Unbecoming Americans: Writing Race and Nation from the Shadows of Citizenship, 1945-1960 9780813559681

During the Cold War, Ellis Island no longer served as the largest port of entry for immigrants, but as a prison for hold

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Unbecoming Americans: Writing Race and Nation from the Shadows of Citizenship, 1945-1960

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Unbecoming Americans

Unbecoming Americans Writing Race and Nation from the Shadows of Citizenship, 1945–1960

joseph keith

Rutgers University Press

new brunswick, new jersey, and london

library of congress cataloging-in-publication data Keith, Joseph. Unbecoming Americans : writing race and nation from the shadows of citizenship, 1945–1960 / Joseph Keith. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-0-8135-5967-4 (hardcover : alk. paper) ISBN 978-0-8135-5966-7 (pbk. : alk. paper) ISBN 978-0-8135-5968-1 (e-book) 1. American literature—Minority authors—History and criticism. 2. Immigrants’ writings, American—History and criticism. 3. Citizenship in literature. 4. Race in literature. 5. American literature—20th century—History and criticism. I. Title. PS153.M56K44 2013 810.9'920693—dc23


A British Cataloging-in-Publication record for this book is available from the British Library. Copyright © 2013 by Joseph Keith All rights reserved No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher. Please contact Rutgers University Press, 106 Somerset Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901. The only exception to this prohibition is “fair use” as defined by U.S. copyright law. Visit our website: http://rutgerspress.rutgers.edu Manufactured in the United States of America

A book in the American Literatures Initiative (ALI), a collaborative publishing project of NYU Press, Fordham University Press, Rutgers University Press, Temple University Press, and the University of Virginia Press. The Initiative is supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. For more information, please visit www.americanliteratures.org.

For my parents, Christopher and Margaret Keith


Acknowledgments ix

Introduction: Shadow Narratives of the Transnational

part i  Novel Forms: Writing at the Limits of Citizenship


1 Neither Citizen nor Alien: Rewriting the Immigrant Bildungsroman across the Borders of Empire in Carlos Bulosan’s America Is in the Heart


2 The Epistemology of Unbelonging: Richard Wright’s The Outsider and the Politics of Secrecy


part ii  Peripheral Forms: Literatures of Alienage, Incarceration, and Deportation

3 Richard Wright’s Cosmopolitan Exile: Race, Decolonization, and the Dialogics of Modernity


4 The Undesirable Alien and the Politics of Form: Telling Untold Tales in C. L. R. James’s Mariners, Renegades, and Castaways


5 Talking Back to the State: Claudia Jones’s Radical Forms of Alienage


Conclusion: An Empire of Alienage







It is a pleasure to write these acknowledgments, not only because they mark the end of a longer than expected road that this book took me down, but also to recognize the many friends, colleagues, and mentors without whose support and guidance it would have never been possible. Unbecoming Americans first took shape as a dissertation at Columbia University under the guidance of a number of wonderful advisors. I owe special thanks to Ann Douglas for her unflagging encouragement and direction, which carried me throughout graduate school. Gayatri Spivak taught me and challenged me in so many ways; she has also been the source of incredibly generous support over the years, for which I am deeply indebted. Throughout that time and beyond, I have benefited so much from the guidance and personal, as well as professional, example of Rob Nixon. I’d also like to acknowledge Edward Said. I consider myself so fortunate to have been able to consider him as my teacher and mentor. It was reading his work that led me initially to pursue this path, and it is certainly his work, and his classes, and his advice that most inspired this project. I owe a special thanks to a group of friends and colleagues over the past several years that has helped keep me—relatively—sane and whose input made this book better and sharper in every way: Hiram Perez, Sarita See, and Donette Francis. Hiram suffered through countless versions of this book during our very small writing group and provided me with his particular brilliance. Sarita gave me crucial advice at every juncture and talked me off any number of cliffs during this book’s writing.

x / acknowledgments

And Donette has been my closest interlocutor, confidante, and friend throughout my time at Binghamton. As a graduate student at Columbia, I was fortunate to find a group of people who provided a welcoming and inspiring community of intellectual support and camaraderie: Jodi Melamed, Eric Bulson, Chandan Reddy, Kent Puckett, and Douglas Pfeiffer. Their work and their conversation continue to help and teach me in so many ways. I would also like to thank Margaret Cerullo and Carollee Bengelsdorf, my teachers at Hampshire College. Both are such brilliantly radical and radically brilliant scholars and teachers, and much of this book is traceable back to them. I only wish that I might have the effect on some of my students in the future that they have had on me. In whole or in part, this book has also greatly benefited from the feedback and counsel of Dawn Fulton, Alan Isaac, Jini Kim Watson, and David Lloyd. I am also deeply indebted to the advice and support of my colleagues at Binghamton University. Particular thanks go to those who have generously read and commented on my work: David Bartine, Bill Spanos, Praseeda Gopinath, Susan Strehle, Monika Mehta, and Jennifer Stoever-Ackerman. Thanks also to Marilynn Desmond, Thomas Glave, and Lisa Yun. The research leave I received proved instrumental in finishing the book, and for this institutional support I have the Dean of Harpur College to thank. Many thanks go to Rutgers University Press, in particular to Katie Keeran, whose support early on and assured and reassuring hand throughout made such a difference. Thanks, too, to David Lloyd and Donald Pease and another anonymous reader for their sharp and generous readings. Each of them helped make this a better book. Tim Roberts, at the American Literatures Initiative, showed a great deal of—and much appreciated—patience and understanding during the book’s final stages. My gratitude to Susan Murray for the astute and careful copyediting she provided. A portion of chapter 4 appeared in Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies and a portion of chapter 2 appeared in The Black Scholar. I am grateful to the editors for their permission to reprint them here, as well as for their substantial suggestions for revisions. I would like to thank the research librarians at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture as well those at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. I also want to acknowledge the many other people who have sustained me leading up to and during the writing of this book. Thanks to

acknowledgments / xi

Minjeong Kim for her thoughtful and careful reading of the manuscript at the very end. And my deep appreciation to Veronica Majerol, who supplied so much wisdom, guidance, and support; I couldn’t have finished the book without her. I want to thank Eve Morgenstern, who was there at the very beginning and without whom I couldn’t imagine having ever even begun this book. I can only offer my deepest gratitude and loving affection. I also want to thank Thane Thomsen, John Brennan, Robert Ku, Alison Verney, Tony Vecino, Liz Klein, Will Stebbins, Pete Saganski, Kit Cody, and Aaron Cohen. And I want to acknowledge my immediate family and the rest of the gang: Stephanie, Tor, Siggy, and Toby; and Geoffrey, Lisa, Hayley, and Spencer. Finally, I would like to dedicate this book to my parents, Christopher and Margaret, who have never stopped coming up with new ideas.

Unbecoming Americans

Introduction: Shadow Narratives of the Transnational

On November 12, 1950, the New York Times ran a lengthy exposé by the journalist A. H. Raskin on what the article’s title deemed the “New Role for Ellis Island.” At the top of the page there is a large black-and-white photograph, shot from behind, of a person sitting in deep shadow staring out through a gated window toward the Statue of Liberty, which stands in the distance bathed in sunlight. Beneath the photo, the article chronicles in sober terms how with the passing of the Internal Security Act earlier that year, Ellis Island had come to serve as a holding prison for immigrants and aliens the state wished to deport. The act, which passed over President Harry Truman’s veto, forced communists and other “subversives” to register with the government and gave the state broad powers to ban any aliens who either had advocated “totalitarianism” or had been affiliated with an organization that had done so. “Ellis Island is probably the most cosmopolitan bit of earth in the world,” Raskin wrote, and then likened it to a more recently founded institution. “It is One World in microcosm, a prototype of the United Nations spirit. Yet the institution that occupies this global dot of land is the antithesis of the U.N. idea. It is the embodiment of isolationism and exclusion, the shutting of America away from the world.” Ellis Island, Raskin concluded, had become a “symbol of an institution that for many newcomers means the end of hope, not its beginning.” Ellis Island’s use as a detention center for unwanted aliens is a much less well-known story about the institution than its iconic role as the largest port of entry for immigrants.1 It is also a story that began not in

2 / introduction

the early Cold War but several decades earlier in the years after World War I. Indeed, by the mid-1930s, Edward Corsi, the commissioner of the island at the time, regretfully assessed that deportation had become “the big business at Ellis Island.”2 Later, in December 1941, soon after Pearl Harbor, Franklin Roosevelt issued three presidential proclamations declaring nonnaturalized Japanese, Germans, and Italians living in the United States to be enemy aliens. The FBI, which had been collecting information for close to three years on noncitizens living in the United States suspected of sympathizing with Nazi Germany or fascist Italy, quickly moved into action, interning thousands of “enemy aliens” in facilities across the country, including Ellis Island. By September 1942, close to seven thousand aliens of German, Japanese, and Italian ancestry had been arrested by the Justice Department; hundreds, mostly German, found themselves on Ellis Island. “For the time being,” the New York Times editorialized, “New York has a concentration camp of its own.”3 After the war, Truman issued Presidential Proclamation 2655, which commanded that all presently detained enemy aliens considered “dangerous to the public peace and safety of the United States” be deported.4 Many enemy aliens fought their deportation orders, and so by the beginning of 1947, almost a year and half after the end of the war, more than three hundred still remained at Ellis Island. By August 1948, the government had finally resolved all the cases of detained enemy aliens at Ellis Island. But by 1950, in the climate of the early Cold War, things changed once again as the government passed the Internal Security Act, followed by the McCarran-Walter Act in 1952.5 Ellis Island was once again turned into a key detention center, now for suspected communists and other political radicals—including two of the figures I examine in this study: C. L. R. James and Claudia Jones. This story of Ellis Island’s conversion into a prison for unwanted aliens illuminates a dark and tragically ironic history not only of Ellis Island but of America itself and the liberatory narrative of American citizenship that has been so powerfully articulated through Ellis Island— namely, the story of America as a land of incorporation and assimilation, offering the immigrant on his heroic quest from persecution or poverty the promise of freedom, prosperity, and progress. Indeed, as such a compelling cultural narrative of America, Ellis Island has long served to inspire not only the immigrant but also the native-born subject to identify with the national project of America. And during the 1940s and 1950s, specifically, Ellis Island provided a perfect and oft-repeated symbol for invoking an image of America and American exceptionalism

introduction / 3

that had become increasingly founded on the terms of an emerging discourse of cultural pluralism. America was a “nation of nations,” to use Louis Adamic’s phrase that became popularized during the period.6 Or to invoke Raskin’s description, “It is One World in microcosm.” But as a prison for undesirable aliens and unwanted immigrants, the island no longer represented this pluralist national project but its very limits, containing precisely those histories and identities marked as unassimilable to the nation by the shifting terms of restrictions and exclusion. It is one of the contentions of this project that these shifting terms of restriction and detention for which Ellis Island was used reveal far more about the politics of citizenship, immigration, and ultimately the nation and its self-imaginings during the mid-twentieth century than does the more well-worn tale of Ellis Island as a gateway for a nation of newcomers. This alternative story of who was excluded from or denied citizenship, and why, tells us a potentially much richer and more complex story about the shifting domestic and global dynamics of politics, economics, and race during the period than does the iconic immigrant narrative of American inclusiveness that the story of Ellis Island usually performs. And located at the ideological limits of citizenship, the stories these restrictions and detentions produce also tell us tales obfuscated by the nation and the national ideal, including this story of Ellis Island, but also larger tales of racialized migrant labor, for example, and of empire. And, indeed, this book focuses on precisely these shadow narratives of America forged out of the racial and political limits of citizenship and national belonging. Finally, there is something profoundly revealing in both material and symbolic ways about the island’s changing role as an institution. Indeed, that the iconic site of Immigrant America contains within it this disavowed counterhistory of exclusion provides a compelling manifestation of another one of the underlying arguments that guides this book: that the universalism of American citizenship is constitutively linked to the production of subjects excluded from national membership and who are relegated to the status of noncitizen, nonidentity, and even nonhuman. In other words, the expression of the American citizen subject is founded upon—or perhaps rather haunted by—the identification of noncitizens who are publicly preserved as the citizen’s limit. Thus this shadow narrative of Ellis Island—and by extension the narrative of America it has come to represent so forcefully—provides poignant expression to how the process of becoming American is inextricably linked to the condition of unbecoming American.7

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Among those unbecoming Americans imprisoned on Ellis Island were the Trinidad-born C. L. R. James and Claudia Jones. Both were incarcerated as “alien subversives”—Jones in 1948 and then again in 1950, and James in 1952—and both were subsequently deported from the United States. Both would also, however, use their imprisonment as a generative political and cultural experience. While imprisoned, James wrote a good portion of Mariners, Renegades, and Castaways: The Story of Herman Melville and the World We Live In—a critical reading or rereading of Moby Dick from the explicit vantage point of his imprisonment.8 Claudia Jones wrote a number of essays during and about her incarceration, including perhaps most notably her “Claudia Jones Writes from Ellis Island,” an essay written in the form of a letter that cast the immigration prison in terms of the larger global political and economic transformations taking place in the years after World War II.9 The two other main figures of my study—Carlos Bulosan and Richard Wright—did not find themselves on Ellis Island, but they did find themselves similarly at the racial and political limits of citizenship during the period. And they also transvalued this exclusion from the nation into a generative site from which to fashion innovative literary works and forms. As a Filipino, Bulosan was classified as a “non-citizen national” and then as an alien ineligible for citizenship during the early 1940s. The main character of his deeply autobiographical novel America Is in the Heart (1946) describes what he deems the “crime” of his identity as a Filipino migrant laborer in uncannily similar terms to those used by James and Jones, as well as to that of the image framing the New York Times piece: “I looked out the window of my room,” he writes after arriving in the United States, “like a prisoner on some isolated island.”10 And from his self-exile in France, Wright argued that as an African American, he had been relegated to a “non-national” status in the United States. Denied the full rights of citizenship, African Americans were located in Cold War America, he argued, at once “inside and outside” the nation—an epistemic and political standpoint he made central to his novel The Outsider (1953) and his later travel writings.11 Each of the authors in my study thus was variously excluded from the legal, social, and cultural forms of national membership and belonging at the time, a condition that I define as alienage. In employing the concept of alienage as a negative form of American citizenship, my project is indebted to and hopes to add to an ongoing tradition of interdisciplinary work in American studies by scholars such as Mae Ngai, Chandan Reddy, and Linda Bosniak that has sought to use the figure and history of the “alien” to provide a genealogical critique of the limitations and

introduction / 5

contradictions of the institution of American citizenship as it intersects with the discourses of race, immigration, and national identity.12 Located at citizenship’s threshold, alienage at once marks the boundaries against which the conceptual and political terms of national belonging are in part defined and secured. At the same time, in designating the peculiar status of the outsider within (of being at once within the nation and subject to U.S. laws and yet excluded from the rights accorded full U.S. subjects), alienage denotes a deeply disruptive political and territorial status, one that casts an unsettling shadow across the borders between the domestic and the foreign and that places the inclusive universalist claims of U.S. citizenship in jarring proximity with its exclusive realities. Alienage blurs the boundaries between the inside and outside, animating, as Linda Bosniak writes, how “exclusionary national boundaries are with us on the territorial inside as well.”13 During the mid-twentieth century, the legal and cultural rubric of alienage underwent striking transformations and growth within the United States (reflected, most significantly, in the passing of various immigration and national security legislations such as the Smith Act [1940], the Internal Security Act [1950], and the McCarran-Walter Act [1952]). Beginning with Carlos Bulosan in the early 1940s up through Claudia Jones’s eventual deportation in 1955, the different and shifting categories under which each was excluded or alien-ated from the nation chart a historical and cultural counternarrative of America during the period—one that animates, in particular, the shifting paradigms and occluded histories of U.S. empire, and the corresponding changes in the politics and meanings of race within both a national and global frame in the years after World War II. This narrative also provides a historical and theoretical frame through which I draw together this multiracial (Afro-Caribbean, Filipino, and African American) collection of radical writers whose work, forged out of the condition of alienage, sought to represent these shadow narratives that not only challenged the iconic story of America told so powerfully and so often through the symbol of Ellis Island but that also imagined alternative political and literary forms of belonging in the world beyond the nation and the discourse of American citizenship.

* * * Unbecoming Americans traces a radical cosmopolitan literary tradition fashioned out of the limits of U.S. citizenship during the mid-twentieth century by black and racialized migrant writers. Each of the writers

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in my study used their dispossession from the nation as a standpoint from which to interrogate the contradictions and limits of the United States—as a nation, a republic, and an empire at the triumphal dawn of the “American Century.” At the same time, I suggest that out of their exclusion from citizenship—whether as “undesirable alien,” “alien citizen,” or “non-citizen national”—these writers also articulated radical global visions that sought to transcend nationalism and reimagine the state itself.14 They fashioned transnational literary and political geographies that rendered legible untold stories of the United States (of empire and of migrant labor) and that mapped new communities that extended beyond the nation’s perimeters and incorporated the colonial spaces and histories of the Caribbean, the Philippines, and Africa. In the end, Unbecoming Americans identifies a canon of writers who transformed their liminal social location at the limits of citizenship into a nonnational historical agency capable of challenging the dominant ideas of race, nation, and citizenship and that produced a vital counterdiscourse of freedom in the face of and in opposition to the new formations of empire emerging in the years after World War II, forms that still very much shape our world today. In tracing these radical forms of worldliness, my project builds on a vibrant scholarly tradition that has sought to recover and reexamine how black writers and intellectuals during the early and mid-twentieth century formulated transnational or cosmopolitan visions to establish allegiances beyond citizenship and the nation-state. The groundbreaking scholarship on the Black Atlantic by Paul Gilroy and on black communists by Robin Kelley in the 1990s, and that of other scholars of black radicalism and black diaspora before them, finds its most recent articulation in works such as Brent Edwards’s The Practice of Diaspora, Nikhil Pal Singh’s Black Is a Country, and Michelle Stephens’s Black Empire.15 While deeply indebted to this scholarship, Unbecoming Americans seeks to expand this paradigm in new directions by taking a specifically comparative race and ethnicity approach, bringing together writers from the United States, the Caribbean, and the Philippines. In integrating African American, Afro-Caribbean, and Filipino writers through the politics of alienage and highlighting the continuities (and discontinuities) of their respective cosmopolitan projects, I do not mean to equate or elide the substantive historical differences between these racial formations. But I do suggest that their shared racialized alienage from citizenship and the state during the 1940s and 1950s provides a generative location from which to draw their work together around a set of common themes and

introduction / 7

concerns and to integrate their various worldly visions into a coherent—and previously unacknowledged—literary formation that provides a unique optic on this tradition of rethinking race within a global or transnational frame. A second, related theme of Unbecoming Americans concerns the politics of literary form and the novel form in particular. In attempting to tell these “untold” tales of the nation—that of stateless migrants and racialized nonnational subjects laboring in the shadow of empire—these works challenge the limits of not only existing political forms at the time but also, correspondingly, prevailing literary and cultural forms. More specifically, I suggest that these transnational tales of migrant labor and nonnational collectivities animate the ideological and representational limits of both the nation and the novel.16 Telling these untold tales requires, as such, not merely different content but, more important, different forms of representation. And indeed, each of the writers I examine turns away from the novel or integrates into it other forms or genres (e.g., memoir, cultural criticism, the epistolary, travel narrative) in an effort to tell these shadow narratives of the transnational. In this context, I reappraise a number of works that have been neglected and/or deemed— in varying degree—as failures (Richard Wright’s The Outsider, Claudia Jones’s essays, C. L. R. James’s Mariners, Renegades, and Castaways, and Carlos Bulosan’s America Is in the Heart). I argue that these works might instead be reconsidered as efforts to challenge the political and epistemological boundaries of existing literary forms and genres and as attempts to employ representational modes capable of telling these tales at the subaltern limits of citizenship. Third, my project places these works in specific and critical dialogue with the shifting politics of citizenship and race during the period—in particular with the rise of liberal pluralism. It is a discourse that served both to manage domestic consensus and to help define and legitimate American internationalism during and after World War II by linking the integration of racial minorities into the nation to the moral legitimacy of U.S. global leadership. Each of these writers used their dispossession from the nation to develop an alternatively critical and global perspective on the meaning of race, one specifically that challenged the dominant liberal narrative by casting the problem of American universalism from the vantage point of the black, the oppressed, and the unfree at the limits of national inclusion. In the end, these works contested the monopolization of the universal by the United States during the 1940s and 1950s, producing a tradition of literary and political forms that

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expanded the limits of U.S. democratic thought and constituted a challenge at the dawn of the “American Century” to achieve a more lasting egalitarian social life both within the United States and in the world.

An Empire of Liberal Pluralism All of the works examined in Unbecoming Americans were written in the early years after World War II, a period that saw the United States expand its political, military, and economic power to an unprecedented degree—especially into the colonial and decolonizing world—making its presence felt throughout Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America, and Asia. Never before had American influence reached so far and so wide. While it had been a global economic power since the end of the nineteenth century, and a leading political and military power on the world stage since the end of World War I, not until after World War II did the United States displace Great Britain as unquestionably the world’s most powerful nation. The United States’ ascendance to the dominant international power in the postwar period was underwritten and legitimated, in no small part, by the redeployment of a long-standing and central ideology of American exceptionalism: the idea that America was a republic at once unique and universal. Central to this concept was the corollary assertion that the United States was in a distinctive position to lead the world and to serve the general interests of humanity because it was “innocent” of Old World legacies of empire and of ethno-racial conceptions of national belonging, legacies that had been on such horrific display during World War II. U.S. citizenship and nationality were instead founded on an ostensibly egalitarian tradition of civic nationalism. It was fundamentally inclusive— “humanity in miniature”—bearing within itself a cosmopolitan microcosm of the world.17 The U.S. state celebrated this pluralism at home and tied it to its global reach and role as defender of the “West” and the “free world” in the international arena. The discourse of postwar liberal pluralism had its origins—though its vision became quite distinct—in the late Progressive Era model of cultural pluralism. Emerging as an alternative to race-based nativism and to the melting-pot model of homogenizing assimilation, cultural pluralism—a term coined by Horace Kallen in 1924—advocated a program of national unity based on the full inclusion and recognition of America’s racial and ethnic diversity.18 Kallen envisioned a form of U.S. cultural democracy founded on the model of a “federation” or “commonwealth of nationalities.”

introduction / 9

While the paradigm remained a relatively minor voice in the late Progressive Era, it gained a good deal of momentum during the late 1930s and 1940s.With the rise of fascism, especially after the outbreak of World War II, the United States sought to cast its struggle against fascism in stark and unequivocal terms. But the contradiction between the United States’ fight for democracy abroad and its undemocratic racist practices at home put growing political pressures on the United States and on the ideological claims and force of American universalism in the world. “Our very proclamations,” wrote the one-time Republican presidential candidate and “One Worlder” Wendell L. Willkie, “of what we are fighting for have rendered our own inequalities self-evident. When we talk of freedom and opportunity for all nations, the mocking paradoxes in our own society become so clear they can no longer be ignored.”19 In this context, a growing chorus of primarily liberal voices invoked the model of cultural pluralism as offering a hopeful if precarious counterpoint to the specter of European fascism. Pluralism, they argued, provided a proactive and progressive program of American national unity based on inclusiveness—wherein intranational differences and divisions were celebrated as representing the exceptional national ideal of “America” as a “nation of nations.” Pluralism, Louis Adamic among others argued, provided America with its most powerful rebuttal to fascism’s racial logic.20 After the war, these “mocking paradoxes” of “inequality” became only more visible under the ideological glare of the Cold War and against the backdrop of antiracist and anticolonial movements sweeping across Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean. During a period when the United States hoped to reshape the world in its own image, the international attention given to the contradictions between American political ideology and American practice was increasingly troublesome and embarrassing. “With the onset of the Cold War,” writes the historian Nikhil Pal Singh, “U.S. State Department officials routinely argued that racism was the ‘Achilles heel’ of U.S. foreign relations. From the highest level of government, it appeared that the stability of the expanded American realm of action in the world was linked to the resolution of the crisis of racial division at home.”21 The United States thus needed to effectively manage the terms of this “crisis of racial division at home” in order that it did not undercut the claims of its global leadership and expansion. As it provided a conceptual and political framework for doing just that, liberal pluralism emerged in the years after World War II as a central discourse not only for framing the terms of domestic national unity but

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also for underwriting and legitimating U.S. global power. Once part of a left-of-center agenda before the war, liberal pluralism became gradually incorporated into the mainstream of Cold War politics, helping establish the terms of an official racial liberal paradigm that achieved increasing prominence not only in American national but also in international politics. Evidence of American domestic racial inclusiveness and racial progress within a liberal national framework was used to demonstrate, especially to non-Western countries, the superiority of American democracy over communism and colonialism. In short, the successful realization of pluralism within the United States legitimated the just cause of America’s global leadership to expand this type of democratic pluralism into the world.22 On one hand, in advancing a discourse of Americanism founded on a more equitable and diverse membership, racial liberalism provided a framework for promoting a number of significant racial reforms in the postwar period—both in respect to civil rights with a series of landmark legislative victories regarding desegregation, and in respect to immigration with the repeal of a number of citizenship exclusion laws, including for Filipinos, Chinese, and Indians, and a few years later for Koreans and Japanese.23 At the same time, however, racial liberalism also severely limited the parameters of “acceptable” political discourse and racial reform. As Penny Von Eschen demonstrates, paradigms of antiracism during the 1940s were consistently internationalist, often linking racial and economic justice.24 After the war, however, the liberal nation-state increasingly became, as it were, the sole “legitimate” framework for addressing forms of racial reform. Those appeals to racial justice and solidarity in excess of the American nation-state were deemed suspicious amid the growing Cold War and became increasingly delegitimated, even criminalized, in the public sphere through, among other means, the denial, the annulment, and/or the curtailment of citizenship and citizenship rights. Thus would be the fate of each of the figures in this study. All of them found themselves variously excluded from the nation and national membership (through the refusal of passports, incarceration, blacklisting, and deportation) in large measure because of their race radical visions and writings.25 But while the post–World War II period was an era of profound repression of black and ethnic minority radical visions, the restrictive politics of national belonging paradoxically engendered, I argue, the creation of this literary canon of radical global visions. Indeed, it is one of the underlying claims of this book that these works written out of

introduction / 11

exclusion from the nation constitute a vibrant African American and minority literary tradition of radical critique that persisted during this period of World War II and the early Cold War, an era often overlooked by periodizations of the Left that have focused primarily on the 1930s and 1960s.26 As the constitutive outside against which the state and nation are in part defined and given form, alienage became an important political and social formation through which each of these writers contested the contradictions and limits of racial liberalism and, more broadly, the liberal nation-state itself in the postwar years. They used their exclusion from the nation to critically examine how forms of racial division and hierarchies were not anomalous to but were in fact deeply woven into the very fabric of American citizenship and belonging. In particular, each transvalued their disidentification from the nation into a standpoint or epistemology of unbelonging, through which they resituated racial difference and struggles for racial justice within a critical global frame. They recast and reinterpreted intranational racial differences as the product of a transnational history of empire and imperial or racial capitalism—a history disavowed by the national ideal but one in fact maintained by the nation-state through punishing immigration and citizenship laws. And within this framework, each connected struggles for racial justice within the United States with those fought against colonialism and imperialism elsewhere during the 1940s and 1950s, challenging the liberatory narrative of American pluralism both within the nation-state and in the world. While radically contesting the logic and claims of racial liberalism, these writers also offered alternative epistemologies for interpreting the meanings of race and racial difference. Bulosan, Wright, James, and Jones all used their exclusion from the nation as a standpoint from which to imagine radical forms of worldliness that articulated other modes of community and belonging beyond the liberal nation-state’s paradigmatic racial logic. James and Jones, for instance, found in the multiracial migrants laboring at the limits of citizenship a model of “federation” that extended beyond the nation’s perimeters to include the histories and spaces of the Caribbean. And both found in this “federation” a radical model of pluralism in distinction to the racial logics of the pluralism of the U.S. nation-state—a model that they, in turn, tied to their vision of Caribbean postcolonial independence: the West Indian Federation. Wright fashioned his disidentification from the nation into a worldly subject position that sought to transcend affiliations of race as well as nation. It was a standpoint he in turn used to interpret the decolonizing

12 / introduction

world after World War II, and in particular the historic gathering of nonaligned nations at the 1955 Bandung Conference—and through which he diagnosed a model of a liberatory global modernity potentially free of the racial logics that had plagued the Euro-American nation-state and its imperial legacies.27 And, finally, Bulosan, paradoxically, adopts the language of American pluralism in his work, not to fashion a nationalist project but instead to imagine a radical counterinternationalism. That is, Bulosan finds in the language of American pluralism a vocabulary for articulating new transnational communities of stateless migrants emerging from the shadows of a post–World War II global economic order increasingly dominated by the United States. In the end, during a period when the United States was representing intranational differences as the associated commonalities of a great cosmopolitan narrative of America that legitimated U.S. global leadership and expansion (in particular in respect to the decolonizing world), these writers linked struggles for racial justice within the United States to the colonial world in a variety of what I define as radical “counter-cosmopolitanisms” to U.S. state and global power.

Counter-Cosmopolitanisms The ideal of cosmopolitanism has traditionally been defined as a freedom from national limitations or attachments and instead a more privileged universal allegiance to what Martha Nussbaum calls “the worldwide community of human beings.”28 Cosmopolitanism, in this sense, is not delimited by a particular community but expresses a form of global solidarity that demands a commitment to humanity as a whole. It is an abstract solidarity that asks us to empathize with distant Others with whom we perceive ourselves as having, ostensibly, little in common. Contesting the Eurocentric philosophical universalism underpinning cosmopolitanism’s normative standard of planetary justice, as well as its assumed elitism, a growing number of critics have sought to rethink the term not as a singular abstract ideal but in terms of multiple and situated forms of internationalism. There is now talk of many cosmopolitanisms, which are more limited than the “world” in their scope but also more directly engaged in that world. This new focus has, in turn, generated a variety of qualifications of the term—including “vernacular cosmopolitanism” (Homi Bhabha); “discrepant cosmopolitanism” (James Clifford); and “critical cosmopolitanism” (Walter Mignolo). Though diverse, each of these efforts shares a desire, in the words of David Hollinger,

introduction / 13

to “bring cosmopolitanism down to earth”—to reinvest the term with the principles of “diversity, particularity, history, the masses of humankind, the realities of power, and the need for politically viable solidarities.”29 Correlative with this political grounding of the concept has come a rethinking of cosmopolitanism’s historical agents. No longer intending to describe the privileged detachment of the leisured traveler, these contemporary efforts have instead sought to rethink cosmopolitanism from below—focusing upon the experiences of the unprivileged cosmopolitan, such as the servant, the refugee, or the economic migrant. “Many voices now insist,” writes Bruce Robbins, “that the term should be extended to transnational experiences that are particular rather than universal and that are unprivileged—indeed, often coerced.”30 In using cosmopolitanism as a theoretical frame for interpreting the radical worldly visions of the authors in this study, Unbecoming Americans builds on these contemporary efforts to redefine the paradigm and its historical agents. Specifically, my project focuses on a collection of writers who transformed their enforced exclusion from national membership into a prescriptive site from which to imagine other modes of belonging in the world beyond the nation and the discourse of citizenship. Bulosan, Wright, James, and Jones each fashioned literary and political geographies that decentered nationalist values, replacing them with other experiences and knowledges (such as diaspora, migrant labor, modernity, empire, race) through which they imagined themselves as part of distinctly nonelite transnational or global communities. At the same time, in defining these works as counter-cosmopolitanisms, I add a unique focus to these ongoing rearticulations of cosmopolitanism. Specifically, I use the term to suggest a radical form of worldliness that emerges in the face of and in direct opposition to hegemonic forms of worldliness or cosmopolitanism—in the context of my project, the hegemonic rise of American internationalism in the years after World War II.31 In the global imaginaries of these works, in other words, we can locate the critical antinomies, or shadow narratives of the United States’ increasingly imperial worldliness during the period. Representing the subaltern counterpublics that are largely the victims of this shifting global political and economic order (racialized and stateless migrant laborers, colonial subjects, and political outcasts), these works provide us with an alternative account of the period—one that renders legible the occluded transnational histories and networks of empire and racial capitalism. They establish critical histories of the global— an “adversarial internationalization” to borrow Edward Said’s phrase—founded on

14 / introduction

affiliations and collectivities that challenged the prevailing discourse of American universalism and recast the United States across the imperial cartography of the colonial world (of the Philippines, the Caribbean, and Africa) at the moment of its emergence as the dominant power in the world.32 In excavating these transnational tales, my project is thus closely affiliated with the larger global turn in American studies, and it is indebted to a number of excellent scholarly efforts within the field that have sought to make empire and imperialism central to a remapping of U.S. culture and to capture the unique paradoxes inherent to the United States’ relationship to its imperial history. Informed by such work as Donald Pease and Amy Kaplan’s Cultures of U.S. Imperialism; John Carlos Rowe’s Literary Culture and U.S. Imperialism; Donald Pease and Robyn Wiegman’s The Futures of American Studies; and Amy Kaplan’s The Anarchy of Empire, my project elaborates a specific focus not only on America’s rise to an imperial power but also on a literary and political tradition that emerged within and in direct opposition to that power. Much in the same way that Said’s Orientalism sparked great scholarly interest in recovering the voices of anticolonial resistance to that discourse, “New American Studies” requires not only animating the ideological limits of American neoimperialism but also recovering the marginalized forms and idioms of its opposition.33 But if these counter-cosmopolitanisms were written against the grain of the universalist pretensions of American internationalism, they also agitated the prevailing discourses of socialist internationalism challenging that culture. All of the figures in my study were deeply involved in communist or socialist proletarian politics and culture. Indeed, they constituted some of the leading voices in that radical cultural and political tradition within the United States during the 1940s and 1950s. Jones was a major theorist of the American Communist Party (CPUSA) and its highest-ranking black female member at the time of her arrest. Prior to his self-exile, Wright also had been involved in the Communist Party and John Reed Clubs for much of the 1930s and early 1940s before famously breaking with the Party. Bulosan was also very much part of the Communist Left, committing much of his life to labor organizing and unions, including the CIO and the Filipino Workers Association that he helped found in 1934. James was one of the most prolific and influential Marxist theorists of the twentieth century, whose writings and activism led him to Trotskyism before forming his own socialist political group—the Johnson-Forest Tendency—that would have a major impact

introduction / 15

on black radicalism in the 1960s and 1970s. And each would go on to remain deeply engaged with and/or influenced by radical socialism or communism and the politics of labor. At the same time, the experience of alienage marked not only a profoundly formative personal experience in each of these writers’ lives, it also became an important political and social lens through which each complicated, in disparate ways, the prevailing socialist category of class and the political figuration of the international proletariat as the perfect cosmopolitans. More specifically, the condition of alienage provided a standpoint through which each elaborated political subjects and anticapitalist forms of internationalism that could not be defined solely in terms of the universal category of class but instead articulated the constitutive links between imperial capitalism, the politics of citizenship, and race and gender exploitation. Whether in Wright’s figure of the “outsider” or James’s “mariners, renegades, and castaways,” each of these writers sought to develop innovative political and correspondingly literary forms capable of representing and defining these anomalous subjects and internationalisms at the limits of citizenship and in the shadow of empire. In the end, these works expressed radical forms of worldliness that neither served as vindications of existing universal ideals of U.S. internationalism nor reconfirmed the prevailing international class struggle model of socialism. Finally, one of the most striking things about these writers’ works—as forms of cosmopolitanism—is their continued investment in universalisms as an indispensable political and ethical ideal. More specifically, at a time when the United States was laying such emphatic claim to the universal within the international political arena, these writers were imagining the very figures dispossessed from the U.S. nation-state as the truest bearers of universal ways of knowing and principles (of democracy, of freedom, of justice). “Isn’t it clear to you,” Wright declared, “that the American Negro is the only group in our nation that consistently and passionately raises the question of freedom?”34 These declarations, however, do not represent merely efforts, in the last instance, to dust off and reconfirm the universalisms from which they themselves had been so violently excluded. That is, these are not merely calls for addition, for the incorporation of these excluded figures into a more inclusive universalism. Instead, articulated from universalism’s exteriority, these appeals lay claim to universalism’s “ideals” but also animate the occluded mechanisms of racial and imperial violence upon which those principles have been historically constituted. These cosmopolitanisms, in other words, seek to bring into representation and establish the connections between

16 / introduction

precisely those aberrant subjects, histories, and geographies that have remained constitutively excluded from and largely illegible to the existing purview of the universal. These appeals to the universal principles and norms of freedom could not be assimilated within the existing conceptual boundaries of these terms but demanded their redefinition. In the end, I read these counter-cosmopolitanisms as efforts to articulate an alternative universality. This alternative universalism in turn provides a different historical agency and epistemology of the period. During the early years after World War II, when the principle of freedom became increasingly mobilized to define the struggle against the Soviet Union, this alternative universalism of freedom recast the emerging struggle as one waged against racism, neocolonialism, capitalism without accountability, and “internal colonization.” In the end, these cosmopolitanisms reframed the emerging global conflict not merely in terms of the East/West divide between the Soviet Union and the United States, but in terms of the North/South divide, between nations rich and poor, and mostly white and mostly not, compelled into modernity through slavery and colonialism—between what Wright ultimately deemed the “Color Curtain” as opposed to the Iron Curtain. Wright also often referred to the need for what he termed a “third set of ideas,” which was clearly intended to suggest, in the context of the early Cold War, an alternative to the radical binary logics—American universalism and socialist internationalism—framing the period.35 At the same time, though intimately related, the notion of a “third set of ideas” also points to the important historical connections these forms of cosmopolitanism have with anticolonial struggles. Excluded from the nation, each finds in various colonial struggles articulations of freedom that suggest alternative models of belonging in the world and more radically inclusive visions of collectivity and social relations. Bulosan repeatedly invokes the model of Filipino “peasant solidarity” in America Is in the Heart and, later, in Cry and Dedication, the model of the anti-imperialist peasant Hukbalahap rebellion. In the case of James and Jones, both remained deeply committed and inspired by the vision of an independent Caribbean founded on the model of West Indian federation. And Wright found at the Bandung Conference a precarious but potentially different answer to the question, “How shall the human race be organized?”36 Each of these various movements, however, proved fleeting. The Hukbalahap peasant uprising was violently put down by the Filipino and U.S. Army after years of struggle;

introduction / 17

the West Indies Federation eventually collapsed; and the great promise of Bandung ended in the dead end of neocolonialism. But during this brief period from 1945 to 1955, these anticolonial movements articulated nonhegemonic visions of democracy, of freedom, and of racial justice that offered glimpses to these writers of other cosmopolitan worlds that challenged the prevailing universalisms whose global designs had been predicated upon their exclusion.

