 104, 111, 115, 131–2, 141, 157, 210, 212, 252 identity 2, 3 note, 5, 13, 15, 24, 35, 37, 44, 52, 53, 77, 79, 91, 99, 101, 104, 105, 109, 122, 123, 145, 157, 168, 179, 180, 184–5, 188, 190, 191, 192, 194, 196, 198, 202, 204, 208, 212, 217–33, 235, 240–2, 255, 264, 265, 267 Igbo myth 250, 256–7; see also ogbanje Indians 79, 82, 120, 127, 209; see also Gabriella Kuruvilla, Laila Wadia Indigènes 52, 224 Indochinese 57, 62, 69 Initiative Schwarze Deutsche 228 Inoradio (Moscow) 140 Institut National des Arts (Mali) (INA) 143, 147 International Labour Defense (ILD) 127 International League Against Anti– Semitism 51

298  Index interracial sexual relationships 34–54, 62–4, 193–4, 226–7, 265–6; see also mixed marriages, ‘mixed-race’; celebrated 48–54, 126–7, 134, 137–8, 186 (see also Lusotropicalism); problematised: by black writers and artists 37–47, 152–3, 158, by European societies 40–2, 68, 153–5, 186–7 Italy: ambiguous colonial history 162, 167, 168, 177–80; black population in 165, 201–13; black writers in 162–83; immigration 163–5; immigration literature, and postcolonial Italian writing 179; immigration policy 164–5, 178, 206 Iving, Viktor 130–2

Kenya 224, 228 Kenyatta, Jomo 83, 86 Khorvino 153 Khouma, Pap 164–72, 174 note, 177, 180 Kilomba, Grada 228 note King, Martin Luther, Jr 157 Kington, Miles 243 Konaré, Alpha Oumar 142 note Konaté, Abdoulaye 144 note Kotik, Maria 129 Kouyaté, Tiémoko Garan 67–72 Kramer, Jane 202 Kuleshov, Lev 137 Kum’a Ndumbe III 223 Kuomintang 129 Kuruvilla, Gabriella 179

Jamaica 80, 81, 83, 109 Jamaicans 226; see also Una Marson, Harold Moody James, C.L.R. 83, 85–6, 91 note, 94 James, Henry 202 Japan 221, 222, 223 Japanese 129, 134, 232 jazz 118, 123, 132, 243, 247 Jeunesse de l’US-RDA (JUS-RDA) 143, 155, 157 Jews 40, 51, 243 Johnson, James Weldon 37 Jones, Mildred 122 Jordan, Winthrop D. 204–5 Joseph, George 46 Joseph-Mitchell, Malcolm 80 Jules-Rosette, Benetta 202–3, 207 Julien, Isaac 223

Lagneau-Kesteloot, Lilyan 45 Lake, Marilyn 76 Lamming, George 94, 226, 250 Lamri, Tahar 209 language: acquisition and competence by migrants and travellers 138–9, 152,169, 173, 266; and identity 48–9, 241; as a source of division among blacks 71; immigrant multilingualism 176 note, 209–10; in flms 176, 246; political 63, 66, 68–9; translation 5, 12, 14, 137, 167, 169, 171, 172, 175; use of native languages in colonial and post-colonial Angola 186–7; writers’ choice of 167–8, 177–8, 209 Lansoge (Martinican) 63 Latvia 149–50 Laye, Camara 203 League Against Imperialism 85, 95 League of Coloured Peoples (LCP) 76–95 legislation: colonial, and racial hierarchy in the Portuguese empire 187; immigration: Italy: Bossi–Fini Law (2002) 165, 178; Martelli Law (1990) 164; Turco–Napolitano Law (1998) 164 Legrand-Chabrier, André 103 Leipzig 23, 26, 30–2 Lennox, Sara 46 Leutemann, Heinrich 22, 26

Kahn, Sheila 187 Kalinin Medical Institute, Moscow 153 Kalra, Virinder 237 Kane, Cheikh Hamidou 172 Kanté, Salif 144 note Karone, Yodi 207 Kaur, Raminder 237 Keita, Boubacar Tidiani 144 note Keita, Modibo 146 note Keïta, Seydou 153 Keith, J.L. 91 Kenez, Peter 137