The Politics of Form These shadow narratives of the transnational forged out of the condition of alienage also raise a number of questions about the politics of literary form in general and that of the realist novel in particular. Unbecoming Americans argues that in representing subaltern counterpublics at the limits of citizenship, these writers challenge both the nation and, correspondingly, the realist novel as representational regimes in a number of works that have been either critically ignored and/or considered aesthetic and political failures. Building on scholarship linking the configuration of the novel to the nation, I contend that the “failure” of these works might be reread instead as indicative of subjects and ways of knowing rendered aberrant or illegible by the existing political and literary forms in which the state is organized. In turn, I read the unruly forms and hybrid genres of these works not as evidence of unrealized aesthetic and narrative ambitions but as efforts to develop forms that might enable these inaudible stories haunting both the United States and the realist novel to be heard. In developing this argument, I find David Lloyd’s analysis of the perceived failure or “inadequacy” of the nineteenth-century Irish novel, in respect to its European and British counterpart, particularly useful.37 In his analysis, Lloyd reappraises Gramsci’s theory of subalternity, specifically his argument that the necessarily “episodic and fragmentary” history of the subaltern testifies to its unfinished emergence, which will become unified when it is integrated into or becomes a state. Lloyd instead suggests (in a now somewhat familiar argument) that we might redefine the subaltern not as that which desires the state from which it has been excluded, but as that which “resists” or “cannot be represented” by the state. Read in this way, the “episodic and fragmentary” history of the subaltern “can be read as the sign of another mode of narrative, rather than an incomplete one, of another principle of organization, rather than one yet to be unified.”38

18 / introduction

This subaltern mode of narrative, he suggests, is rendered aberrant and illegible not merely by the political institution of the state but also, equally, by the cultural institution of the realist novel, whose configuration he parallels to the dominant social narratives of the nation. That is, alongside its democratizing discursive pluralism, the European realist novel is a “hegemonic force,” in that it works to stabilize the representational or ideological horizons of the existing set of social relations. The nineteenthcentury realist novel repeatedly tells the tale of an “individual’s passage from singularity or particularity to social integration. The anomalous individual learns to be reconciled with society and its projects.”39 At the same time, however, this ideological function of reconciling the individual to the existing social order produces its “necessary logical correlative, the negation or exclusion of what cannot be drawn into identity.”40 As such, attempting to render those subaltern individuals and political expressions within the very political and cultural forms that have deemed them unassimilable or aberrant (as in the case of the nineteenth-century Irish novel) poses a representational crisis for both the nation-state and the realist novel. Thus, he concludes, “The ‘inadequacy’ of the Irish novel in these terms may be read equally as symptomatic of the resistance of an anomalous Irish culture to modes of representation emerging into dominance.” 41 Lloyd’s argument about the “inadequacy” of the nineteenth-century Irish novel shares a good deal with Roberto Schwarz’s formative thesis about “misplaced ideas.”42 Focused upon the importation of the nineteenth-century European realist novel to the colonial periphery of Brazil, Schwarz is similarly interested in the social logic of form— that is, how “forms are the abstract of specific social relations” that “retain . . . and reproduce” at least some “of the more or less contingent body of conditions in which a form is born.”43 In employing the codes of the European realist novel, Brazilian writers thus adopted a foreign conceptual system (founded on European liberal bourgeois ideologies) illsuited to describe Brazilian society (founded, as it was, on slaveholding and paternalism). The result was a “misplaced idea,” an ideology of the “second degree” that did “not describe [local] reality, not even falsely.”44 But this inevitable distortion of Brazilian social reality is not, in the end, a sign of the Brazilian novel’s failure or inadequacy. Instead, the dissonance between the form and the reality it is intended to describe provides a critical vantage point from which to subject the underlying ideological assumptions of those forms to critical scrutiny in a way impossible in the metropole where those forms function so “successfully” (i.e., where they remain, as he says, “grounded in appearances”).45

introduction / 19

Influenced by this scholarship, Unbecoming Americans argues that in employing the novel to represent subjects at the subaltern limits of citizenship—and in particular those whose “anomalous state” draws the United States out into the disavowed social relations of empire and the division of labor—the novel form becomes, in these works, a “misplaced idea.” In other words, making the novel bear these shadow narratives of the transnational produces dissonances between form and content (in works such as America Is in the Heart and The Outsider) that represent not novelistic failings or inadequacies, but instead animate the ideological contradictions and the democratic and dialogic limits of both the novel and the nation. At the same time, the aberrant forms and genres of these works might be reconsidered as attempts to fashion other modes of representation or “principle[s] of organization” capable of rendering these occluded transnational subjects, histories, and geographies and of transforming the condition of exclusion from the nation into a site of alternative and articulate social imaginaries. In this context, I frame the first part of the book around an analysis of two novels that animate the normative and dialogic boundaries of the novel, and then turn in the second part of the book to a series of works that move away from the novel to other, more peripheral modes of articulation, such as the travelogue, memoir, epistolary, cultural criticism, and essay. These formal shifts and hybrid genres raise the question ultimately of whether in these occluded voices at the boundaries of the state—and in particular those voices of the transnational rendered inaudible by the nation—we do not arrive at the limits of the novel’s dialogic imagination. Or we might put it finally in the broader terms of one of this book’s underlying arguments and suggest that in rendering legible these subaltern counterpublics at the boundaries of citizenship, these works assert the necessary fragmentation of the novel form and the incorporation of other modes of articulation in order to write what I call self-consciously part-novels.

* * * Chapter 1 reads Carlos Bulosan’s America Is in the Heart (1946) as a minority refiguring of the classic bildungsroman genre, and explores, in particular, how the ideology of the form shifts when it no longer bears the experience and logics of social mobility for the European bourgeoisie within a national frame but instead the aspirations of a Filipino migrant laborer within a decidedly transnational context of empire. I argue that

20 / introduction

by making the form bear these Filipino migrant laborers’ anomalous state as noncitizen nationals and imported colonial subjects, America Is in the Heart’s fragmented and discontinuous narrative (often regarded as among the novel’s aesthetic failings) confronts the normative demands of the genre. It reveals how as a cultural institution, the form interpellates certain liberal and national subjects and renders illegible, often violently, other racialized identities and colonial histories that cannot be integrated into the form’s—and “America’s”—narrative of cultural synthesis. But while America Is in the Heart reveals the “bildung” of American immigration as leading not to assimilation but exclusion and underdevelopment—the novel still appropriates the “bildung” model of education and development in the formation of citizen subjects but redeploys it via alternative public spheres for the production of community affiliations that both precede and exceed the nation. This alternative bildungsroman transforms the narrator’s exclusion from the nation (as neither citizen nor alien) into a standpoint from which to imagine nonnational and ever-widening cosmopolitan forms of collectivity—from an ethnic immigrant enclave to a multiracial community of global migrants at the limits of citizenship moving across the transnational shadows of U.S. empire. The chapter ends by examining how the novel paradoxically adopts the language of American pluralism for articulating these new transnational subaltern communities. Bulosan’s work ultimately elaborates not a national but what I define as a postnational narrative of “America”—redrawing the language of pluralism across the divide between the national and “nonnational” to map a multiracial community of global migrants that extends beyond the geographic and ideological limits of the nation-state to incorporate the colonial spaces and histories of the Philippines.46 Chapter 2 moves ahead to 1952—the height of the early Cold War— and the rise of post–World War II forms of U.S. internationalism and imperialism, along with the corresponding ascent of liberal pluralism to the dominant racial formation in the United States. It is also a period that sees the institution of new immigration and citizenship laws, such as the Internal Security Act (1950) and the McCarran-Walter Act (1952), which served not only to criminalize communism but also to delimit the boundaries for acceptable appeals to racial reform. Within and against this context I situate Richard Wright’s novel The Outsider (1952), reading it through the politics of secrecy. The chapter begins by placing the novel in dialogue with Gunnar Myrdal’s An American Dilemma (1944) and argues that The Outsider

introduction / 21

articulates a powerful counternarrative to the racial liberalism enshrined by Myrdal’s quasi-official race relations study in the post–World War II years. Where Myrdal interpreted the “distance” of African American culture from the dominant “national culture” in terms of “pathology” and underdevelopment, Wright recast African American exclusion from normative national life into a site of overdevelopment and epistemic privilege.47 Wright fashioned this liminal social location “at once inside and outside” the nation, as he described it, into a nonnational historical agency—what I deem an “epistemology of unbelonging”—capable of contesting the liberal narratives exemplified by Myrdal’s work and of linking African American identity to the colonial world in a radical counterinternationalism to U.S. state and global power. I then connect this epistemology of unbelonging to the role of secrecy in the novel. Secrecy serves as a critical mode of resistance for the main character by enabling him to remain illegible to the larger social order that would otherwise work to entirely determine him. It marks the limits of hegemony, enabling a space of unbelonging out of which these other nonnational social imaginaries might be preserved. At the same time, secrecy also delimits the repressive boundaries of dissent during the early Cold War. It testifies to the shutting down of alternative public spheres that had been so vital for Bulosan, and that had enabled the communication of the more vibrant and global racial imaginings during the previous decades. Finally, the chapter returns to the politics of form, using the concept of secrecy to reassess The Outsider’s reception as an aesthetic and political failure. I argue that the main character’s secrecy—his inability to communicate his way of knowing with others—provides damning testimony against the political limits not only of the nation but also the novel as what Mikhail Bakhtin described as a “dialogic” form.48 Indeed, Wright’s novel suggests a potential limitation of this very influential theory of the sociology and generic history of the novel—namely, that the novel’s “dialogic” and, in turn, democratic pluralism may be delimited by the ideological/sociolinguistic boundaries of the nation-state. In staging the repressive closing down of alternative black public spheres during the early Cold War, The Outsider dramatizes many of the political and historical pressures that led Richard Wright himself to leave the United States in 1948. Chapter 3 follows Wright on his self-exile and focuses on the political, epistemological, and formal dimensions of the cosmopolitan project that he fashioned out of his condition of unbelonging, especially in a number of nonfiction works on the decolonizing world

22 / introduction

(Black Power, White Man Listen!, and The Color Curtain). It explores, in particular, the paradoxical position of race within Wright’s cosmopolitan vision. That is, Wright’s self-declared condition of rootless unbelonging lays claim, at once, to the cosmopolitan ideal of universal freedom inscribed within modernity to which Wright remained so invested. At the same time, Wright’s enforced racialized alienage testifies to the very limits, or failure, of the universal ideal of modernity. The paradox raises a question that I suggest is central to Wright’s later works—namely, whether it is possible to transcend race within modernity. Is it possible, in other words, to diagnose the ills of modernity while still hanging on to its implicit and emancipatory project? Ultimately, Wright’s cosmopolitan project is a dialectical one through which he not only embraces modernity’s liberatory ideals (as a number of critics have deemed) but also animates the disavowed structural and historical legacies of racial and colonial violence upon which those ideals have depended. The chapter concludes by once again turning to the question of form—examining how Wright’s broader geographic imaginary in these later works was linked to a corresponding formal or generic move to the postcolonial travelogue. It focuses, in particular, upon how Wright, in works such as The Color Curtain and Black Power, combines the form and representational codes of travel literature with a number of different genres including fiction, history, autobiography, and ethnography. In the end, I read these later hybrid works as Wright’s effort to develop modes of articulation capable of moving beyond the physical and also the ideological limits of the nation and of putting “Western” modernity in dialogue with the muted voices of its legacy of racial and colonial violence. Chapter 4 turns to C. L. R. James and Mariners, Renegades, and Castaways—a study of Melville’s Moby Dick that he wrote while imprisoned on Ellis Island in 1952 awaiting deportation hearings as an “alien subversive” under the McCarran-Walter Act. I read Mariners as an effort by James to reassess the political and ideological limits of the novel form and the realist novel in particular as representational regimes. I focus on how James uses his own political alien status not merely to “reinterpret” Moby Dick but more importantly to (re)tell what he claims was the novel’s intended but ultimately “untold” story—namely, that of the crew: a collectivity of stateless migrants and refugees laboring in the shadow of U.S. empire. That these stories remain untold, for James, was not merely a political choice but a formal one—that is, these experiences of migrant labor, as in the case of Bulosan, challenge the ideological and representational limits of the realist novel. As such, retelling these untold tales

introduction / 23

requires not only different content but also different forms of representation. Often considered an odd literary analysis of Moby Dick, Mariners, Renegades, and Castaways—with its generic mix of criticism, memoir, and political commentary—can instead be read as James’s effort to enact exactly this different mode of representation, one that might decenter the realist novel and enable the story of the “mariners, renegades, and castaways” haunting both Melville’s novel and the United States to be heard. The second half of the chapter explores how James uses his experiences on Ellis Island also to imagine an alternative political form to that of the nation-state. As a prison for “enemy aliens” floating at the juridical boundaries of the United States, Ellis Island bears witness to the nation-state’s ideological limits. At the same time, James also reimagines this island space unhinged from the nation as a subaltern counterpublic sphere of “America.” The incarcerated heterogeneity on Ellis Island comes to represent a postnational form of community—a “federation” of stateless migrants that extends beyond and across the national boundaries of the United States to include the experiences and political geography of the Caribbean and James’s emerging postcolonial vision of Caribbean independence based on the model of West Indian federation. Chapter 5 explores the work of another radical black Trinidadian intellectual, less well known in the United States, who was also detained at Ellis Island as an “alien subversive” and then deported under the McCarran-Walter Act: Claudia Jones. The chapter begins by addressing a series of questions raised by the lack of attention that Jones and her work have received in the United States (notwithstanding the groundbreaking scholarship of Carole Boyce Davies and more recent work by Dayo Gore, Cheryl Higashida, and Erik McDuffie).49 On one hand, it testifies to the broader neglect by Cold War historiography (which this book hopes, in part, to help redress) of a significant African American and minority Left subculture that, though under intense political pressure, still existed in the early 1950s. At the same time, Jones’s neglect also speaks more specifically to the twice-marginalized voices of black women within the radical Left of the period. Finally, it also bears witness to Jones’s genre of writing—journalism—which has historically served as an important genre for women’s radical literature (e.g., Ida Wells, Lorraine Hansberry, Alice Childress) but has been marginalized from aesthetic modes of evaluation by existing disciplinary formations. Focusing on her writings during the period of her incarceration and deportation, I examine how Jones transvalued her condition of unbelonging into an analytic opportunity, an unassimilated angle of vision

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through which she resituated racial difference and gender subordination outside the boundaries of the nation and into a critical international history of labor power and imperial capitalism. In turn, she used this standpoint of unbelonging to bind black struggles, and in particular black women’s struggles, within the United States with those fought against colonialism and imperialism elsewhere and to challenge prevailing American liberal representations of African American racial progress as a symbol for the virtue of United States–led global capitalism. Jones’s work and her position as a radical black female subject also provide an opportunity to reflect back upon the gendered logic, or “masculine global imaginary” (to borrow Michelle Stephens’s phrase), underwriting the cosmopolitan visions of the other writers in this study—Wright, James, and Bulosan.50 The final section of the chapter—and book—turns one last time to the politics of form, focusing on Jones’s organization of the West Indian Carnival in London in the years after her deportation. I connect my reading of the Carnival to my earlier discussions of the closing down of alternative public spheres, and the dialogic limits of the novel and the work of Mikhail Bakhtin. Turning specifically to Bakhtin’s influential theory of the carnival, I read the West Indian Carnival as a form that challenges or “novelizes” the dominant discourse of the state and that enacts, however tenuously, a postnational or cosmopolitan public sphere. In the end, these writers created complex and layered literary and cultural forms out of the limits of national belonging that challenged the dominant ideas of race, citizenship, and the novel and that imagined the emergence of new political subjects consistent with and in resistance to the rise of new forms of imperialism—now captured under the rubric of globalization—emerging at the dawn of the “American Century.” Taken together, the “mixed” forms of these texts represent a coherent and significant literary tradition forged out of citizenship’s limits that challenged existent formal and generic conventions while charting an alternative cultural and political history of the postwar years. Ultimately, these works suggest that a more accurate mapping of the unique transnational forms of the United States and U.S. empire being consolidated after World War II requires that we be more attendant to the unique forms of cultural response and resistance enacted by those uncounted and excluded people—those unbecoming Americans—whom that shifting order has at once engendered and disavowed.

1 /

Neither Citizen nor Alien: Rewriting the Immigrant Bildungsroman across the Borders of Empire in Carlos Bulosan’s America Is in the Heart America is not bound by geographic latitudes. —macario, in America Is in the Heart

Early on in Carlos Bulosan’s novel America Is in the Heart (1946), the young protagonist, Carlos, is forced to leave home due to the loss of his family’s rural farm in the Philippines and find work in the commercial town of Baguio doing odd chores to survive. During this period on his own, before he sets off to America, he befriends an older Igorot boy, Dalmacio, who is attending school and gives Carlos his very first reading lesson. It is a lesson based on the story of Abraham Lincoln. “Who is this Abraham Lincoln?” I asked Dalmacio. “He was a poor boy who became a president of the United States,” he said. “He was born in a log cabin and walked miles and miles to borrow a book so that he would know more about his country.” A poor boy became a president of the United States! Deep down in me something was touched, was springing out, demanding to be born, to be given a name.1 A few days later a still curious Carlos returns to the subject: “Tell me what he did when he became president.” “Well when he became president he said that all men are created equal.” (70) It is telling that young Carlos’s introduction to literacy in the Philippines takes place through an introduction to the idealized bildungsroman of American self-formation: that is, through hard work and struggle the

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heroic individual can overcome any obstacle to achieve a seemingly limitless upward mobility. On one hand, although Carlos’s lesson is informal, it suggests (relayed as it is from what Dalmacio has learned in school) the broader formal function of education in the Philippines as a colonial apparatus. A central claim of U.S. political rationalizations for their colonial possession of the Philippines after the Spanish-American War in 1898 was that the United States did not come, as President William McKinley declared, as “invaders or conquerors,” but as “friends” and protectors whose underlying mission was a benevolent one—indeed one of “benevolent assimilation.”2 The mission entailed, in turn, the uplift and tutelage of the “backward” Filipinos through, among other means, the introduction of U.S.-founded schools structured upon a U.S.-focused curriculum. As Ronald Takaki has demonstrated, Filipino youths attending schools established by Americans in the Philippines “looked at pictures of Washington and Lincoln, studied the Declaration of Independence, and read about the ‘home of the free and the brave’ in their English-language textbooks.”3 At the same time, Carlos’s description of his encounter with this narrative as a form of spiritual awakening (“something was touched, was springing out, demanding to be born”) also serves to underscore the origins of the narrator’s imagined affiliation with “America” and the profound extent to which this idealized American bildungsroman serves to structure and define Carlos’s youthful aspirations. But perhaps the more compelling question to ask about Lincoln’s story is to what extent does this American narrative of upward mobility also structure the narrative and define the aspirational plot of America Is in the Heart itself? On one hand, in recounting the youthful narrator’s migration to the United States and the hardships and racist abuse he suffers in the Alaskan canneries and California agricultural fields, the novel makes manifest the underlying contradictions that existed between the American stated colonial policy of benevolent assimilation and the practice of domestic racism and various immigration policies of Asiatic exclusion. Put briefly, the novel powerfully exposes what Bulosan described in his essay “My Education” as the great divide between the “promise” of America and the “real” America.4 Indeed, this contradiction represents, in many respects, the central conflict of the plot. On the other hand, however, America Is in the Heart can also be seen as reaffirming Lincoln’s “American” story of heroic self-making: Carlos’s life does, after all, follow the same narrative of progress. He journeys out of the backwoods “country” (not Illinois but the Philippines), and from poverty and

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illiteracy, to become a self-educated man (through borrowing books), then a political leader (as a labor organizer)—and finally the author of the novel we hold in our hands. How then to read this story of Lincoln in relation to the story of Carlos? It is a question that speaks directly to the larger puzzle of “America” in the novel and to the question of how to read Bulosan’s deeply autobiographical novel alongside (or against) the bildungsroman narrative of American immigration, whose implicit claims the novel’s content seems so powerfully to challenge but to whose formal and thematic criteria it also seems so closely to adhere.

* * * The bildungsroman emerged as one of the primary cultural forms of modernity in nineteenth-century Europe, narrating the development of the individual from youthful innocence to civilized maturity, whose telos is the reconciliation of the individual with the social order.5 This chapter reads Bulosan’s America Is in the Heart as a minority refiguring—from the limits of citizenship—of this classic bildungsroman genre, which has a peasant farmer, turned migrant laborer, turned political activist as its coming-of-age hero. In particular, it explores how the ideology of the form shifts when it is moved to the global “margins.” What are the formal and thematic changes to the genre when it is used to contain the experience of a Filipino migrant laborer’s journey to the United States?, that is, when it no longer expresses, legitimates, and works to resolve the contradictions of social mobility within the European bourgeoisie, but instead is made to bear the aspirations of a noncitizen migrant laborer, and when the imposed journey from country to city takes place not within a national frame of development but across national borders and specifically within a transnational frame of empire and underdevelopment. My analysis builds in particular on the very suggestive final two chapters of The Country and the City, Raymond Williams’s monumental analysis of the relationship between shifting cultural representations and meanings of country and city in English literature, in which he observes: In current descriptions of the world, the major industrial societies are often described as “metropolitan.” At first glance this can be taken as a simple description of their internal development, in which the metropolitan cities have become dominant. But when we look at it more closely, in its real historical development, we find that what is meant is an extension to the whole world of that

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division of functions which in the nineteenth century was a division of functions within a single state.6 Taking the example of London, Williams notes that while in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, migration into the metropolis was primarily from the English countryside—whose agricultural status was in decline—by the twentieth century, such migration was a displacement from the new “country areas”: the spaces of the colonial world. Williams’s model of city and country provides an excellent paradigm to complicate Franco Moretti’s argument that the bildungsroman form had run its course by World War I—that the genre based upon ideologically reconciling the individual to the existing social order no longer had the same centrality. Williams’s transnational model of city and country raises the question of whether the bildungsroman form and its underlying ideological concerns (of the modernizing and normative subject, of development, of synthesis) did not so much disappear as move to the colonial periphery. Second, Williams’s notion that the model of city and country extends to the world those divisions of functions that took place “within a single state” raises the further question of whether the bildungsroman—which has typically been understood as an ideological form of class mobility—does not rely upon and reaffirm an assumed national order as well. Indeed, to return to Bulosan, by making the form bear the experience of these Filipino migrants, whose anomalous status as noncitizen nationals (and after 1934, as aliens) denied them official access to integration into the “social order,” America Is in the Heart can be read as confronting not only the class but also the national limits of the genre and by extension those “universal” national narratives of America that the genre has been used so powerfully to author and legitimate. In this context, I read the fragmented and discontinuous narrative of America Is in the Heart not as a sign of the novel’s unrealized or failed aesthetic ambitions but as instead animating the normative demands of the genre. It reveals how the traditional form of the bildungsroman assimilates certain liberal and national subjects while rendering illegible other identities that cannot be drawn into the genre’s—and, by extension, the nation’s—narrative of cultural synthesis. This reading speaks to a broader feature that I thematize throughout the course of Unbecoming Americans about the cultural institution of the realist novel and the politics of form. In representing these racialized subjects at the subaltern limits of citizenship and in the transnational shadows of empire and the division of labor,

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America Is in the Heart—as does each of the texts examined in this study—challenges not only the representational limits of the nation but also that of the realist novel in general, and, in the case of Bulosan, the bildungsroman in particular. The second section of the chapter contends that while America Is in the Heart reveals the idealized bildung of American immigration as stunted— as leading not to assimilation but to exclusion and underdevelopment— the novel still represents a bildungsroman, albeit an alternative one. Critics who have previously addressed the novel in relation to the form of the bildungsroman have done so in, roughly, two ways. They have either read the novel’s close adherence to the formal and geographic criteria of the bildungsroman as reproducing the model of subject formation inscribed within the genre or as more subtly subverting it.7 What unites these divergent approaches, however, is a shared suspicion and critique of the bildungsroman as a mode of subject formation. Clearly informed by poststructuralist critiques of teleological progress and a unitary construction of the subject, these analyses have suggested that the developmental logic of the bildungsroman reproduces a narrative of synthesis that essentializes identity and politics by hegemonically imposing a universal form onto heterogeneous differences, ultimately reinforcing a logic of development that necessarily privileges the nation (in this case, “America”) as the pinnacle of modernity. But while agreeing that Bulosan’s novel does adhere to a developmental principle of incorporation and synthesis, I argue that it radically redefines that logic of self-formation into an alternative political and literary form of bildung that does not take the nation and citizenship as the ultimate endpoint of the genre. Instead, out of the failed promise of the idealized American bildungsroman, the narrator fashions an alternative bildungsroman founded on a reading practice that transforms his alienage from the nation into a standpoint from which to integrate himself into a nonnational and ever-widening, and ultimately cosmopolitan form of community and collectivity that enables politics—from an ethnic immigrant enclave to a multiracial community of global migrants at the limits of citizenship moving across the transnational shadows of U.S. empire. The chapter concludes by examining how the novel paradoxically adopts the language of America and American pluralism to articulate these new transnational subaltern communities. Bulosan’s work ultimately elaborates not a national but what I define as a postnational narrative of “America,” redrawing the language of pluralism to map a multiracial community of global migrants that extends beyond the geographic and ideological limits of the nation-state to incorporate

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the colonial spaces and histories of the Philippines. The chapter thus locates Bulosan within the literary and political tradition traced over the course of this book—namely, a tradition of writers who transformed their social location at the limits of citizenship into a nonnational historical agency capable of challenging the prevailing liberal narratives of race and national belonging (often within those very idioms) and of linking domestic struggles for racial justice to the colonial world in a counter-cosmopolitanism to U.S. state and global power at the dawn of the “American Century.”

I. A Fugitive Movement America Is in the Heart is fixated on movement. From its very outset, as we follow the slow dissolution of Carlos’s family ownership of their land that sends each of the four sons off in different directions (three to America), to the novel’s very final scene, where Carlos sets off once again through the Imperial Valley of California, America Is in the Heart concentrates, almost obsessively, upon the experience of movement and of chronicling the place-name of each and every town through which the narrator passes. In the course of the seven-page chapter 23, for example, we read: “I went to Pismo Beach”; “I went to Seattle to wait for the fishing season in Alaska”; “I took another train to Sacramento”; “I skirted the crowd and took a bus for San Bernadino”; “I took a train for San Diego”; “I took a ferry boat to Coronado”; “I went to Walnut Grove”; “I went to Stockton”; “I became restless and went to the bus station and bought a ticket to San Luis Obispo” (174– 80). The novel ultimately details well over a hundred places through and to which the narrator travels, a staggering number that, as Sau-ling Cynthia Wong notes, produces a chaotic narrative of “directionless” movement that is “impossible to chart” and that undermines any coherent development or progress toward the fulfillment of Carlos’s stated dreams.8 Building on Wong’s argument, I want to place this pattern of constant movement that “defies mapping” into specific dialogue with the bildungsroman tradition. Moretti, for one, argues that movement and mobility—in particular from country to city—is a dominant and persistent theme of the bildungsroman, with the journey being the most common narrative metaphor for youth. Modernity disrupted what he calls the “socialization of ‘old’ youth,” or what we might equally deem status society, unleashing an alienating but exhilarating multiplication of possibilities. “In dismantling the continuity between generations . . . the new and destabilizing forces of capitalism impose a hitherto unknown

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mobility. But it is also a yearned for exploration, since the selfsame process gives rise to unexpected hopes, thereby generating an interiority not only fuller than before, but also perennially . . . dissatisfied and restless.”9 This principle of “restlessness” finds its material sign in the bildungsroman tradition in space and through narratives of spatial mobility. The multiplication of possibilities, in other words, finds its analogue in the multiplication of places. On one hand, Carlos’s youthful journey is consistent with this ideology of movement, attesting to the novel’s close adherence to the thematic criterion of the genre. The first third of the book chronicles the increasing pressure of “a growing industrialism” that leads to the dismantling of the family’s farm and to a “hitherto unknown mobility” for Carlos and his other brothers. And it is also a mobility linked to an internal restlessness. Carlos confesses, for example, “Then it came to me that my life [in Binalonan] was too small to float the vessel of my desires” (65). And in evoking the larger social changes sweeping the countryside, Carlos describes how “it seemed that the younger generation . . . had become total strangers to the older generation. . . . The young men were stirring and rebelling against their heritage. Those who could no longer tolerate existing conditions adventured into the new land” (i.e., into “America”) (5).10 At the same time, Carlos’s journey to America across the trans-Pacific space of empire complicates the correspondence between spatial and social mobility inscribed in the traditional bildungsroman, by revealing how race, class, and empire fundamentally redefine that correspondence within the context of migrant labor. This redefinition is articulated by Carlos’s very legal status as a Filipino. Prior to the Tydings-McDuffie Act in 1934, which granted commonwealth status to the Philippines and established a ten-year transition to full independence, Filipinos occupied an ambiguous national position in the United States. They were colonial wards or “U.S. nationals”—an innovative legal category established by the Supreme Court in 1901 that emerged out of their definition of Puerto Rico and the Philippines as “unincorporated territories.” (The High Court used the phrase “foreign to the United States in a domestic sense.”)11 This designation meant that the United States could not restrict Filipino immigration, since as “U.S. nationals” they were journeying within the vast territory or frontier of the United States rather than moving to a different country as “foreigners.” Filipinos were considered neither aliens nor citizens. After 1934, Filipinos became aliens—a sign of the Philippines’ new status as a commonwealth, a status that nevertheless reproduced many

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features of the colonial relationship. Citizens of the Philippine Commonwealth continued to owe allegiance to the United States, yet the act declared that “citizens of Philippine Islands who are not citizens of the United States now shall be considered as if they are aliens” and that “for such purposes the Philippine Islands shall be considered a separate country.”12 The act, furthermore, set an annual quota of fifty from the islands, the lowest set for any group in the world barring the fully excluded Asiatic races of Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans. Until 1946 with the establishment of an independent Philippines, Filipinos in the United States thus inhabited what E. San Juan Jr. has termed “a limbo of indeterminacy” marked by empire.13 More specifically, this indeterminate condition of alienage bore within it the particular contradictory pattern of an American empire that dare not speak its name. In terms of the bildungsroman, Carlos and his companions were thus at once integrated into America but also at the same time officially excluded from its general patterns of mobility and from the promise of settlement and reconciliation between individuals and the existing social order that is so central to the ideological aims of the genre. Their anomalous national status, in other words, excludes Carlos and his fellow Filipino companions from the promise of bildung represented by national narratives of American immigration—the promise of development from “youthful” estrangement into the universal “maturity” of American citizenship (a narrative, as Carlos learned from the story of Lincoln, ostensibly based upon the “universal” principle that “all men are created equal”). Put slightly differently, if the tension within the classic bildungsroman comes from youth either attempting to—or choosing to—live by professed ideals or “mature” into the existing social order, in the case of Bulosan, his very “national” status denies him any “choice.” Instead, it is itself already a testament to the failure of those universal ideals. Indeed, the universal principles of the nation depend, in no small measure, upon his exclusion for their integrity: their internal coherence is maintained through representing Filipinos as an external threat to the preservation of society’s professed ideals. The narrator’s journey, as a result, does not hold out the promise of integration or “failure,” as in the classic bildungsroman; instead it is ultimately criminalized. It is represented as a constant threat of contamination, against which the purity of the nation must be vigilantly guarded. As the narrator observes after arriving in the country: “I came to know afterward that in many ways it was a crime to be a Filipino in California. I came to know that the public streets were not free to my people: we were

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stopped each time these vigilant patrolmen saw us driving a car. We were suspect each time we were seen with a white woman” (121). Carlos’s journey does not follow the pattern of immigration and settlement but rather comes to represent what I call a fugitive movement, a movement that the narrator continually describes as a form of flight. “Never stop moving” is the last advice his brother Luciano gives him before he leaves (88). And when he arrives in America, he describes it as “the beginning of my life in America, the beginning of a long flight that carried me down the years” (101). Later he wonders if his “life would always be one long flight from fear” (128). And later still he asks, “Was there no end to this flight?” (149). At one point, the narrator even uses it to represent his coming-ofage: “I was fleeing into manhood” (64). Repeatedly, this imposed pattern of flight disrupts and overrides every effort that Carlos makes to settle down or to provide a direction to his movement. Various forms of racial, sexual, economic or political violence continually set him “on the run” to some new town, or as he describes it at one point, on a journey “to nowhere” (111). On a significant level, this pattern of flight serves the shifting interests of unstructured capital. Carlos and his fellow Filipino companions’ status as U.S. nationals excluded from citizenship enables their greater exploitation as cheap labor. And if their exclusion from the national order serves to discipline their pattern of movement across national borders (as imported colonial subjects), this criminalization of his identity by a structure of terror and violence also disciplines the pattern of Carlos’s and his companions’ movement within the nation. Indeed, the presence of Filipino migrants in the U.S. West precipitated a wave of race riots and labor conflicts that swept California and the Pacific Northwest during the 1920s—spawned by fears that Filipinos would displace white labor and by anxieties about their perceived desire for white women. In addition to the riots, various forms of state and civic violence (police officers, hired thugs, railway detectives, employers, landlords, fellow Filipinos, etc.) enforced this pattern of flight. This worked to maintain and stabilize social and economic relations by preventing community formation and political organization, thus making these migrants ever more vulnerable to the overwhelming power of corporate agriculture. This is seen quite clearly when Carlos and his companions finally begin to organize politically on one farm only to have their camp burned down, which sends them on the run once again. This structured and unstructured violence also helped to produce and maintain a pattern of movement consistent with the specific demands of western agribusiness,

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whose economy increasingly depended upon transient seasonal workers. The historian Howard DeWitt has described how the mobility of western expansion became a requirement of corporate structure in California, with one pattern of (upward) mobility increasingly reliant upon another pattern of (horizontal) mobility, and with the mass privatization of the land dependent upon the production of nonnational subjects legally excluded from owning the land. “Corporatism in its broadest sense was the force that raided the national domain to convert millions of acres of public lands to private ownership, reducing the family farm to the dustbin.” This corporate agriculture, he continues, “must be composed of men and women—and often children—perpetually on the move.”14 At the same time, America Is in the Heart also draws DeWitt’s description of western expansion and labor migration beyond the boundaries of the west coast of the United States and into the broader western transPacific space of empire. Indeed, DeWitt’s description of the rise of western U.S. agribusiness could be equally used to evoke the events taking place during the first third of the novel in the Philippines as it does those in California. The whole narrative of the novel is in fact set in motion by the dissolution of Carlos’s family farm (“its reduction to the dustbin”) and the steady tragic conversion of his father into a form of swidden agriculture worker and ultimately day laborer. While Carlos’s formation as a migrant laborer in the United States and his father’s in the Philippines represent distinct formations, they can also be seen as continuous. That is, in the U.S. colonization of the Philippines—both via war and the capital expansion of large agricultural corporations that disrupted existing agrarian conditions in the Philippines—Carlos and his fellow Filipino laborers are displaced from previous forms of work, thus providing an exploitable labor force available for emigration. The origin of Carlos’s “flight,” therefore, does not begin solely on the border, but rather in the “homeland”—a homeland where “America” is already present. And thus his “journey” does not follow the pattern of the immigrant narrative traveling from the normally separated realms of “old” and “new” country as much as it traces a lateral migration across a distinct transnational formation of capital and empire—a formation that is not in conflict with nor interrupted by the borders of the nation-state but in fact enabled and maintained by them through racially structured citizenship laws. In the end, Carlos’s fragmented and directionless pattern of movement is relentlessly reinforced until it becomes the dominant pattern of his life and by extension the narrative. It is a form of mobility deprived of any possibility of progress and in fact bears witness to its antithesis

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(and attests to an inability to buy and sustain a home and achieve a communal culture). In other words, the narrator’s constant mobility is in fact a marker of his immobility. Indeed, Carlos’s “true” education and awakening only begin when he is immobilized—physically confined to a hospital and a rehabilitation sanitarium where he begins, through reading, to fashion an alternative bildung for himself. In the end, the narrative of mobility within America Is in the Heart undermines—as opposed to underwrites—the story of his self-formation. And the succession of places to which the narrator’s “flight” takes him, rather than marking a multiplicity of possibilities, instead marks the confining limits of his migrant world.

islands of despair Carlos describes one of these places, typical of those in which he finds himself throughout the novel: “It was a noisy and tragic street, where suicides and murders were a daily occurrence, but it was the only place in the city where we could find a room. There was no other district where we were allowed to reside, and even when we tried to escape from it, we were always driven back to this narrow island of despair” (134). It is striking that the narrator uses the word “island” here—as he does throughout the novel—to describe these “vice districts,” these segregated migrant communities marked by criminal and sexual violence from which he cannot “escape.” It serves to evoke, on one hand, the isolation and enforced exclusion of these social spaces and communities from the nation. Indeed, as islands within the nation, these social spaces embody, geographically, a similar paradoxical status as that of Carlos and his fellow Filipinos. Both are at once inside of the nation—of “America”—but also deemed unassimilable to it, embodying forms of “deviance” that require vigilant exclusion. It is a geographic imaginary that animates, as such, the uneven incorporation of racialized subjects into the mainland of American citizenship, mapping a cartography of segregation in sharp contradiction to the inclusive national landscape of American pluralism. The image of islands also evokes a crucial correspondence between these unincorporated spaces (and subjects) within the nation and those “unincorporated” spaces or territories outside the nation—namely, the islands of the Philippines. These spaces suggest a transnational geography—an archipelago of islands extending beyond the nation’s perimeters, linking together these domestic sites of exclusion with the colonial histories and spaces of the Philippines. It is a subaltern geography of the United States that maps the interconnectedness between the domestic

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politics of racial difference with the foreign policy of empire—a social and political landscape occluded by the national myth of benevolent assimilation and rendered structurally invisible by the nation-state. (As we will see later in the book, C. L. R. James did something quite similar from his condition of alienage with the geography of Ellis Island—using the then island immigration prison to at once interrogate the ideological limits of the U.S. nation-state and also to extend its territorial boundaries to incorporate the colonial spaces and history of the Caribbean.) Finally, the geographic image of the island—and of Carlos being forced into ever-smaller and isolated spaces—parallels his increasing social, political, and epistemological isolation. At the outset of the novel, for example, while the narrator sits with his brothers in the Philippines, in their home region of Binalonan, he declares, “I knew that if there was one redeeming quality in our poverty, it was this boundless affinity for each other, this humanity that grew in each of us, as boundless as this green earth” (10; my italics). From this initial fraternal and peasant solidarity—that is similarly linked to a geographic space, to the universal spatial “boundlessness” of the “green earth”—the novel chronicles the narrator’s disassembling into an ever-more atomized sense of self and increasing disidentification, a condition that again finds its analogue— and partial cause—in bounded geographic spaces. “Perhaps it was this narrowing of our life into an island, into a filthy segment of American society, that had driven Filipinos like Doro inward, hating everyone and despising all positive urgencies toward freedom” (121). But finally, if this experience of fugitive “flight” produces a narrative of antidevelopment (from a “boundless” universalism “inward” into a “narrowing” particular), the narrative’s structuring principle remains illegible to the narrator for much of the novel. He is unable to make sense of or to establish connections between the various “islands”—spaces, people, and episodes—of his deracinated life: “I was in flight . . . from an unknown terror that seemed to follow me everywhere” (119). Later he thinks, “I needed some kind of order to guide me in the confusion that reigned over my life” (265). As he encounters other itinerants riding the rails, those whom Carey McWilliams described as the “freemasonry of the ostracized,” he can only “wonder what I had in common with them beside the fact that we were all on the road rolling to unknown destinations” (119).15 And in thinking of his life, he finally admits: “It was a planless life, hopeless, and without direction. I was merely living from day to day: yesterday seemed long ago and tomorrow was too far away. It was today that I lived for aimlessly, this hour—this moment” (169). Carlos is

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unable to organize his fragmented life into any explanatory order or continuity because his experiences remain illegible to the interpretive structure of the ethnic American bildungsroman. As such, the narrative itself becomes an archipelago of “narrow island[s] of despair,” as every effort to map a narrative of continuity or progress disrupts into discontinuous episodes of violence. In this respect, Carlos’s dilemma mirrors that of the novel itself. That is, in making the form of the bildungsroman bear the content of his experiences, the form of the novel (structured, as it is, by the “ideal” of America) comes into conflict with its content (i.e., the story of the “real” America) and thus lays bare the normative demands of the genre. In other words, the novel reveals not only thematically but also formally how the idealized American bildungsroman turns out to be for Carlos, a Filipino migrant laborer, a narrative of underdevelopment. And thus in order quite literally to make sense of his life, Carlos must give up this form of education (or bildung) and adopt another. That Carlos is able eventually to organize his displaced life (“without direction”) into a coherent narrative is evidenced by the novel itself. That is to say, the failure of the universal promise of integration into the nation enables—even requires, however painfully—this other narrative, that is, the novel itself, to emerge. As much as Bulosan’s book is about the failings of American integration, it is also generated by them. The narrative of the novel serves as an alternative epistemology to the narrative of immigration—that is, the novel as a cultural institution draws together the fragmented episodes, characters, and islands of his life into an explanatory whole. In this regard, the story of America Is in the Heart is about moving from silence to voice, of developing the capacity to, as the narrator declares, “tell the world what they have done to me,” and thus render legible those experiences that had remained incoherent or aberrant to the logic of the idealized American immigrant bildungsroman—and to the nation (180).16 It is no coincidence, as such, that when Carlos sits down to finally write for the very first time, he describes it as “the end of a strange flight” (180; my italics). Later he recalls sitting down to write as the moment when he “began piecing together the mosaic of our lives in America” (289).

the politics of form If one of the central ideological aims of the classic bildungsroman genre is the reconciliation of the individual to the existing social order of the nation, as numerous critics have posited, then that project also produces its necessary obverse: the exclusion of what or who cannot be

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integrated or assimilated into the social order.17 As David Lloyd has argued, our approach to the realist novel must be attendant not only to what is represented but also equally to that which remains constitutively negated in its representational regime—to what cannot be represented. Conversely, Lloyd suggests, as discussed in the introduction, that attempting to represent subaltern individuals and political expressions within cultural and political forms that have rendered them unassimilable or anomalous poses an inevitable representational crisis for both the nation-state and the realist novel.18 America Is in the Heart’s episodic and fragmentary narrative might be reconsidered in this context as symptomatic not of its unfulfilled aesthetic and narrative aspirations but of the resistance of a Filipino culture of migrant laborers whose “anomalous state” within the United States as noncitizen national (and American colonial subject) is aberrant to the dominant narrative of the nation-state and in turn to the logic and form of the bildungsroman. Put slightly differently, in attempting to render audible these voices at the subaltern limits of citizenship—those who had been “rendered speechless by history”19—America Is in the Heart’s fragmented narrative might be understood as an effort to challenge the democratic limits of not only the nation form but also that of the realist novel in general and the bildungsroman in particular. It is in this context that we might, on one hand, approach the text’s infamously unruly generic status. A good deal of attention has been dedicated to defining exactly what the work is—is it a novel, a “collective autobiography,”20 “fictionalized autobiography,”21 testimonio, or what its own subtitle labels a “personal history”? At the same time, we might also consider here how much of the narrative itself stages Carlos’s search to find new or other forms or genres of writing (“the discovery of a new vista of literature”[194]) capable of representing these aberrant subjects. Oscar Campomanes, for example, has argued that the “fractured surface of America Is in the Heart may be more fully appreciated if it is read as an epistolary . . . reorganization of . . . Bulosan’s experience in America.”22 And, indeed, when Carlos sits down to write for the very first time at the kitchen table, he writes a letter. “When the long letter was finished, a letter which was actually a story of my life, I jumped to my feet and shouted through my tears: ‘They can’t silence me anymore! I’ll tell the world what they have done to me!’” (180). Campomanes argues that the epistolary form—so central to Bulosan’s oeuvre—enables a blurring between private and public modes of discourse—a “private message universalized,”23 which in turn allows for the bridging between a personal and impersonal

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voice and from an individual to a collective experience—an effort central to Bulosan’s enduring aesthetic and political project. While there are many implications to Campomanes’s argument, for the moment I want to emphasize merely that within the novel there thus emerges a genre or formal strategy (of letter writing) that is intended to represent an alternative to and potentially more adequate mode of representation than the novel itself. In the end, these examples suggest that to represent these “aberrant” Filipino subjects at the subaltern limits of citizenship— and in particular those whose “anomalous state” draws the United States out into the disavowed transnational space of empire and the division of labor—America Is in the Heart confronts the very representational and ideological limits of the realist novel. Put differently, in rendering legible this subaltern counterpublic at the limits of citizenship, America Is in the Heart both depicts and enacts the necessary fragmentation of the novel form and the incorporation of other modes of articulation in order to write, what I call, a part-novel. Finally, in rendering this subaltern counterpublic, America Is in the Heart’s episodic and fragmentary narrative does not merely critique or reveal the limits of the normative and exclusionary logics underwriting the narrative of the idealized American bildungsroman but also serves as the sign of another mode of narrative. Put differently, America Is in Heart does not represent merely a failed or antibildungsroman but fashions out of the irreconcilable contradiction between the “ideal” and “real” America an alternative narrative of bildung and development that does not take the nation and citizenship as the ideal end point of the genre. Instead, America Is in the Heart fashions an alternative political and literary form of education and development through which the protagonist acquires self-awareness and self-realization not out of assimilation but out of alienation from the nation. Carlos fashions an alternative bildungsroman founded on a practice of reading that transforms his exclusion from the nation into a standpoint from which to integrate himself into a nonnational and ultimately cosmopolitan form of community and collectivity. It is a cosmopolitanism founded, ultimately, on an alternative or nonhegemonic universalism that renders legible and “pieces together” the episodic and fragmentary lives of these anomalous subjects. This reading practice brings us back a final time to the story of Lincoln, in particular to the evidence the story provides of Lincoln’s heroic efforts at self-making, which are based upon literature and reading, that is, that he “walked miles and miles to borrow a book” (69; my italics). In this respect, Lincoln’s story becomes one of many dialectical images

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of America in the novel. On one hand, it embodies the promise of the idealized American bildungsroman that has structured both the content and form of Carlos’s life pursuits—a promise the novel reveals as violently frustrated. At the same time, the story also contains the seed for the production of a subjectivity based upon literacy, culture, and the transformative power of books, which becomes linked in the novel to the formation of a nonnational and cosmopolitan revolutionary consciousness. It points to a reading practice that engenders an alternative narrative of education and development that challenges precisely the limits and contradictions of the “idea” of America, which the story of Lincoln ostensibly embodies so emphatically.