Index  299 Levi, Primo 212 Levinson, André 103 Levy, Andrea 226, 227 Liberia 128 Libya 4, 259 Libyans 260, 268 Ligue de défense de la race nègre (LDRN) 65–72 Ligue pour l’accession aux droits de citoyens des indigènes de Madagascar 65 Ligue universelle de défense de la race nègre 65 Ling, Ding 133 Lisbon 183 note, 191, 193, 196, Little Teatre movement 135–6 Liverpool 83, 89, 122, 253 Locke, Alain 108–9 London 23, 76–98, 227, 231, 237, 241, 242, 264 Looking for Langston 223 Love Ty Neighbour 237 Lumumba, Patrice 157 Lunion-Gothon, Joseph 64 Lusane, Clarence 240 Lusotropicalism 8, 185–6, 187 note, 190 Lynes, George Platt 99, 112–13, 114 Mackendrick, Alexander 234 Macpherson, Kenneth 112 Madagascar 65; see also Malagasies Maghreb, see Africa (North) Maison des Artisans Soudanais 147 Makalani, Minkah 204, 206 Makonnen, Ras 79 Malagasies 56, 57, 60, 61, 62–4, 65, 70, 72 Malapa, Paul 40, 47 Mali 109, 142–61; see also Mande Man Ray 117 Manchuelle, François 59 Mande culture 153, 159 note Mandel, Georges 74–5 Mandessi Bell, Maria 44 Manley, Norman 81 Mann, Gregory 224–5 Manning, Susan 105 Mantel, Hilary 250 Mantua 175

marabouts 166 Maran, René 65, 208 Marquardt, Fritz 22 Marquardt, Gustav 22 Marseille 56, 60, 64, 68–70, 71, 72, 122 Marson, Una 79, 88, 91–2 Martin, Kingsley 85 Martinelli, Marco 176 Martinicans 56, 63, 69–70; see also Aimé Césaire Martinique 56, 208 masculinity 38, 57, 60, 107, 134 Massaquoi, Hans 244–5 Massey, Doreen 78 Masslo, Jerry 164 Matusevich, Maxim 144 May, Karl 22 Maya, Vera 130, 132 Mbembe, Achille 259 McKay, Claude 123 Te McKenzie Break 238 McLeod, John 78, 79 media, Africa and blacks in 4, 164, 175–6, 178, 236–7 Mellitti, Moshen 167 Menchú, Rigoberta 171 Mendy, Andros 70 Mendy, Lauresse 70 Merrill, Heather 211, 213 Methnani, Salah 166, 173 métissage, see interracial sexual relationships, ‘mixed race’ Meyer, Léon 72 Meyerhold, Vsevolod 136, 138, 139 Mezhrabpomfl’m 121 Miccione, Daniele 170 Michael, James Wonja 244 Micheletti, P.A. 163, 168, 169, 171, 172–3 Michels, Stefanie 8 Middle Passage Epistemology 217–20 Miller, Christopher L. 58 Miller, Lee 116, 265 Miller, Loren 122 mimicry 19–20, 33, 168 Mind Your Language 237 miscegenation, see interracial sexual relationships Misipo, Dualla 34–54

300  Index Misipo, Ekwé 34–54 Misipo, Luise 41, 49, 53 misogyny in black popular culture 219 mixed marriages 34–54, 67–8, 155; see also interracial sexual relationships ‘mixed-race’ individuals 38, 64, 186, 196, 227 Mockler, Anthony 221 modernism 14, 36, 46, 99–119, 265 modernity 5, 105, 126 note, 208, 211, 212, 231 Möller, Willy 22 Montesquieu, Charles Louis Secondat, Baron 207 Moody, Christine 88 Moody, Harold 76–98 Moody, Olive 88 Morgenrath, Birgit 223 Moroccans 60, 164, 165, 203 see also Rachid Benhadj Morocco 50 Morrison, Toni 256 Moscow 120–1, 142–61 Mozambicans 187 Mphahlele, Ezekiel 45 Mubiayi, Ingy 179 Munich 21 music 11, 14, 117, 118, 123, 132, 210, 243, 245, 247 music hall 102–3, 263 Mussolini, Benito 120, 221, 226 Mythen, Masken und Subjekte 228 N’Djehoya, Blaise 207 Naipaul, V.S. 94 narrative: challenges of transnational history 13–15; classical 239–43; see also fction National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) 44 National Socialism (Nazism) 4, 7, 34, 35, 40, 41, 45, 49–50, 117–8, 202, 226, 240, 241, 243, 267 Ndiaye, Catherine 166 Ndiaye, Mandiaye 176–7 negritude 44, 45, 55–6, 66, 74, 118, 169 negrophilia 103, 105, 110