II. An Alternative Bildungsroman In her formative reading of America Is in the Heart, Lisa Lowe focuses on the novel’s critical representation of education. Specifically, she notes how the hero’s limited opportunities for schooling in the United States highlight the broader failings of American democratic principles and challenge a dominant American ideology associating the trope of education with the teleological development and assimilation of the immigrant subject. Denied access to formal education, Carlos is forced to teach himself “out of the fragments of books and resources available to him.” In addition, his “‘education’ is equally informed by his observations of the exploitation, violence, marginality, and incarcerations suffered by Philippine immigrants to the United States, which further challenge his belief in the promise of American democracy.”24 The novel, as such, offers an alternative narrative of education—one in which Carlos’s creation of his own curriculum undermines the traditional paradigm of education as a path to self-development and national inclusion and replaces it with a “disrupted, partial and fragmentary” narrative that animates instead his exclusion from the nation and the inclusive promise of American democracy. America Is in the Heart’s counternarrative of education, in turn, provides a powerful example for Lowe’s broader argument about Asian American cultural production in general, namely, that it is “materially and aesthetically at odds with the resolution of the citizen to the nation.”25 The contradictory history of Asian American racialization, she argues, produces literary and cultural forms that are resistant to national forms of resolution as well as to those strains of modernist or “high” art that propose art as that which resides in an autonomous realm outside

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the prevailing social order and mass society. For Lowe, the material history of Asian Americans generates an alternative model of culture based instead on “disidentification”: one that resists reconciliation to “idealized forms of community or subjectivity” and to “the formal abstraction of aestheticization and canonization.”26 Asian American literature cannot be accommodated to the universalisms underwriting these canonical aesthetic criteria for it resides “in material contradictions of history that generate concrete particulars unassimilable to dominant forms.” In the end, Asian American literature is defined by “contradiction, not sublimation, such that discontent, nonequivalence, and irresolution call into question the project of abstracting the aesthetic as a separate domain of unification and reconciliation.”27 On one hand, I agree with Lowe’s argument that the story of education in America Is in the Heart does not reproduce but undermines the traditional narrative of self-formation and that it emerges instead out of a materialist history that resists reconciliation with the state. At the same time, however, I wish to suggest that this counternarrative of education that Bulosan fashions in the novel is not based on a principle of disidentification. Instead, America Is in the Heart puts forward a model of reading and literature that carries the possibility for the production of alternative forms of belonging and community to the state precisely because of its power to “unify and reconcile.” Throughout the novel, for instance, the narrator consistently highlights how his identification with various literary and cultural texts arouses in him what he repeatedly refers to as a “passion for abstract, universal ideals” (184). Identification with these ideals does not represent, though, Carlos’s assumption of a disinterested or idealized form of subjectivity. Rather, by expanding his interpretation of particular stories into the “abstract and universal,” Carlos is able to identify with other political and aesthetic struggles, which in turn enables him to begin to overcome his political and epistemic isolation—those “crushing forces” turning him “inward”—and to fashion an alternative model of bildung through which he can integrate his exilic subjectivity into alternative and widening forms of social commitment and solidarity that inspires politics. When, for example, the narrator rhetorically asks, if there is no place of beauty “outside of books?” (260), that is meant as an indictment of the harshness of U.S. society, but it is not meant as a critique of the autonomous realm of the aesthetic. Rather, it serves to emphasize the great importance of that autonomy in providing Carlos an alternative space to that of the repressive political and social spaces of the nation that have violently denied him representation.

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Indeed, it is in and through this alternative and autonomous space of the literary that he is instead able to explore and understand not only the concerns of a Filipino migrant labor movement but to connect that particular struggle with other struggles both within the United States and in the world. Learning to read, and ultimately write, generates in this regard a different type of journey from the episodic and fragmentary pattern that characterizes his physical journey. Books and reading lead to a series of intellectual and spiritual awakenings that Carlos chronicles over the course of the novel. “I was beginning to understand,” Carlos describes, “what was going on around me, and the darkness that had covered my present life was lifting. I was emerging into sunlight, and I was to know, a decade afterward in America, that this light was not too strong for eyes that had known only darkness and gloom” (71). Within this framework, Carlos goes on to recount his encounter with various books and what he learns from each author. Through his identification with the Japanese writer Yone Noguchi, for example, Carlos finds not only a role model of another Asian-born migrant laborer who had risen from a domestic “houseboy” in the United States to become “the first poet of his race to write in the English language” but also someone whose work inspires his growing commitment to and understanding of proletarian struggles (265). And during his time working at a city library, he describes a form of intellectual awakening precipitated by his reading about and identification with the Richard Wright of Black Boy, who depicts being refused access to the local library. It is this critical act of comparison born out of identification—as opposed to a kind of humanist enlightenment—that lifts the “darkness” and opens up a “whole new world” for him, enabling him, as he describes it, to begin to take an analytical perspective on his present situation—to begin to understand, for example, how such entitlements are racialized and to critically juxtapose the economic privilege of the other library patrons with Wright’s and his own marginalized position in the United States. There is also the central and oft-repeated example in the novel of the case of Robinson Crusoe. Early in the novel, Macario is interpreting the story, and he invites Carlos to see himself reflected in the myth: “Maybe you will be thrown upon some unknown island someday with nothing to protect you except your hands and your mind” (32). As it turns out, Carlos does reflect back several times upon Crusoe, with whom he comes to identify after years adrift on the “island” of America: “I remembered Robinson Crusoe, and compared him with my fate” (252). On one

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hand, the act of comparison provides Carlos a language through which he can begin to define and make sense of the episodic and fragmentary nature of his situation. That is, it provides an alternative idiom to the liberal narrative of progress through which he can articulate the anti- or underdevelopment of his life in America—his enforced social and political isolation onto “narrow island[s] of despair.” At the same time, Carlos’s act of identification also represents a more subtle and subversive act of reading. Certainly, Defoe’s novel is one of the canonical narratives of the colonial imagination, in which the Western subject, castaway from the mainland of European civilization, is transformed from survivor into colonist as he slowly gains possession of the undeveloped space of the island on which he finds himself. In mapping this tale onto the story of his “voyage in” from the colony to the metropole, Carlos’s identification inverts the narrative and subtly undercuts its unconscious spatial framework—a spatial framework that governs the relationship of the “mainland” of America and the “islands” of the Philippines. In recasting America as the “unknown island,” he overturns the geographic imaginary underlying the dominant model of center and periphery, unmooring America into a critical global imaginary in which it becomes merely one island among many stretching across the Pacific. In the end, his abstract identification with various myths, literary figures, and texts (such as Richard Wright, Yone Noguchi, Robinson Crusoe, the story of Lincoln, and many others) provides him a form of comparative knowledge through which he can begin to see himself reflected in multiple political contexts that enables him to make different sense of his experiences and his struggles that have hitherto remained illegible within the epistemic framework of the idealized American bildungsroman. The “abstract and universal ideals” that at once inspire and guide his reading practices provide an alternative conceptual and ethical framework to the nation-state (and, as we will see, to the prevailing socialist internationalism) through which Carlos can begin to interpret and understand connections between his own position as a noncitizen migrant laborer to other political—and aesthetic—struggles both within the United States and in the world. It enables him, in other words, to imagine forms of identification that facilitate a broader and ultimately cosmopolitan perspective— one that renders legible connections, communities, and ways of knowing excluded from and obfuscated by the universalism of the nation and the national ideal. (And here we might keep in mind how cosmopolitanism itself depends upon a process of identification with, and in turn an

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ostensibly ethical or political responsibility toward, others with whom one might appear to have, at first, very little in common.)

reading the world The trajectory that the narrator outlines for his “informal” literary and aesthetic education becomes central to establishing the unique terms of this emergent worldly political vision. While critics have tended to describe Carlos’s reading list—a bibliography the novel relishes chronicling almost as much as the places to which Carlos travels—as a leftist or proletarian tradition, what is most striking is actually how disparate—nationally, geographically, aesthetically, ethnically—his readings are. It includes a study of white canonical American writers (William Faulkner, Hart Crane, Herman Melville, Walt Whitman); a national and international leftist tradition (Carey McWilliams, Louis Adamic, Mikhail Sholokhov, Nicolas Guillén, André Malraux); an international tradition of modernism (Franz Kafka, Marcel Proust, Thomas Mann, Fyodor Dostoevsky); and ethnic American writing (William Saroyan, Lu-Sin, Younghill Kang, Yone Noguchi, and Richard Wright). The narrator is careful to explain how each literary discovery provides him a formative lesson in the development of his political consciousness (from Whitman, the dream of multiracial equality; from Sholokhov, insight into the “collective faith of a people” [245] and the founding of socialist country; from Kang, a role model of another Asianborn migrant laborer who had become a “revolutionary” writer, etc.). At the same time, he stresses that this alternative canon is forged through shared moral and political beliefs—specifically a “universal concern for dignity and humanity” (the precise phrase Bulosan uses to describe the role of the author in his essay “The Writer as Worker”).28 As he declares after reading Rilke, Kafka, Lorca, and Heinrich Heine: “The writers collectively represented to me a heroism of the spirit, so immeasurably had they suffered the narrowness of the world in which they lived, so gloriously had they succeeded in inspiring a universal brotherhood among men” (238; my italics). It is this criterion of common ideals that provides the basis of his specialized study. Identifying with this alternative canon of writers and literary traditions enables the narrator to identify with an idealized cosmopolitan literary community—a form of internationalism that transcends existing geographic, national, and racial borders. I discovered that one writer led to another: that they were all moved by the same social force. . . . So from day to day I read, and reading widened my mental horizon, creating a spiritual kinship with other

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men who had pondered over the miseries of their countries. . . . I, too, reacted to my time. I promised myself that I would read ten thousand books when I got well. I plunged into books, boring through the earth’s core, leveling all seas and oceans, swimming in the constellations. (246) As discussed earlier, the “antidevelopment” of Carlos’s immigrant journey of flight has forced him “inward” into social, geographic, and epistemological isolation, in which he remains unable to comprehend the connections between the various “islands” of his life. Here, however, Carlos is able to map an alternative narrative of development and self-formation, in which the study of one writer leads to and is linked to another, engendering an ever-“widening” imaginative mobility and awareness of his relationship to a global network of disparate struggles for human rights. (Indeed, he provides here almost a counterimage to that of isolated “narrow island[s] of despair” in his evocation of stars across the night sky organized in specific and coherent formations of constellations.) This also enables him, in turn, to create a place of belonging for himself within an “imagined community” of democratic writing. By integrating himself into this idealized international literary collectivity, Carlos creates a different mode of belonging and a different scale of affiliation to the legal (citizenship) and cultural forms of national belonging from which he has been so violently denied access. In Imagined Communities, Benedict Anderson argues that “print capitalism” enabled the formation of national communities based upon the creation of a shared knowledge and identification through novels and newspapers. These communities of horizontal comradeship, he argues, are “imagined because the members of even the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow-members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communion.”29 Bruce Robbins has challenged the sharp distinction Anderson subsequently draws between the powerful feeling of horizontal comradeship these forms of print capitalism ostensibly enable at the national level and the “would be internationalist” who must “live without the comforts of erotic and emotional contact.”30 In his book Feeling Global: Internationalism in Distress, Robbins asks if these cultural technologies have the power to produce such strong feelings between “fellow nationals” that “never see face to face, then why not with those who are not fellow nationals,” but “people bound by some other sort of fellowship?”31 Literature, in America Is in the Heart, functions in precisely this way;

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it establishes a form of “fellowship” that is neither determined by nor bound by the nation. Instead, these cross-cultural novels forge an imagined community of “fellow feeling” or “spiritual kinship” on an international or cosmopolitan scale based on ostensibly common moral and political ideals—a shared ethics. In the end, this process of identification that Carlos’s literary and aesthetic education engenders creates a model of self-formation or bildung that challenges the assumptions of a unitary and essentially solitary heroic development in the traditional bildungsroman model as well as the linearity and smooth teleology of development time that underwrites the domestic and international narrative of American “benevolent assimilation.” Instead, it fashions an alternative model of bildung and awakening founded on a principle of what we might call spatialization (the image the novel invokes most frequently and admiringly, as it does in the passage above, being that of “boundlessness.”) That is, Carlos’s education and development is marked or defined, as I have been suggesting, by his ability to establish “widening” identifications that dissolve the boundaries and borders between himself, his situation, and his story, and those of others (e.g., “I felt a great urge to identify myself with the social awakening of my people” [139]). Carlos’s self-formation or emergence is defined, in the last instance, less by his ability to reassemble the story of his personal development than by his ability, ultimately, to depersonalize himself and his story. Put differently, America Is in the Heart’s narrative of development is based on the move from a personal to an impersonal voice—from an individual to a collective experience. (Fredric Jameson has termed this type of literary narrative of transformation from an individual to collectivity and collective voice a form of “counter-autobiography,” one he closely aligns to the testimonio.)32 In the end, this ethos of development poses, at once, a political challenge to the form of the nation (in suggesting alternative modes of collectivity and alternative modes of universalism) but also a corresponding challenge to the form of the novel in general and the classic bildungsroman in particular. Rather than a centering of liberal subjectivity through the emergence and assimilation of the individual protagonist, America Is in the Heart refigures the genre—forging an alternative bildungsroman born out of alienation that maps a decentering of the narrator’s subjectivity into widening forms or “constellations” of social commitment and solidarity.

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counter-cosmopolitanisms Carlos’s aesthetic education is thus, in the end, coextensive with his political engagement in that it enables him to imagine alternative idioms of identification that are capable of generating powerful feelings of affiliation or “fellowship” on a transnational or global scale. Near the end of the novel, we are in fact given a poignant example of this type of “fellowship” founded on shared moral and political ideals when Carlos’s brother Macario decides to leave America to fight as a volunteer in the Spanish Civil War against Franco and the fascists. First, the legacy of volunteer involvement in the Spanish Civil War to which Macario’s example speaks provides one of the more powerful historical examples of “horizontal comradeship” on an international scale. As such, it seems to challenge Anderson’s claim that internationalism is devoid of feeling, and that it is only the nation that provides an ideal powerful enough that people would be willing to die for it—ostensibly the ultimate evidence of emotional commitment. But what I want to focus on is Carlos’s response to his brother’s involvement in the war against fascism in Spain. As Macario is getting ready to leave, he and Carlos discuss the significance of the war and their relationship to it, at which point Carlos concludes: “It’s much easier for us who have no roots to integrate ourselves in a universal ideal. Were we not exiles, were we not socially strangled in America, we would never have understood the significance of the Civil War in Spain” (241). Carlos’s declared “exile” from the nation bears witness, once again, to the “failure” of the promise of integration tied to the narrative of American immigration and serves as a stark reminder of the nonuniversal character of American nationalism. At the same time, Carlos suggests that the experience of displacement from the nation has enabled another narrative of development or education to emerge—an alternative narrative of intellectual awakening and emergence that culminates in a globally oriented ethical and political consciousness not inscribed by the nation-state system nor contained by narratives of American citizenship. Identification with this “universal ideal”—which in the novel is conjoined with and enabled by his aesthetic education (“arousing” as it does in him a “passion for abstract, universal ideals”)—does not, in the end, represent the assumption of a privileged cosmopolitanism or disinterested subjecthood but instead provides a language of belonging, or rather the terms for a global mode or epistemology of unbelonging that enables Carlos and his fellow Filipino companions to critically compare

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and draw connections between various emancipatory struggles and to fashion a form of cosmopolitan “fellowship” out of exile that inspires the kind of political action reflected in Macario’s fight against fascism in Spain. In using this “universal ideal” that at once emerges out of and guides his political and aesthetic education to bridge and mobilize these various collective commitments and identities, the novel draws together often quite disparate historical and political struggles. (Something quite similar might be said of the literary canon of disparate writers that Carlos identifies, basing it on what he defines as a shared “universal concern for dignity and humanity.”) The day Macario leaves, for instance, Carlos makes a connection in his diary between his brother’s fight against fascism in Spain and the struggle against colonialism taking place in the Philippines: “go fight a war on another continent. . . . But if I live I will go back to our country and fight the enemy there, because he is also among our people” (240; italics in original). And later he draws another link, this time between the tactics of the Falangists under Franco in Spain and the racism he encounters in what he deems the “fascist country” of the central Californian agricultural region, appropriately named the Imperial Valley (223). On one hand, in uniting these various resistance movements under the vast umbrella of a “universal ideal,” the novel reflects its Popular Front moment, in which divergent historical struggles (especially that of the Spanish Civil War) were conflated into a broad battle between the “universal” forces of “democracy” pitted against “fascism.” Indeed, in linking support of the working class with the battle against fascism, Bulosan echoes the position of many of his contemporaries in the American literary radical movement. At the same time, however, in conjoining fascism with colonialism and domestic racism, Bulosan also stakes out a different political and philosophical position. That is, in resituating the domestic struggle of Filipinos within the United States for economic justice and political citizenship within this critical global framework, Bulosan is also, and perhaps more intimately, aligned with the efforts of numerous radical black intellectuals in the United States who sought within the black public sphere of the early 1940s to rearticulate or redefine universalism from the racial limits of national membership—a tradition of what Nikhil Pal Singh has termed “black worldliness.”33 (It is a tradition, as we will see in subsequent chapters, that would soon become targeted by the pending political fury of the Cold War.) One of the most notable voices of this tradition during this period was W. E. B. Du Bois, who was making the similar argument that racism,

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fascism, and colonialism constituted a single intertwined history. In his book Color and Democracy: Colonies and Peace (1945), Du Bois argued that it was the ideology of racial and cultural hierarchy circulating in America and throughout the colonial world that had inspired the racial logics of fascism and the Nazi genocidal campaign against the Jews.34 (Martinique’s Aimé Césaire would make much the same case in Discourse on Colonialism [1955], arguing that fascism was the application of colonial procedures to white people in Europe, which until then “had been reserved exclusively for the Arabs of Algeria, the coolies of India, and the blacks of Africa.”)35 In drawing these connections, Du Bois sought to emphasize, as he did throughout his work during this time, both the national and international dimensions of the “Negro problem” within the United States. Du Bois’s analysis provided, as such, a radical counternarrative to the then dominant racial paradigm of liberal pluralism, which posited intranational differences and divisions as the associated commonalities of a great and exceptional national abstraction that served to distinguish the United States from both colonialism and fascism and that in turn legitimated U.S. expansion into the world. Du Bois’s argument conversely suggested that the U.S. model of intranational racial difference and division provided a historical precedent for European fascism and thus rather than establishing the moral legitimacy of U.S. global leadership had instead forced “the United States to abdicate its natural leadership of democracy in the world.”36 Du Bois argued in this context that black people in the United States were a “nation without a polity, nationals without citizenship”—the exact definition of the legal status of Filipinos in the United States at the time.37 Surveying the deep structural inequities of the global geopolitical and economic landscape in the wake of the “awful catastrophe of a Second World War,” Du Bois argued that a “unified effort for cultural progress” and in turn an “ultimate and lasting” peace would only be achievable when this nonnational status or alienage of U.S. minorities and of colonial subjects around the world (“that together form a majority”) had been addressed. Either integrate U.S. minorities or colonial subjects into the national polity, Du Bois declared, or allow “them to become independent free peoples.”38 Within this theoretical frame, Du Bois thus situated the struggle for nationality at the racialized limits of U.S. citizenship within a critical global frame; the nonnational status of black Americans was linked to colonized subaltern populations globally, whose experience of being of the land but not the state was similarly illuminating of the underlying mechanisms of global capital in the modern world system.

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And like Bulosan, Du Bois ultimately framed this struggle in the language of universalism—as having assumed a “universal character.” Bulosan’s framing of these various struggles throughout America Is in the Heart in the terms of universalism’s liberatory visions and ideals might thus be understood as more than merely calls for the extension of those principles into a politics of greater inclusion. Instead, these appeals lay claim to universalism’s “ideals” but also illuminate the disavowed legacies of colonial and racial violence that have served as those ideals’ seemingly necessary condition of possibility. It is a universalism that attempts to represent and animate the links between precisely those “narrow island[s] of despair”—those histories, communities, and geographies of a global subaltern multiracial counterpublic that has remained largely excluded from the existing domain of the universal. In this respect, Bulosan—as well as Du Bois—can be read as striving to fashion an alternative tradition of universalism—a counter-cosmopolitan vision from the standpoint of alienage—against the existing racial limitations of modern imperialisms, nationalisms, and humanisms. Indeed, returning one last time to the exchange between Carlos and his brother, the division Carlos establishes between America and this “universal ideal” implicitly suggests that it is in fact these racialized nonnationals laboring in the transnational shadows of America and American empire—those whom C. L. R. James will call the “mariners, renegades, and castaways”—who are the true bearers of this rearticulated universality in both the United States and the world.

III. The Universalisms of American Pluralism Certainly one of the central paradoxes of America Is in the Heart is how, after its staggering chronicle of abuse and exploitation, the novel concludes with the narrator reaffirming his belief in “America.” Indeed, in the very last line of the novel, the narrator declares, “No man could destroy my faith in America” (327). How to account for this resolution? How to account for the deep incongruity between reality and ideal, and between what the narrator is shown and what he insists is true? And, finally, how does his apparent reconciliation with the nation align with the decidedly transnational or worldly subaltern vision that I have suggested emerges from his alternative bildungsroman? Is it a final culminating instance of the contradiction between the novel’s form and content, or does it point to something or somewhere else? Not surprisingly, the novel’s final affirmation of “America” has drawn a great deal of critical scrutiny. Victor Bascara has cleverly referred to the

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ending of America Is in the Heart as “something of a Mona Lisa smile for Asian American studies; its ultimately undecidable meaning provokes compelling speculations.”39 In addressing some of these speculations, I want to situate the novel’s ambivalent resolution within the historical and theoretical context of the “alternative universalism” it articulates and the worldly topos of political commitments and communities—the subaltern social and geographic landscapes—that this universal vision takes in. In so doing, the meaning of the narrator’s final embrace of “America” reveals itself as less significant than the conception of America itself to which he is ostensibly reconciling himself. In other words, the most interesting questions to ask about the end of America Is in the Heart might be not why the narrator identifies himself with America after all that has happened to him, but rather what is the America with which he is identifying? And who is it? And, finally, where is it? The very fact that America “is in the heart” already suggests that it might not be located exactly where one expects it to be. While America Is in the Heart certainly bears the imprint of real political pressures (in particular a U.S. wartime audience), to understand the novel’s affirmation of America as simply contradictory to Bulosan’s radical international or transnational vision does not do full justice to the multiple national and international positions at play for Bulosan during this period. Americanism and internationalism were not necessarily polar opposites but were potentially constitutive of one another. Indeed, Bulosan’s America Is in the Heart can be read as engaged in an implicit debate and dialogue (at times a rather vexed one) with a variety of Americanist discourses and forms of internationalism that were circulating during the period across a wide political spectrum (e.g., Popular Front Americanism, Socialist Internationalism, global antifascism, anticolonial nationalism, the pending Red Scare that would blame dissent on foreign communist infiltration). This list of course cannot do justice to the range of movements and discourses engaged in invoking Americanism at the time. The historian Gary Gerstle, for example, observes that a national obsession with “Americanism” occurred during the 1920s and 1930s.40 And although he concedes that its meanings were often vague, he suggests four divergent strands: nationalistic, democratic, progressive, and traditionalist. Consequently, the discourse of Americanism could and did sustain a variety of visions of politics. “To Americanize,” he concludes, “did not necessarily mean to assimilate or accept the status quo.”41 One of the discourses significant to Bulosan was that of labor and Popular Front writers and intellectuals, who sought to seize the mantle

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of a resignified Americanism. During the 1930s and prewar 1940s, labor reconfigured American universalism via the notion of the “mature economy,” so that economic issues, such as class inequality, were highlighted rather than obscured.42 The effort gained adherents in the New Deal and provided a genuine boost to labor. As the famous New Deal slogan pronounced, “Unionism is the spirit of Americanism.” At the same time, while labor found in American universalism the language to advance a more egalitarian economic agenda, American exceptionalism also became bound up with labor during this period (as it certainly has in other periods) in often xenophobic ways, such that the racial subject became the immigrant, threatening domestic labor.43 Thus labor, for example, came out in favor of Philippine independence primarily because it meant that Filipinos would lose their “special status” and become susceptible to the quotas of anti-Asian immigration legislation. Samuel Gompers, the leader of the AFL until his death in 1924, had long argued that Asians, African Americans, and other nonwhite people represented a vast lumpen proletariat that threatened white wages and living standards because, uneducated in the principles of solidarity, they were too willing to serve the interests of capital. And while AFL leadership during the 1930s largely turned away from Gompers’s more explicit racist language, it was still true that most AFL unions that organized black workers did so grudgingly.44 (Some unions, such as the International Association of Machinists, continued to reserve membership explicitly for “white, free born male citizens of some civilized country.”) This current of xenophobic Americanism in turn played a significant role in the splitting off of the CIO (the Congress of Industrial Organizations with which Bulosan was involved) from the AFL in 1935, because a huge proportion of its new members during the 1930s and 1940s were African American, Mexican American, Asian American, and European immigrants/migrants, thus attesting to the dramatic racial transformations taking place in the American working class. The social imaginations of this transformed working class, Nelson Lichtenstein writes in State of the Union: A Century of American Labor, was being fired less by American nationalism than by “Irish Nationalism, Caribbean-American Garveyism, German Socialism, and the revolutionary movements in Mexico, the Czarist Empire, and the Philippines.”45 But perhaps the strain of Americanism that is most immediately relevant (though one that Bulosan, as did other figures in the Popular Front and the CIO, tied to labor discourse precisely in order to respond to these racial transformations of the working class) was the progressive effort to

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advance a view of national unity founded on pluralism. This view was advocated by, among others, two of Bulosan’s strongest supporters: Louis Adamic and Carey McWilliams. As I discussed in the introduction, cultural pluralism was founded in the late Progressive Era and espoused a program of national unity based on the full inclusion and recognition of America’s racial and ethnic diversity, which was envisioned paradoxically as at once universal and unique to the U.S. nation-state. It was a paradigm that gained a good deal of influence during the late 1930s and 1940s, especially with the start of World War II, when a growing number of liberal voices advocated it as a counterpoint to the racial logic underlying European fascism. Carey McWilliams, for example, who wrote the foreword for America Is in the Heart, declared: It is pre-eminently our assignment to demonstrate to the world that peoples of diverse racial and national origins, of different backgrounds, and many cultures, can live and work together in a modern democracy. As a nation of nations we alone are in a position to exercise real political leadership. At the same time, however, the divisive forces that have brought disaster to the world also threaten our national unity. Our unique position constitutes both our strength and our weakness. If we fail in the world, we fail at home; if we fail at home, we are not likely to succeed in the world.46 McWilliams’s portrait of American cultural pluralism here, and its global importance for the United States’ position in the world, provides an illuminating frame for reapproaching the vision of “America” that emerges in Bulosan’s novel—both for its deep resonances but also for its more subtle but just as telling differences. In one scene, for instance, Carlos and his brother Macario meet to discuss political and cultural strategies for organizing and developing a Filipino labor movement. “We talked all night in my brother’s room,” the narrator recounts, “planning how to spread progressive ideas among the Filipinos in California” (187). In one of several such instances in the novel, Macario proceeds to reframe this immediate political task as part of a much broader and abstract discursive project to recover a usable tradition of Americanism. The effort leads to a melodramatic reaffirmation of his belief in “America” as a yet unfulfilled emancipatory project: “America,” he declares, is “not a land of one race or one class . . . [but a] prophecy of a new society of men” (189). But then Macario concludes his speech by turning his attention

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and declaring his commitment to an alternate community and much darker legacy or “prophecy” of America: America is also the nameless foreigner, the homeless refugee, the hungry boy begging for a job and the black boy dangling on a tree. America is the illiterate immigrant who is ashamed that the world of books and intellectual opportunities is closed to him. We are all that nameless foreigner, that homeless refugee, that hungry boy, that illiterate immigrant and that lynched black body. All of us, from the first Adams to the last Filipino, native born or alien, educated or illiterate—We are America! (189) It is hard not to hear beneath this language a kind of haunted countervoice to the narrative of Ellis Island (“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses . . .”) and to the inclusive idiom of American cultural pluralism. Rather than a liberatory national narrative of integration, Macario’s vision testifies instead to a dark and violent legacy of exclusion at the “heart” of America. It is significant in this regard that the “also” drops out of the passage: It moves from “America is also” in the first sentence to the final “We are America.” The final switch suggests that while Macario’s declaration serves to affirm his commitment to “America” (and, indeed, this moment is often pointed to as evidence of the novel’s assimilationist drive), it also, more poignantly, reveals how these figures represent not historical aberrations but structural necessities in the very construction of “America.” It exposes, in other words, how America’s inclusive ideal of pluralism has relied upon a long tradition of structured and violent exclusion, which has served as its seemingly inevitable historical accomplice, including during this period of the 1930s and 1940s, the violent codification of segregation in the South and the various punishing and racialized immigration laws that served to limit entry and deny citizenship to Filipinos. Turning back to McWilliams, while he certainly advances an aspirational vision of American pluralism in the passage quoted above, he was keenly and presciently aware of how this structure of racial exclusion was not anomalous to but as Nikhil Pal Singh has described, inextricably “woven into the fabric of modern American law and society as the United States entered the 1940s.”47 McWilliams presented in Brothers under the Skin, an “unsurpassed account” of “the obverse of pluralism—the phenomenon of a heterogeneous apartheid—evolving unevenly since the end of Reconstruction.”48 Recognizing this history, McWilliams’s vision of pluralism was a bold effort to advocate a progressive model of cultural

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difference and inclusiveness that might be capable of redressing precisely the legacy to which Macario’s vision—and Bulosan’s novel, which he so forcefully championed—bore witness. Nonetheless, there is also a telling difference between Macario’s and McWilliams’s visions of America here, namely the disparate communities on behalf of whom they are speaking. That is, there is a definite distinction between who is being assumed by their respective, and quite self-conscious, rhetorical use of the collective pronoun “we”—and, in turn, subtly different political contours to their respective “Americanist” projects. In McWilliams’s case, the “we” clearly refers to and speaks on behalf of the nation, without reservations. “Divisive forces,” he argues (and one can assume he is referring to precisely those forces that produced the violent traditions of exclusion to which Macario speaks), “threaten our national unity” (my italics). McWilliams’s model of pluralism, like Adamic’s, is thus part of a deeply progressive but decidedly national or nationalist project. The successful realization of this model of American pluralism works in the service of the nation and is being mobilized to affirm the underlying exceptional claims of America as a cosmopolitan “nation of nations.” Moreover, in a move we will see again with Gunnar Myrdal’s An American Dilemma, McWilliams directly links the successful realization of America’s domestic “dilemma” of racial and ethnic difference to U.S. internationalism—to legitimizing U.S. global leadership in the world: “If we fail in the world, we fail at home; if we fail at home, we are not likely to succeed in the world.”49 Macario’s final emphatic declaration of “We are America” is, conversely, spoken not on behalf of the nation but rather from the vantage point of a community and countertradition of violent exclusion from the nation. The passage calls for not merely the incorporation of these subaltern figures into a more inclusive “America,” but rather for making them the bearers and definition of America. In so doing, Macario’s “embrace” of “America” is a profoundly dialectical one, as is the novel’s. In claiming “America” from this standpoint of exclusion, Macario at once identifies America and American pluralism with his emancipatory ideals (as a “prophecy of a new society”) but also makes evident how those American ideals have been structured upon the necessary and often violent exclusion of these subjects. Thus, while the idiom of “America” provides Macario (and Bulosan) the conceptual voice for his emancipationist ambitions, he makes it bear the experiences of precisely those subjects and geographies of racial, class, and colonial subalternity that have served as its necessary externality. In making “America” his

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own, in other words, his definition of it cannot be integrated within its existing political horizons but requires its redefinition. Unlike McWilliams’s mobilization of pluralism, Bulosan’s novel unhinges the language of pluralism from the nation and resignifies it for a more radical political and cultural practice. Namely, the novel finds in the language of difference enshrined in the discourse of America and American pluralism an idiom to define not the national community but its disavowed counterpoint—a heterogeneous subaltern community of racialized nonnational subjects laboring in the shadows of America. It is a community of “castaways”—to reinvoke Robinson Crusoe and to look ahead to C. L. R. James—one increasingly comprised of regional and global migrants “voyaging in” from the world’s “country” to its metropolitan “city.” It is, as such, an “American” community consistent with the unique formation of capital and the specific form of empire represented by “America” during the mid-twentieth century—one in which racialized alienage from the state and various national forms of belonging, rather than simply class-consciousness, will define their political and economic identity. It is this community at the representational limits of the nation and the novel whom Bulosan moves from the periphery into the central vantage point from to which remap “America” into the world. Ultimately, Macario—and the novel as a whole—puts forward a postnational narrative of America by redrawing America’s boundaries across the divide between the national and “nonnational” and thus dismantling the opposition between inclusion and exclusion upon which the nation has depended for its ideological and territorial coherence. The narrative thus reorders the American landscape, rendering a disavowed and troubling social and political geography of “castaways”—an archipelago of nonnational subjects and spaces that traverses the borders of the United States and that complicates the inclusive cartography of American pluralism. Indeed, it is a geography that instead places the United States in a critical global frame—one that connects struggles for racial justice within the United States with those fought against fascism and colonialism elsewhere in an alternative universalism—or counter-cosmopolitanism—to U.S. state and global power at the dawn of the “American Century.”

the boundlessness of the american frontier Let me turn finally to the brief but much-debated closing scene of America Is in the Heart and its oddly optimistic conclusion. The scene is framed by the outbreak of World War II and by the Japanese occupation of the Philippines, which leads Carlos’s brothers Amado and Macario

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to join the military after a presidential order from Franklin Roosevelt allows Filipinos into the armed services. Even while Carlos notes this reform as a democratic step forward toward at least some greater integration into dominant nationalist narratives, he casts his response to the war in decidedly ambivalent terms (“Why were we confused by the war?”), and as reinforcing a pattern of isolation in the United States: “The war rekindled our loneliness with a queer poignancy” (316). It is the morning after Macario has left, and after depositing his brother’s money in the bank, Carlos sets off for yet another journey, this time up to the cannery workers in Portland: I looked out of the bus window. I wanted to shout good-bye to the Filipino pea pickers in the fields who stopped working when the bus came into view. How many times in the past had I done just that? They looked toward the highway and raised their hands. One of them, who looked like my brother Amado, took off his hat. The wind played in his hair. There was a sweet fragrance in the air. Then I heard bells ringing from the hills—like the bells that had tolled in the church tower when I had left Binalonan. I glanced out of the window again to look at the broad land I dreamed so much about, only to discover with astonishment that the American earth was like a huge heart unfolding warmly to receive me. I felt it spreading through my being, warming me with its glowing reality. (326) The declaration of “the American earth” spreading warmly through his being, especially coming as it does at the very end of the novel, has served as perhaps the defining moment for so many critics to either celebrate or castigate Bulosan’s novel as a reaffirmation of the American immigrant story of assimilation. But if we resituate this passage—this embrace of “America”—within a postnational frame, as I have been suggesting, it reveals, perhaps, a more unsettled or unsettling perfect union. One of the immediately striking things about this final passage is how it is framed—with Carlos gazing out the bus window. This rhetorical device subtly but poignantly registers a separation between Carlos, as the autobiographical writer/intellectual, and the workers he represents. As I have argued, America Is in the Heart seeks to develop an alternative political and literary form of bildung—one that charts not the centering but the gradual decentering of the narrator’s subjectivity into everexpanding forms of social commitment and solidarity. It seeks, as it were, to create a form/genre (a “new literature”) capable of more adequately

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addressing the enduring problem of proximity—of how the writer/intellectual can represent, both figuratively and politically, the “people.” Bulosan repeatedly stated his desire (both via the narrator within America Is in the Heart and elsewhere) to create a language and form that positioned him not as the privileged “author” but rather as a mediator or “translator” of the “voiceless many” who have been “rendered speechless by history.”50 He sought, in other words, to make his “personal history” a “collective history”—or as several critics have deemed America Is in the Heart, “a collective autobiography.”51 But in situating Carlos as the distant observer on the other side of the “window,” the novel stages, in its very closing image, the potential limits of this representational project, particularly as it is tied to the cultural institution of the novel. It remains one of the many unresolved questions with which the novel’s enigmatic ending leaves us—and it is a question about the role of the author/intellectual and the representational politics of the novel form that will be taken up by each of the writers in this study. That one of the pea pickers looks like his brother serves, in this regard, as a rhetorical strategy for the narrator to overcome this formal distance and to identify himself with these migrant laborers (as when he thinks, “How many times in the past had I done just that?”). But at the same time, especially coming as it does right after his brother has left, it also signals the expansion or replacement of one form of what Rachel Lee has termed “fraternal devotion” in the novel with another; that is, the loneliness of his sacrificed brotherhood is here replaced with a larger fraternal attachment to these Filipino laborers.52 In this regard, this final scene recapitulates the development or bildung of the narrator over the course of the entire novel—chronicling as it does the dissolution of the “boundless affinity” of one brotherhood in the Philippines into “narrow island[s] of despair” and tracing its reassembling in America into ever-widening collective commitments. In turn, this devotion to the migrant laborers ostensibly triggers the novel’s culminating image of integration and reconciliation—an image in which the boundaries separating the narrator and America or the “American earth” (“spreading through [his] being”) literally dissolve. On one hand, it suggests that Carlos has finally found entry into America through his political and aesthetic commitment to the cause of Filipino laborers. But it is also important to keep in mind that as a noncitizen national, Carlos has been legally excluded from ownership of the land. As such, Carlos’s embrace of the American earth from his position of exclusion can also be read as an effort to transform that dispossession

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from the land (and, by extension, national culture and citizenship) into a standpoint from which to fashion new forms of political subjectivity and solidarity. Thus while the image of the heart unfolding warmly to receive him evokes a literal embrace of “America,” it also suggests an effort to develop an alternative idiom of affiliation (“in the heart”) beyond the discourse of modern citizenship. The image of a boundless American earth “unfolding warmly”—integrating individuals and dissolving borders as it spreads—also echoes a rhetoric of American exceptionalism and expansion. (The image of a boundless American frontier was, in fact, one of the rhetorical tropes used by President McKinley to legitimate the United States’ initial annexation of the Philippines.) But crucially, what actually triggers the “astonishing” epiphany wherein the American earth suddenly and sublimely transforms into a huge unfolding heart are the sounds of bells, “like the bells that had tolled in the church tower when I had left Binalonan.” More than just providing a moment of nostalgia, the sound of the bells here performs a metonymic function, in effect collapsing the boundaries between the two spaces and two migration patterns, and thus transforming the “American earth” (or American “factory in the field”) into a postnational or transnational space, extending beyond the boundaries of the nation’s perimeters to incorporate the colonial space of the Philippines. Ultimately, then, the blurring of borders between Carlos and the American earth—once again a climactic bildungsroman image of integration between the individual and America—actually coincides with the collapsing of borders between America and the Philippines. As such, this postnational space actually draws to the surface and renders legible the underside of American “boundlessness.” That is, while the boundlessness of America invokes the universalism of an imperialist logic of America and American expansion across borders, that very boundlessness also carries within it the potential to destabilize its own borders—what Amy Kaplan has referred to as the “anarchy of empire”— and to produce new forms of collectivity and identity that overflow these borders.53 It produces an alternative universalism of global migrants from the colonial margins emerging from the limits of citizenship and from the shadows of an increasingly boundless economic order led by America and American universalism. And thus Carlos’s final embrace of “America” does not just mark an end to his foreign estrangement, but it also makes America foreign to itself: it brings the legacy of empire and migrant labor into the very “heart” of a postnational America. In turn,

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the image of a “boundless affinity”—which Carlos uses to represent the form of global belonging (as “boundless as this green earth”) to which his alternative literary and aesthetic education leads him to aspire and to which his bildungsroman culminates—does not merely affirm or critique “America” but rather suggests a kind of utopian universalism transvalued from within American imperial and capitalist expansion itself, in its capacity for unraveling boundaries between nations, peoples, and those “narrow island[s] of despair” both within and outside the nation.

the two sides of an american dime In conclusion, I want to turn back briefly to the scene that immediately precedes this concluding image of the novel. After Macario’s departure for the war, Carlos honors his brother’s parting request and repays his debt to Larkin, a “Negro bootblack,” who is also departing to join the navy. Deeply touched by Macario’s gesture, Larkin memorializes it, declaring: “I know I’ll meet your brother again somewhere, because I got my dime without asking him. But if I don’t see him again, I’ll remember him every time I see the face of an American dime” (324–25). In establishing the link between the two men through the repayment of a debt, the scene subtly invokes a legacy of borrowing and exchange that speaks to a broader tradition of Filipino and African American solidarity. And it is a solidarity, the scene further suggests, forged out of a common condition of exploitation as racialized labor authoring U.S. economic power (under the sign of the American dime). But, in framing their bond through the act of borrowing and the repayment of a debt, the scene also intimates that this solidarity is founded on forms of affiliation or exchange (economic and otherwise) that are forged within but in counterpoint to the prevailing economic and social logic. It is significant in this respect that the scene is one of farewell, helping to mark what Carlos deems, just prior to the exchange, as “the end of our lives in America” (324). And immediately after the meeting he admits to a feeling of “great loneliness” (325). The scene thus depicts a transitional episode that engenders a deep sense of loss, and as such, it marks this historical moment at the dawn of World War II as a watershed not only in opening up possibilities for incorporation into the nation but also as signaling the end of or the closing down of this implied alternative tradition of affiliation or politics of exchange. (It is worth noting here how Bulosan immersed himself in radical political activities and labor organizing, as he said, “between 1931 and Pearl Harbor Day.”)54 It is then deeply telling that the “face of the American dime” commemorates this

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dissolution or disbanding. It provides, in this regard, another dialectic image of America. While it ostensibly signifies a certain purchase on America that Macario and his Filipino compatriots have achieved, it also suggests that the terms of this alternative interracial affiliation or bond have now been replaced by, or are now mediated by, the currency of the nation and the nation-state. We might read this scene of farewell as thus subtly presaging other profound historical shifts in racial politics on the horizon. We might keep in mind here that while the novel ends at the start of World War II, it was published at the start of another emerging war—the Cold War—which brought with it, among many other things, the repression of labor and race radical activities and the concurrent rise of racial liberalism as the dominant race paradigm in the United States. As I elaborate in the subsequent chapter, postwar racial liberalism tied an “official” antiracism to U.S. nationalism. More specifically, with an eye to the postwar international stage, the U.S. nation-state advanced a narrative of domestic racial progress within a liberal national framework of equal rights and equal opportunity that would be used to demonstrate, especially to emerging postcolonial countries, the superiority of American democracy over communism and colonialism. Like the progressive tradition of pluralism (à la McWilliams) out of which it emerged, racial liberalism tied domestic racial reform to the just cause of America’s global leadership. But unlike that earlier tradition, postwar racial liberalism obfuscated any questions of labor and class struggle, focusing instead solely on formal equality and therefore displacing the social relations that propagate material differences. In advancing a discourse of Americanism that promised more equitable and diverse membership, whether for a strategic ideological project or not, racial liberalism did help advance certain significant racial reforms in both civil rights and immigration law—including, in the war’s immediate aftermath, desegregation of the military and the repeal of Filipino (along with Chinese, Indian, and later Japanese and Korean) citizenship exclusion laws. At the same time, however, racial liberalism also severely limited the range and forms of “acceptable” political discourse and racial politics to those that remained within the framework of the liberal nation-state. Conversely, it replaced and/or delegitimated appeals to racial justice and solidarity in excess of the American nationstate, those based on other forms of affiliations—such as racial, antiracist, or internationalist—that had been such a vibrant part of the imaginings of the alternative literary and political public spheres of the 1930s and early 1940s. While America Is in the Heart seemingly ends on such

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a strangely optimistic note (which has drawn the overriding amount of critical attention), the final departing of Larkin and Macario intimates a much less sanguine historical watershed, marking as it does, once again, the “end” of their “lives in America.” Taking a further, final step back, these alternative political and cultural forms of racial and economic solidarity would face only increasing pressure amid the growing political fury of the early Cold War. In 1946, the year America Is in the Heart was published, there was, for instance, a large and significantly successful strike wave in the United States led by unions such as Bulosan’s own Food, Tobacco, Agricultural and Allied Workers and the ILWU. It was still possible as such to imagine that a late Popular Front politics would be a major force in the United States. Only a year later, however, the political and cultural climate in the country dramatically shifted, as the energies of labor unions and labor organizing, which had so engaged Bulosan during the 1930s and early 1940s, became decimated by Cold War legislation such as the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act. And under the quickly growing ideological crucible of anticommunism, forms of radical black and minority “worldliness” such as Bulosan’s (and Du Bois’s) found themselves increasingly targeted by, among other means, politically repressive state mechanisms of citizenship. Indeed, as we will see in subsequent chapters, legislation passed during the period, from the Smith Act (1940) to the Internal Security Act (1950) and finally the McCarran-Walter Act (1952), identified an increasing variety of political beliefs, acts, and affiliations with the figure of the “communist” and “foreign subversive,” giving the state, in turn, broad powers to criminalize and punish individuals through the denial, annulment, or curtailment of citizenship and its rights. Under the pressure of these expanding state practices there would be less and less political and cultural space for the forms of “alternative universalism” or “countercosmopolitanism” that Bulosan (and Du Bois) forged, those that linked domestic racial and economic struggles to those fought against colonialism elsewhere. “Under the strictures of Cold War politics,” writes Mary Dudziak, “a broad international critique of racial oppression was out of place.”55 And, indeed, Bulosan found himself increasingly the target of Cold War politics. While he would go on to have a vital writing career, Bulosan’s literary and political activities were sharply curtailed by McCarthyism. His continued radical and labor activities and writings led him to be put under surveillance by the FBI, blacklisted, and threatened with deportation—a threat that would be carried out against C. L. R.

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James and Claudia Jones. Bulosan died at the height of the Cold War in 1956, at the age of only forty-five. He was found comatose at dawn on the steps of the Capitol Building in Seattle after a night of heavy drinking with a labor lawyer. “He was a victim,” writes E. San Juan, Jr., “less of . . . despair than of cumulative suffering from years of privations and persecutions.”56 It would be this increasingly repressive political pressure of the early Cold War and the shrinking boundaries of acceptable forms of racial solidarity and imaginings that would lead another writer to go into self-exile from the United States the very same year (1946) that America Is in the Heart was published: Richard Wright. Wright’s alienage from the nation reflected, in part, the different and emergent political and cultural moment of the early Cold War. But like Bulosan, he similarly would fashion his alienage into a historical agency capable of challenging the prevailing liberal narratives of race and national belonging during the period, and of continuing this midcentury radical tradition linking domestic struggles for racial justice to the colonial world in a counter-cosmopolitanism to U.S. state and global power.

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The Epistemology of Unbelonging: Richard Wright’s The Outsider and the Politics of Secrecy I have a taste for the secret, it clearly has to do with not-belonging; I have an impulse of fear or terror in the face of a political space, for example, a public space that makes no room for the secret. . . . [I]f a right to the secret is not maintained, we are in a totalitarian space. —jacques derrida, A Taste for the Secret

Feeling unsettled and more than a little homesick, especially given the struggles and deprivations of France in the aftermath of World War II, Richard Wright and his family returned to the United States at the start of 1947 after having lived in Paris for the previous eight months. The country to which Wright returned, however, was in the midst of profound and, in his eyes, profoundly troubling changes. The Cold War had come to dominate the political scene. Wright was struck by the increased nationalism (“‘Americanism,’” he declared, “had become a kind of religion”); by the radical break with New Deal liberalism, in particular antilabor policies; and by what he saw as the profound resurgence of racism. This was evidenced no more cruelly on a national level than by the numerous lynchings of ex-serviceman that took place in 1947. “Lynchings,” wrote Oliver Harrington, war correspondent for the Pittsburgh Courier, “were only part of the highly organized conspiracy to ‘put the returned Negro veteran in his place.’”1 And on a personal level, Wright quickly grew weary of what he described as the “petty humiliations, and daily insults.”2 Wright also felt the growing political pressure placed upon him by the state. During this period, the U.S. government inaugurated an unprecedented level of surveillance and harassment of radical black and minority intellectuals, including Wright, resulting in the postponement and/or denial of citizenship papers, passports, visas, and other travel and residency papers (while other foreign-born black radicals such as C. L. R. James and Claudia Jones found themselves arrested, jailed, and

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eventually deported). These procedures, in turn, both reflected and contributed to a political, legal, and cultural shift in the formation of alienage in the early years after World War II. The United States used citizenship laws, as discussed in the previous chapter, for the production and organization of racialized nonnational migrant labor. After the war, alienage did not lose this earlier status as a sign for racialized migrancy—nor did it cease to embody the contradictions of a disavowed U.S. empire. But mechanisms for the production of alienage were now being increasingly employed in the years after World War II to effectively redefine U.S. civil society and the public sphere, as the term “alien” gained a general meaning in the national language as a “foreign subversive.” As Chandan Reddy has compellingly argued, legislation passed during this early Cold War period, including the Smith Act, the Internal Security Act, and the McCarran-Walter Act, “extended the tactics used for the production of the border and the frontier into the regulative production of civil and political society.”3 In other words, mechanisms for the production of alienage, which continued to be used for producing and regulating labor migrations, were now also being increasingly used to delimit the ideological boundaries of a reconstituted public sphere. Black radicals such as Wright (as well as C. L. R. James and Claudia Jones, among many others) found themselves especially and increasingly vulnerable to these expanding repressive state practices that served to police not only what was politically permissible for them to say within the public sphere but also to whom they could speak—both within and beyond U.S. borders. Through mechanisms of surveillance authorized by anticommunist discourse, the state thus employed citizenship as an apparatus for managing the acceptable parameters of appeals for racial reform in the United States and for disciplining and repressing black alternative forms of political action and consciousness. It was amid this increasingly repressive racial and political context that Wright decided by the end of the summer not only to return to France, but that this time the move would be permanent. And, indeed, when Wright left again for Paris at the start of 1948 he would spend the last thirteen years of his life abroad, never again setting foot on U.S. soil. “I felt relieved,” Wright wrote, caustically inverting the traditional American narrative, “when my ship sailed past the Statue of Liberty.”4 (Adding further historical irony to Wright’s sentiments, Ellis Island at the time he sailed past it had been largely converted into a prison for undesirable aliens, which in the 1950s would go on to house, among many other “subversives,” both C. L. R. James and Claudia Jones—to

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whose experience of and writing from that incarceration on Ellis Island I turn in subsequent chapters.) In returning to Paris, Wright felt he could escape the racial and political climate of the United States. Paris, Wright declared, was characterized by “such an absence of race hate that it seem[ed] a little unreal.”5 Elsewhere, he called France “above all, a land of refuge” for oppressed Americans.6 Soon after his rearrival, Wright was introduced to a new circle of French intellectuals, including Jean Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and Albert Camus. He also immediately became a charter member and contributor to Alioune Diop’s Présence Africaine, the most important Pan-African journal in the world, and he met and befriended the Senegalese writer Léopold Senghor, the West Indian poet Aimé Césaire, and the Trinidadian ex-Comintern George Padmore. As Brent Hayes Edwards demonstrates in The Practice of Diaspora, Paris had emerged in the years after World War I as a city of vibrant black transnational possibility, providing a central nodal point for the Pan-African movement and for a variety of forms of black internationalism. “The European metropole . . . provided a special sort of vibrant, cosmopolitan space for interaction that was available neither in the United States nor in the colonies. . . . It allowed boundary crossing, conversations, and collaborations that were available nowhere else to the same degree.”7 Wright’s self-exile to Paris was soon followed by those of a number of post–World War II African American expatriates, including James Baldwin, Chester Himes, Herbert Gentry, and many other writers, intellectuals, and artists who were looking similarly to advance these ongoing “conversations” and to escape the harsh political and racial atmosphere of the United States during the early Cold War. But if Wright was “relieved” to leave the United States behind for Paris in 1947, very few other people, it seems, felt the same way about his decision. Wright bore the brunt of a great deal of criticism about his self-exile. Ralph Ellison and James Baldwin took Wright to task for having lost his political and literary way. After Wright’s premature death in 1960 at the age of fifty-two, Baldwin looked back and wondered if Wright had not made a mistake being away from “home” so long and lamented that Wright had perhaps “cut himself off from his roots.”8 A 1953 Time magazine article titled “Native Son Doesn’t Live Here” declared: “While Wright sits out the threat of totalitarianism in Paris, an abler U.S. Negro novelist sees the problem of his race differently. Says Ralph (Invisible Man) Ellison, ‘After all, my people have been here for a long time. . . . It’s a big wonderful country, and you can’t just turn away from it because some people decide it isn’t your country.’”9

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With respect to his writing, critics during the period also overwhelmingly judged that Wright’s move away from the United States had been a mistake. In particular, The Outsider was consistently read at the time of its publication, as it often still is, as evidence that Wright had abandoned his prior progressive political commitments and dedication to African American concerns and become overly invested in European philosophy in general and French existentialism in particular. In a series of reviews from 1953, critics took Wright to task for what one described as his “misguided experimentation with European intellectual traditions.”10 Arna Bontemps bitingly remarked, “He [Wright] has had a roll in the hay with the existentialism of Sartre and apparently he liked it.”11 J. Saunders Redding argued that, “In going to live abroad, Dick Wright had cut the roots that once sustained him” and that “existentialism is no philosophy to accommodate the reality of Negro life.”12 And Max Eastman attacked The Outsider’s existentialism as a “literary swamp,” and “a product of the purely literary mind, a mind interested in having ideational experiences and making art works or commodities out of them, rather than in ascertaining facts and using ideas for guidance among them.”13 A couple of years later in a 1955 Paris Review interview, Nelson Algren concluded that Wright’s turn to European philosophy had been “a very bad mistake. I mean he writes out of passion, out of his belly; but he won’t admit this, you see. He’s trying to write as an intellectual, which he isn’t basically.”14 Recent critics have been much less dismissive of The Outsider. Indeed, Wright’s long-neglected novel has begun perhaps to see the level of critical attention it deserves. A good deal of this analysis has remained, not surprisingly, focused on the novel’s clear engagement with European existentialism, though there have been notable exceptions. In his formative The Black Atlantic, Paul Gilroy focuses on Wright’s late novel as marking a shift in Wright’s political vision from an exclusive concern with racial subordination within a national frame to an understanding of “race” in relation to broader international and transnational histories of colonialism and imperialism and as a central category in the metaphysics of Western modernity.15 And Abdul JanMohamed approaches The Outsider within a psychoanalytic and Lacanian theoretical frame, interpreting the mechanism of rampant violence employed by the central character as a “deployment of death” in response to the menace and threat of the “death contract” founded in the condition and history of slavery.16 While this more recent scholarship has been extremely formative, especially that of Gilroy and JanMohamed, I set out in this chapter to resituate The Outsider within a different, and largely neglected,

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theoretical and historical context—namely, Cold War racial liberalism and its rise to the dominant national paradigm of race during the early post–World War II years. Reconsidering The Outsider in this context allows us to read the novel as an important intervention into the global politics of race during the postwar period, one that strove against the grain of liberal nationalist representations of race, which sought to link a quintessentially “American” story of domestic racial progress to a larger unbroken narrative of American expansion. This chapter begins by placing Wright’s novel in critical dialogue with one of the defining documents of racial liberalism: Gunnar Myrdal’s quasi-official race-relations study An American Dilemma (1944). While Myrdal’s text interprets the “distance” of African American culture from the national dominant culture in terms of “underdevelopment,” which would be gradually overcome through the ongoing expansion of American modernity, I argue that in The Outsider (and in his later writings from exile as a whole), Wright transvalued that very distance from normative national life into the source of a critical counterdiscourse. From the standpoint of exile from Cold War America, Wright argued that his experience of “statelessness” was prepared for him by the mode of existence shared by African Americans in the United States who lived, as he repeatedly argued, at once “inside and outside” the nation. In turn, Wright fashioned this racialized alienage from national belonging into what I call an “epistemology of unbelonging,” which directly challenged liberal narratives of race typified by Myrdal, linking African American identity to the colonial world in a radical counterinternationalism to U.S. state and global power.17 The chapter’s second section links this epistemology of unbelonging to the central role that secrecy, both thematically and formally, plays in Wright’s novel. Secrecy functions as a crucial mode of resistance in The Outsider, enabling the main character to remain inaccessible to the larger social order and thus preserving a precarious space of unbelonging out of which these other social imaginaries are preserved. At the same time secrecy also marks the repressive limits of this form of dissent, bearing witness to the closing down of alternative public spheres and to the increasingly restrictive boundaries for racial imaginings during the early Cold War. Finally, the chapter posits that the need to keep these other ways of knowing secret provides damning testimony against the political limits not only of the nation but also of the novel as, in Mikhail Bakhtin’s terms, a “dialogic” form. Put slightly differently, in rendering audible

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the “secrets” of this “outsider” voice at the boundaries of citizenship, Wright’s novel might be reconsidered as an effort to challenge the democratic and dialogic limits of both the nation and the novel’s discursive pluralism.

I. The Pluralism of Post–World War II American Expansion During World War II, the contradiction between the United States’ stated democratic efforts abroad and the visibility of its undemocratic racial practices at home—including a segregated military—placed increasing political pressure on the United States to address its profound domestic racial inequalities. A 1943 NAACP report, for instance, argued that the war had made race a “global instead of a national or sectional issue,” and that people now understood “that the United States cannot win this war unless there is a drastic readjustment of racial attitudes.”18 In the years following World War II, the glaring contradictions between international and domestic racial politics became only more visible against the backdrop of decolonization in Asia and Africa, and under the ideological glare of the Cold War. During a period when the United States sought to legitimate its dominant leadership position in the world by presenting itself as the advance guard of liberty and democracy, the international attention directed at the contradictions between America’s stated international role and its domestic racial discrimination was increasingly unsettling. “The focus of American foreign policy,” writes Mary Dudziak, “was to promote democracy and to ‘contain’ communism, but the international focus on U.S. racial problems meant that the image of American democracy was tarnished.”19 Because it provided a logic and idiom for managing these contradictions, liberal pluralism emerged during the 1940s as a central discourse not only for managing domestic racial progress within a liberal national framework but also for underwriting and legitimating U.S. global power. Pluralism, as I discussed in the introduction, had been part of a leftof-center agenda prior to the war, but in the years following, it became gradually incorporated into the mainstream of Cold War liberal racial politics and achieved prominence not only in American national politics but also in international politics. Briefly put, evidence of domestic racial progress within a liberal national framework of equal legal rights and equal opportunity within the private economy would be used to demonstrate, especially to non-Western countries, the superiority of American democracy over communism and colonialism.

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As numerous critics have noted, the watershed document of racial liberalism was An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and American Democracy.20 Published in 1944, it was a social scientific study of U.S. race relations led by Gunnar Myrdal—a Swedish social scientist who was perceived by the Carnegie Corporation that underwrote the study as a neutral outsider to U.S. racial politics. An enormous two-volume study that took seven years to complete, An American Dilemma profoundly shaped the principles of liberal discourse on race in the United States for the next two decades. “This fourteen-hundred-page study,” writes the historian Walter Jackson, “established a liberal orthodoxy on black-white relations and remained the most important study of the race issue until the middle of the 1960s.”21 Building on recent critical work on Myrdal’s text by scholars such as Jodi Melamed, Roderick Ferguson, Cynthia Tolentino, and Nikhil Pal Singh, I turn briefly to An American Dilemma in order to underscore some of the central and underlying logics of an emergent racial liberalism during the mid-twentieth century, and in particular how those logics were linked to defining and legitimating U.S. international leadership and hegemony in the years after World War II. Myrdal was charged with the monumental task of articulating how U.S. racist practices negatively affected African American communities and with outlining recommendations for a national policy on race to combat “America’s dilemma.” The study was also designed to issue an official repudiation of racism by emphasizing its damaging implications not only for national progress but also for the image of U.S. democracy abroad. “It is important to note,” Melamed points out, “that the study’s purview is as much geopolitical as racial.”22 And, indeed, the terms and scope of this geopolitical narrative are made explicit in the study’s conclusion: The treatment of the Negro is America’s greatest and most conspicuous scandal. . . . If America in actual practice could show the world a progressive trend by which the Negro became finally integrated into modern democracy, all mankind would be given faith again—it would have reason to believe that peace, progress and order are feasible. And America would have a spiritual power many times stronger than all her financial and military resources— the power of the trust and support of all good people on earth. (1021–22) Thus while the study acknowledges that the visibility of racism and racial inequality challenges America’s moral position in the world, this

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situation does not, according to the logic of An American Dilemma, disqualify America’s international authority. On the contrary, the “Negro problem” becomes what Myrdal refers to as “America’s incomparably greatest opportunity for the future” (1022). In other words, Myrdal’s narrative transformed domestic racial divisions and inequality from an obstacle into a pretext for U.S. expansion. Arguing that the repudiation of racial bigotry by white Americans would enable the United States to resume its natural path of democratic progress, Myrdal’s analysis of racism placed domestic racial reform within an unbroken narrative of U.S. global expansion. From this standpoint, Myrdal appealed to white Americans to renounce their racial bigotry, arguing that racism had no basis in biology and no place in American culture. As opposed to it being constitutive in any way of American culture, racism, Myrdal argued, was a residual cultural formation that had deformed black development and progress, and that in turn precipitated further racism and discrimination. Situating racism within a national narrative of progress, Myrdal suggested that this residual formation would disappear with the gradual expansion and progress of the universalism of what he termed the “American Creed.” Unlike biological notions of American identity, the American Creed represented an abstract and egalitarian set of precepts, or a “spirit,” with which Americans and non-Americans were invited to identify. Myrdal’s vision was thus based on the underlying assumption that racism and racial difference were contradictory to the progressive liberal narrative of American modernity embodied in the American Creed. Conversely, Myrdal’s developmental narrative of America and American racial reform cast the difference between “Negro culture” and “national culture” in terms of underdevelopment—an underdevelopment that would be overcome through the assimilation of “Negroes” into national culture. “In practically all of its divergences, Negro culture is not something simply independent of general American culture. It is a distorted development, or a pathological condition of the general American culture” (928; italics in original). Exclusion from the nation and national culture, Myrdal suggests, had consigned Negroes to a “narrow and particular world” (926). Myrdal’s argument thus established a vivid juxtaposition between the underdevelopment of Negro life and the modernity of American universalism. Cast in this way, Myrdal’s analysis of the “Negro problem” did not undermine the singular modernity of America but in fact served to reconfirm it; that is, the glaring legacies of racism did not testify to the need for a critical reappraisal of “American

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universalism,” but instead the “pathology” or “underdevelopment” of black social life demanded its fuller expansion. In turn, Myrdal’s vision was also based on the underlying assumption of the fundamental compatibility of African American political aspirations with American democratic ideals and the liberal nation-state; it is a point he stresses repeatedly throughout the study. “Negroes,” he declares, “are . . . immune against Communism” (510). Elsewhere he concludes, “The American Negro is loyal to America and there is no danger he will betray it” (1021). Myrdal can be heard here, as throughout the study, both reassuring a white audience about the “suitability” of black political demands and as defining for blacks what constitutes acceptable forms of political thinking and action. An American Dilemma conspicuously excludes, Nikhil Singh has observed, any discussion of black leftwing politics and culture. Finally, by channeling racial reform within such a specifically national frame, Myrdal’s analysis prefigured Cold War efforts to establish American liberalism and the liberal nation-state as the sole “legitimate” framework for addressing forms of racial protest and reform (and conversely delegitimizing those demands for racial justice in excess of liberal nationalism). As Melamed argues: Incorporated into the context of the Cold War, An American Dilemma’s conclusion that the “Negro is loyal to America and there is no danger he will betray it” became a precedent for political repression. Black people in the United States were enjoined to prioritize an identification with America above all other identifications—racial, anti-racist, internationalist, or diasporic. In the end, those who refused to subordinate such alternate identifications faced growing repression as “UnAmerican subversives.”23 As discussed earlier, one of the key repressive mechanisms employed by the state against “UnAmerican subversives” was the denial, removal, or restriction of citizenship and citizenship rights. Such would be the fate of a number of people, including Paul Robeson, Ollie Harrington, W. E. B. Du Bois, C. L. R. James, Claudia Jones, and, finally, Richard Wright. We might also conjecture how much of Wright’s later work was marginalized, including The Outsider, precisely because of its effort to maintain these alternative identifications.

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* * * But while he would become one of the many victims of the political strictures established by the rise of Cold War racial liberalism, Richard Wright was a close friend of Myrdal and a staunch defender of his work. “The Carnegie Corporation,” he wrote, “had to import a Swedish scientist, Gunnar Myrdal, to write the first honest and objective analysis of the Negro in our society.”24 Wright also recommended An American Dilemma in a newspaper column in the New York Post.25 In general, Wright saw in it a powerful antiracist project that pointed to the eventual eradication of discrimination. More specifically, he found common cause with what he considered Myrdal’s underlying argument that the “Negro problem” in America was really a “white man’s problem”—that it was a national social crisis whose origins were white discrimination, a discrimination, in turn, that largely shaped and determined black culture. It is a point Wright emphasized in his foreword to Black Metropolis, the social science study of blacks in Chicago written by Horace Cayton and the anthropologist St. Clair Drake in 1945. “Black Metropolis,” Wright argued, assumes that the Negro’s present position in the United States results from the oppression of Negroes by white people, that the Negro’s conduct, his personality, his culture, his entire life flow naturally and inevitably out of the conditions imposed upon him by white America. To that extent this book supplements and endorses the conclusions arrived at by Gunnar Myrdal in his An American Dilemma, that monumental study of race relations in the United States.26 The two also developed a close personal friendship beginning in 1951 up until Wright’s untimely death in 1960. It was a friendship that involved numerous visits back and forth between Geneva and Paris and a relatively steady stream of mutually supportive correspondences, which recorded, among other things, Myrdal’s unsuccessful attempts to help Wright secure financial support for a projected trip to French West Africa. In one letter, Myrdal described Wright and Wright’s wife, Ellen, as one of his and his wife Alva’s “closest friends.”27 Wright’s personal and intellectual admiration for Myrdal led him, in return, to dedicate The Color Curtain (Wright’s travelogue and analysis of the Bandung Conference in 1955) to Myrdal as well as to have Myrdal write the foreword to the book. Wright also dedicated Pagan Spain (his travelogue and

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analysis of Spain under Franco) to Myrdal and his wife, who had, along with Gertrude Stein, encouraged him to take the trip. Finally, we can also see reflected in Wright’s later work—especially in the social and political analyses in his travel narratives of other cultures and in particular the decolonizing world—the strong imprint, or at least shared influence, of Myrdal’s work (along with other social and political scientists such as Horace Cayton and St. Clair Drake). Most important for the present discussion, both Myrdal’s An American Dilemma and Wright’s analyses of modernity and the decolonizing world are structured upon a deep and abiding investment in the principles of Enlightenment rationality and progress in both diagnosing and in mapping a potential liberatory path forward beyond the persistent legacies of racism structuring the United States and the colonial and postcolonial world. In this regard, the orientation of Wright’s later work is quite similar to Myrdal’s; both espouse an underlying investment in rational reform and modernization, and both defend the Enlightenment tradition as the means toward freedom and equality for all. (Several critics have noted that the last word of Myrdal’s massive two-volume study is “Enlightenment.”) Myrdal’s intellectual biographer, Walter Jackson, identified as the central question in Myrdal’s intellectual formation the following: “How could one recover the heritage of the Enlightenment and subject the irrational in human behavior to scientific analysis so as to plan for a more rational future?”28 Wright will posit in White Man Listen! as one of his central guiding intellectual and political questions in the context of decolonization something quite similar: “How can the spirit of the Enlightenment and the Reformation be extended now to all men?”29 At the same time, I want to suggest that for all their mutual personal and intellectual influence, Wright’s later work can be read as articulating a sustained and powerful counternarrative to the racial liberalism established by Myrdal’s An American Dilemma in the postwar years. Indeed, it is exactly at this point where their work and ideas most closely intersect—that is, their mutual engagement with and espousal of the principles and logic of the European Enlightenment—where the telling differences of their conceptual and political projects are most revealed as well as the compelling tensions and paradoxes animating the cosmopolitan project of Wright’s later work as a whole, to which I turn in the following chapter. Wright’s novel The Outsider can in fact be read as radically inverting the teleological narrative of progress prescribed for African Americans by Cold War racial liberalism. That is, in Wright’s novel, while the

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distance from normative national culture does bear witness to the profoundly determining influence of white discrimination, it does not, in turn, come to reinforce a singular modernity used to overcome a “pathological” or “underdeveloped” African American culture. Instead, Wright transvalues that distance into the source of a critical counterdiscourse. Specifically, Wright’s figure of the outsider is part of a larger attempt by Wright in his later nonfiction work on the decolonizing world to recast his racialized alienage from the nation into a nonnational historical agency—what I am calling an “epistemology of unbelonging”—capable of challenging the dominant liberal narratives of race typified by Myrdal and of fusing together and linking an indigenous form of black dissidence within the United States to an anticolonial political consciousness in a radical counterinternationalism or “counter-cosmopolitanism” to U.S. state and global power.

II. An Epistemology of Unbelonging Published in 1953, at the height of the early Cold War, The Outsider centers on the story of Cross Damon, a deeply intellectual and deeply alienated young black postal worker from Chicago. At the start of the novel, Cross is sinking into an ever-deeper malaise about the various burdens weighing down his life. He is estranged from his wife, mired in debt, and being threatened with a statutory rape charge by his girlfriend unless he marries her. Suddenly, however, fate provides him an unexpected way out from under these burdens that have him trapped. After he finds himself caught in a terrible subway accident, he drops his coat with his wallet and identification in it during his escape from the wreck. Later, at a bar, he hears over the radio that he has been mistakenly listed as one of the accident’s casualties. Cross quickly sees that the error affords him an opportunity to escape his life and pursue his stated existential desire of radical autonomy and independence, and so he decides to disappear to forge a new identity for himself. But almost as quickly, Cross’s newfound freedom leads to his first of many acts of violence; he bumps into his old friend Joe at a hotel where he is hiding out and murders him impulsively in order to prevent Joe from blowing his cover. Cross subsequently flees Chicago for New York by train, whereupon he first meets Ely Houston, a white hunchback district attorney from New York. Houston is a like-minded intellectual “outsider” who immediately befriends Cross only to be the figure later in the novel who hunts

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him down for his many ensuing crimes of violence. It is at this first meeting on the train that Houston engages Cross in a pivotal—and oftquoted—discussion about the “psychological” position of “Negroes” in “America.” Houston declares: Negroes, as they enter our culture, are going to inherit the problems we have, but with a difference. They are outsiders and they are going to know that they have these problems. They are going to be self-conscious; they are going to be gifted with a double vision, for, being Negroes, they are going to be both inside and outside of our culture at the same time. . . . They will not only be Americans or Negroes; they will be centers of knowing, so to speak. . . . The political, social, and psychological consequences of this will be enormous. . . . But their getting those elementary things is so long and drawn out that they must, while they wait, adjust themselves to living in a kind of No-Man’s Land. . . . Now imagine a man inclined to think, to probe, to ask questions. Why he’d be in a wonderful position to do so, would he not, if he were black and lived in America? A dreadful objectivity would be forced upon him.30 First, Houston structures his analysis here around a model of assimilation (“as they enter our culture”). On the one hand, it testifies to the implicit racialization of U.S. national culture (with the conflation of “our”—i.e., white—with “American”). At the same time, it can also be read as subtly echoing and commenting upon the model of racial liberalism structuring, among other sociological works at the time, An American Dilemma. Indeed, near the end of the novel, when Houston returns to the subject in his final interrogation, the connection appears even more explicit. “Today,” he says, “many sociologists say that the American Negro, having been stripped of his African tribal culture, has not had time to become completely adjusted to our mores, that the life of the family of the Western World has not had time to sink in. But with you, you are adjusted and more. . . . You’ve grown up and gone beyond our rituals” (562). As suggested above, Myrdal interpreted the “distance” of African American life from the dominant “national culture” of America as a marker of African American “pathology” and underdevelopment that would be overcome through the gradual expansion of the universalism of the American Creed. Here, however, that progressive narrative of racial liberalism is radically inverted, such that the distance from national culture is critically reconstituted into a site of overdevelopment or epistemic privilege. Specifically, Houston describes it—reworking Du

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Bois’s famous concept of double consciousness—as the “gift of double vision.” This epistemic privilege is not a form of essentialism, however. Rather, as Houston’s analysis makes clear, it is a metaphysical condition born out of a specific history, but one that has to be brought into critical consciousness—“to think, to probe, to ask questions.” (Although he is unaware of it, Houston is, of course, describing Cross Damon exactly.) In other words, this “double vision” is not a fixed or essential notion of a “black perspective”—thus the novel emphasizes again and again that Cross’s reaction to and understandings of events are not racially determined. Instead, it is the process of theorizing the “epistemic status” of this “social location,” to borrow Satya Mohanty’s phrase, that leads to privileged forms of knowing, to becoming a “center of knowing.”31 Approached from a slightly different angle, Houston’s analysis both raises and attempts to respond to a fundamental and nagging question at the heart of the novel: namely, what is the role of race in determining this “outsider” perspective? On one hand, we have here a lengthy exegesis on a particular and privileged epistemology of the black intellectual born out of African Americans’ experience as “outsiders.” At the same time, there is the novel’s central and repeated conceit that Cross’s “outsider” vision is an existential one, which is fundamentally not determined or shaped by race. In the end, is Cross Damon’s “outsider” way of knowing universal (unraced) or particular (raced)? It is a question, in turn, not only central to the novel but, as we will see in the subsequent chapter, to Wright’s own cosmopolitanism, which bears within it a similar tension or paradox: that is, it is predicated on a similar vexed desire to at once transcend racial particularity and race-based identity politics while also acknowledging their determining influence. Satya Mohanty’s theory of the “epistemic privilege of the oppressed” provides, perhaps, a useful and illuminating frame within which to begin to navigate through the complex relation between racial particularism and abstract universalism in The Outsider. One of Mohanty’s main arguments from his seminal essay “The Epistemic Status of Cultural Identity: On Beloved and the Postcolonial Tradition” is that the different social categories (such as gender, race, class, and sexuality) that together constitute an individual’s social location are not essentialist categories but are causally related to the experiences she or he will have. In turn, these social locations and identities both condition and are conditioned by the kinds of interpretations people give to the experiences they have. “Whether we inherit an identity—masculinity, being black—or we actively choose one on the

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basis of our political predilections—radical lesbianism, black nationalism, socialism—our identities are ways of making sense of our experiences.” They are “theoretical constructions that enable us to read the world in specific ways.”32 Identities, as such, are not descriptive but analytical terms. Mohanty argues that some identities, as such, have greater analytic power or epistemic value than others because they can more accurately explain and reveal underlying social conflicts. That is, specific social locations facilitate (or inhibit) knowledge by predisposing people to register and interpret information in certain ways and to do so with varying degrees of accuracy. In turn, this leads Mohanty to make a claim for the “epistemic privilege of the oppressed.” He argues that people who have been oppressed have experiences mediated by these identities (however socially constructed they might be) that people who are not oppressed in the same way lack, which can provide information and more objective knowledge, “about a world that is constitutively defined by relations of domination.”33 I read Houston’s analysis of the epistemic privilege of the black intellectual (the “double vision” engendered by being both “inside and outside” of national culture) as making a similar effort as Mohanty’s to navigate between (at times tenuously) the positions of racial particularity on one hand and abstract universalism on the other—to both account for the determining social experience of race and to “transcend” it. That is, in Houston’s account, racial difference does not represent an alternative or impediment to a universal vision, as Myrdal’s analysis implies, but is instead its very precondition. The painful experience of racialized alienage from the nation is transvalued into a difficult (“dreadful”) but enabling analytic condition; namely, it is an epistemology or perspective that is born out of particular identitarian experiences but is not bound to or defined by them. Rather, this distance from national belonging—this racialized identity of unbelonging—when brought into critical consciousness enables the recovery of forms of knowledge occluded by the ideology of national culture, which can perceive the aporias that the familiarized at-home (nationalized) world or, in the phrase Edward Said appropriated from Theodor Adorno, the “administered society” blinds one to.34 As Mohanty puts it, “our relation to social power produces forms of blindness just as it enables degrees of lucidity” in representing social reality.35 In the end, this social location of unbelonging, Wright suggests, facilitates forms of knowledge that are not defined by identitarian meanings or politics, and that are not, as Myrdal argued, “narrow and particular.” Instead, this double vision— both inside and outside the nation—enables forms of knowing that are in fact capable of providing a more accurate, more universal (or “truthful”)

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account of the common social situation than the ostensible universalism embodied, according to Myrdal, in the national culture of the “American Creed” from which they have been excluded. “A dreadful objectivity,” as Houston declares, will be “forced upon him.” There is the question, however, of whether or how this vantage point of “objectivity” in Wright’s novel (and, indeed, in his later work as a whole) is gendered. That is, whether the “epistemic privilege” of this “double vision” born out of racial exclusion from the nation itself excludes black women. The primary burdens in Cross’s life, after all, are all associated with the women in his life: his mistress, Dot, who is again threatening to charge him with statutory rape unless he marries her; his wife, Gladys, who refuses to give him a divorce and also uses Dot’s threat of charging him with statutory rape to force him to sign over the house and car to her, along with a substantial advance from his salary; and his deeply religious mother, who is emotionally dependent on him and has imparted to him the underlying dread that plagues his consciousness. Cross’s central existential struggle to become “free”—to bring this condition of unbelonging into critical consciousness and as such author his own identity outside the powerful determinants of social life, is thus initially and intimately bound up with the necessity of breaking free from the various women, and specifically black women, to whom he is attached. As several critics have pointed out, Wright’s depiction of black women as agents of entrapment for the male hero in The Outsider in this regard reproduces a pattern of misogyny in Wright’s work—a product of what Abdul JanMohamed has described as a “deep disidentification with women in general and with black women in particular.”36 Rather than enabling a radical epistemic autonomy for the black women in Cross’s life, this condition of alienage—of being “at once inside and outside” of the nation—leads them to become ever more enthralled by the various social forces that define their connection to the world. Indeed, they come to embody precisely the model of dependency against which his existential rebellion is defined. His mother, according to Cross, has been driven “into the arms of religion for the sake of her sanity” (27). And in the case of Gladys, she remains tragically bound by her race consciousness and by racial shame. Indeed, it is against her dependency that Cross articulates his own radical autonomy. “They think they’re something and we’re nothing,” she snapped. “It’s up to us to make ourselves something,” he argued. “A man creates himself . . .”