neighbourhoods, black and immigrant 67, 70, 203, 208, 212 networks 69–73, 85, 89–90, 95, 107, 113–4, 122, 155, 169, 193, 207, 252, 267 New Negro 37, 44 note, 107, 108, 123 Niang, Mor Awa 176 Nigeria 109, 224, 256; see also Igbo Nigerians 202, 257 ‘nigger’ / ‘negro’ / ‘black’ and European equivalents extracommunitari 164; Marocchino, 164; Neger 27, 44, 244; nègre 57, 74; nero 204; noir 57; preto 187, 193, 196; tiorni 151 Njami, Simon 207 Noiriel, Gérard 60 Northern League 165, 267 Norway 102 nostalgia 38, 50, 158, 190, 263 Nowhere in Africa 3 note Nubians 259 nurses 83, 211 Obama, Barack 212, 233 ogbanje 250, 254, 256–8 Okuefuna, David 240 Orton, Marie 179 Ostuzhov, Aleksandr 138 Other, othering 19–33, 46, 208 Ouattara, Fatoumata 145 Ovalle-Bahamón, Ricardo E. 185 Padmore, George 13, 76, 80, 82, 83, 87, 93, 94, 128–9, 262 Paises Africanos de Lingua Ofcial Portuguesa (PALOP) 193 note Pan-African Congress, Manchester 1945 80 pan-Africanism 45, 79, 93, 94, 160, 264 Papatakis, Niko 118 Parati, Graziella 164, 166, 169, 173, 175, 179 Paris 5, 23, 37, 39, 40–2, 44–5, 47, 49, 51, 52, 53, 56, 58, 60, 61–3, 66, 68, 70–1, 72, 74, 75, 78, 102–3, 105, 110–9, 122, 166, 177, 202, 207–9, 218, 230–1, 243, 244, Patterson, Lloyd 122, 140 Patterson, Tifany Ruby 5

Index  301 Patterson, William L. 127 Peabody, Sue 58 Pennybacker, Susan 67 performance 11, 23–4, 82, 101, 102, 228 Philadelphia 135 Phillips, Caryl 226, 253 photographs and photography 24–30, 38, 105, 112–13, 117, 152, 153, 156–7, 205, 223, 234, 243, 245 pieds-noirs 190 Piesche, Peggy 228 note Pires, Rui Pena 189 Pivetta, Oreste 169–70, 172, 173 Playing a Dangerous Game 243 Polish-Italian writers 180 Popoola, Olumide 228 note Port of Spain 129, 133 Porter, James Amos 99, 114–5 Porto, Nuno 188 Portugal 8, 183–200; colonial empire 185–7; New State Regime (Salazar) 183, 185, 187, 189, 195; Revolution 1974 188, 189, 191 postcolonial studies 5, 249 postnationalism 53 Post-War Epistemology 217–33 practice (defned and characterised) 2–4, 5, 12, 13 Présence Africaine 45, 167, 169, 170, 207 press, black: Baltimore Afro-American 124, 128, 136; British Guiana 87; Chicago Defender 80, 121; Le Cri des nègres62–3; La Dépêche africaine 65, 75; El Ghibli (on–line journal) 180; L’Etudiant noir 55; Gold Coast Independent 87; Te Keys 83, 84, 88; Le Message Dahoméen 65; Negro Worker 86; New York Amsterdam News 121; Opportunity 87; Pittsburgh Courier 124; La Race nègre 66; Twin City Herald 124 Pressure 236 note, 237 Prevost, Madame 62–3 primitive, primitivism 27, 81, 101–5, 107–9, 110, 116 note, 119, 130, 231 prisoners of war, African 238–47 Pushkin, Aleksandr 127