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“You are a man,” she said simply. He understood now; it was the helplessness of dependence that made her fret so. Men made themselves and women were made only through men. (65–66) Cross declares, once again, that his existential vantage point transcends race, or rather that his rebellion consists of his ability to transcend the racial definitions imposed upon him by society and determine his own identity. As he declares, “man creates himself.” While the tragic fate of Cross in the novel raises questions about his ability to ever fully achieve this autonomy he claims for himself, both he and Gladys do readily accept that the very possibility of this independence is unavailable to her, that is, her inability to liberate herself from racial consciousness is ascribed to and inseparable from her dependence as a woman. Cross’s masculine rebellion here, in turn, raises questions not only about the gendered logic of the epistemic privilege articulated in The Outsider but also about the cosmopolitan subject position that Wright fashions for himself in his later work. Specifically, through a self-defined cosmopolitanism, Wright asserts, as we will see, his independence from any and all forms of affiliation that would bound his identity, most notably those that Gladys and Cross’s mother remain so trapped by—race and religion. But finally, to return one last time to the above discussion between Cross and Houston, what the exchange also suggests is how this form of knowing that does not prioritize national identification is criminalized. That is, at the heart of Cross’s crimes in The Outsider is not so much what he has done (the violence he has committed) but rather how he understands the world. “He was a criminal,” the narrator states, “not so much because of what he was doing, but because of what he was feeling” (109). After Houston finishes the conversation, for example, Cross immediately rises to leave: “This was getting too close. He had to go and hug his black secret” (106; my italics). On one level, of course, the “secret” that Cross wants to protect is the murder he has committed and his “true” identity. But more important, Cross’s secret is also this way of “knowing” at the limits of the social order, which his “official” death has enabled him to bring into critical consciousness. It is to this that the district attorney is “getting too close.” But what Cross’s “black secret” also finally suggests, and to which I turn next, is the complex relationship at the heart of the novel, between this dissident knowledge of unbelonging born out of the condition of alienage and the very meaning and the nature of the secret itself.

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III. Keeping Secrets As is common in the detective/noir genre, The Outsider’s narrative revolves around a series of secrets: there is the secret of the “true” identity of the main character, Cross Damon; the secret of the many crimes he then commits in order to preserve his new identity; Eva’s secret diary that Cross reads, and so on. I am, though, less interested in examining the meaning of the individual secret, or whatever social exigencies exist for keeping one or another of the secrets in particular. Instead, I want to explore the nature of secrecy itself. In other words, instead of examining the question, What is the meaning of the content of the specific secrets?, the more compelling question to ask of The Outsider is, What is the meaning of the form of secrecy itself? In the case of Cross Damon, for instance, the secret of his specific crimes is less telling than the very life of secrecy he leads. Or rather, what is most important about his “secret” (what he again refers to as his “black secret”) is not that it enables Cross to avoid recrimination in the crimes, but critically, that secrecy is an index of his inaccessibility to the culture as a whole—a culture that would otherwise work to entirely determine him. That is, in a world where the explicit exposure of the subject would ostensibly manifest how thoroughly he has been inscribed within a socially given totality, secrecy establishes a boundary across which its far-reaching discourse does not reach. It marks, in other words, the limits of hegemony. Soon after he decides to let the world think he has died in the train accident, for example, Cross immediately and anxiously ponders the profound implications this choice will have for how he must now conduct his life. He took a northbound trolley on State Street and pushed his way apprehensively into the packed crowd and stood swaying. Was there anything in his manner that would attract attention? Could others tell that he was nervous, trying to hide a secret? How could one act normally when one was trying to act normally? He caught hold of a strap and, his shoulders jostling others, rocked with the motion of the trolley. He began to see that this project of deception he had taken upon himself back there in the winging snow of the street was much bigger than he had realized. It was a supreme challenge that went straight to the very heart of life. (109) Cross’s specific secret is of course that he was not one of the casualties of the train crash, as reported. But cast more broadly, and more

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significantly, Cross’s “secrecy” represents the subjective practice by which he establishes a boundary between his public and private self—a distinction that Wright underscores by staging his very private reflections in the very public context of the crowded trolley. Secrecy is thus the mode of operation by which Cross can maintain his self-described “freedom” within society by remaining illegible to society. Cross comes to quickly understand that “secrecy” is not in this respect specific to his unusual circumstances, but that this “project of deception . . . went straight to the very heart of life.” In other words, secrecy does not so much describe the particular life of the criminal. Instead, this particular form of criminality reveals a broader truth—the extent to which this “project of deception” bespeaks a fundamental social condition or “challenge” for living in but not belonging to the existing social order. Indeed, it is actually this very disidentification from the social order that defines Cross’s greatest “crime.” Insomuch as secrecy appears to establish an implicit distinction and opposition between society and a more “authentic” individual self, we might certainly read the existential traces of Cross’s “project of deception.” His presumed death in the train crash, after all, enables him to bring into critical consciousness his alienation from a society whose values and purposes he does not share. “Others took their lives for granted,” Cross thinks to himself, “he would have to mold his with conscious aim” (110–11). But while Cross’s project clearly engages the terms and logics of existentialism, as many critics have pointed out, it also has another source that far preceded Wright’s involvement with European philosophy—namely, a tradition of black dissidence that had engaged Wright from his earliest life and writings. It is perhaps useful here to keep in mind the anecdote recounted by C. L. R. James about an exchange he had with his friend Wright. James recalls the time Wright brought him into his house in the south of France and pointed to a row of books by Kierkegaard on his bookshelf, declaring: “Look here Nello, you see those books there? . . . Everything that he writes in those books I knew before I had them.” James suggests that what Wright was telling him “was that he was a black man in the United States and that gave him an insight into what today is the universal opinion and attitude of the modern personality.” James concludes, “What there was in Dick’s life, what there was in the experience of a black man in the United States in the 1930s that made him understand everything that Kierkegaard had written before he had read it . . . is something that . . . has to be studied.”37

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In response to James’s injunction to study the source of Wright’s foreknowledge of Kierkegaard’s existentialism, I turn to Wright’s earlier work Black Boy. Specifically, I want to incorporate Abdul JanMohamed’s reading of Wright’s autobiography in which he indirectly describes the role “secrecy” plays in Wright’s successful attempt to survive the rigors of a racist southern hegemony and to resist Jim Crow society’s attempt to limit his subjectivity to that of a “black boy.”38 Wright, he argues, finds himself continually subjected to violence designed to “teach him to assume ‘voluntarily’ the subservient place” reserved for blacks in the South.39 But with each incident, this pressure for emotional submission increasingly conflicts with Wright’s desire for intellectual understanding. “I could not make subservience,” writes Wright, “an automatic part of my behavior. I had to feel and think out each tiny item of racial experience in the light of the race problem, and to each item I brought the whole of my life.”40 JanMohamed argues that Wright’s imperative here (quite like that of Cross’s existential “project”) is to overcome an unthinking or “automatic” obedience to the authority of the existing social order by bringing “each tiny incident” into critical consciousness, situating it within the broader social, political, and economic context of the “race problem as a whole” and bringing his whole life to bear on it. JanMohamed writes, “Thus, whereas ideology demands an emotional unconscious acquiescence, Wright’s project entails becoming perfectly aware of the unconscious pattern of behavior.”41 Or to put it again in Cross’s language, “Others took their lives for granted, he would have to mold his with conscious aim” (110–11). Interestingly, in Black Boy, Wright describes this critical subjectivity as a “secret burden”: “Many times I grew weary of the secret burden I carried and longed to cast it down, either in action or resignation. But I was not made to be a resigned man and I had only a limited choice of action, and I was afraid of all of them.”42 Wright makes the “choices” that are available to him painfully clear. On the one hand, as JanMohamed explains, Wright can express his critical subjectivity; he can openly rebel against the hegemony of Jim Crow South and face physical violence or death—most notoriously in the form of lynching. On the other hand, he can “resign” himself; he can acquiesce to the limited and subservient subject position of the “black boy” inscribed within the hegemonic social order. The choice is either to “voluntarily” comply with (and make “automatic”) the limited view that the “ideological apparatus” has constructed for him or to have that compliance enforced by the explicit use of brute force.

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In order thus to maintain his critical subjectivity, Wright must keep it hidden; “it can never be displayed in public or be recognized by most whites who surround him.”43 Just as with Cross Damon, it must remain a “secret burden.” As such, secrecy can be understood as an example of what Frantz Fanon has described as a form of counterhegemony. Challenging totalizing theories of subjugation and domination, Fanon argues that the ways in which marginalized or subaltern subjects are coerced into identifying with dominant discourses actually enable practices that can generate tactics of resistance.44 “Secrecy” is one such strategy; it is a method by which Wright in Black Boy (and Cross in The Outsider) can at once live in but not be a “member” of the social order. It is a way to reconstitute his subjectivity outside the social hegemony—of Jim Crow South and Cold War America respectively–a way to establish and maintain a tenuous space of unbelonging where that subjectivity and his potential humanity might remain intact. In The Long Revolution (1959)—published only a few years after The Outsider—Raymond Williams distinguishes various relationships of “conformity” and “non-conformity” between individuals and societies. Initially, he differentiates between what he calls the “subject” and the “servant” (a distinction that parallels in many respects Wright’s “choice” between direct confrontation and feigned acceptance in Black Boy).45 A “subject” defines a relationship like that of the colonial subject or slave in which conformity is enforced through the naked exercise of brute force. The “servant,” on the other hand, is an object of ideology; he is “given the illusion of choice, and is invited to identify himself with the way of life in which his place is defined. It is an illusion of choice because again, like the subject, he has no obvious way of maintaining his life if he refuses. Yet the illusion is important, for it allows him to pretend to an identification with the society, as if the choice had been real.”46 Williams describes modes of resistance or “non-conformity” (e.g., “the rebel,” “the exile,” the vagrant”) to this type of interpellation or identification embodied by the servant, i.e., when the discrepancy between “the role the individual is playing and his actual sense of himself [becomes] manifest.”47 One of these modes is worth quoting at length because it provides a wonderfully succinct model for the type of dissent expressed by and through the “secret” in the “outsider” in Wright’s work. We have been used to thinking of exiles as men driven from their society, but an equally characteristic modern figure is the self-exile. The self-exile could, if he chose, live at ease in his society, but to do

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so would be to deny his personal reality. Sometimes he goes away, on principle, but as often he stays, yet still, on principle, feels separate. The Bolsheviks had a useful term for this, in “internal emigré,” and if we realize that this is not confined to politics we can use it to describe a very important modern relationship. This kind of selfexile lives and moves about in the society in which he was born, but rejects its purposes and despises its values, in terms of alternative principles to which his whole personal reality is committed.48 First, the term “internal emigré,” as evoked by Williams, captures precisely the contradictory subject position that Wright is trying to theorize through the figure of the “outsider”—the condition of being, as the district attorney Houston defines it in respect to the status of African Americans, at once “inside” and “outside” the nation. Williams’s depiction also reiterates the importance and function of the secret as I have been arguing: the “project of deception” represents a strategy for living and moving about in society while maintaining a difference, while maintaining “the individuality which is the term of his separateness.” But what is perhaps most suggestive about these intimate parallels between the “internal emigré” and the “outsider” is illuminated by Williams’s subsequent description of the limits or “pressures” that this mode of “non-conformity” uniquely presents: There is great tension in this condition, for theoretically, at least, the self-exile wants the society to change, so that he can start belonging to it, and this involves him, at least notionally, in relationships. But since . . . his personal dissent has remained fixed at an individual stage, it is difficult for him to form adequate relationships. . . . He may support the principles of dissenting causes, but he cannot join them: he is too wary of being caught and compromised. What he has principally to defend is his own living pattern, his own mind, and almost any relationship is a potential threat to this. He has become or remained his “authentic self,” but this authenticity cannot be shared with or communicated to others, or, if the effort at communication is made, the commitment involved in it will be characteristically minimal. Whatever he may come to say or do, he continues, essentially, to walk alone in his society, defending a principle in himself.49 Williams suggests that this mode of dissent remains confined to an “individual stage” for fear of being “caught”—an image itself of the

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hunted criminal, such as Cross. What this points to is what we might call the double bind of secrecy; it at once enables a degree of freedom and dissent, but it is also an index of curtailed freedom and repression. If the “secret” represents a kind of reserve subjectivity outside of the ability of society to interpellate it and where alternative knowledge can survive, it also testifies to the fact that in order for this illicit knowledge and subjectivity to endure it cannot, as Williams describes it, be “shared with or communicated to others.” One is forced to keep one’s dissenting principle to oneself. And, indeed, throughout The Outsider, Cross is plagued again and again by this very dilemma: “He who had a secret to hide loved talking” (165); “He yearned to talk to someone” (211); “When men shared normal experiences, they could talk about them without fear, but he had to hug this black secret to his heart” (128); “He had to cope with this impulse of his to confide” (147); “He had to talk to somebody! But to whom? No; he had to keep this crime choked in his throat. He, like others, had to pretend that nothing like this could ever happen; he had to collaborate and help keep the secret” (345); “If only he could talk to somebody! To wander always alone in this desert was too much” (428). In the end, The Outsider is haunted by this communitarian strain— this unfulfilled possibility of some social community, some social formation in which Cross’s “way of knowing” might be recognized in intersubjectivity. The novel is in fact bracketed by this desire. Cross’s very first line in the novel is, “Booker let me rest this tired old body on you hunh?” To which his friend replies, “Hell naw! Stand on your own two big flat feet, Cross!” (1). And at the very end of the novel, as he lay dying in the street, the D.A. asks him what he has finally learned, to which he responds: “The search can’t be done alone. . . . Never alone. . . . Alone a man is nothing” (585). Cross’s persistent desire to “confide” suggests finally that as much as we might read Cross (and the novel) as embracing a profoundly individualistic, or for some critics nihilistic, philosophy— whose tragic limits the novel reveals—we might also read it equally as a testament to an enforced isolation—namely, we might find in his isolation and radical autonomy a damning testimony to the closing down of any viable alternative public sphere within the context of the period: the early Cold War.

state secrets While secrecy provides a conceptual and thematic link between Wright’s later novel The Outsider and his earlier work, such as Black Boy, it is also true that the meaning of secrecy takes on a unique cast during

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the early Cold War. After all, secrecy during that time becomes not only a strategy of dissent but also a prevailing anxiety of the state and a central mode of governance—whether in the form of state secrets, foreign espionage, or domestic surveillance. Ann Douglas writes: The U.S. Government stepped up its surveillance of its citizens to unprecedented levels in the 1940s and the early 1950s . . . for the first time, it compiled psychological dossiers on everyone inducted into its military forces (sometimes sharing the information with the ever expanding FBI) . . . federal housing agencies were making maps of every neighborhood in the United States, ranking each according to its racial/ethnic homogeneity, social stability, and earning potential, and granting federal funds accordingly . . . the nation was tightening its drug laws and defining a host of beliefs and activities, most notably communism and homosexuality, as criminal, even treasonable. . . . The Cold War administration had decided the personal was political long before postmodernism made the discovery.50 To put it in terms of the present discussion, we can say that in making the “personal” “political,” the Cold War administration employed a variety of methods to make the individual subject visible to power and to the existing social order. In compiling psychological dossiers, it sought to expose and criminalize or pathologize the potentially unnerving disconnect between the public and private self (i.e., who among us, beneath the veneer of a “normal” public life, might secretly be a communist). In so doing, it served to manage dissent and nonnormative beliefs and activities by playing on rising fears about domestic subversion—fears over “secret” identities that were often mapped on to the politics or “visibility” of race. In Parting the Waters, Taylor Branch writes, “FBI agents spotted white Communists by their ease and politeness around Negroes, or by the simple social fact that they socialized with Negroes at all.”51 And as in the case of Truman’s Federal Loyalty Program, which required a loyalty investigation for federal employment and was in many respects an extension of the military psychological testing to root out homosexuals and communists, there was increasing pressure on individuals to account for their beliefs and their pasts—to “prove” that their personal values fully coincided with those of the nation. In a thinly veiled reference to the climate of the period, Cross, for example, wonders hypothetically: “Spies spying upon spies who were being spied upon! Imagine a society like that! It would be an elaborate kind of transparent ant heap in which the

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most intimate feelings of all the men and women in it would be known, a glass jailhouse in which the subjective existence of each man and woman would be public each living moment” (453; my italics). The meaning of Cross’s “secret,” as I have been arguing, lies in its formal insistence that he is inaccessible to the culture that would otherwise entirely determine him. Conversely, it is precisely that border, which again his secret both assumes and maintains, that makes Cross such a disruptive figure. He becomes a kind of secret agent, but one with no affiliations; instead he bears subversively within himself the undercover limits of Cold War authority. His secrecy becomes a disruptive counternarrative to a prevailing Cold War culture of state secrets. Douglas points out in the quotation above that increased domestic surveillance during the early Cold War was accompanied by a redefinition of criminality, in which a crime did not depend upon what one had done necessarily, but instead upon one’s identity and/or beliefs (e.g., homosexuality and communism). Similarly, Ely Houston’s entire investigation into the crimes hinges upon trying to apprehend (in both senses of the word) Cross’s way of knowing. That is, Cross’s “guilt” is not dependent upon evidence or empirical proof of the murders, but on the ability to affectively imagine and render visible his perspective, which remains outside and unseen by the existing social order. The climactic interrogation scene, for instance, is less criminal inquiry than it is part psychological testing and part McCarthy trial (e.g., “Were you ever a member of the Communist Party?”). Ultimately, the D.A.’s ambition is to make Cross’s “private” self “public.” “We’ve proof,” he says, “of who you are” (508). In so doing, he lays bare Cross’s secret, which is not the content of his crime but rather that very boundary between public and private that makes him inscrutable and as such provides a precarious space of “unbelonging” out of which he can fashion his own narrative. What in fact finally proves Cross’s guilt is his unwillingness or inability to show proper affect when Houston tells him of his mother’s death, and when he brings his former friends and family into the room. Cross’s refusal to acknowledge—to “make public” in the “glass jailhouse”—his emotions proves that he is beyond the reach of society’s values and as such provides “evidence” of his criminal guilt. The very nature of Houston’s test cleverly bears witness to how separation from normative national life was being criminalized and pathologized during the Cold War. It also reveals the tragic limits of Cross’s dissent. Confronted with his family, he has ultimately only two choices—choices that echo across the different historical and political context that Wright grapples with in Black Boy.

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On the one hand, he can give up his “secret” by making visible his past and thus making himself accessible once again to the hegemonic social order by reassuming the various normative social roles of father, husband, and son that bind him to society. Or, as he does, he can continue to rebel by retaining the freedom not to answer; he can refuse to make himself legible, maintaining his “project of deception,” but in so doing be categorized as a criminal and a psychopath before finally being killed. Either way, the secret is out.

black secrets Finally, however, Cross’s tragic rebellion does more than render visible the limits of the existing social order; it also attempts to reconstitute that border (as do C. L. R. James, Carlos Bulosan, and Claudia Jones) into a site of an alternative authority. Specifically, through the figure of Cross, The Outsider stages a struggle to articulate an alternative to the dominant narratives framing the early Cold War, that is, an independent philosophical and political standpoint that represents neither a vindication of the American state nor of communism, but a third perspective. As Houston declares during the course of his investigation, the murders were the product of a “third set of ideas” (376). (In fact, with a certain Cold War irony, Cross joins with the Communist Party because he feels it will provide a safer front for this other, even more dangerous, set of beliefs.) Ultimately, this “third set of ideas” brings us back to the figure of the black intellectual. That is, the secret of Cross Damon’s “official death” provides a model of Wright’s theory of the black intellectual because the experience, first, enables Cross to bring into critical consciousness (“conscious aim”) not merely his individual (existential) alienation from society but the broader stated collective alienage of African Americans as both “inside” and “outside” the nation. Second, The Outsider reconstitutes this restrictive social location on the borders of the nation into a prescriptive site of analytic privilege. Being at once “inside” and “outside” the nation enables the possible transcendence of the deep ideological allegiances and ideological boundaries imposed by national culture and belonging. As such, the epistemic status of this cultural identity not only exposes the limits of national knowledge, but it also fills that slip in authority with the alternative agency of the black intellectual, whose privileged way of knowing could provide not only a politically empowering narrative of black experience but a more truthful, more accurate account of the common social situation.

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That Cross is forced to keep this alternative knowledge a “secret,” that his rebellion must remain at an “individual stage” for fear of “being caught” (to put it back in Williams’s terms) might thus finally be seen in this context as also a profound allegory for the political pressures placed upon and the silencing of independent black political perspectives and alternative black public spheres during the early Cold War. Again, Cross’s “black secret” is on the one hand a strategy of resistance, but it also is an index of repression. It is increasingly only in the realm of secrecy where these other knowledges and social imaginaries might endure. And, indeed, under the ideological crucible of anticommunism there was an aggressive decimation during the period of the more vibrant and global black radicalism of the war years. In an essay published in Life magazine soon after the war, Arthur Schlesinger, for one, directly linked communism to black struggles, arguing that the Communist Party was “sinking its tentacles into the NAACP.”52 During the next decade, charges of communism and of challenging the existing racial order served as the basis for the FBI’s increasing surveillance of organizations and individuals. Wright’s movements throughout his career were closely followed by the CIA and the State Department; he was cognizant of being monitored, and lived under a continual threat of having his passport revoked under the 1940 Smith Act (also known as the Alien Registration Act), which made it an offense to “advocate or belong to a group that advocated the violent overthrow of the government.”53And, indeed, as intelligence reports have since confirmed, Wright remained on the National Security Index (the list of individuals deemed most dangerous to the government) for the entire period he lived in exile. The U.S. government was particularly anxious about efforts by various black activist intellectuals to establish transnational links between the struggle of African Americans for domestic racial justice within the United States with those fought against colonialism elsewhere. Several historians, such as Penny Von Eschen, Nikhil Pal Singh, Thomas Borstelmann, and Mary Dudziak, have recently shown how the government’s attention to the international stage during the early Cold War helped lead to certain progressive domestic racial reforms—most notably desegregation—but how it also severely limited the forms of “acceptable” political discourse and racial politics.54 It was within this context, as I suggested earlier, that Myrdal’s model of racial liberalism became a dominant racial paradigm, establishing an orthodox narrative of racial reform within a national frame of development and, in turn, increasingly delegitimizing appeals for racial justice that were in excess

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of liberal nationalism. Mary Dudziak writes: “Civil Rights groups and activists had to walk a fine line, making it clear that their reform efforts were meant to fill out the contours of American democracy, and not to challenge or undermine it. . . . The narrowed scope of acceptable protest during the early years of the Cold War would not accommodate criticism of colonialism. . . . For that reason outspoken critics of colonialism found themselves increasingly under siege.”55 A number of these “critics” who did not keep their radical dissent a “secret,” like Paul Robeson and W. E. B. Du Bois, would find themselves under explicit sanction by the state, which, once again, used citizenship as a regulatory apparatus for the subjugation of these alternative visions and forms of black consciousness and culture. Paul Robeson’s declaration in 1949 that blacks would not fight in a war against the Soviet Union resulted in accusations of treason and the revoking of his passport for most of the 1950s.56 W. E. B. Du Bois also had his passport revoked and was denied the possibility of traveling abroad for a number of years. C. L. R. James and Claudia Jones were designated “subversives” and therefore subject to deportation under the McCarran Act, or Internal Security Act of 1950. “The silencing of giants like Du Bois and Robeson,” writes Nikhil Singh, “along with the voluntary and involuntary exile of anti-Stalinist leftists like Richard Wright, Chester Himes, C. L. R. James, E. Franklin Frazier, and others, completed a purge of the black activist intelligentsia that had come of age a little more than a decade prior.”57 Wright understood his own eventual self-exile from the United States as in part a result of this broader effort to silence figures and forms of black radicalism during the early Cold War. “My un-Americanism,” he declared in his essay “I Choose Exile,” “consists of the fact that I want the right to hold without fear of punitive measures, an opinion with which my neighbor does not agree.”58 Cross will make virtually the same point in speaking with the district attorney Houston: “A man today who believes that he cannot live by the articles of faith of his society is a criminal and you know it, even though Congress has not gotten around to making such into law” (517). Wright later suggested that the “opinions” that proved most threatening to the United States at the time were not in fact those directly related to communism but to his growing critical engagement with the colonial world and with a broad international or transnational critique of racial oppression. “So far as the Americans are concerned,” Wright argued, “I’m worse than a communist, for my work falls like a shadow across their policy in Asia and Africa.”59 In the end, Wright interpreted his self-exile not only as a turning point in his life and career, but also as an

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effort to continue and further develop his commitment to a radical global or transnational perspective on the meaning of black struggle. “The break with the U.S. was more than a geographical change. It was a break with my former attitudes as a Negro and a Communist—an attempt to think over and re-define my attitudes and my thinking. I was trying to grapple with the big problem—the problem and meaning of western civilization as a whole and the relation of Negroes and other minority groups to it. . . . Out of this searching grew the idea of The Outsider.”60

the politics of form ii Finally, it is also in its effort not only to critique the existing social and racial order but also to replace it with an alternative or counterhegemonic way of knowing—one founded on an independent and autonomous black political and epistemological standpoint—that The Outsider challenges not only the political limits of the nation but also, I want to suggest, the corresponding aesthetic and ideological limits of the form of the novel in general and the realist novel in particular. Examining these formal limits thus affords an opportunity to further think through a question on the sociology of narrative raised in the previous chapter on Bulosan—namely, the relationship of the form of the novel as a political and ideological regime of representation to that of the nation-state. In relation specifically to Wright, it also provides a lens for reinterpreting what was so consistently considered not only The Outsider’s political but also aesthetic failings, especially at the time of its publication. That is, examining the configuration of the novel in relation to dominant social narratives of the nation during the early Cold War offers an opportunity to reinvestigate the terms of the novel’s evaluation; namely, the “failure” of Wright’s novel might be reread in this context as equally symptomatic of the resistance of an “aberrant” (transnational) African American vantage point to the dominant political and linguistic/ideological modes of representation in the United States at the time. And finally, it also helps suggest a way to approach Wright’s generic move away from the form of the novel in his later work (especially as he turned away expressly from the United States and to the decolonizing world) and toward more peripheral modes of articulation and argumentation such as the postcolonial travelogue—an aspect of Wright’s later work I examine more closely in the subsequent chapter. Specifically, I want to suggest that The Outsider both represents and enacts these formal limits, once again, through the secret. The fact that Cross must keep his way of knowing to himself provides, as I have

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suggested, damning evidence of the repressive political climate of the nation during the Cold War, of the closing down of any alternative public spheres. But Cross’s enforced secrecy—his tragically unfulfilled desire to communicate his way of knowing with others—also bears potential witness to the political limits of the novel as what Mikhail Bakhtin described as a “dialogic” form.61 Indeed, Wright’s novel suggests a potential underlying limitation of this very influential theory of the sociology and generic history of the novel. Mikhail Bakhtin argued that the novel is fundamentally a “dialogic” form; it stages the interplay between different socio-ideological discourses or utterances internal to an ostensibly unified but nonetheless stratified national language. As opposed to “monologic” forms (e.g., the romance, the fable, and, most important for Bakhtin, the epic), which are framed by and reinforce a unitary or univocal mode of utterance, the novel disrupts these posited unified languages by exposing the multiplicity of discourses, or “heteroglossia,” that comprise language, no one of which can fully or finally capture that language’s variety. For Bakhtin, this heteroglossia ensures that meaning is the inherently unstable domain of contestation, not the fixed product of a finished or secure language. The novel is the form par excellence for this heteroglossia because, comprised as it is of a multiplicity of voices (within the single authorial voice), it enacts how meaning is constructed in and through dialogue—through others and other voices. In turn, we can understand this contestatory heteroglossia of meanings and voices of the novel as indices for the contestations and dialogic nature of social groups or social forces within a given community in the world. This is central to Bakhtin’s belief in the defamiliarizing, decentralizing, and often subversive force of the novel. The novelization of monologic genres corresponds to the disintegration of an officially monologic national culture into a dialogic interaction of a multiplicity of competing and often conflictual languages of, for example, ethnicity, class, sect, and gender. It is this “heteroglossic” reality that the novel represents. With the rise of the novel, Bakhtin argues, “two myths perish simultaneously: the myth of a language that presumes to be the only language, and the myth of a language that presumes to be completely unified.”62 This account of the novel’s function in exposing the “heteroglossia” inherent to existing linguistic/ideological orders has, of course, been immensely valuable for understanding the relation of the novel to broader cultural processes of rebellion and resistance. I am interested here, however, in examining the potential political constraints of this

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dialogic process. Simply put, for all its appeals to the novel’s democratizing and defamiliarizing force of multiplicity, the dialogic imagination depends nonetheless upon a certain normative horizon of intelligibility. In other words, in order for “dialogue” to take place—however contestatory it might be—there must exist a frame of comprehensibility. Bakhtin emphasizes that language requires order so that meaning can be produced, which language achieves by reducing the possibility of potential meanings and happenings that threaten it with incoherence. Conversely, the role of literature in general and the novel in particular, in Bakhtin’s account, is to enact what Michael Holquist has described as “novelness.” It defamiliarizes the existing social order by pressing against it other voices and as such the novel represents the world in a “manner that least restricts the world’s possible meanings.”63 What remains unaddressed in this theoretical equation, however, are the regulative effects of existing social and political regimes of representation that enable the multiplicity of meanings to be comprehensible in the first place. In other words, what of those utterances that are, in a sense, too “novel” for the dialogic process? This is a question raised in a different context by David Lloyd’s analysis of Bakhtin in his study of Irish postcolonial writing in Anomalous States, an analysis that is useful not only for the present discussion but for a number of broader questions about narrative politics.64 Lloyd argues that for all his merits, Bakhtin is “remarkably inattentive to the extent to which social relations hierarchize and constrain the dialogic process.”65 That is, Bakhtin’s analysis does not take full enough account of how the existent field of social relations and hierarchies always already stratifies and delimits the dialogic process, rendering “certain modes of discourse an effect of self-evidence while relegating others to virtual inaudibility.”66 Thus, while Bakhtin celebrates the novel’s defamiliarizing of the existing linguistic/ideological order by representing the multiple social languages within a given linguistic community, he does not consider sufficiently the normative horizon that enables certain voices, again however conflictual, to be perceptible and that renders other utterances incomprehensible. These disenfranchised discourses appear within the existing linguistic-ideological order “only as aberrant.” That is, falling outside the existing forms in which the state is organized (or in which legible forms of resistance to that state are articulated), these potentially alternative narratives are deprived a voice in the public sphere; they “cannot speak,” to paraphrase Gayatri Spivak’s famous phrase. It is in this context that Lloyd suggests that the novel be understood not only in terms of the

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multiple voices it includes—its discursive pluralism—but also in terms of that which it renders inaudible, “the negation or exclusion of what cannot be drawn into identity.”67 It is precisely the limits of this frame of comprehensibility within the existing linguistic/ideological order that The Outsider can be read as interrogating. Cross Damon embodies a figure of the black intellectual who critically reconstitutes his racial exclusion from national membership (“both inside and outside” the nation) into an alternative way of knowing, or “epistemology of unbelonging.” More specifically, Cross is situated at the regulative political and ideological limits of the nationstate. And like Bulosan—and, as we will see, like James and Jones— Wright fashions this condition of alienage at the boundaries of the nation-state and its constitutive outside into a vantage point from which to critique the universal claims of the nation and nationalist institutions. It also founds the conditions by which Wright imagines an alternative historical agency—an autonomous black political and epistemological standpoint not contained by the narratives of American citizenship (nor universal proletarianism) but a “third way of knowing” through which Wright places racial struggle within the United States in dialogue with the multiple voices of a transnational or global capitalist modernity. And finally, like Bulosan and James, it is Wright’s effort to give voice to this perspective at the subaltern limits of the nation that poses not only political problems for the nation but also formal difficulties for the novel. That is, Cross’s way of knowing that the dominant linguistic/ideological order has rendered aberrant—namely, his “black secret” that he cannot communicate to others in any public sphere—might be seen as commenting on, or marking the potential formal limits of, from the shadows of citizenship’s limits, Bakhtin’s account of the generically subversive and democratic aspects of the novel’s discursive pluralism. Bakhtin defines the social logic of dialogism thusly: “One’s own discourse is gradually and slowly wrought out of others’ words that have been acknowledged and assimilated, and the boundaries between the two are at first scarcely perceptible.”68 Bakhtin emphasizes that this dialogic construction of meaning is not purely collaborative; indeed, it is more often conflictual. He stresses the presence of struggle and tension through which the formation of meaning is forged out of otherness— “out of others’ words.” But Bakhtin’s model still depends upon the potential of recognition and, even more significantly, the ability to assimilate “others’ words.” The question that Wright’s novel raises is, What are the limitations of that recognition and assimilation, in particular if that

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“boundary” between self and other traverses the boundary of the nationstate itself? And, indeed, Bakhtin’s analysis of the novel is grounded upon a decidedly national frame. “The internal stratification of any single national language into social dialects . . . this internal stratification present in every language at any given moment of its historical existence is the indispensable prerequisite for the novel as a genre” (my italics).69 Perhaps we might finally pose the question as to whether the novel is really only a fully dialogic form within the linguistic/ideological boundaries of the “heteroglossic” nation. That is, whether beyond its limits—in the subaltern voices at the boundaries of the nation, and in particular those shadow voices of the transnational rendered inaudible by the nation that redraw the nation and the novel out into conversation with the multiple voices of the international division of labor—we do not arrive at the limits of the novel’s dialogic imagination.

* * * Returning to The Outsider, we might read the dilemma of Cross’s “black secret” in this theoretical frame as an allegory for the dilemma facing Wright himself in the writing of the novel. Indeed, it is a connection that the novel itself seems to suggest. Soon after Cross has been presumed dead, for instance, the narrator declares: “What puzzled him most was that he could not think of concrete things to do. . . . He had no ideas no plans. He would have to imagine this out, dream it out, invent it, like a writer constructing a tale” (110). Cross’s ruminations suggest, at once, the newfound existential agency his social death has enabled, allowing him now to “author” his own identity and future. At the same time, the comparison also underscores the broader allegorical connections between Cross’s quandary and Wright’s own: How to craft this “outsider” way of knowing at the limits of the nation and novel—this independent and autonomous black political, epistemological, and psychological standpoint for which there was no preestablished “idea” or “plan”—into narrative form? How to bring it into literary representation? In discussing his previous communist affiliations, Wright declared: “I was a Communist because I was a Negro. Indeed the Communist Party had been the only road out of the Black Belt for me.”70 During the 1930s and 1940s, the Party had provided Wright with critical material and social support: a type of informal education, a network of social and professional connections, and various forums for publishing his work and for earning money as a writer that would not have otherwise

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been available to him. It also enabled Wright to imagine alternatives to Jim Crow society. As Cedric Robinson describes, referring to Wright’s engagement with the Communist Party and John Reed Clubs, “He had discovered not merely an important, historical vista but someone with whom to share it.”71 But by the time Wright was working on The Outsider, he had already quite dramatically and quite publicly renounced his associations with communism and the Party, in no small part because of its limitations in recognizing black specificity, self-determination, and autonomy. As such, when Cross subsequently wonders as he sets out to “construct” the “tale” of his life, whether there was “more than one way in which one could account for one’s self?” (110), the question, again, not only suggests Cross’s personal challenge in assuming a new identity, but it also speaks directly to Wright’s own political and aesthetic isolation and his dilemmas in rendering a radical black epistemological and political standpoint that extended not only “beyond” the Black Belt and communism but also beyond the physical and ideological limits of the nation. With whose or what political and/or aesthetic “language” would this “third way of knowing” be in dialogue? With whom would Wright now “share” this expanded “historical vista?”

forms of violence The Outsider is certainly in conversation, as I have suggested, with a tradition of black dissidence and the discourse of a European-influenced existentialism, which Abdul JanMohamed has shrewdly deemed the novel’s “manifest narrative.”72 Here, however, I am interested in the central role that the language of violence plays in representing this way of knowing in the novel. Violence, of course, serves an essential political and thematic role throughout Wright’s work, which consistently and unflinchingly examines how extreme violence is used as a method of social control against blacks and their consequent acts of rebellious counterviolence. Indeed, JanMohamed has compellingly argued that the threat of physical violence and death and the response to this menace via a complex deployment of death by various protagonists represents one of if not the organizing principle of Wright’s fiction. (This is seen perhaps most famously in Native Son, with the character of Bigger Thomas, who kills two women and is psychologically transformed by his acts of violent resistance, coming to accept them as empowering if tragic acts of self definition.) And while The Outsider certainly develops many of these themes regarding violence, as suggested by JanMohamed, violence also performs a unique and disruptive formal function in structuring the story of The Outsider. Specifically,

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it is through violence that Cross’s way of knowing—his epistemology of unbelonging—is narrativized; that is, it gives his “aberrant” voice not only philosophical but also narrative form in the novel. It is initially violence, for instance (namely, the violent deaths resulting from a horrific subway accident), that enables Cross’s “official” death and thus his “freedom” to take on a new identity. But almost immediately after gaining this freedom, Cross embarks on a spiral of violence (namely, the slew of murders he commits: of his friend Joe; the fascist Hendon; the exploitative communist Gil; and another party functionary, Hilton), which at once serve to preserve his newfound “freedom” but also to tragically doom it from its inception. As such, it animates, on one hand, an underlying paradox of the novel—between the admirable freedom of Cross’s radical independence and the pathological destructiveness and existential “dread” it engenders. But more important for the present discussion, violence translates Cross’s way of knowing into a narrative of criminality. Significantly, it is this violence that was the focal point of so much of the criticism of both the novel’s political and aesthetic failings at the time of its publication. In particular, many critics, on both the Right and Left, found insufficient motivation for Cross Damon’s violence; it was pointed to as the source of the novel’s formal flaws, evidence of an unconvincing or incoherent narrative: “True, he is separated from his wife and children, is involved with a sixteen-year-old girl who is bearing a child by him, and he is deep in debt. But nothing convinces us that such circumstances can overnight make a man a “killer.”73 “It is one of the unbelievable things in ‘The Outsider’ that Cross should act so suddenly and violently when he is presented as meditative, introspective, addicted to self-analysis and philosophical speculation.”74 “I suspect Wright is mocking us with a ghastly joke. His main character, Cross Damon, was driven by no discernible motives—racial, political, or religious—even though the author would have us believe he is a rational person.”75 “The novel is filled with improbable incident and coincident. . . . at odds with the realistic framework.”76 “His almost psychopathic lust for violence gets the better of him in this second novel and his story becomes as completely phony and unreal as a cheap drugstore whodunit.”77 “His passionless slayer bears no relation to the Cross Damon of the first 65 pages. We can identify with the first Cross Damon, but not the later one.”78 Critics also pointed to Cross’s rampant violence as evidence of the novel’s underlying existential “nihilism,” or, as one reviewer described, its “morbid nihilism.” Perhaps most harshly of all, Lorraine Hansberry decried what she considered to be the book’s underlying