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queer Atlantic 101 note; movements 219, 228–9; studies 222–3; reception of the African body 105; see also homosexuality Quiminal, Catherine 59 race, as unifying term among black activists 57, 66–7, 72, 83; and sexual subjectivity 101, 111; understandings of, in particular national and post-colonial contexts 195; see also blackness, France, racialisation, visibility, whiteness racialisation 44, 46, 53, 65, 138; blackening 15; and diaspora 204; of bodies 131; of nation 184, 191, 194; of representations 105; of space 82, 93–4; racialising gaze 44, 46, 53, 209; see also blackness, whiteness racism: literary responses 34–54, 124–9, 167–8, 172, 177–8; political responses 74–5; institutional responses 76–95; artistic responses 105–19, 129–39, 142–61; see also anti-racism Radlov, Sergei 137–8 Radlova, Anna 137 Ramananarivo, Auguste 62 Randrianja, Solofo 59 rape 47, 59, 138 Rassenschande 41, 48 Ravenna 176 realism: in fction 15; in painting 113, 146, 148–9, 150, 158–9; socialist 139, 149 Reed-Anderson, Paulette 244 refugees and asylum seekers 4, 12, 35, 39–40, 48–9, 50, 51, 53, 188, 211, 212, 261, 263 Reinhardt, Django 243 Research Association for the Study of National and Colonial Problems (NIANKP) 128 retornados 183–200, 266 Reynolds, Henry 76 Rhineland, French occupation 1919–23, 40–3, 227 Rhodesia, see Zimbabwe Rich, Paul 77 Riga 149–50

302  Index Robeson, Paul 76, 123, 127, 139, 263 Robinson, Cederic 135 Roman Empire 6–7, 14, 259–60, 268 Rössel, Karl 223 Rouen 72 Rudd, Wayland 4, 123, 127, 135–40 Rushdie, Salman 252 Russia, see Soviet Union Russian Association of Proletarian Writers (RAPP) 132 sailors 69–74 Saint-Nazaire 72 Salazar, Antonio Oliveira da 185 note Salih, Tayeb 255, 258 Sangiorgi, Roberta 175 Sarraut, Albert 75 Sartre, Jean-Paul 118 Satineau, Maurice 75 Sbacchi, Alberto 221 Scego, Igiaba 178–80 Schengen Agreement 163; see also European Union Schulz-Koehn, Dietrich 242 Schwarze Schmach 40–3 Schweitzer, Albert 44 Selvon, Samuel 94, 226 Sembène, Ousmane 52, 168 note, 176 Senegal 45, 68, 71, 102, 109, 111, 118, 146, 147, 171, 177; see also Wolof Senegalese 226; in France 56, 69–70, 72, 166, see also Alioune Diop, Mamadou Diop, Féral Benga, Lamine Senghor, Léopold Sédar Senghor, Maurice Sonar Senghor; in Italy 165–6, 168, 201, 202, 203–4, 206, 207, 267, see also Pap Khouma, Cheikh Hamidou Kane, Mbacké Gadji, Ousmane Sembène, Mor Awa Niang, Cheikh Tidiane Gaye Senghor, Lamine 45, 67–71, 73 Senghor, Léopold Sédar 45, 109, 203 Senghor, Maurice Sonar 109, 110, 117–8 sexuality 46, 57, 74, 104, 105, 107, 111, 115, 186, 218, 222, 266; see also interracial sexual relationships, homosexuality

Sharpley-Whiting, T. Denean 5, 58 Shewa, Moise 240 Shiroya, O.J.E. 224 Sidibé, Malick 153 Siebold, Wilhelm 22 Simon, John, Sir 90 Simon, Kathleen, Lady 87, 90 Singaporean-Italian writers 180 slavery, transatlantic, and its legacies 4, 59, 66, 217–20, 267 Smith, Andrea L. 189 note, 190, 194 Smith, Homer 124–9, 140 Smith, Ian 157 Smith, Roberta 114 Smith, Zadie 226, 228 soldiers: African 6, 14, 40, 60, 146, 224, 226; African American 10, 89, 224, 226, 228, 230, 242; Afro–Caribbean 10; black German 226; colonial 89, 267; black French 50; French colonial 40, 52, 114–5; German 243; see also tirailleurs, prisoners of war Somalia 72, 178 Somalis 178–9, 211; see also UbaxCristina Ali Farah, Igiaba Scego Source d’inspiration 157 South Africa 9, 77, 127, 258, 266, 268 South Africans 164; see also Elleke Boehmer, Ezekiel Mphahlele Soviet Union: Africans in 120–41; African Americans in 142–61; Stalinist purges 124, 128–9, 134, 139 Spain 132, 163, 177 Spanish, writing in 175 Stalinism 202; see also Soviet Union Stanislavsky, Konstantin 136 Stein, Gertrude 113 note sterilisation 41, 241 Stoler, Ann Laura 38 Stoll, David 171 Storm over Asia 120 Stovall, Tyler 59 Stowe, Harriet Beecher 230 students 6, 35, 45, 51, 61, 77, 80–7, 92, 120, 127, 133, 140, 142–61, 166, 230, 262, 264, 266 Sudan 255; Soudan français 146