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“meaninglessness.” “The Outsider,” she wrote in her first writing assignment for the progressive periodical Freedom, “is a story of sheer violence, death and disgusting spectacle. . . . Wright has lost his own dignity and destroyed his talents. He exalts brutality and nothingness.”79 What interests me here is the connection between these two strains of criticism: namely, that the narrative of violence in the novel was interpreted as both politically and aesthetically in bad form. The critic Melvin Altshuler, writing for the Washington Post, distilled this critical sentiment succinctly: “What Wright has tried to do cannot be done in the way Wright has chosen.”80 But here we might pose the question—one which harkens back to the limits of the dialogic imagination— as to what narrative possibilities are available to Cross Damon in order to “construct” the tale of his life and, by extension, to Wright to fashion an alternative way of knowing at the subaltern limits of national citizenship? (It is a question that also, as such, harkens directly back to Bulosan’s America Is in the Heart.) Over the past several years, a number of critics (such as José Rabasa, Walter Mignolo, and David Lloyd) have reappraised Antonio Gramsci’s portrayal of subalternity by suggesting that we might define the subaltern not as that which desires the state from which it has been excluded, but as that which resists or cannot be represented by the state. Read in this way, to return again to Lloyd, subaltern history “can be read as the sign of another mode of narrative, rather than an incomplete one, of another principle of organization, rather than one yet to be unified.” He continues, “Of course from the perspective of dominant history, the subaltern must be represented as violence. . . . That which cannot be assimilated to the state can be understood only as outside of the law, disruptive and discontinuous, unavailable for narration.”81 This description echoes the earlier critique of Bakhtin; that is, that those subaltern utterances falling outside the existing forms in which the state is organized are rendered incoherent—as “aberrant.” For Lloyd, these utterances can potentially serve as the source of alternative narratives. Subaltern groups, he writes, can “play out their own discrete and complex formations and traditions,” and forged out of the limits of state forms, these narratives can serve as sites for potentially “emergent and articulate resistance.”82 But Cross’s resistance—his way of knowing—must be kept a secret, which both enables his dissent but also marks its repressive limits. To borrow again Raymond Williams’s description of the internal émigré, he must keep his resistance to himself because “he is too wary of being caught.”83 In other words, Cross does not have available these alternative public spheres—these discrete and complex formations—that is, others

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with whom he can “communicate” his “black secret” and out of which he can forge an alternative narrative or a dissident subculture. In a society becoming a “glass jailhouse,” as Cross describes it, spaces where undominated discourse can dialogically prevail are rapidly disappearing. Cross’s narrative of violence plays out the tragic limits of his philosophy but also the tragic limits of his narrative possibilities and those, in a sense, available to Wright to bring this “outsider” way of knowing to voice within the existing dominant modes of political and aesthetic representation. How to account for this self within political and aesthetic forms that render it aberrant? As Cross admits at the end of the novel, “I could not escape the fate written for me,” which is perhaps in this context not simply the inevitability of his capture but his narrative of aberrant criminality all along. Disenfranchised from state forms and from the established Left— and with the repressive decimation of the alternative black public sphere during the early Cold War—Cross and Wright resort to violence. It is a violence that renders Cross’s way of knowing “outside the law” within the novel, and that rendered Wright’s novel itself “aberrant”—at least as evidenced by its critical reception as nihilistic and/or as “meaningless.” This is not to suggest a “failure” on Wright’s part. Rather it is to suggest that in making the form of the novel bear this experience—this subaltern counterdiscourse and nonnational historical agency—Wright’s The Outsider might be read as both representing and enacting the political and ideological limits of the novel and nation as dialogic forms. It is interesting in this respect that it is Cross’s effort to fashion an alternative narrative for himself that represents ultimately his most subversive “crime.” (And it is perhaps not too much of a stretch to suggest that Wright felt much the same about his own creative and intellectual endeavors during the early Cold War.) Indeed, the central conflict of the novel comes down in many respects to a battle for control of Cross’s “story.” Cross’s efforts to author his own autonomous narrative is constantly being challenged by both the Communist Party and the state. During a heated exchange with Blimlin from the Communist Party, for instance, Blimlin finally demands: “I’d like to see you account for yourself, to put it frankly. . . . You don’t add up” (470). And finally, Cross’s ultimate demise is sealed when the state’s district attorney claims the ability and the power to renarrate the “missing” story of his life, which proves to Cross that he cannot “escape the fate that had been written for me” (517). The efforts of both the Communist Party and the state can be understood less as efforts to apprehend Cross for his violent crimes than to apprehend his “story”—to translate his anomalous and autonomous

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way of knowing into a legible form and, in the process, render it no longer a threat. By being drawn out into the dialogic process, Cross’s story now “adds up” and as such no longer disruptively marks the representational limits of the existing linguistic-ideological order or serves, as such, as the potential source for an alternative narrative of emergent resistance. It can now be dialogically “recognized” and “assimilated” by others’ words and thus is intelligible to the normative horizons of the existing social and political regimes of representation. Indeed, by making Cross’s rebelliously indecipherable narrative readable, the state gains the power to render it not only harmless but (not unlike the critics of Wright’s novel itself) meaningless, as evidenced by the fact that after rendering Cross’s aberrant narrative, the state district attorney decides not to punish him for what he has done. In response, Cross thinks to himself: “He was not to be punished! Men would not give meaning to what he had done! Society would not even look at it, recognize it! That was not fair, wasn’t right, just . . . The ludicrous nature of his protest came to him. . . . He had counted on their railing at him, storming, cursing, condemning . . . Instead nothing, silence” (573). But, finally, if The Outsider represents and enacts the normative national limits of the dialogic imagination, it still maintains, as I previously suggested, a persistent and tragically unfulfilled desire to find some dissident subculture—some political and aesthetic form—wherein Cross’s aberrant way of knowing at the limits of the nation might be dialogically articulated into an alternative narrative or principle of organization. “Were there not somewhere in this world rebels with whom he could feel at home . . .?,” Cross wonders early in the novel. “But where were they? How could one find them?” (35). And at the novel’s end, as he lies dying in the street, Cross confesses what he has learned from his tragic outsider rebellion in language that certainly resonates with Bakhtin’s dialogic ethics: “The search can’t be done alone. . . . Never alone . . . Alone a man is nothing. . . . I wish I had some way to give the meaning of my life to others . . . to make a bridge from man to man” (585). Wright’s own eventual self-exile from the United States can be understood as part of this effort—as in part a search for a “community” with which he could put his anomalous black political and epistemological standpoint in conversation. Specifically, Wright used his self-exile, I argue in the following chapter, to fashion a unique form of cosmopolitanism (a “third way of knowing”) through which he could place his aberrant way of knowing at the limits of the United States—his epistemology

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of unbelonging—in discussion with the multiple subaltern voices of a global capitalist modernity. It is a cosmopolitanism, in turn, that led Wright beyond not only the political and ideological limits of the nation but of the novel as well and to search for alternative political and literary forms that might better enable the expression of a broader, indeed worldly dialogue between a global modernity and its “others.”

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Richard Wright’s Cosmopolitan Exile: Race, Decolonization, and the Dialogics of Modernity Is it possible that perpetual peace and cosmopolitanism are both the raison d’être of the project of modernity and its mask? —simon gikandi, “Race and Cosmopolitanism”

Near the end of his lengthy confrontation with a Communist Party leader at the end of The Outsider’s fourth book, the main character, Cross Damon, finally expresses what he understands to be the true underlying historical conflicts of the age. The ravaging scourge that tore away the veil of myth-worlds was science and industry; science slowly painting another world, the real one; and industry uprooting man from his ancestral, ritualized existence and casting him into rational schemes of living in vast, impersonal cities. A split took place in man’s consciousness; he began living in the real world by the totems and taboos that had guided him in the world of myths. . . . But that could not last for long. Today we are in the midst of that crisis. (480) Cross’s prognosis about the “crisis” of modernity is one that Wright reiterated throughout his subsequent nonfiction writing, in particular in his political analysis of the decolonizing world. Wright repeatedly argued that modernity defined a profound rupture with the past of tradition, a rupture precipitated by economic modernization and industrialization—an “uprooting” of man “from his ancestral, ritualized existence.” This rupture, in turn, had cast the world in the wake of World War II and the era of decolonization into a conceptual and spiritual void; lacking a coherent social, political, and/or intellectual means of organization to take its place, both “East” and “West” remained enmeshed within

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residual traditional or superstitious ways of knowing (most significantly race and religion) increasingly incongruous with the reality of the modern and modernized world. The world was, as such, in a conceptual and political “crisis”—in a state of intellectual emergency. It is in this context that Wright critiqued the antinomies that framed the early Cold War (namely communism and American universalism) as strategic obfuscations, modern-day superstitions as it were, masking what were in reality political expressions of a will to power. Instead of confronting modernity’s underlying “crisis” of filiation, these ideologies offered new systems of affiliation, or what Edward Said terms “counter-conversions,” that is, panaceas providing “new more complete visions that simply do away with complexity, difference and contradiction.”1 What was needed instead, according to Wright, was a way of knowing “beyond left and right,” a “new language” adequate to accurately diagnosing and ushering the world out of the “crisis” of the global contemporary moment—what Wright often referred to as a “third way of knowing.” What Wright is working out through the character of Cross Damon in The Outsider, and which he thematized formally in his turn from the novel to the genre of travel writing, is a way to vigilantly disavow the temptation of these various affiliations and instead transvalue the condition of rootless unbelonging itself into an analytic opportunity, an unassimilated and unco-opted angle of vision that could come to serve as an “emergent” model of critical consciousness. And, indeed, so much of Wright’s political, personal, and aesthetic life bears witness to this struggle. Wright was repeatedly working through and finally breaking with various affiliations (often in quite public fashion, as with the Communist Party and with the United States itself) in order to maintain and cultivate this personal, philosophical, and aesthetic state of abandonment. “I’m alone,” Wright declared. “I belong to no gang or clique of party or organization. If I’m attacked there is nobody to come to my aid or defense. Hence I must keep clear of entanglements that would stifle me in expressing myself in terms that I feel are my own.”2 In Pagan Spain, Wright is even more emphatic about his radical autonomy: “I have no religion in the formal sense of the word. . . . I have no race except that which is forced upon me. I have no country except that to which I’m obliged to belong. I have no traditions. I’m free. I have only the future.”3 In these, and in many other statements in his later work, what Wright asserts for himself is the position of the rootless cosmopolitan—the solitary intellectual whose “heroic” independence and detachment from any affiliation enables a worldly vantage point, one that might enable this

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“third way of knowing.” The cosmopolitan subject position is one that became increasingly central to Wright’s later work, especially after leaving the United States and as he engaged questions of race and decolonization within the global framework of modernity. And it is the political, epistemological, and formal dimensions of this cosmopolitan project that I examine in this chapter. Wright is careful to point out, however, that while his cosmopolitanism transcends any particular affiliation, it has been precipitated by his particular experience as an African American. “His “rootless and solitary position,” Wright declares to the reader in his introduction to White Man Listen!, “is no personal achievement of mine. . . . I’ve been shaped to this mental stance by the kind of experiences that I have fallen heir to.”4 Wright thus locates the source of his global rootlessness in the psychological distance and racialized exclusion from the social polity that he experienced in the United States. As such, his standpoint at once transcends identity but is historically determined by it. Put slightly differently, Wright’s universal standpoint of rootless cosmopolitan is tied to his historical situatedness—to the historically conditioned character of his understanding. Wright uses this logic, in turn, to argue throughout his later nonfiction writing that it is black (and anticolonial) intellectuals, from their historically conditioned isolation and unbelonging on the margins of the dominant cultures that had produced them, who had emerged in the wake of World War II as the genuine inheritors of modernity’s intellectual heritage of critical restlessness and independence. As Cornel West succinctly puts it, “For Wright, to be free was to be modern; to be modern was to make a radical disruption from a moribund past.”5 In this context, Wright argued that the particular and particularly violent radical disruption from the past and from tradition that defined African American experience stretching back to slavery had made him the privileged heir of this tragic but liberating heritage of rupture that defined Western modernity. It had placed him in the vanguard of modernity. In describing his position as a black American, Wright claimed that he had been forced to “break with the past” in ways that few Westerners ever had.6 And it is through this position at the vanguard of modernity that Wright in turn links his vantage point as a radical black intellectual in the United States with an emergent global anticolonial intellectual tradition. This last point can best be made by turning to Wright’s oft-quoted dedication in White Man Listen!, a collection of essays based on speeches Wright delivered across Europe between the years 1950–56. The book is

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dedicated to Eric Williams, the West Indian statesman and author of Capitalism and Slavery, and to the “tragic elite of Asia, Africa, and the West Indies—the lonely outsiders who exist precariously on the cliff-like margins of many cultures—men who are distrusted, maligned, criticized by left and right, Christian and pagan—men who carry on their frail but indefatigable shoulders the best of two worlds.” As he exhibits here, Wright held a deep admiration for these new elites and invested a great deal of political faith in their ability to lead and govern their decolonizing nations. In his essay “Tradition and Industrialization: The Historic Meaning of the Plight of the Tragic Elite in Asia and Africa” (adopted from a speech at the “First International Conference of Negro Writers and Artists” in Paris in the fall of 1956), Wright argues that it is these “compassionate aristocrats” who are the agents of democratic change and development, and that the West should “abet the delicate and tragic elite in Asia and Africa” by giving them “carte blanche” to modernize their countries, even at the cost of autocratic and “quasi-dictatorial methods.”7 The extent to which the West abetted or hindered governance in the new nations of the South is, of course, a subject of debate, but it does seem that Wright’s faith in the new elites to govern and then to relinquish power and the means to wealth proved, at the very least, idealistic. But beyond a political endorsement, Wright’s dedication to this community of lonely men is also an effort to articulate and claim coherence for an alternative way of knowing. In describing these anticolonial leaders as “outsiders” who bear on their shoulders the “best of two worlds” and who are “misunderstood” and “distrusted” by both “left and right,” Wright invokes the precise language he uses to describe Cross Damon in The Outsider. Both subjectivities are critically constituted on the border. Here, however, that subjectivity is unfolded beyond the nation and on to the global borders between what Wright defines as “West” and “East.” And just as the epistemic status of Cross Damon’s cultural identity—on the borders of the nation and its constitutive outside—had enabled him to become (as a figure of the black dissident intellectual) an alternative and disruptive “center of knowing” to the hegemonic limits of national knowledge, so the epistemic status of this location on the borders of the “West” engendered a different knowledge about the global transformations and conflicts taking place during the post–World War II period. Both enable a nomadic double consciousness—an outside/inside perspective on the world that is resistant to the assimilated and selfidentical self: namely, a dialectics between identity and difference that enables living and thinking responsibly between the United States and its

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constitutive outside in the case of Wright and between the West and the colonial world in the case of these anticolonial leaders. This community of “tragic elite” embodied an intellectual pedigree that was decidedly metropolitan (and decidedly male), but whose standpoint represented a potential alternative to the orthodoxy prevailing in the “West.” And as in the case of Cross’s “dreadful objectivity,” this “double vision” born out of the painful but enabling position “between worlds,” to borrow Edward Said’s phrase, provided not just the source for a politically empowering critique but also the potential for a more universal ethico-political account of the social world and the possibility for imagining more global cosmopolitan forms of solidarity that transcend nation and race. Wright ends his dedication, for instance, by declaring that these men “seek desperately for a home for their hearts: a home which, if found, could be a home for the hearts of all men.” In the end, Wright’s dedication is not merely descriptive or politically prescriptive; it is also performative: Wright is calling into being a community into which he can locate himself and through which he can more broadly imagine an alternative historical agency and epistemology (a “third way of knowing”) capable of not only challenging the hegemonic narratives of the early Cold War but of recuperating and revitalizing the prevailing signification of liberation at the heart of modernity.

I. The Vanguard of Modernity Here we might draw a quick but crucial distinction between Wright and C. L. R. James: namely, their decidedly different vision of the relative roles of mass and elite in resistance and rebellion. In Wright’s case, much of his postexile writing (his lectures, his travel writing, and The Outsider) can be read as a sustained effort to theorize a model of the black and anticolonial intellectual as the political and epistemological vanguard not only for anticolonial rebellion but also for a grand humanist modernity. In James’s case, this type of vanguardism represents exactly the model for the intellectual from which he pivoted away in his later work. James’s vision of political action was deeply shaped by what he called a theory of “self-activity,” which he intended as an alternative to Trotsky’s theory of vanguardism. That is, as opposed to the vanguard theory of the intellectual as a necessary intermediary in bringing the political expressions of the workers into an organized political form, James emphasized the capacity for self-government from below. And as we will see in the following chapter, James’s model of the “mariners, renegades,

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and castaways” was a crucial part of that theoretical effort, that is, to focus on the political expressions of the workers themselves through their work, an expression that required no translation into a modern political form by the intellectual. The role of the intellectual, as James sought to fashion it in Mariners, was not to lead but to “learn to learn from below,” to use Spivak’s eloquent expression—to document the revolutionary energy and subaltern knowledge of the workers themselves.8 But if Wright’s “tragic elite” bear little resemblance to James’s “mariners, renegades, and castaways,” they do suggest parallels with another figure of James’s earlier work The Black Jacobins—namely, the “tragic elite” hero of James’s brilliant history of the Haitian Revolution, Toussaint L’Ouverture. It is primarily through the career of L’Ouverture that James tells the revolutionary story of the self-emancipation of New World slaves. On one hand, making these connections between Wright’s “tragic elite” and James’s “tragic” L’Ouverture animates an important point of intellectual and political contact between these two figures. (It is worth noting that Wright, in fact, shared a fascination with the figure of L’Ouverture, even attempting, unsuccessfully, to develop a film while in Paris on the Haitian leader with himself as the lead.) But more significant for the present discussion, it helps to resituate Wright’s later work— whose roots are often traced back specifically to African American and/ or European sources—within a decidedly anticolonial intellectual and political tradition—specifically one that sought to (re)mobilize the language and logic of Western modernity in its struggles. With this in mind, what interests me about James’s L’Ouverture here, relative to Wright’s tragic elite, is his relationship to the Enlightenment. As David Scott puts it in his book-length study of The Black Jacobins, “For C. L. R. James, Toussaint like Prometheus is an inaugural figure of an emancipatory enlightenment.”9 That is, as it will be for Wright and his “tragic elite,” it is the idiom of the Enlightenment, which the slave Toussaint immerses himself in through readings of French revolutionaries, including the Declaration of the Rights of Man, that provides him the conceptual and ideological voice for his emancipationist ambitions. Both Wright and James, as such, go to great lengths to locate their protagonists in the same political and epistemological position—namely, at once inside the West (immersed within the Enlightenment) but also outside of it (as slaves and racialized colonial subjects respectively). And for both, this standpoint “between worlds” is at once the source of their “tragedy” but also what positions them as the privileged vanguard not only for the concrete anticolonial and nation-building projects of their respective

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struggles for national liberation but also ultimately as the vanguard of a liberatory narrative at the heart of the Western Enlightenment itself that might coalesce aspirations for a global political community, solidarity, and liberation. But it is precisely this commitment to a Eurocentric Enlightenment that has also been the source of similar and serious critiques of both James’s Black Jacobins and Wright’s analyses of the colonial and decolonizing world. In the case of James, his deep investment in the European Enlightenment, according to certain critics, led to a form of elitism expressed in the figure of L’Ouverture that was insufficiently attuned to the importance of the subaltern slave masses themselves and the role of African-based knowledges and expressions in the uprising.10 Scott summarizes this line of critique: James, so these critics suggest, had a certain inclination to overvalorize Europe (and Western civilization more generally) and the elites who assimilated its ethos and values. He displayed, they find, an insufficient (anthropological and/or philosophical) appreciation for African—or African-derived—cultural practice and, in consequence, tended to diminish the space for its generative role in shaping the insurgent black agency at the base of the social order that made the San Domingo Revolution and made it, moreover, what is was.11 Although addressed to a different context and time, the substance of this critique of elitism and Eurocentrism echoes precisely what has been the most persistent and penetrating critique of Wright’s examination of the colonial and postcolonial world in his later work. Several critics have argued that Wright embraced an uncritical Enlightenment liberalism that mobilized his self-definition at the vanguard of modernity (along with those of the “tragic elite”) in direct opposition to what he often categorized as the backward traditionalism of the colonial world’s “folk minded masses.”12 His investment in the teleological logic of a global modernity, certain critics have argued, blinded him to expressions of African cultures as alternatives to that modernity, relegating them instead to its prehistory.13 In his critical appraisal of Black Power, Anthony Appiah, for instance, sharply rebuked Wright for deploying what he called a “rhetoric of distance,” which stressed the vast cultural divide between the “pre-modern” Africans and the “modern” Wright.14 Indeed, Wright’s investment in the teleological narrative of a liberatory modernity led to an analysis of the decolonizing world that sounded at times quite similar to the language of an emerging official discourse

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of development and modernization. In 1951, for instance, at the same time Wright was working on The Outsider, the United Nations Department of Social and Economic Affairs unveiled its own succinct theory of modernity: “Rapid economic progress is impossible without painful adjustments. Ancient philosophies have to be scrapped; old social institutions have to disintegrate; bonds of caste, creed and race have to burst; and large numbers of persons who cannot keep up with progress have to have their expectations of a comfortable life frustrated.”15 And two years earlier, in his Second Inaugural Address, Harry Truman announced his intentions to bring modernity to the entire world through his concept of a “fair deal.” More than half of the people of the world are living in conditions approaching misery. Their food is inadequate, they are victims of disease. . . . Their economic life is primitive and stagnant. Their poverty is a handicap and a threat both to them and to more prosperous areas. I believe that we should make available to peace-loving peoples the benefits of our store of technical knowledge in order to help them realize their aspirations for a better life. . . . Greater production is the key to prosperity and peace. And the key to greater production is a wider and more vigorous application of modern scientific and technical knowledge.16 Both Truman’s and the U.N.’s declaration construct the Third World as suspended in a preliminary stage of economic productivity and at an elementary stage in the history of becoming “modern.” In so doing, they effectively serve to isolate the Third World; or more specifically, they assign the causes of its poverty to its own “traditional” social and economic institutions, thereby rendering invisible the role of colonialism in instituting these very conditions. Poverty as such can become in Truman’s logic both the cause and effect of “stagnation,” which can be cured with a massive dose of Western scientific and technological knowledge. Modernization holds out the promise of “disintegrating,” however painfully, those vestiges of the premodern that serve as obstacles to economic progress, specifically the “ancient philosophies” and “old social institutions” defined as the “bonds of caste, creed, and race” (my italics). On one level, Wright shared with the official visions of both the U.N. commission and the U.S. administration a fundamental belief that one of the dilemmas—if not the key dilemma—of the postcolonial moment was that between what Wright deemed “tradition and industrialization.” And while Wright stressed that the reins of this development needed to

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be handed over by the West to the “tragic elite” of the colonial world, Wright did not doubt the fundamental logic of development. He concurred that modernization (“uprooting man from his ancestral, ritualized existence”) was a painful but necessary imperative. Indeed, in sharp contrast to the appeals to Negritude at the Conference in Paris in 1948, Wright laid out an explicit and polemical defense of modernization. In the process, Wright seemed at times to (re)inscribe the Third World into a frame of underdevelopment. “I am numbed and appalled,” he admits as a self-declared Westerner in White Man Listen!, “when I know that millions of men in Asia and Africa assign more reality to their dead fathers than to the crying claims of their daily lives: poverty, political degradation, illness, ignorance, etc.”17 Looking for a solution, Wright then poses a question that echoes much of the logic and language of the United Nations: “How can Asians and Africans,” he writes, “be free of their stultifying traditions and customs and become industrialized, and powerful, if you like, like the West?”18 Wright’s suspicion of traditional culture as an obstacle in the struggle for anticolonial independence, and his investment in modernization, are also clearly evident in his analysis of the historic 1955 Bandung Conference in The Color Curtain. Wright’s autobiographical travelogue expresses a good deal of excitement and hope about the conference in Jakarta, Indonesia, which brought together twenty-nine formerly colonized African and Asian countries and launched what came to be known as the Non-Aligned Movement. Nor was Wright restrained in gleaning the historical significance of the occasion. “Bandung was a decisive moment in the consciousness of 65 per cent of the human race, and that moment meant: HOW SHALL THE HUMAN RACE BE ORGANIZED? The decisions or lack of them flowing from Bandung will condition the totality of human life on this earth.”19 But Wright’s text also is filled with great trepidation and unease about Bandung and the type of postcolonial future it might inaugurate for what was just then coming to be known as the “Third World.” Specifically, Wright expresses deep anxiety about what he sees as the twin irrational forces of “Race and Religion” percolating at Bandung and in the East, which he suggests are the products of the afterlife of centuries of exploitation under colonialism. Wright argues that if these irrationalisms are not cut off with Western rationalism, they will lead to either fascism or communism if they are wedded to industrialization. Wright concludes that only a radical and antiracist secularism can counter the fear-driven fundamentalism, expressed as racialism, which he perceives to be ominously lurking at the conference. He argues

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that the decolonizing world must find a way to bypass the “irrational” and take from the West its secular rationalism without once again being under the yoke of Western oppression. By the end of the book, Wright’s analysis leads to a political conclusion that seems, at least on a rhetorical level, quite in keeping with Truman’s political calculations about U.S. investment of “scientific and technological knowledge” in the “developing” world in order to prevent it from becoming a “threat” to itself and “more prosperous areas.” Wright declares that the West has not only the right but indeed the obligation to “interfere” in the “East,” providing the resources of its “scientific knowledge” so that the “desperate need for development” could not combine in Asia and Africa with the irrationalism of racial and religious feelings to blossom into communism or fascism.20 This analysis, whose anticommunist strains certainly bear the political fingerprints of the Cold War period in which it was written, has led critics such as Bill Mullen to conclude that Wright could not see beyond the developmental logic embedded within the discourse of Western modernization, perceiving it as the only path forward for the Third World. “Wright’s means of giving shape to this mass through a continued course of Western rationalization,” Mullen writes, “constituted an attempt to bleach it of its red, yellow, or even black excesses in order to reconfigure Asia itself in the image, and imagination, of the ambivalent Western interpreter.”21 Nina Kressner Cobb argues that Wright’s staunch advocacy for a program of modernization and development for the “folk minded masses” of the Third World in The Color Curtain “is of a piece with his hostility, sympathy, repugnance and condescension toward Africa in Black Power.”22 While acknowledging the substance and seriousness of these criticisms, I want to suggest that Wright’s embrace of modernization is far more vexed, ambivalent, and ultimately complex than this strain of critique implies. First, Wright was keenly aware of the paradox of postcolonial development. That is, if you do not “modernize,” you are occluded, exploited. If you do, you are co-opted. It might be fairer to say that for Wright, the perils of the latter seemed somewhat less daunting. Second, it is perhaps reductive to claim that his use of the prevailing language of modernization and development necessarily suggests complicity with Western hegemony. In other words, does the language of modernization and development have to embody the logic of its official capitalist incarnation? Indeed, Wright’s later work might be more productively read as an effort—at times certainly uneven—to recast notions of modernization and development in terms of equity instead of growth and

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efficiency—a point to which I return at the end of the chapter. “Wright is better understood,” Kevin Gaines argues, “as a Marxist translator and defender of anticolonialism, neutralism, and a notion of development predicated on redistributive justice to a skeptical, if not racist, Western public.”23 But finally, and most important for the present discussion, while Wright defended—at times rather polemically—the paradigm of modernization, his later work also at the same time animated and challenged the logics and illogics inherent to modernization and modernity. Indeed, what Wright develops in The Outsider and in several of his later essays and travel narratives might be understood as putting forward a deeply critical or dialectical counternarrative to the discourse of development, one that reveals how “the bonds of caste, creed, and race,” are not merely impediments to the ostensibly necessary and liberatory expansion of American led modernization and modernity, as Truman laid out, but are in fact effects of those very processes. This is captured quite poignantly in The Outsider, in Cross’s discussion with the Party, quoted above, in which he points out that modernization is “uprooting man from his ancestral, ritualized existence and casting him into rational schemes of living in vast impersonal cities” (480). On one hand, Damon’s depiction pitting ancestral tradition against rational industrialization closely mirrors once again the U.N.’s portrait of development, quoted above—emphasizing as it does the “painful” ruptures with “ancient philosophies,” “old social institutions,” and traditional “bonds” that necessarily accompany the progress of development. On the other hand, however, Cross’s portrayal also casts a subtle counterimage of that very portrait of modernization. For while he employs a similar idiom of modernization and modernity— here tied to the city—Cross’s portrayal of “rational schemes of living in vast impersonal cities” evokes an urban landscape characterized not only by the grand designs and orderly planning of “rapid economic progress” but also by an economic and racial logic of stratification and segregation. Or rather, it is an image that subtly intimates both simultaneously and that suggests, as such, the inextricable link between the two. In other words, rather than modernization and modernity overcoming the “irrationality” of race and racism (an underlying premise of both Truman’s and the U.N.’s discourse of development, as well as Myrdal’s racial liberalism), Cross’s analysis here—as does Wright’s analysis throughout his later nonfiction writing—suggests that race and racial subordination are also produced by the process of development and the social, technological, and “rational” progress of modernization.

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Certainly within the United States itself during this period, modernization had sent black migrants into the industrial working classes and urban centers, where urban U.S. society responded with new “schemes of living”; specifically, as the historian Nikhil Pal Singh writes, “a much more enduring pervasive structure of spatial apartheid had been inscribed into the social landscape as the divide between urban ghettos and the suburban idyll. For just as Jim Crow subjugated blacks in the South, the black migrants who came North between World War I and the 1960s had their life chances curtailed and confined by racial separation violently enforced by riot, pogrom, hate strike, restrictive covenants, urban renewal, red-lining, and block busting.”24 This ghettoization of racial migrants (out of which both Cross Damon as well as Bigger Thomas erupt) not only cast serious doubt on the claims that U.S. citizenship and nationalism would relieve the condition of the black migrant working classes, but moreover, the systematic underdevelopment of black America challenged any singular account of the inherently progressive racial logic of modernization. This is certainly also how Wright framed his global analysis of slavery in his later work, in particular in his book Black Power—his travelogue of his journey to the Gold Coast colony in 1953 to witness and report on the nationalist movement for independence led by Kwame Nkrumah. “Slavery,” Wright argues in his extended historical analysis at the book’s outset, was not put into practice because of racial theories; racial theories sprang up in the wake of slavery, to justify it. It was impossible to milk the limited population of Europe of enough convicts and indentured white servants to cultivate, on a large and paying scale, colonial sugar, cotton, and tobacco plantations. Either they had to find a labor force or abandon the colonies, and Europe’s eyes turned to Africa, where the supply of human beings seemed inexhaustible.25 Wright acknowledges, furthermore, that his understanding of the capitalist logic underwriting the racial theories of slavery is deeply indebted to Eric Williams’s Capitalism and Slavery, a work that examines the constitutive role of slavery in the production of Western modernity. Williams’s book (a passage from which serves as the epigraph to book 1 of Black Power and that came out the same year as Myrdal’s An American Dilemma) challenged the progressive racial narrative of liberal history that underwrote the discourse of modernization, by arguing that

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capitalism and slavery, rather than being distinct modes of production, had been historically linked economic and ideological projects.26 Ultimately by reframing an analysis of race through the lens of modernization—as opposed to the transhistorical appeals of Negritude at the time—Wright’s work reveals black racialization as part of an international history of labor power and imperial capitalism, one that extends beyond national borders linking the United States to Europe and its empires. Indeed, it is in this context and in direct and polemical distinction to the contemporaneous Negritude movement, that Wright comes to increasingly define the meaning of blackness outside the nation, instead theorizing it as a sociohistorical construction and constitutive feature of an internationalized Euro-U.S. modernization or industrialization, as Paul Gilroy has argued in The Black Atlantic.27 Cross’s definition, for example, of “industry uprooting man” and casting him into the racial logics and landscapes of “vast impersonal cities” captures the vast black migration to northern cities within the United States, but it also provides a paradigm through which to reimagine or resituate that urban migration within an international frame of racial capitalism, which in turn establishes links between the racial alienage and underdevelopment of blacks under American modernity with other racialized groups under that same modernity and European colonial modernities. It emerges, for instance, out of the same imperatives of capital that had uprooted Carlos Bulosan and other Filipinos during the 1930s and 1940s (as we saw in chapter 1), and sustained them in a condition of legal alienage in the migrant fields of the West (as “noncitizen nationals”)—and out of the same imperatives of capital (as we will see in chapters 4 and 5) that uprooted the “mariners, renegades, and castaways” from C. L. R. James and Claudia Jones’s post–World War II Caribbean, holding them in a juridical state of alienage in the immigration prison of Ellis Island (as “illegal” and “undesirable” aliens). So what, finally, to make of this seeming paradox? What to make of the fact that on one hand there is Wright’s staunch advocacy of modernization and modernity, that is, modernization as the necessary path for the colonial world to overcome its “irrational” traditional culture on the road to an ostensibly liberatory modernity. And on the other hand, there is Wright’s seeming critical assessment of the racial logic intrinsic to that structure of capitalist modernity and modernization. The paradox, I argue, is expressed by and through Wright’s very own cosmopolitanism, which embodies simultaneously the promise of modernity and its failure. That is, on one hand, Wright’s self-declared

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rootless unbelonging is the condition that enables his position as the ideal cosmopolitan “citizen of the world” and the inheritor of modernity’s ideals of universal freedom, which resided in the radical break from the premodern past. Indeed, this rupture becomes the source of Wright’s defense of “the heritage of the West that I value—man stripped of the past and free for the future.”28 At the same time, Wright’s unbelonging testifies to the very limits of modernity’s universal ideal; Wright’s is a cosmopolitanism that emerges explicitly out of modernity’s limits. As Wright admits, his rootlessness, to quote again the opening of White Man Listen!, “is no personal achievement of mine. . . . I’ve been shaped to this mental stance by the kind of experiences that I have fallen heir to.”29 In other words, Wright’s individual rootless unbelonging has been shaped by and embodies a broader history and genealogy of alienage constitutive of the material condition of black life in the United States during the mid-twentieth century—the forced estrangement of black social groups from economic, social, and political rights within the nation. Ultimately, Wright is invested in the promise of modernity and modernization but is aware that it itself signals a crisis—that it arises from a philosophical and historical legacy at once defined by the ideals of right and reason and their failure. And the most acute sign of this failure, Wright suggests, is racialism. The question becomes then—a question Wright can be read as struggling with in various forms throughout his later work (The Outsider, White Man Listen!, Black Power, The Color Curtain)—how to transcend race within modernity. Or rather, how to diagnose the ills of modernity while still hanging on to the implicit and emancipatory project inherent in modernity? How to uphold the values of the Enlightenment in the face of the dark side of modernity? Wright’s work might be read in this context less as an embrace of the developmental logic of modernity and modernization than as an inquiry into their underlying contradictions—as a sustained and at times fraught examination through his own self-defined cosmopolitanism of the dialectic of postcolonial modernity. Wright captures this paradox poignantly in a moment in Black Power when he critically reflects on his prescription of modernization against tradition as the path to authentic freedom for Africa. And suddenly I was self-conscious; I began to question myself, my assumptions, I was assuming that these people had to be pulled out of this life, out of these conditions of poverty, had to become literate and eventually industrialized. But why? Was not the desire for

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that mostly on my part rather than theirs? I was literate, Western, disinherited, and industrialized and I felt each day the pain and anxiety of it. Why then must I advocate the dragging of these people into my trap?30 We might return in this context one last time to the figure of Toussaint L’Ouverture—or rather to David Scott’s description of L’Ouverture’s “tragic” heroism in the eyes of James—for it evokes the same paradox of modernity facing Wright and his “tragic elite.” “Toussaint’s specific world-historical importance” Scott writes, “resides in the fact that he was confronted with a challenge that would, from that moment on, forever frame the colonial and postcolonial encounter with Europe’s modernity: how to use the enlightenment that is his inheritance—and which as a consequence he cannot disavow—to secure and sustain the only image of freedom intelligible to him.”31 In other words, how to fashion an image of freedom in the very terms, institutional formations, and technologies in which modernity’s rationality sought his enslavement? In the end, Wright saw himself facing a very similar challenge at his later anticolonial historical moment of Bandung (for which L’Ouverture was, in James’s eyes, a precursor), and his effort to confront it brings us back to the figure of the “outsider” and to what I have been calling Wright’s “epistemology of unbelonging.” Specifically, I want to suggest that “unbelonging” becomes a mode through which Wright brings these two sides of modernity into critical, or what Edward Said has termed “contrapuntal,” dialogue. That is, unbelonging defines the standpoint of the restless and worldly cosmopolitan, but it also describes the mechanism of racial capitalism at the heart of modernity in producing difference (e.g., slaves, migrant laborers, “the mariners, renegades, and castaways”). Capitalist modernity produces “others” who are made to “unbelong.” The condition of unbelonging becomes then a mode through which Wright not only lays claim to modernity’s liberatory standpoint of the rootless cosmopolitan but also through which he imagines transnational and multiracial forms of cosmopolitan solidarity with modernity’s “others”—most important, for Wright, it is a mode through which the underdevelopment and alienage of black Americans can be linked to colonized subaltern populations globally, whose experience of being of the land but not the state was similarly illuminating of the hidden face of capitalist modernization and modernity. In bringing these two sides of modernity into dialogue, Wright’s cosmopolitan project both embraces the logics of

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modernity but also animates the logics of disavowal upon which those principles were founded—the occluded layered mechanisms of racial and colonial violence that Walter Mignolo has called the “hidden face of modernity and its very condition of possibility.”32 Here we might briefly return one last time to Cross Damon. James Baldwin was sharply critical of The Outsider in no small measure because he felt Wright had not yet decided how he felt about his main character, that Cross Damon remained a deeply flawed or failed character because Wright seemed to at once idealize him and abhor him. But approached within this contrapuntal frame of modernity, we might suggest that this is precisely the point. Cross is a deeply ambivalent and divided character because he bears tragically within his mind this paradox of modernity— at once its liberatory promise of freedom and autonomy but also its dark and violent counterpoint that has been its seeming inseparable historical accompaniment. It is Bakhtin’s dialogism again, where every issue opens up to opposite viewpoints, only in The Outsider it is within the very same person. And we might also suggest that it was this “dialogue” between a global modernity and its “hidden face” that was so disruptive to the existing linguistic ideological frame of the nation and, as I have tried to suggest, its attendant form, the novel. On one level, Wright’s turn to the genre of travel literature reflects his extended concerns to a global stage as expressed by his travels across African, Asian, and European countries. The genre of travel literature also expresses and embodies the type of solitary and nomadic subject position of rootless mobility and unbelonging that Wright articulated for himself. Indeed, the genre carries within it, however deeply problematic and contradictory, a principle quite in keeping with what Paul Gilroy has deemed a central ethic or value of cosmopolitanism, namely “the principled and methodical cultivation of a degree of estrangement from one’s own culture and history” and “the . . . exposure to otherness.”33 But Wright’s broader geographic imaginary also seems to have encouraged other formal or generic changes. In works such as Pagan Spain, The Color Curtain, and Black Power, Wright deploys the form and conventions of travel literature, but he combines them with a mixture of different genres including fiction, history, autobiography, and ethnography to create a hybrid form—what we might even call part-novels. It is as if in moving not only beyond the physical but also the ideological limits of the nation—specifically in order to put “Western” modernity in dialogue with the muted voices of its legacy of racial and colonial violence—Wright asserts the necessary fragmentation of forms.