Index  303 Sudanese 251–2, 255, 259 Surikov Academy Art Institute, Moscow 142–60 surrealism 14, 113–4, 243, 246–7 Sweden 102 Syndicat des navigateurs nègres (SNN) 71 Syria 180 Tadini, Emilio 176 Tahiti 132 Tchelitchew, Pavel 99, 113–4 Teatro delle Albe (Ravenna) 176–7 testimonial literature 36–7, 171 theatricality 23–4 Tomas, Dominic 4, 5, 7, 59 Tompson, Louise 121 tirailleurs 60–3, 65, 68; Sénégalais 49, 115, 238, 242, 245 Togo 9, 61, 180, 244 Togolese 40 Tovalou, Marc Kojo 65 transatlantic connections 59, 265 transnational/transnationalism (concept); history and defnitions 2–4, 13–4; in Black European Studies 4–7; and colonial studies in France and Germany 7, in Portugal 8; transnational condition 9, 10, 12, 13, 35, 69; cultural transmission 11; and biography 13 travel, travelling 3, 6, 8, 22, 252, 254–5; travel writing 6 note, 37 Trépel, Mireille 118 Tretiakov, Sergei 120 Trinidad 80 Trinidadians 226; see also Sylvia Chen, George Padmore, George Collymore, C.L.R. James Triolet, Elsa 118 Tshotsha, Jean–Marie 206 Tunisia 261 Tunisians 60; see also Salah Methnani Turin 202, 203, 211–3 Union des travailleurs nègres (UTN) 65–6, 72–3, 74 Union Intercoloniale 65

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Union Soudanaise-Rassemblement Démocratique Africain (US-RDA) 142–3, 146–7, 148, 155 United States 44, 80, 104, 117, 123, 211–2, 217, 226; African American Studies 232; African immigration to 220, 232 ‘uplif’, racial 84, 92 Vale de Almeida, Miguel 190 van Vechten, Carl 99 Vendryes, Margaret 107 Versailles Treaty 6, 9, 34 Veteran, Marcel 70 Vian, Boris 118 Viarengo, Maria 209 violence against blacks 152; colonial 47, 157; lynching 37, 44, 125, 127; murder 15, 153–4, 164; among blacks 56, 69–70, 220; perceived propensity of blacks to 40, 111; see also rape visibility of/as Africans or blacks 9, 14, 164 note, 206, 211, 235–7: and the ‘discovery’ of oneself as raced 43–4 184, 194; racialising gaze / look / scrutiny 46–7, 53, 102, 209; of African cultural production 175 von Soden, Julius 21 voting 213 Wadia, Laila 179 Walker, Alice 219 Walrond, Eric 77 Ward, Arnold 83 Waugh, Tomas 113 Wescott, Glenway 111–2 West African Students Union (WASU) 85–6, 91, 94 West Indians 76–95, 122, 134; see also individual countries, Caribbean, Antilles West, Dorothy 122 Where Eagles Dare 246 whiteness 53, 77, 102, 108, 194 Wilder, Gary 58 Wilson, Harriet E. 37 note Windrush narrative 226 Wolof language and culture 102, 118, 168, 176–7

304  Index women 57, 61, 250–1; and diaspora historiography 35, 60; and black organisations and movements 87 note, 219, 228; black 57, 61, 64, representations of 58, in the Second World War 222, 224–5, writers 170, 173, 178–80, and postnationalism 53; white 34–54, 62–4, 191–8 Wood, Sharon 170, 172 Woodson, Carter G. 83 Workers’ Youth Teatre (TRAM) 132 workers’ movements, black 70–73 World Wars 15; as watersheds in transnational black history 221–33, 264, 267; First World War 9, France 60, 63, 68, Germany 6, 39, 43–4, post-war occupation of Germany 10, 227; Second World War: fction flms about 238–47; France 52, German occupation 42, 49, 51, 117–8, liberation and reprisals against collaborators 52–3; Great Britain 89, fction 226–7; Germany, post-war occupation 10, 227, 241; Soviet Union 140, 149; see also Post-War Epistemology, soldiers, Versailles, women

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Wright, Richard 37 note, 129, 230 Wuhan 129, 133 Yaounde language 36 Zairean, see Ingy Mubiayi Zimbabwe 157 Zincone, Giovanna 163 Zwerin, Mike 243