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Wright’s dialectic of modernity ultimately echoes less the progressive narrative of racial progress reflected in official discourses of modernization (and Myrdal’s racial liberalism) than a much darker and selfcritical analysis of the disfiguring presence of racism and anti-Semitism in Western modernity that emerged the very same year as An American Dilemma: Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno’s The Dialectic of Enlightenment.34 Like them, Wright is committed to the principle that universal freedom is inextricable from enlightened thought; at the same time, he also shares their underlying suspicion that the ideology of the Enlightenment already bears within itself the source of its corruption. Wright is looking, as are Adorno and Horkheimer, for a critical and emancipatory rationality, a form of reason that does not suffer from the “irrationalities” of race and racialism that has so disfigured modern life. “How can the spirit of the Enlightenment and Reformation,” Wright states explicitly in “Tradition and Industrialization,” “be extended now to all men?” But Wright then immediately continues the thought in much more uncertain terms: “Can a way be found,” he wonders, “purged of racism and profits, to melt the rational areas and rational personnel of Europe with those of Asia and Africa?”35 Wright’s work is far more attuned to modernity’s inversions and reversals than those criticisms of his embrace of Western modernity and Enlightenment often suggest. Indeed, Wright’s entire cosmopolitan project harbors a lingering suspicion that modernity’s gift might in the end be inseparable from modernity’s curse. This is why for all its repeated declarations, Wright’s work continually evokes the lives that have been damaged or destroyed— the experiences that have been oppressed or repressed by modernity. Wright’s view is that freedom is not possible without Enlightenment. At the same time, Wright’s work does not, in the end, evince a belief in a neat fulfillment of the modern Enlightenment’s promise. There are even times when Wright’s work seems haunted by an even darker conclusion that might be drawn from the dialectic of Enlightenment. In “Tradition and Industrialization,” for instance, Wright traces in lengthy detail what he considers to be the ideological underpinnings of the colonial enterprise, specifically in relation to the principles of modernity and the Enlightenment. Wright argues that the rational outlook of modern Europe was contaminated by the irrational forces that it sought to overcome—in particular, an enduring racism enabled and preserved by the premodern “irrational” power of religion. Wright concludes that “merely rational motives could not have sustained the white men who damaged and destroyed the ancient Asian-African cultures and social

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structures; they had perforce to believe that they were the tools of cosmic powers, that they were executing the will of God, or else they would not have had the cruel daring to try to harness the body of colored mankind into their personal service.”36 At once scathing in its assessment of the incoherence and barbarity of the ideological justifications underwriting empire, Wright’s analysis can also be read as an effort to preserve or defend the promise of modernity by assigning responsibility for colonialism to the residual traditional formation of religion. That is, by presenting the evil of colonialism as an aberration to modernity enabled by the “irrationality” of religion, Wright can hold on to the ethical and emancipatory values expressed by the modern and keep at bay, perhaps uneasily, a different conclusion that might be drawn: namely, that the inhuman practices of racism and colonialism ultimately cannot be disaggregated from modernity because they are an immanent and inseparable part of its logic—that in the last instance, it might not be able to transcend race within modernity after all. Alexa Weik draws a useful and related connection between Wright’s cosmopolitan project and Walter Mignolo’s more recent theorization of what he calls “critical cosmopolitanism.” “Wright’s painful location,” she writes, “both inside and outside of American society . . . prepared him for the kind of ‘border thinking’ that Walter Mignolo considers prerequisite to a cosmopolitanism not determined by the hegemonic center.”37 Mignolo, in his essay “The Many Faces of Cosmo-polis: Border Thinking and Critical Cosmopolitanism,” traces the development of what he considers the two dominant historical strands of cosmopolitanism— “managerial” (e.g., Christianity, nineteenth-century imperialism, globalization) and “emancipatory” (e.g., Marx, Kant, human rights). The problem, Mignolo argues, is that however antithetical these two narratives have been to each other, and however dissenting the emancipatory narrative has been from the managerial, both remain perspectives of, or located within, modernity and have, as such, “failed to escape the ideological frame imposed by global designs themselves.”38 Mignolo advocates instead a cosmopolitanism founded from modernity’s “exteriority,” from the subaltern perspective of “coloniality.” This vantage point on the “border,” from “the various spatial and historical locations of the colonial difference,” has the potential of forging a “critical” cosmopolitanism, one that might challenge the “hegemonic imaginary” by rewriting modernity within or across the frame of colonial difference.39 While there are illuminating resonances here with Wright’s efforts to fashion a cosmopolitanism out of his self-defined vantage point on

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the “border”—both “inside and outside” the nation as well as that of the “West”—there is also a revealing difference between the two cosmopolitan projects. Mignolo’s “critical cosmopolitanism” hinges upon the difference between perspectives from “within” modernity and those from its “exteriority” (which Mignolo clarifies does not mean untouched by modernity and capital but their necessary other—the outside that “is needed by the inside”). Mignolo’s critical cosmopolitanism is clearly founded on the latter, which he sees as a potential source for forging alternative and multiple modernities in a global state of what he calls “diversality.”40 Mignolo finds an example of critical cosmopolitanism, for instance, in the Zapatistas’ use of democracy, which he argues is not “conceptualized in terms of European political philosophy but in terms of Maya social organization.”41 Wright’s cosmopolitan project, on the other hand, is an effort to use his position on the border to bring these two immanent sides of modernity into a critical dialogue in order to redefine the liberatory tradition of Western modernity and enlightenment—a tradition that, for Wright, is ultimately not simply Western but a singular and universal modernity in which we all share. That is not to say that there are not tantalizing moments in Wright’s later work (linked perhaps to the darker suspicions haunting the dialectic of modernity) when he seems to imply that the emerging postcolonial moment might require more than a vigilant reappraisal or revitalization of the existing rationality of Western modernity but an alternative to it. In other words, that the process of decolonization required imagining and constructing a sustainable concept of freedom within what Frantz Fanon termed, at the end of The Wretched of the Earth, “new concepts” that would will into being a new subject.42At the very end of The Color Curtain, for instance, Wright admits: I do not think that any merging of these rational, secular areas of East and West can come about within the terms . . . allied too organically with personal and national interests, to the capricious ebb and flow of that most mercurial of all realities: capital. New terms will have to be found, terms that will fit the nature of the human materials involved. And I think that Bandung, however fumblingly and naively, presented those materials.43 In the end, though, while Wright points here toward the need for “new terms,” or, as he puts it elsewhere, a “third way of knowing,” he remained ultimately within and committed—or perhaps we might even say bound, as was the figure of L’Ouverture in which Wright was so interested—to

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the idiom or “old” terms of Enlightenment modernity and modernization. (And given the dead-end of the Bandung project, the dissipation of postcolonialism into neocolonialism, and the hegemony of neoliberal globalization, one might suggest that the wait for those “new terms” remains, at the very least, ongoing.) However much Wright articulates his psychological distance, and however much he expresses the adversarial experiences of modernity’s “others,” he remains very much within the Western intellectual tradition of modernity at the same time. Indeed, Wright repeatedly argued that his position as a modern African American subject meant that he could not help but identify with the West, even though it also meant that he must question the failure of its ideals. This paradoxical stance is one that Paul Gilroy has made central to his reading of Wright, usefully defining it in Wright’s own language as his “negative loyalty” to the West.44 Declares Wright: “Since I’m detached from, because of racial conditions, the West, why do I bother to call myself Western at all? . . . The fact is that I really have no choice in the matter. Historical forces more powerful than I am have shaped me as a Westerner. I have not consciously elected to be a Westerner. I have been made into a Westerner. Long before I had the freedom to choose, I was molded a Westerner.”45 It is in this context that Wright is drawn, in turn, to those colonial intellectuals and leaders who were both critical of the West but sympathetic to its values (Nehru and Nkrumah, for example): the “tragic elite” who “carried on their shoulders the best of two worlds.” Nonetheless, we can also hear at the same time how Wright—located as he was at the moment of historical promise of Bandung—held out the hope that the terms of modernization and modernity did not have to align with Western hegemony and the avarice logic of capital. Generated not only from within but also contrapuntally or dialogically from the vantage point of modernity’s exteriority (from the historical location of colonial difference), appeals to the liberatory ideals of modernity as expressed by Wright did not imply simply calls for the expansion of the existing regimes of modernity in a politics of greater recognition or inclusion. For, as I have been suggesting, those existing norms of freedom had been structured upon the necessary absence or violent exclusion of those geographies and subjects of racial and colonial subalternity that have served as the externality of modernity. His dialogic appeals to freedom, as such, could not be integrated simply within the existing political horizons of Western modernity and modernization, but required their redefinition. Thus while Enlightenment principles provided Wright the conceptual voice for his emancipationist ambitions, he

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made those principles bear experiences not continuous with the actions governed by the established structures of freedom entrenched within existing institutions. “The changing physical structure of the world, as well as the historical development of modern society,” Wright declared in a letter to Nehru in 1950, “demand that the peoples of the world become aware of their common identity and interests . . . their solidarity is essential, not only in opposing oppression but also in fighting for real human progress.”46 Wright’s appeal here testifies, first, to how his cosmopolitan vision was oriented once again not simply to breaking with any and all forms of affiliation but to establishing and articulating broader, global forms of solidarity. But second, there is Wright’s use of “progress” here. On one hand, we might hear in it again Wright’s commitment to the developmentalist principles of “progress” for which he has so often been criticized. But building on the current argument, we might also hear in Wright’s entreaty the tension or suggestion of another meaning. If not an independent narrative of an “alternative modernity,” Wright’s notion of “real human progress” does seem to suggest—in its implied distinction—a desire for a redefinition of this central term of modernity into a “concept metaphor”—a term reclaimed to bear other possible meanings and other potential histories that again did not necessarily align with Western hegemony and the logic of capital.47 In the end, Wright theorized his subject position of unbelonging into a dialogic or contrapuntal cosmopolitanism—one in which its liberatory promise and its dark underside could be brought into conversation in the fragile hope of reconceptualizing modernity free of the “irrational” legacies of racism and colonialism that have been modernity’s hidden face and its very condition of possibility. He sought to forge out of the paradoxes of modernity’s promises and failures a vision, however at times tenuous, of a redefined, emancipatory modernity—one that might be “purged of its racism and profits,” embodying instead a vision of human freedom and equality in their most radical and ultimately universal forms.

II. Expanding American Modernity at Home and Abroad By way of conclusion, we might briefly return to that quasi-official narrative of Cold War racial liberalism: Gunnar Myrdal’s An American Dilemma. As previously argued, Myrdal’s conception of American culture as a developmental narrative effectively linked domestic racial

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progress to the rise of U.S. global power. But Myrdal’s developmental narrative of domestic racial reform was also founded upon many of the same fundamental logics as the post–World War II discourse of international development that underwrote U.S. understanding of and investment in the “Third World.” Thus beyond providing an ideological story that the United States could project abroad to help legitimate its “democratic” ambitions for the decolonizing world, the narrative of domestic racial progress inscribed within Cold War racial liberalism can also be seen as working together with the paradigm of development to establish a unique form of American hegemony or empire after World War II (in distinction to the discredited biological racial model of European colonialism) around an antiracist and anti-imperialist paradigm of “progress” that linked African American identity to the Third World in a shared condition of “underdevelopment.” In turn, this “underdevelopment” would be overcome through the proper expansion of American modernity and modernization at home and abroad. In assuming its proper role as world leader, Myrdal argued, the United States was finally completing its “main trend in history. . . . the gradual realization of the American Creed” (102). From this perspective, Myrdal again appealed to white Americans to repudiate their racial bigotry, arguing that racial hierarchy had no basis in American culture. Insofar as racial subjugation persisted in the United States, he concluded, it was a “residual” formation, which Myrdal was convinced would wither or “disintegrate” (to borrow a phrase from the U.N. Department of Social and Economic Affairs) under the gradual pressures of the expansion of modernity and economic modernization. As with development discourse, Myrdal’s vision was thus founded on the same notion of racial hierarchy and subjugation as both anterior to and antithetical to the progressive, historical course of American modernity. What is also important to reemphasize is how Myrdal cast the “distance” between “Negro culture” and “national culture” in terms of underdevelopment: “In practically all of its divergences, Negro culture is not something independent of general American culture. It is a distorted development, or a pathological condition of the general American culture” (928). This “pathological condition” was seen as the result of a prior exclusion from the national public sphere. In other words, a history of denying blacks normative national identities had “distorted” their ability to form the type of universal perspective or coherent vision embodied by the nation. Wright recast the problem of American universalism addressed in An American Dilemma from the epistemic standpoint of those located at

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the racialized limits of citizenship—those at once inside and outside the nation. Rather than describing a state of underdevelopment, confining blacks to “embryonic thoughts” and an inevitable racial particularism, this dis-identification from national culture—of being both “inside” and “outside”—is reconstituted by Wright into a site of epistemic privilege, or overdevelopment. “Am I ahead or behind the West?,” Wright rhetorically asked. “My personal judgment is that I’m ahead. And I do not say that boastfully; such a judgment is implied by the very nature of the Western values that I hold dear.”48 Wright and Myrdal, once again, were not merely close personal friends but evidenced strong mutual intellectual influences and commitments. In particular, central to An American Dilemma and to Wright’s later nonfiction essays and travel writing is a shared and explicit engagement with the principles of the Enlightenment—of rational reform and modernization—as a path forward beyond the persistent and disfiguring presence of racism in the United States and in the world. But in recasting that narrative of Enlightenment and of American universalism, not from the assumed vantage point of the white liberal subject (as was the case with The American Dilemma) but from the vantage point of racialized exclusion or alienage from national belonging, Wright’s work ultimately told a much more vexed and deeply vexing story about modernity, one that fundamentally questioned the historical and political logic of Myrdal’s racial liberalism. The progressive narrative of liberal history expounded by Myrdal’s work and development discourse effectively severed the connection between racial division and such “modernizing” or universalizing processes as capitalist industrialization. In casting the problem of universalism from the standpoint of the black, the oppressed, and the unfree both inside and outside the nation, Wright’s work invoked the liberatory promise of modernity and modernization but also revealed the extent to which racialism itself was a product of capitalist development and modernization. Rather than being a function of “backwardness,” intranational racial differences were understood by Wright as a product of the imperial history of modern capitalism, one that bound African American struggles with those against colonialism and imperialism elsewhere. In the end, Wright moved the people uprooted and “cast” into the racialized landscapes of “vast impersonal cities” into the central vantage point from which to rewrite the history of the period and to remap— both thematically and formally—the terrain of the United States into the world. Wright’s imperative was to bring this condition of alienage

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into critical consciousness—to fashion it into what I have been calling throughout this book a “counter-cosmopolitanism.” For Wright, the “distance” from normative national culture did not reinforce a singular American modernity used to render and regulate African Americans but became the source of a critical counterdiscourse—one that both embraced the logics of modernity but also animated the logics of disavowal upon which those principles were founded, namely, the veiled legacies of racial and colonial violence that have been its seemingly inextricable historical accomplice. Wright’s epistemology of unbelonging produced the framework for the examination of a modernity that revealed the particularity of American universalism and that understood racial divisions not as anomalous to, but instead as deeply woven into, the very fabric of a modernity whose global expansion, as such, far from guaranteed the expansion of the universal promise ostensibly embedded in the Enlightenment principles of the American Creed.

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The Undesirable Alien and the Politics of Form: Telling Untold Tales in C. L. R. James’s Mariners, Renegades, and Castaways We are not a nation, so much as a world.

—herman melville, Redburn

Buried beneath The Outsider’s main story of the existential antihero Cross Damon is another tragic tale that Richard Wright’s novel tells. It is the story of Bob Hunter, a minor character whose eventual fate reflects not only the broadly repressive political climate of the period but also curiously echoes a much more specific historical episode from the time of the novel’s writing. When first introduced to the reader, Hunter is working as a waiter on the train from Chicago to New York on which Cross is traveling in his escape from his former life. As we go on to learn after the two reconnect in New York City, he is also a labor organizer who is trying to develop a faction of the “Dining Car Waiters’ Union” and is also a member of the Communist Party. At first, the Party (CPUSA) supports Hunter’s organizational efforts but then changes its policy, even refusing to help Hunter in his defense against false accusations that he injured a white patron on the job—accusations that lead to his firing. The reason, a representative tells Hunter, is that the Party’s objectives in fighting worldwide totalitarianism would be better served through an alliance with American liberal democracy than by continuing to support an autonomous coalition of the black migrant working class. Feeling betrayed, Hunter refuses the directive and continues his radical labor activities on behalf of his fellow black workers. At the same time, he understands the implications of defying the Party and decides he must, as a result, go into hiding. As it turns out, this is the last the reader hears of Hunter. Only much later in the novel do we learn from his wife, Sarah, that the Trinidad-born Hunter—who had been living

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in the United States for more than a decade—has in fact been picked up by the INS after it received an “anonymous” tip that he was in the country “illegally,” and that he will be deported back to his home country. Hunter had previously fled British-controlled Trinidad to the United States under threat of incarceration because of his communist political activities there. Thus Hunter is ultimately left with no real “legal residence”; his black radical political activities have relegated him beyond the boundaries of both nation-states—a criminalized nonnational status that has consigned him to a life of incarceration. Indeed, as his wife, Sarah, describes, it has all but ended his life. “Bob’s dead,” she declares. “He can’t live out those years in that prison in Trinidad.” In this subplot of Bob Hunter’s imprisonment and deportation, Wright stages a tragic example of the broad theme I have been charting over the last two chapters—namely, the repressive closing down of alternative public spheres and the criminalization of black and migrant radicalism and labor organizing activities through the politics of citizenship during the early Cold War. But if Hunter’s story bears general witness to a tradition of migrant black radicals and the harsh political climate it faced at the time, it also intimates perhaps the contemporaneous fate of one migrant radical black intellectual in particular: that of the Trinidadborn activist, writer, and intellectual C. L. R. James, who was similarly incarcerated as an “undesirable alien” in 1952. Indeed, the year before Wright completed and published his novel, C. L. R. James, like Bob Hunter, had been arrested by the INS and arraigned on “passport violations” after months of harassment by the state for his radical labor activities. The state subsequently designated James, who had been living in the United States for the previous fourteen years and had applied for legal citizenship in 1947, a “subversive” and therefore subject to deportation under the McCarran-Walter Act. Passed in 1952 in the climate of the Cold War’s founding years, the legislation linked immigration with other political and security concerns of the state through the discourse of anticommunism. It constructed the “alien subversive” as a figure who ostensibly embodied the fundamentally foreign threat of communism to subvert U.S. democratic political culture and the state. Under this logic, the act gave the INS, which had been moved in 1941 from the Department of Labor to the Department of Justice under the directorship of J. Edgar Hoover, the unprecedented authority to arrest without warrant, hold without bail, and deport for an action that was legal when committed, any of the 2.5 million aliens residing in the United States.

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After his arrest, James served out a five-month internment on Ellis Island as he waited for his case to be processed. As I outlined in the introduction, Ellis Island had come to serve, over the prior twenty years, not as the largest point of entry for incoming immigrants but more often as a prison for unwanted aliens the state wanted to deport. And it was there on Ellis Island in 1952 that James began and largely completed a work he thought might help his case to remain in the United States: a book-length study of Melville’s Moby Dick entitled Mariners, Renegades, and Castaways: The Story of Herman Melville and the World We Live In.1 Indeed, as soon as James finished the manuscript, he sent privately published copies to the Court of Appeals and to every member of the House of Un-American Activities, along with a request for a one-dollar donation to his defense fund. It was “a wonderfully Jamesian gesture,” Stuart Hall has remarked. “It was as though he were saying, ‘You do not understand your greatest artist, Melville, and I do. How can you expel me for un-American activities when I am telling you that next to Shakespeare, here is the greatest use of the English language? . . . You should welcome me—not throw me out.’”2 The state, however, was unimpressed.3 Citing as evidence several of his other writings (e.g., his Trotskyite State Capitalism and World Revolution and A History of Negro Revolt) and his involvement with various “radical” organizations (including the Johnson-Forest Tendency, the socialist political group he founded in Detroit with Trotsky’s former secretary Raya Dunayevskaya, along with James Boggs and Grace Lee Boggs), the state denied his request, and C. L. R. James was deported from the United States as an “undesirable alien” in 1953. James’s book did not fare much better. Until its most recent reissue under the editorship of Donald Pease (2001), the book James wrote in 1952–53 was never republished in its complete form. In particular, the final chapter of Mariners, in which James provides a personal account of his internment on Ellis Island (and that takes up a good quarter of the manuscript), was either edited out completely (as in the 1978 Detroit Bewick edition) or reduced to but a few pages (as in the Allison and Busby 1985 edition). Neither edition supplies a reason for the cuts, but what these editorial decisions suggest, at least implicitly, is that the inclusion of a personal memoir of incarceration was irrelevant to the book’s overall significance: James’s literary interpretation of Moby Dick. Put in slightly different terms, the earlier editions testify to the type of formal and generic problems that James’s unusual book poses, namely, that its unruly form—mixing criticism with personal memoir (as well as with

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political commentary and with history)—needed “disciplining” into a more coherent or recognizable format of literary criticism. I would like to suggest, however, that these efforts to “re-form” James’s text do not merely reflect a misapprehension about what Mariners actually is but also provide a poignant example of the very categorizing drive of disciplinary formations that James’s text seeks to transgress. In this chapter, I argue that Mariners’ form, in particular its formal transgressions of generic boundaries, rather than being an obstacle to the book’s underlying content is in fact central to it—to its effort to extend the scope of what constitutes legitimate knowledges to include other forms delimited within regulative generic and correspondingly epistemological and political boundaries. Critics have often approached Mariners by connecting the text to the unusual context of its writing and have tended to read the book, in turn, as James’s attempt to use Melville’s novel to comment on the state of America during the early Cold War.4 Perhaps most influentially, Donald Pease, in his excellent introduction to the 2001 reissue of Mariners, argues that by rereading the “original” text from the standpoint of incarceration, Mariners operates both as an “interpretive exercise” of Melville’s novel and as a “juridical appeal” against James’s own incarceration and against a type of U.S. fascism emerging during the period, one embodied in the McCarran-Walter Act itself. James stages this critique, Pease argues, by using his political exclusion from the nation (which denied him any ability to speak through the law as a full rights-bearing subject) as a standpoint from which to recover the “untold” story of Melville’s recently rediscovered “national classic” Moby Dick—namely, that of the Pequod’s crew. “James engendered,” Pease writes, “a creative collaboration between the consciousness of the experiences he underwent on Ellis Island and the unnarrated memory of the harpooners’ pasts. This collaboration produced within James the recollection of the histories of colonial exploitation, Indian removal, and the African slave trade . . . disallowed the harpooners.”5 In the recovery of these “untold” stories, James found a way to re-present a nonnational community capable of challenging the coherence of the “national community,” resituating it, and the existent field of American studies (whose exceptionalist frame the terms of Moby Dick’s canonization had helped delimit), within a critical transnational frame. While building on Pease’s argument, this chapter focuses not on the content of James’s analysis but instead on its form. More specifically, it examines James’s effort to rethink—through an anticolonial and

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Marxist lens—the political limits of the novel form in general and the realist novel in particular as representational regimes. I argue that the “stories” of the “mariners, renegades, and castaways”—of the racialized migrant laborers, refugees, and aliens on both the Pequod and Ellis Island—emerge precisely at the ideological and representational limits of Melville’s novel and the United States. Thus, telling their “untold” stories—or “unnarrated memory”—required, for James, not only different or additional content, but, more important, different cultural forms if those stories and subaltern knowledges were to be represented. As such, rather than simply representing an odd or politically motivated literary interpretation of Moby Dick (as it is often read), James’s Mariners—with its generic mix of criticism, memoir, political commentary, and history—can instead be read as James’s attempt to enact precisely this different form of representation—in particular, as an effort to decenter the realist novel as the privileged form of postcolonial representation and articulate a different representational mode, one that might enable the political and cultural emergence of these racialized nonnational migrant laborers as a new social group. The second section of the chapter extends this discussion, reading James’s text as an effort not only to enact an alternative cultural form of representation capable of telling these untold tales of the nation but also a corollary attempt to articulate an alternative political form of representation to that of the nation as well. Specifically, James finds in this collection of racialized and stateless migrant laborers a model for theorizing a form of political subjectivity, one reducible neither to liberal discourses of citizenship nor to the existing models of socialist internationalism but instead one founded upon his emergent theory of federation. As a prison for “enemy aliens” floating geographically and ideologically at the boundaries of the United States, Ellis Island bears witness at once to the inequities and ideological limits of the nation-state and to the often aberrant and incoherent workings of U.S. empire. At the same time, Ellis Island also provides James a political geographic form for imagining new topographies of identity and community beyond the domain of modern citizenship—a “federation” of stateless migrants or “isolatoes” that extends beyond the nation’s perimeters and that connects minority struggles within the United States at the limits of national belonging to those fought against imperialism in the Caribbean.

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I. Reading Untold Tales In his 1953 edition of Mariners, James describes the influence of the unusual scene of the book’s writing: I had long contemplated a book on Melville. . . . What form it might have taken had I written it according to my original plans I do not know. But what matters is that I am not an American citizen, and just as I was about to write, I was arrested by the United States Government and sent to Ellis Island to be deported. . . . I therefore actually began the writing of this book on the Island, some of it was written there, what I did not write there was conceived and worked over in my mind there. And in the end I finally came to the conclusion that my experiences there have not only shaped this book, but are the most realistic commentary I could give on the validity of Melville’s ideas today. (125) James characterizes Mariners here not only as an interpretation of Moby Dick but also as a recounting of the experiences surrounding his reading of the text. As James makes clear, however, this account is meant not merely to illuminate how his “experiences” influenced his understanding of Melville’s novel but also to serve itself as a form of “commentary,” specifically on the “validity of Melville’s ideas today.” On one hand, the “commentary” of James’s incarceration can be understood as a kind of testimonial to the enduring and potentially growing totalitarianism of the United States during the early Cold War, which Melville had foreseen and prefigured in Ahab’s command a century earlier. At the same time, the “commentary” of his experiences also points to a more complex writing practice James fashions in Mariners. Specifically, James finds in his own personal experience a link to that of the crew on the Pequod—a “shared” experience out of which James positions himself not only to reread Melville’s work but also at the same time to retell it, to present, as it were, his own version of the “story” of Moby Dick. The “story” that emerges is one in which the “mariners, renegades, and castaways” represent Moby Dick’s main protagonists and central ethical agents. Yet, James is not simply proposing an idiosyncratic reading of a secondary theme; nor is he merely “reimagining” Melville’s work. Instead, James rearranges large sections and quotes from Moby Dick (challenging the conventions of literary criticism) in order to render the tale, he argues, that Melville had initially set out—but failed—to tell. In this respect, Mariners represents less an effort to provide a definitive analysis or reading of Melville’s work. Rather, James transvalues his own

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alienage and imprisonment on Ellis Island into an analytic opportunity from which to recover and retell the intended but untold tale of Moby Dick—the story Melville wanted to tell but could not. James focuses on the following moment extracted from Moby Dick in which the implied author appears to state his narrative ambition: If, then, to meanest mariners and renegades and castaways, I shall hereafter ascribe high qualities though dark; weave round them tragic graces; if even the most mournful, perchance the most abased, among them all, shall at times lift himself to the exalted mounts . . . then against all mortal critics bear me out in it, thou just Spirit of Equality, which hast spread one royal mantle of humanity over all my kind! (quoted in Mariners, 17) James contends that while Melville declared this goal, he failed to pursue it. Instead, he wrote the story as the conflict between Ahab, the Pequod’s totalitarian captain, and Ishmael, the ship’s resident intellectual. James uses the passage above as evidence that Melville clearly “intends to make the crew the real heroes of his book” but he does not because, James writes, he was “afraid of criticism,” or, as elsewhere James puts it, “he was doubtful if people would understand him” (18, 17). For James, Melville’s fear of “criticism” and intelligibility was both a political and aesthetic apprehension. In other words, for Melville to have made the crew the main characters of his novel in 1851 would have been—both politically and aesthetically—in bad form.

minor(ed) characters In his book on “character” in the nineteenth-century realist novel, The One vs. the Many, Alex Woloch argues that within the realist novel there exists a discursive and formal tension between a desire, on the one hand, to tell the story of many characters (the many) and an inevitable turn to an attention to a few or single protagonist (the one).6 Woloch argues that this “asymmetric structure of characterization— in which many are represented but attention flows toward a delimited center” registers formally the tensions or limits of the nineteenthcentury bourgeois political imagination. He writes: “In my reading of the realist aesthetic, a dialectical literary form is generated out of the relationship between inequality and democracy. . . . In the paradigmatic character-structure of the realist novel, any character can be a protagonist, but only one character is: just as increasing political equality, and a maturing logic of human rights, develop amid acute economic and

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social stratification.” 7 In other words, the realist novel expresses or is reflective of a growing democratic impulse to tell the story—to literally represent the many—at the same time that it inevitably privileges a hierarchical attention to the singular protagonist. Indeed, the inevitable emergence of a central protagonist as a self-reflective consciousness in the realist novel, Woloch argues, in fact depends upon the “minoring” or subordination of other characters (of the many) within the narrative structure. Woloch’s argument provides a useful frame for situating James’s rereading and retelling of Moby Dick. That is, James finds in Melville a similar political desire to tell the story of the crew (i.e., the many) but that he ultimately turns his narrative attention instead to Ishmael (i.e., the one) “for fear of criticism.” In this respect, Mariners can be read less as James’s interpretation of the “original” than as his effort to tell that more radically democratic “untold” story of the “many.” But what, then, has enabled James to tell this more radically democratic story in 1952 that Melville could not tell in 1851? This, for James, is a fundamentally historical question and correspondingly one of changing political and cultural forms of representation—a question that illuminates Mariners’ complex relationship to Moby Dick and also, more generally, the methodology of dialectical materialism underwriting so much of C. L. R. James’s work. In his approach to literature and culture, James was drawn to writers and characters in whom he saw embodied the great dialectical contradictions and crises of their historical moment, and in whom the traces of a new historical age could be found. David Scott, in his reading of James in Conscripts of Modernity, describes James’s methodology eloquently: James was most impressed by the problem of the historical moment of tragedy, those moments of large historical conflict in which new forms of thought and action are struggling relentlessly with old: Aeschylus in fifth-century Athens, Shakespeare in early modern England, Melville in nineteenth-century America. They all wrote in a time of historical upheaval or civilizational rupture. For James, these were moments not merely of transition, but moments when great historical forces were at irreconcilable odds with each other, in which the tensions between competing historical directions were at a particularly high pitch, and in which new kinds of subjects . . . were being thrown upon the historical stage, individuals

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embodying within their single selves the mighty conundrums and divisions of their age.8 In the case of Melville’s novel Moby Dick, James saw Ahab as a “new kind of historical subject” embodying “the mighty conundrums and divisions” of his age—namely the historical upheavals and ruptures in the mid-nineteenth-century rise of industrial capitalism. Specifically, Ahab represented the new class of “managers, superintendents, executives, administrators” who Melville, in James’s analysis, had prophetically seen would rise to prominence as a result of the increasing bureaucratization of capital (what James calls elsewhere “state capitalism”) taking place in industrial civilization. Exploiting the growing historical crisis of capital, and especially the growing degradation experienced by the individual under the mechanization of industrial capital, it would be these “managers” (not, at least initially, the proletariat) who would overturn social and economic relations for their own political gain, and they would do it using the racial and economic ideologies of nationalism and the nationstate. Ahab embodied, as such, an emerging historical form of “totalitarianism,” a theoretical category James subsequently used to explain and link the rise of Nazism and Stalinism, along with the growing racial nationalism of Cold War America. At the same time, James also finds in Moby Dick Melville’s effort to trace the emergence of another historical subject of industrial capital and empire—namely that of the Pequod’s multinational, multiracial laboring crew. The “lowly mariners, renegades, and castaways” represent, for James, the true ethical alternative in the novel to the totalitarian compulsions of Ahab’s command. “The contrast,” James writes, “is between Ahab and the crew” (28) But if the crew’s stories end up largely “untold,” it is because, according to James, making the crew the main characters of the novel would have forced Melville to center the question, “Why didn’t the men revolt?” (53). And this is a question, James suggests, Melville was “not asking,” again out of “fear,” and because it was a question whose answer Melville himself at this historical juncture, according to James, “does not really know” (63). In other words, as both of these conclusions here imply in different ways, a tale of collective resistance by the laboring crew remains “untold” because it was a “story” as yet beyond the limits of the mid-nineteenth-century bourgeois political imagination. Alternatively, James suggests that as he sits down to reread Melville’s novel in 1952, world-historical events over the previous decade have now made the “story” of these subaltern “mariners, renegades, and castaways”

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legible. “The writer of this book confesses frankly that it is only since the end of World War II, that the emergence of the people of the Far East and of Africa into the daily headlines . . . it is only this that has enabled him to see the range, the power and the boldness of Melville and the certainty with which he wrote down what he intended to do” (19). If James thus casts Melville as writing during a transitional period of “civilization upheaval” during the mid-nineteenth century—one embodied in the “new historical subject” of Ahab—James, in Mariners, positions himself as writing, in the decolonizing context of 1952, at another transitional moment of civilization upheaval, but now one in which “the new historical figures” are not individuals (“single selves”) but a collectivity of laborers marked by race and empire: the “mariners, renegades, and castaways” of the modern and postmodern world. It is this story that James’s rereading or retelling ultimately draws forth, of the racialized nonnational laborers whose work sustains the lives on board the ship and that has built U.S. society, but which remains “minored” by the novel and disqualified by the nation. It is a story Melville had begun to tell but only tangentially: [Melville] tells us that in 1851, while white American officers provided the brains, not one in two of the thousands of men in the fishery, in the army, in the navy and the engineering forces employed in the construction of American canals and railroads were Americans. They came from all over the world, were islanders from places like the Azores and the Shetland Islands. Nearly all on Ahab’s ships were islanders, and in fact nearly all the nations of the globe had each its representative. (18) And it is in his attempt to tell this untold story—of the special collectivity of nonnational workers—that James can be understood, returning to Woloch, as challenging both the ideological limits of the bourgeois political imagination and its attendant literary form at the time, the realist novel. Telling these stories, in other words, generates the need for both different political and cultural forms of representation. Ultimately, Mariners can be read as James’s effort to do exactly this—to imagine and enact this different cultural—and correspondingly political—form. Returning to Scott’s depiction of James’s methodology, we might make one final addendum. That is, for James, the “great historical forces” in which “new forms of thought and action” are struggling to emerge find their expression not only in “new kinds of subjects” but also correspondingly in new kinds of cultural and literary forms. James was deeply

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interested in the social history or dialectics of form, that is, how “new forms of thought and action” historically emerged with and generated new forms of literature and culture adequate to their expression and further development. As he writes in a letter to the Melville critic Jay Leyda, “Each historical rebel, rebels against something very specific and it takes a specific literary form, precisely because of its specific social character.”9 The question then becomes, if the “historic rebel” of Ahab finds his form in the nineteenth-century realist novel, what “specific form”—if Mariners now centers on these multinational and multiracial laborers as the “historic rebels” of his contemporary moment—does James make adequate to the “specific social character” of their rebellion, to their more radically democratic story of the “many”? Certainly, one might suggest that the discourse of realism and the form of the realist novel itself went on to engage directly this issue of representing the “many.” Indeed, James himself grappled with this very question through realism, most notably in his own realist novel Minty Alley (published almost twenty years earlier in 1936). Hazel Carby, in her essay “Proletarian or Revolutionary Literature: C. L. R. James and the Politics of the Trinidadian Renaissance,” situates James’s early novel in the context of an interconnected anticolonial national and socialist international effort at the time to rethink the nature of realism.10 In particular, Carby focuses on how larger worldly debates about proletarian literature profoundly influenced James—and Trinidadian literature more generally—to emphasize narrative realism and to make it a means for the representation of the poor and dispossessed as a way of incorporating the creation of a Trinidadian national literature with the political struggle to achieve independence. “In Trinidad,” she writes, “the fictional representation of ‘the people’ and the maturation of a socialist politics occurred together as writers translated their admiration for the Soviet experiment and the proletarian movement in North America into engagement with the specific conditions of the Caribbean and of colonialism.”11 What James’s own novel thus bears witness to is the profound changes that the discourse and function of the realist novel underwent during the first half of the twentieth century and as it traveled, for instance, to the colonial world—in particular as the form was made to bear the concrete historical and social experiences of the “many.” At the same time, however, Carby concludes that Minty Alley represents the very “limits of what Caribbean intellectuals thought they might achieve in fiction in the 1930s.”12 This conclusion brings us to the question of the role of the intellectual in the politics of representation, which Carby

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argues is the very subject of James’s early novel. Focusing on the novel’s narrative device in which the main character observes the people in the barracks yard through a hole in the wall, Carby claims, “Its central paradigm is the problem of how the intellectual can represent, either politically or figuratively, the Trinidadian proletariat.”13 It stages James’s keen awareness of his alienation—that the intellectual as intellectual producer/ author cannot be dissociated from the intellectual as member of the petty bourgeoisie that formed him as he attempts to represent the “many.” If the realist novel could thus be made to represent the “many,” its formal structure still kept in place a representational and political distance James as an intellectual sought to overcome—of the “one” representing the “many.” It is worth emphasizing that James never wrote another novel, and indeed his career was marked by a move across an extraordinary array of genres: histories, plays, autobiography, criticism, journalism, cultural studies. Often seen as evidence of James’s remarkably wide-ranging and eclectic interests (and symptomatic of the difficulty of combining the various aspects of his political investments into any coherent whole), we might also read these generic moves as an ongoing and consistent effort by James to find a form/genre capable of more adequately addressing the enduring problem of representation staged in Minty Alley. Belinda Edmondsen, in her excellent analysis of James’s The Black Jacobins, makes a similar argument to that of Carby: “Toussaint’s recasting as a Jamesian author-figure of the revolution is useful to us as a metaphor for the privileged relationship of the author to revolutionary engagement in Caribbean narrative: that is, [male] authors ‘author’ revolution through fiction.”14 My point is that in Mariners, James is attempting to enact a form that readdresses exactly this enduring “problem of representation”—of the “privileged relationship of the author to revolutionary engagement.”

the politics of form iii It is with this in mind that I return to Mariners’ last chapter, in which James moves from a discussion of Moby Dick to an account of his incarceration and to a series of discussions with and about his fellow prisoners. In doing so, I want to focus on the conclusion that James draws about his fellow inmates at the very end of the chapter. “This is my final impression,” James concludes: The meanest mariners, renegades and castaways of Melville’s day were objectively a new world. But they knew nothing. These [referring to his fellow Ellis Island inmates] know everything. The

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symbolic mariners and renegades of Melville’s book were isolatoes federated by one keel, but only because they had been assembled by penetrating genius. These were federated by nothing. But they were looking for federation. (153–54) First, James’s use of the term “federation” here is telling; it is the expression he uses throughout Mariners to describe the crew’s moments of unity. He quotes the following line from Melville, for example, three separate times: “Yet now, federated along one keel, what a set these Isolatoes were!” (18). James clarifies that this “federation” is built upon the social character of the crew’s labor. “They are a world-federation of modern industrial workers. They owe allegiance to no nationality. . . . They owe no allegiance to anybody or anything except the work they have to do and the relations with one another on which that work depends” (20). On one level, a “world-federation” sounds like nothing more than the socialist model of the international proletariat; workers as the “perfect cosmopolitans” united not around common nationality but on the basis of their specific position within the economic world-system, represented by the Pequod. But if “federation” builds upon the model of socialist internationalism, James also uses it to imagine a political form specifically in opposition not only to individualist bourgeois models of citizenship but also to the forms of collectivism advocated by international socialism at the time. “They are not,” he cautions, “to be confused with any labor movement or what is today known as the international solidarity of labor” (20). James, it is crucial to point out, had recently broken with Trotskyism, in particular over its revolutionary theory of vanguardism. Indeed, in direct opposition to the vanguard conception of the intellectual and Party as necessary mediators of the expressions of the workers into organized political movements and action, James, as I mentioned in the previous chapter, was attempting at the time to develop as an activist a theory of what he called “self-activity,” which emphasized the capacity for self-government from below, or what he deemed the “spontaneous expressions” of the workers themselves.15 James’s use of “federation” is part of that effort; it is intended to describe a “spontaneous” political form of collectivity immanently expressed by the isolated groups of workers (“federated isolatoes”) themselves through their work, obviating any role for the Party in their definition or organization into a larger political body. “If he were alive today,” writes James referring to Melville, “he would turn in horror from Socialists, Communists, Anarchists,

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Trotskyists and all who set themselves up . . . as the vanguard, the organizers, the educators, the leaders of the workers” (20). But what the above passage also registers is the question of James’s own relation (as an intellectual) to these “mariners, renegades, and castaways” and the question again of how to represent them not only politically but culturally in a form consistent with his belief in “self-activity.” More to the point, if Melville was able to “federate” the “symbolic” crew through the form of the novel, James, as he suggests here, is looking for a form that would enable the crew in a sense to represent themselves. For James, there was a tension, I believe, in regard to the form of the novel in that it functioned in many respects like a vanguard party—that is, an individual representing “the people.” Thus, if these contemporary “mariners, renegades, and castaways” were “looking for federation,” what form could James find that did not put him in the similar position of the vanguard, or Melville, or even worse, the Pequod’s resident intellectual, Ishmael? It is in this context that we might readdress James’s conclusion. It is written, first, in the form of a personal memoir of his incarceration. “The first thing that happened,” begins section 1, “was that within an hour of my arrival, I was placed in a special room for political prisoners” (126). Throughout the subsequent conclusion, James no longer is reading Moby Dick but carefully documenting his own experiences on Ellis Island and those of his fellow inmates—a global amalgam (“the whole of the world is represented,” writes James) of working-class migrant men—sailors, soldiers, workers, and even a “castaway”—clearly intended to embody the class of “mariners, renegades, and castaways” Melville had prefigured a century earlier. James relates story after story that begin thusly: “There was a Canadian soldier, a man put in as a mental case . . .” (129); or “Another case was that of an Irishman . . .” (129); or “One is of a young Latin American sailor . . .” (152); or “There was a Scandinavian who had traveled all over the world . . .” (153). In short, out of the proximity of his shared status as a prisoner and “minored” character, that is, as someone whom the state has included within the category “mariners, renegades, and castaways,” James documents the multiple “untold” stories and subaltern vernacular knowledges of his fellow “mariners, renegades, and castaways” circulating “off-shore.” Walter Benjamin deemed this type of practice that of the “storyteller.” Distinguishing it from the role of the “author,” upon which he argues the form of the modern novel is founded, Benjamin situates the storyteller instead within a communal oral tradition based upon remembering

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and relaying the experiences and tales of others—it is “always the art of repeating stories.”16 “Experience,” he writes, “which is passed on from mouth to mouth is the source from which all storytellers have drawn.”17 Storytelling is not, in turn, preoccupied with the “remembrance” of the single individual or author, as he suggests is the case with the novel, but instead with the “reminiscences” of the many. In language that suggestively prefigures that of Woloch, Benjamin writes, “The first is dedicated to one hero, one odyssey, one battle; the second to many diffuse occurrences.”18 The model of the storyteller, according to Benjamin, comes from two different historical sources: “the trading seaman”—someone “who has come from afar” bringing with him experiences and knowledges of distant places—and “the resident tiller of the soil,” a man with intimate knowledge of the “local tales and traditions” of the community in which he is so rooted.19 We might consider James in these terms less the “author” of Mariners, Renegades, and Castaways than the “storyteller” of the incarcerated heterogeneity of “minor” characters on Ellis Island. In this respect, while it has been read either as an awkward (and unnecessary) addendum to his literary analysis of Melville’s novel or as part of his political protest against his imprisonment and the Cold War state more generally, James’s conclusion can also be considered as a “natural but necessary conclusion” to the book’s inquiry into the politics of form. That is, Mariners traces a historical/political development through form. It moves from the novel—a form again in which the mariners are federated but only due to the advanced knowledge of the author/intellectual, that is, Melville’s “penetrating genius”—to James’s enactment in the book’s conclusion of a different cultural form, namely, a hybrid form of memoir and cultural studies in which James attempts to record—instead of “authoring”—the multiple tales and knowledges of the crew themselves. It is now their “penetrating genius”; as he says, “these know everything.” Put in slightly different terms, we can hear in James’s insistence on the comprehensiveness of the knowledge of the “mariners, renegades, and castaways” an implicit critique, once again, of vanguardism and the grounds of a different role for the intellectual. For why is there a need for the intellectual to mediate or educate these migrant laborers’ expressions into a modern language of political theory if they already “know everything”? James’s intent, enacted in the form of Mariners, is instead to document and identify the subaltern knowledges—“the penetrating genius”—in the “spontaneous expressions” of the “mariners, renegades,

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and castaways,” knowledges that remain disqualified and unheard by the infrastructure of the modern state. Read in this context, we might thus see Mariners, though a reading of Moby Dick, as a crucial text in James’s development of a unique form of cultural studies. We might see it, for instance, as an important precursor to James’s subsequent memoir and classic work of cultural studies, Beyond a Boundary, in which James documents and reads the swings and postures of cricket batsmen as modes of social representation. We might also see Mariners as replicating the central argument underwriting his epic if unfinished study of the United States, entitled American Civilization. In that work, James analyzes “American civilization” from the mid-nineteenth century to his contemporary moment in the midtwentieth century, and he similarly structures the historical/political analysis of the book through a history of form. Specifically, James distills the development of American civilization from a nineteenth-century “culture of intellectuals” to the emergence of the “people” in the twentieth century “as the animating force of history”—a force expressed by and through the rise of popular culture. Finally, my interest is not in deciding whether James is “successful” or not in this effort (that is, whether James does not end up reproducing himself as the “author” of his fellow inmate’s “revolutionary” energy) but in recognizing it. After all, if we return to James’s conclusion, we might ask how it is that if these “mariners, renegades, and castaways” now “know everything,” why are they “looking for federation”? Why, simply put, do they not know how to federate themselves? In that aporia, James seems to rewrite the role of the intellectual as once again “authoring” and arranging the knowledge through which these migrants might link themselves to a larger collective political body. But I do think that recognizing or identifying James’s effort and considering Mariners as a different form or genre of cultural production is significant not only for reappraising James’s text but also for working to extend the scope of what constitutes valid forms of knowledge to include other forms and genres whose transgressive force of articulation have been excluded or “minored” by regulative generic or disciplinary formations—including, or perhaps especially, the novel as the overwhelmingly privileged form of representation in postcolonial studies. Indeed, the fact, once again, that Mariners’ conclusion was edited out of previous versions suggests that what James was attempting to do—his effort to transgress formal or generic boundaries in order to retell these “untold” tales of the novel and the nation—remained illegible and in need of “disciplining,” thus

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“minoring” these stories all over again. In the end, then, while a reading of Moby Dick, Mariners can also be read as an attempt to decenter the novel and an effort to articulate a different representational mode—one that might rethink the relationship between artist/intellectual and the “people” (including James’s own) and one that might enable the “unnarrated” stories of the “mariners, renegades, and castaways” haunting both Melville’s novel and the United States to be told.

II. Islands and Isolatoes In this section, I would like to return to James’s account of Ellis Island and his experience of imprisonment there in 1952—which he deemed “essential” to the book’s meaning and the form it took—but follow his story in a different direction. Specifically, if out of his experiences on Ellis Island James sets out to enact a different cultural form—one again that might enable these untold stories of the “mariners, renegades, and castaways” at the representational threshold of the nation and the novel to be told—James’s text also finds in Ellis Island both a juridical space (a prison for “enemy aliens”) and a geographic space (an island) out of which to imagine a correspondingly different political form to that of the nation-state. As an island colony for the incarcerated heterogeneity of the “mariners, renegades, and castaways,” Ellis Island becomes a space unhinged from the nation through which James not only challenges the limits and contradictions of the liberal nation-state but also reimagines this subaltern counterpublic of racialized migrant laborers as an alternative postnational form of community and subjecthood—namely, a “federation” of stateless migrants, or “isolatoes,” that extends beyond and across the national boundaries of the United States to include the experiences and political geography of the Caribbean. In Black Empire, Michelle Stephens reads Mariners as James’s analysis of America as “a new kind of transnational empire,” arguing that he finds in Ahab’s Pequod the early traces of a United States–led globalizing economic order that had become dominant in the years after World War II and had come to replace European colonial models of empire.20 At the same time, Mariners also stages, she suggests, a corresponding political critique of the racial nationalism that James believed had arisen with that form of empire and had come to undermine the promise of America as a truly multiracial state. While America had held out the possibility for James of a “true multinationalism and thus an authentic

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non-racialism,” James’s Mariners chronicles from prison the failure of that universal ideal—a failure that began a century earlier when the state “used racial doctrines to justify slavery.”21 It is, in turn, within and against this context that James advances, Stephens concludes, a model of federation as offering a counterpoint to the racial logics of the nationstate and a form of political and economic solidarity—in particular for the Caribbean—responsive to an ever-expanding American-led globalized capitalist order. While building on Stephens’s analysis—in particular her discussion of federation—my analysis of the political and social formation represented by the “mariners, renegades, and castaways” of James’s text diverges in two ways. First, I am specifically interested in the relationship between the alternative political forms to the nation-state that the book imagines and its unique cultural form. Put briefly, I have been concerned with how the book not only represents the political model of federation but also how it enacts it. Indeed, if we can suggest that the novel represents, in many regards, the quintessential literary form of the nation, as so many critics have suggested, then James’s Mariners might be considered as an effort to develop a distinct and unique literary form correspondent to that of federation. Second, my analysis in the next half of the chapter focuses specifically upon the concept of alienage. James locates in the incarcerated community on Ellis Island not only evidence of the limits and failings of the American nation-state but a counterformation to both that of liberal citizenship and the prevailing socialist model of the proletariat. As with each of the other writers examined in this study, James thus transvalued his alienage into an analytic opportunity from which to fashion alternative social and political imaginaries to the nation—specifically, in the case of James, a community of racialized migrant laborers, or “isolatoes,” at the limits of citizenship. In this context, alienage provides a conceptual and political lens through which to resituate James’s analysis of Ellis Island during the early Cold War into the context of much more enduring and broader political and theoretical concerns of James—namely, his ongoing if sporadic attempt to theorize the relationship between class and racial difference; his effort to connect minority struggles within the United States with those fought against imperialism elsewhere; and finally, his effort to use the political geography of the island to imagine pluralistic and cosmopolitan forms of political community that looked beyond ideological and racial limits of the nation-state.

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* * * Within this framework of alienage—and specifically within the geographic frame of alienage embodied by the detention center of Ellis Island—I would like to return once more to the opening of Mariners, where James frames his text by again juxtaposing his own scene of writing to that of Melville: Melville built his gigantic structure, a picture of world civilization, using one small vessel, with a crew of thirty-odd men, for the most part isolated from the rest of the world. Here was I, just about to write, suddenly projected onto an island isolated from the rest of society, where American administrators and officials, and American security officers controlled the destinies of perhaps a thousand men, sailors, “isolatoes,” renegades and castaways from all parts of the world. It seems now as if destiny had taken a hand to give me a unique opportunity to test my ideas of this great American writer. (125–26) Ellis Island and the Pequod are homologous here in that both are spaces that function as monads. Autonomous enclosures (an “island” and “one small vessel”), they are at once “isolated from society” but at the same time make manifest a condensed vision of that society. In this regard, we can think of these spaces as modes of representation—(they are used, as James states, to “create a picture”)—that is, they are monadic spaces from and through which one can see and make sense of the larger social whole from which they are separated, which for James is not merely the nation but the global canvas of “world civilization.” But what is interesting, as we flesh out James’s comparison, is how these spaces do more than merely re-present the society from which they are “isolated”; they also, simultaneously, contest it. By accessing Melville’s “gigantic structure” through the space of his incarceration on Ellis Island, as I suggested in the first part of the chapter, James positions himself to retell Moby Dick’s untold tale—namely that of the experience of migrants, as he suggests, “from all over the world” whose “destinies” were similarly being “controlled” by “American administrators and security officials” (as manifested in Melville’s novel by the command of Ahab). But by suggesting here that this imprisonment of migrants and immigrants on Ellis Island by the American state during the early Cold War represents not an exception to, but rather a quintessential picture of, “world civilization,” James’s analogy also critically reframes narratives

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of America so powerfully represented by Ellis Island: that is, the liberatory narrative of American citizenship. In James’s text, the stories of the “mariners, renegades, and castaways” on Ellis Island attest to very different experiences, namely, those in which the foreigner continues to be forced outside the political (as well as the literary) boundaries of the nation-state. As a prison for undesirable aliens “from all over the world,” the island does not come to represent the nation but its very limits, containing precisely those histories marked as unassimilable to the nation. Therefore, the Ellis Island of James’s text becomes (like the novel Moby Dick itself in this regard) no longer a canonical representation of America but instead the source for a critical counternarrative of U.S. transnational memory and culture. Thus James, for example, will later associate Ellis Island not with any “official” history of immigrant freedom, but with another island and a much darker history of U.S. imperial damage in Asia—specifically Koje Island, which was being used by the United States during the Korean War as an exceedingly brutal war camp for North Korean and Chinese prisoners. At the time in 1952, the Associated Press was coming out with reported accusations against the United States for using prisoners to test bacterial weapons. “The press and the radio,” writes James, “were filled day after day with the self-admitted blunders of the American Government in its treatment of the prisoners on Koje Island. It was at that time that I began to be aware that what was happening to me and the others on Ellis Island was, in miniature, a very sharp and direct expression of what was taking place in the world” (127; my italics). Again James represents Ellis Island as a monadic space—a microcosm of the world—and again it is one that critically reframes that “picture of world civilization” upon histories and stories anomalous to official narratives of America. In addition, while James’s exclusion from citizenship under the McCarran-Walter Act had been legitimated in terms of the domestic containment of communism and political subversion, James connects it here to a much broader and more complex international dynamic—in particular, to a brutal episode of U.S. involvement in the Korean War. Sketched more broadly, James draws a crucial connection between U.S. immigration policy and U.S. international involvement in the Third World during the years after World War II. Ellis Island, as such, becomes located at the contradictory intersection between the United States’ increasing internationalism during the early years of the Cold War and its rising domestic nationalism. James’s alienage, in turn, bears the traces of precisely these contradictions and of these transnational

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histories of colonial and imperial involvement that the United States tries so hard to repress. Ultimately, by staging his rereading or retelling of the novel through his experience on Ellis Island, James does not make his own story and those of his fellow “mariners, renegades, and castaways” one of failed assimilation; rather, he uses his displacement from the legal and cultural forms of the nation to open up an alternative space for critiquing the very universal political and cultural claims of the nation. As a number of critics, including Ernest Renan and Lisa Lowe, have reminded us, political emancipation through citizenship involves a process of forgetting. That is, the assimilation of the differentiated subject into the abstract citizen requires, among other things, transcending or negating certain individual and group histories that might threaten to contradict official narratives of America and American identity. “‘Political emancipation’ through citizenship,” Lowe writes, “is never an operation confined to the negation of individual ‘private’ particulars; it requires the negation of a history of social relations. . . . This negation involves forgetting. . . . It requires acceding to a political fiction of equal rights that is generated through the denial of history.”22 What James can be said to have done in Mariners is to preserve his undesirable alien status as an alternative site where precisely those memories and histories displaced through assimilation might be recovered and reinvented. In other words, the story of the “mariners, renegades, and castaways” on both the Pequod and Ellis Island is not narrated by the discourse of citizenship. Their experiences do not attest to the absorption of cultural difference into the universal political sphere but to other histories (racialized nationalisms, forced migration, and empire) at odds with “official” narratives of America (and the Cold War). Indeed, the cultural identity of the mariners, renegades, and castaways emerges precisely in the context of their racialized exclusion from enfranchisement in the political and cultural spheres of the United States. As such, their alien stories mark alternatives to the national terrain, generating a need for different understandings of cultural production but also giving rise to new politicized forms of community and belonging outside the discourse of modern citizenship. As James writes near the end of Mariners: “This then is the crowning irony of the little cross-section of the whole world that is Ellis Island. That while the United States Department of Justice is grimly pursuing a venomous anti-alien policy . . . the despised aliens, however fiercely nationalistic, are profoundly conscious of themselves as citizens of the world” (154). But questions remain. Exactly what might this type of community

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or identity of “aliens” outside the discourse of modern citizenship look like? What might the terms of its sociability be if not those based on the form of the subject/citizen? And what exactly does it mean to be at once “fiercely nationalistic” and simultaneously “profoundly conscious” of being “citizens of the world”? What to make of this seemingly paradoxical cosmopolitanism?

american exceptionalisms Near the outset of Mariners, James uses Melville’s description of the Pequod to sketch this story of United States internationalism at the beginning of the “American Century.” These naked Nantucketers, these sea hermits issuing from their ant-hill in the sea, [have] overrun and conquered the watery world like so many Alexanders; parcelling out among them the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. . . . Let America add Mexico to Texas, and pile Cuba on Canada; let the English overswarm all India, and hang out their blazing banner from the sun; two thirds of this terraqueous globe are the Nantucketer’s. For the sea is his; he owns it, as Emperors own Empires. (34–35) Melville’s account of the American whaling industry provides James (as it did, in many respects, Melville himself) a useful metaphor for the new informal empire that America was becoming—especially in the years after World War II—not one built on colonialism per se (territorial conquest of “land”) like that of the earlier model of Europe and the United States itself (“Let America add Mexico to Texas”) but rather a form of imperialism built upon controlling the terms and conditions of an increasingly international economy (the “sea”). As James would write bluntly in the 1963 and final prologue to the Black Jacobins, referring to the region’s fate after colonialism: “The Caribbean is now an American Sea.”23 But if the Pequod represents, for James, a metonym for the informal empire being consolidated by the United States in the early years of the “American Century,” the Pequod’s crew of “mariners, renegades, and castaways” represents a constitutive counterpoint to that nascent model of globalization. The crew signifies the racialized migrant and immigrant workers upon whose invisible labor that shifting economic order relied. And it is these migrating and diasporic subjects on board the Pequod and on Ellis Island to whom James turns his attention in Mariners and whom he believes might form the basis of a new or contrapuntal—to borrow

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Edward Said’s phrase—political consciousness capable of disrupting and challenging the limits and the contradictions of the U.S. nation-state and its expanding informal empire in the wake of World War II. On one hand, these “mariners, renegades, and castaways” have been excluded from national membership because of specific political and racialized differences and histories deemed unassimilable to the “universal” political and cultural sphere of the nation. As such, these radicals, migrant workers, and refugees—confined to the literal and figurative shadows of citizenship—animate what the borders of that ideal, independent state can or cannot contain. Namely, in James’s case, the Cold War state could not make room for a black migrating perspective without invoking the types of exclusion expressed by the McCarran-Walter Act. At the same time, however, by rearticulating his own displacement from the various national fictions of identity, James’s text more than agitates the limits of Cold War America; it also subtly performs and imagines a new subject, for whom disidentification from national forms of identity is crucial to the construction of alternative transnational or cosmopolitan forms of solidarity. Here we might briefly return to and develop the connection with Said’s contrapuntal criticism, in particular his powerful concluding diagnosis of his genealogy of the imperial West from Culture and Imperialism, as it shares such striking similarities to James’s vision of the “mariners, renegades and castaways” in the shadows of the Pequod of American empire: We can perceive this truth on the political map of the contemporary world. For surely it is one of the unhappiest characteristics of the age to have produced more refugees, migrants, displaced persons, and exiles than ever before in history, most of them as an accompaniment to and, ironically enough, as afterthoughts of great post-colonial and imperial conflicts. As the struggle for independence produced new states and new boundaries, it also produced homeless wanderers, nomads, and vagrants, unassimilated to the emerging structures of institutional power, rejected by the established order for their intransigence and obdurate rebelliousness. And insofar as these people exist between the old and the new, between the old empire and the new state, their condition articulates the tensions, irresolutions, and contradictions in the overlapping territories shown on the cultural map of imperialism.24 In this richly evocative passage, Said suggests how empire ultimately produces the consciousness of its own potential unraveling and critique—a

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diasporic global consciousness that points toward the possible demise of the nation-state system. Specifically, Said envisions here a form of resistance to colonial reincorporation whose force emerges—just as with James’s “mariners, renegades, and castaways” (as well as Wright’s “outsider”)—precisely from the condition of being “between the old empire and the new state.” That is, the mode of belonging intrinsic to the nation-state produces its necessary obverse—a condition of displacement that in turn enables an epistemology of unbelonging, one that not only challenges the limits and contradictions of the nation-state but (like Cross Damon) refuses to be answerable to its call. Said’s model of exilic consciousness suggests that it is precisely those nomads, migrants, and exiles disqualified and discounted by the state—whom James, a generation earlier, deemed the “mariners, renegades, and castaways” of the modern and postmodern world—whose consciousness has enabled forms of resistance that are not inscribed in the nation-state system but articulate a globally oriented opposition that can serve as the source of alternative social and political imaginaries to the state.

american pluralisms But here, in returning to James, we arrive at a paradox. For in attempting to find a language for this radical worldliness born out of exclusion from and rejection by the American nation-state, James looks to the very promise and language of “America” itself. As one of his epigraphs to Mariners, for instance, James invokes the following passage from Melville’s novel Redburn: There is something in the contemplation of the mode in which America has been settled, that, in a noble breast, should forever extinguish the prejudices of national dislikes. Settled by the people of all nations, all nations may claim her for their own. You cannot spill a drop of American blood without spilling the blood of the whole world. Be he Englishman, Frenchman, German, Dane, or Scot; the European who scoffs at an American, calls his own brother Raca, and stands in danger of the judgment. We are not a narrow tribe of men. . . . We are not a nation, so much as a world. (4) On one level, this rather idealized image of American exceptionalism endorses exactly the narrative of America that Ellis Island as a cultural symbol seems to embody—the story of American national identity as one of immigrant inclusiveness and multicultural egalitarianism. In

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fact, it is not hard to imagine this passage serving as an official epigraph to Ellis Island. (One might also hear in it a strong historical echo again of Gunnar Myrdal’s universal ideal of the “American Creed.”) It is precisely James’s seeming embrace of passages such as this that led many critics to accuse Mariners of caving to the political pressures of the Cold War state—as staging an uncritical espousal of precisely the vision of America that his own alienage under the racializing McCarranWalter Act seemed to so powerfully contradict. James’s excellent biographer Paul Buhle, for example, charged that in Mariners James “more nearly approached an apologia for social life under capitalism than at any other time before or since”; William Cain dismissed the book as a form “of special pleading . . . to which [James] does not stoop in his other writings”; Darrell Levi claimed the book “suffered from James’s immediate crisis” and was “designed to reassure McCarthy immigration authorities that he was not Anti-American”; and Timothy Brennan accused it of “seriously exaggerating the merely nominal democracy of America.”25 Certainly, one can sense the political weight of the Cold War state bearing down on James throughout Mariners and the rhetorical tightrope he is forced to walk. But to read this passage and James’s other avowals of “America” in the text as only calculated expressions of political expediency is to miss potentially an important theoretical and political current running not only through Mariners but throughout James’s larger, what we might call, Americanist project (developed most thoroughly in his unfinished work, American Civilization, out of which Mariners, in many respects, directly emerges). That is, on one hand, James’s text renders visible precisely those marginalized histories and identities whose recovery serves to undermine the coherence and universality of this narrative of American exceptionalism. But while James’s text suggests a deep skepticism toward an “official” pluralism, as protonationalist narrative of Cold War America, it also still maintains a belief in the tradition of America as offering a transnational and nonracial discourse of community. Ultimately, Mariners neither dismisses nor uncritically embraces “America” but instead juxtaposes two starkly different visions of the nation against each other. In doing so, James’s text sets out to represent a deeply divided notion of “America”; it makes visible the contradictions between a “genuine Americanism” based on unsettled identities and the named promise of democracy, and the present actualities of an “America” based on the McCarran-Walter Act, unifying a settled national identity around the exclusion of the unnamed refugees and migrants living far below that

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promise. In the end, James uses the tradition of America itself against those who were meant to be its guarantor—that is, the state. At the same time, by divorcing this liberal tradition of American pluralism and multiculturalism from the state, James is also able to recover it for a more radical political and cultural practice. Stephens argues that James invokes the idealized language and promise of American pluralism to highlight the failure of the American state to realize this ideal. In other words, James invokes it in order to set the stage for his “observations of the decline of American civilization.”26 But I think it is important to emphasize that James is also invested in mobilizing the discourse of America to articulate a progressive counterformation to the American state in his contemporary moment. That is, James, like Bulosan, is using the tradition of a “genuine Americanism” (American multiculturalism, transnationalism, heterogeneity) to imagine a new form of internationalism. Expressly, James uses the language of American pluralism to rework the model of socialist internationalism by rethinking the relationship between class and race. In other words, he deploys the language of American exceptionalism, not in the service of the American state, but to theorize a form of internationalism that did not submerge racial difference, as socialism tended to, into a generalized class struggle. In this respect, while Anna Grimshaw has shrewdly summarized James’s efforts in the United States as an attempt to bolshevize Americanism, we might also suggest that the inverse is also true: James sought to Americanize bolshevism.27 And here we return to Ellis Island. For as a place of racialized migrants “from all over the world” confined to the literal and figurative shadows of the nation, Ellis Island becomes a model for James to imagine precisely this new transnational political subject. These half-forgotten migrants emerge as conscious antagonists to the reactive nationalism of Cold War America. Furthermore, displaced and discarded from the nation, these migrants come to form a nomadic cosmopolitanism and heterogeneous community, ultimately more in keeping with the tradition of Americanism, which James finds expressed by Melville, than that of an American state itself. In other words, these “mariners, renegades, and castaways” who have been imprisoned by the state for being “un-American,” are actually, in James’s analysis, truer inheritors of a radicalized but genuine Americanism. It is striking in this regard how James’s evocation of Ellis Island echoes, finally, Melville’s earlier homage to America—with the important difference that Melville’s (Old World) multiethnic model of “America as the

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world” has now become, in James, a more truly global (New World) multiracial one. “The whole of the world is represented on Ellis Island. Germans, Italians, Latvians, Swedes, Filipinos, Malays, Chinese, Hindus, Pakistanis, West Indians, Englishmen, Australians, Danes, Yugoslavs, Greeks, Canadians, representatives of every Latin American country” (151). Ultimately, then, if James looks to recover the tradition of American pluralism for a radical transnational, nonracial discourse of community, he finds it manifested in the very community created by the “mariners, renegades, and castaways” imprisoned on Ellis Island. In the end, he finds in these displaced and unnamed global migrants who have been racialized and rejected by the state not merely victims of Cold War nationalism, but the source of subaltern forms of community and cosmopolitanism that might form the basis of a new internationalism capable of disrupting and challenging the nation-state and the entrenched binary logic of the early Cold War. Near the beginning of the final section of Mariners, for instance, James describes his fellow prisoners thusly: These men, taken as a whole, know the contemporary world and know it better than many world-famous foreign correspondents. They discuss among themselves their attitudes to the United States, their attitudes to World War III, to Russia, to totalitarianism, to democracy, to national independence. I have never heard or read in any newspaper such coldly realistic discussions as to the possibilities of war, and weighing of which side offered the greater advantages. They pass to one another political articles in the popular press. . . . With a devastating simplicity they sum up regimes. I have heard a man say in five minutes all that needed to be said about one of the controversial regimes in the world today. He ended, “I know. I have lived and worked there.” Their consistently recurring view of the United States is worth recording. “America is all right if you have money.” (152) As a detention center for “undesirable” and “enemy” aliens, Ellis Island is a space of disqualified and disruptive knowledge that cannot be assimilated to the state. James, however, sets out here—as I have argued he does throughout Mariners—to recover and render legible these aberrant ways of knowing, finding in them a global consciousness that might serve as an articulate and emergent form of resistance to the dominant narratives of the state from which they have been excluded. Indeed, James depicts the immigration prison on Ellis Island here as a

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kind of counterpublic sphere—as a space of political debate and for the exchange of information through which nonhegemonic global forms of knowledge circulate. On one hand, we might read this description, as such, in direct contrast to Wright’s depiction of Cross Damon’s tragic secrecy in The Outsider. That is, what James represents here is exactly the type of dialogic exchange and communication that Cross Damon searches for in vain amid the repressive closing down of alternative public spheres during the period. Indeed, James’s evocation of this scene where nondominant discourses are being disseminated is reminiscent of precisely the types of places of “popular” knowledge in which Bakhtin was so keenly interested, such as the tavern, the public square, and most famously, the carnival. But, of course, that James’s vital counterpublic sphere is located in a prison is also profoundly telling. It ultimately serves not to counter but to reconfirm a tragic underlying historical and thematic parallel between James’s and Wright’s works—namely, the criminalization and effort to silence alternative global ways of knowing, especially black and interracial international ways of knowing, during the early Cold War period through punishing citizenship and immigration laws. What James’s observations of his fellow prisoners above also suggest is that the imprisoned migrants have a uniquely and decidedly nonideological and nonaligned cast upon the contemporary world and its geopolitics. That is, on one hand, we might hear in James’s description of his fellow prisoners’ discussions as “coldly realistic,” as evidencing a “devastating simplicity,” and in which they are exchanging articles from the popular (as opposed to radical or alternative) presses, a kind of anxious and implicit reassurance to the state that these “mariners, renegades, and castaways” embody a decidedly pragmatic knowledge as opposed to one that is any way ideological (for which the political prisoners are all in a sense being accused by the state). At the very same time, what James’s description more slyly and subversively implies is that the nonideological standpoint of these “mariners, renegades, and castaways” is also a nonaligned one—critically detached from the binary national and political ideologies framing the Cold War: the United States and Russia, “democracy” and “totalitarianism.” They refuse to be identified with either of these categories. In “weighing . . . which side offered the greater advantages” in “coldly realistic discussions,” these migrants have made these systems seem no longer categorically opposed, enabling them, according to James, to articulate an alternative way of knowing—an alternative global consciousness or

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counter-cosmopolitanism born out of the condition of unbelonging that challenges the dominant social and political narrative of the state and logics of the Cold War.

every man is an island But what exactly does this counter-cosmopolitanism look like? In a crucial passage, James actually uses the specific language of Melville to subtly map out the alternative social and political form for this contemporary cosmopolitanism. Interestingly, James focuses again on the figuration and geography of the island. Thus, if the “island” of the Pequod and of Ellis Island serve as heterotopic spaces, both representing and contesting America, the “island” also becomes, as we will now see, the constitutive term, in James’s analysis, for a new postnational model of community. The crew gives the final proof that Melville is constructing a strictly logical pattern. They are a pack of ragamuffins picked up at random from all parts of the earth. . . . They came from all over the world, were islanders from places like the Azores and the Shetland Islands. Nearly all on Ahab’s ship were islanders, and in fact, nearly all the nations of the globe had each its representative. Isolatoes, Melville called them, not acknowledging the common continent of men but each Isolato living on a separate continent of his own. (18) It is striking how often James uses the word “island” here (five, to be exact) to characterize the multicultural and multinational formation of the crew. While it does not define them as colonial, their “island” status does evoke a common marginal status that these “ragamuffins” share, both in relation to the global geopolitical map and also—as in his two examples of the Azores and the Shetland Islands—to the respective nation-states from which they are physically displaced. But what is more striking about the role of the word “island” in the passage is how its meaning shifts by the last sentence—at which point the “islanders” have become “isolatoes.” This shift to “isolatoes” represents more than merely a translation of the word “islands” into the specific language of Melville; it marks a significant transition in James’s usage of the word—from simply signifying the geographic place of origin of the crew, to describing a whole topography of identity and community formation. Indeed, like the word “citizen,” but in distinction to it, “isolato” might be understood as describing an identity embodying a whole form of alternative sociability linked to the geography of the island.28

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James emphasizes, first, that the terms of this “island” sociability are not defined by some devotion to the interests of humanity as a whole. These isolatoes, as James makes clear, “do not acknowledge the common continent of men.” In other words, these global migrants, who have been excluded from the state and therefore forced to look beyond it, do not form a cosmopolitanism based on an abstract universal vision of the world (the “common continent”). Instead, as “isolatoes,” they establish a critical internationalism in which each member lives “on a separate continent of his own.” These “islanders,” in other words, these multiracial and multinational laborers, cannot be unified under any single abstract identity. Rather these “isolatoes” form an internationalism “unified” by a process of strategic alliances forged between and through their particular differences. Ultimately, the term James uses to describe this alternative form of alliance, once again, is “federation.” As I suggested earlier, James invokes the concept of “federation” throughout Mariners to describe the social character of the labor of the mariners, renegades, and castaways. To quote James again: “They are a world-federation of modern industrial workers. . . . Their allegiances are built on the work they have to do and the relations with one another on which that work depends” (20; my italics). But while James’s model of “federation” to describe these migrant laborers builds upon the socialist model of the international proletariat, he also intends it to represent a political form specifically in distinction to it (as well as to liberal forms of citizenship). What I want to emphasize here is the geographic imaginary underlying this political form of federation. James’s use of the geographic model of “federated islands” can be read as part of his effort to imagine a new political subjectivity not captured by the category of the proletariat. Specifically, these “isolatoes” of Ahab’s Pequod and Ellis Island (remaining on “continents of their own”) retain attachments to specific places and identities (e.g., national, racial, religious, and ethnic) that are not reducible to citizenship or to the “universal” narrative of class. Put slightly differently, these migrants are located not only at the point of labor exploitation but also—as James’s own imprisonment and alienage on Ellis Island testifies to—along a number of different points of antagonism, such as immigration, racialization, citizenship, and colonial rule. James’s model of “federated islands,” therefore, can be seen as an attempt to describe a different model of affiliation. It is a unique cultural and political practice consistent with a new social formation of capital and of empire represented by the United States, one in which racialized alienage

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from the state and from various national forms of belonging, and not simply class-consciousness, will define their political identity. But finally, what is also striking about James’s vision of these federated stateless “islanders” in the shadow of U.S. internationalism is how it prefigures James’s emerging vision for Caribbean independence as a whole. This is a connection that Stephens explores to great effect in Black Empire, arguing that in “James’s interpretation of the islanders of the Pequod we see the real historical shadow of the Caribbean.” That is, while “the crew cutting themselves off from empire to imagine new forms of social and political identification,” remained “only metaphor” in Mariners, she suggests, “James would try to realize in real political terms in his proposal for a new . . . understanding of economic and political relationships in the Caribbean, postindependence.”29 James laid out this vision of postindependence most clearly in a number of speeches from the 1950s and 1960s in which he argued for a federation of ostensibly stateless islands to coexist in the shadow of U.S. empire.30 In the end, James thus mapped his model for these new political subjects on to the specific geography of the Caribbean, and conversely, he used the specific geography of the Caribbean to map an alternative political formation than that of the contradictory liberal nation-state, with its claim of universal citizenship on the one hand and its underlying racial doctrines on the other. As federated islands with no central state, the West Indies Federation (with its multicultural, multiracial, and multinational makeup) could remain, like Melville’s crew, on “separate continent[s] of their own,” cohering not around the purported transcendence or erasure but rather upon the maintenance of the cultural differences and attachments of each island or isolato. The very geography of the island, in other words, became for James an opportunity to rethink, in a postcolonial context, the relationship between nation and state and to imagine forms of belonging and membership in the world outside the domain of modern citizenship. And last, this model of federation brings me back one final time to the question of form, or, more specifically, to the correspondence between political and cultural form in Mariners. James persistently argued against revolutionary vanguardism and elaborated, in direct distinction to it, a theory of the importance of “small groups” as an alternative to both bourgeois civil society’s individualist institutions and the forms of collectivism and state bureaucracy that he saw emerging in both the United States and the Soviet Union. In a speech he delivered to the Socialist Workers Party a few years earlier in 1948 entitled “The

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Revolutionary Solution to the Negro Problem in the USA,”31 James, for instance, emphasized that what lies outside the national community are the “small groups”—for example, the stateless heterogeneity or “isolatoes” of the “mariners, renegades, and castaways”—that are nonetheless planetary in their magnitude, and that can be effective independent forms of anticapitalism. What he also stressed in that same speech was that the size and scale of “small groups” enabled the preservation of various affiliations and for the more direct and autonomous expression of the workers themselves—precluding the necessity of the vanguard intellectual/author as an intermediary in bringing political expressions into an organized political collective. I would like to suggest that Mariners can be read as an effort to contribute to this treatise on “small groups”— both in its content (in its attempt to imagine “federated” “isolatoes”) and its corresponding form (through “storytelling”). In the end, James’s Mariners sought both to represent and enact the unique political and cultural form represented by these “islands” of stateless migrants that stretched beyond the nation’s perimeters and that incorporated the colonial spaces and struggles of the Caribbean to form the basis of a new critical transnationalism defined not by a lack of nationality as experienced by the privileged cosmopolitan, but one based on nationalities without states—that is, the refugee, the exile, and, in the case of James himself, the alien—or to put it finally back in the words of Herman Melville, “the mariner, the renegade, and the castaway.”

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Talking Back to the State: Claudia Jones’s Radical Forms of Alienage “Your Honor, there are a few things I wish to say.” —claudia jones, from her “Speech to the Court, 1953”

C. L. R. James was not the only Trinidad-born black radical housed in what became informally termed the “McCarran wing” of Ellis Island. Two separate times the writer, journalist, and communist activist Claudia Jones was imprisoned there—first briefly in 1948 by warrant for deportation under the 1918 Immigration Act, and then two years later for eighteen days under the McCarran Act, or Internal Security Act, of 1950. Jones’s imprisonment at the institution did not, however, lead directly to deportation as in the case of James. Instead, her path would take a more circuitous and ultimately even more repressive turn. After being arrested and imprisoned on Ellis Island in 1950, she was arrested again a year later, then a fourth time, when she was finally put on trial in 1953 along with twelve other Communist Party members. She was found guilty under the Smith Act (1940) of “conspiracy to teach and advocate the violent overthrow of the Government.”1 At the time, communism was defined as just that, and as such, active membership in the Communist Party, as in the case of Jones, was criminalized and the basis for excluding and removing all aliens, as well as denying them legal permanent residence and naturalization. Jones was subsequently sentenced to a women’s federal penitentiary in Alderson, West Virginia, where she served nine and a half months of a yearlong sentence. Upon her release, and suffering from a serious and long-standing heart ailment, she was deported as an “undesirable alien” under the McCarran-Walter Act. Initially, Jones was to be sent to Trinidad, but by agreeing to give up her fight against deportation, she was

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allowed to “voluntarily” depart instead for England, where she would spend the final nine years of her life in London continuing her writing and her activism before dying at the age of only forty-nine. Like in the case of Bulosan and Wright (who died at age forty-five and fifty-two, respectively), Jones’s untimely death was attributable in no small measure to the persistent persecution and harassment she faced by the U.S. government. Jones’s deportation in 1955 ended a life in the United States that had begun thirty-one years earlier when she first arrived from Trinidad in 1924 at the age of eight, initially entering through Ellis Island, as her alien registration form shows. Jones applied for U.S. citizenship in 1938; as she adds in a postscript to the brief epistolary autobiography she wrote to the then chairman of the CPUSA, William Foster: “At the age of 23, I applied and received my certificate for first papers for American citizenship but this was denied me by the U.S. government since I was politically active from the age of 18.”2 Her request for citizenship would be delayed for the next seventeen years—even after Jones married Abraham Scholnick, a U.S. citizen—before eventually being denied.3 As it had for James, Jones’s alien status made her especially vulnerable not only to the Smith Act but also to the even more repressive McCarran-Walter Act, which, as I discussed in the previous chapter, granted the state broad power to deport any of the 2.5 million aliens residing in the United States at the time for a variety of activities, including those that were legal at the time they were committed. In transitioning from James to Jones, one is immediately struck by the numerous parallels in their two experiences (e.g., both Trinidadian immigrants, radical Marxists, political and labor organizers, prominent Marxist and anticolonial intellectuals, prisoners on Ellis Island, deportees under the McCarran Act), parallels that make the lack of critical attention paid in the United States to Jones, as opposed to James, all the more glaring (notwithstanding the groundbreaking scholarship of Carole Boyce Davies, as well as more recent work by Dayo Gore, Erik McDuffie, and Cheryl Higashida).4 Jones’s neglect, as Davies has so compellingly shown, testifies to the twice-marginalized voices of black women within the radical Left in the United States—to what Davies has termed the silencing “of the radical black female subject from U.S. political consciousness.”5 Indeed, as a black, feminist, communist, antiimperialist, West Indian immigrant, Jones occupied a series of aberrant subject positions that remained difficult to “contain”—not only by the U.S. state but also by a variety of disciplinary fields and political (including progressive) formations.

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Davies argues that the project of “recovering” Jones and her work entails, as such, challenging both the oppressive legacy of the U.S. state’s effort to silence her (along with other radical black subjects) as well as that of certain prevailing disciplinary tendencies and formations that have tended to reproduce that historical erasure. First, histories of the radical black Left have paid far too little attention to the voices and contributions of black women. (This is a gap being redressed finally by a growing body of excellent recent scholarship by, among others, Mary Helen Washington, Lashawn Harris, and Gerald Horne, in addition to the work of Gore, Higashida, and McDuffie).6 And second, Jones’s multiple intellectual and biographical subject positions (the Caribbean, the United States, England) require in turn a decentering, Davies argues, of what has often been a national, and at times nationalist, approach to African American studies in general and U.S. black feminism more specifically. What is required, instead, is the adoption of a more thoroughly transnational frame in order to render legible the multiple geographic and epistemic locations of Jones’s work—the “variety of positionalities” at whose intersection Jones “lived and organized . . . anti-imperialism and decolonization struggles, activism for workers’ rights, the critique of appropriation of black women’s labor, the challenge to domestic and international racisms and their links to colonialism.”7 While building on, and deeply indebted to, Davies’s argument, I situate Jones’s work and her “erasure,” in this chapter, within and against another historical and political set of circumstances: namely, the rise of racial liberalism to the dominant quasi-official racial formation of the United States during the early Cold War. In so doing, I hope to extend the discussion raised by Davies’s analysis by providing an additional historical, political, and theoretical frame within which to situate Jones’s work. It is a frame that allows us to align Jones’s work with a tradition of suppressed radical black and minority critiques of the limits of Cold War civil rights reform—for advancing a solely rights-based antiracist agenda—critiques that have often been rendered marginal or silenced by Cold War historiography. In reading her work as a radical challenge to the rise of racial liberalism in the postwar period, this chapter focuses specifically on several works that Jones wrote during and about her incarceration and eventual deportation as an undesirable alien. While the political essay was Jones’s dominant genre, during this period she also employed a number of different forms, such as memoir, poetry, testimony, and the epistolary. I read in these various experiments in form and narrative technique—in

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particular her use of the first-person voice and personal testimony—an effort by Jones not only to resist the state’s endeavor to silence her but also an attempt to transvalue her personal experience of alienage into an analytic opportunity. I trace in a number of these works (such as her “Letter from Ellis Island,” her 1953 court testimony, and her brief autobiography) a rhetorically and formally sophisticated attempt on Jones’s part to use her own alienage to testify against prevailing liberal representations of African American racial formation as evidence for the exceptionalism and legitimacy of U.S.-led global capitalism. Jones located her own life story of unbelonging from the nation within a larger international framework of racial capitalism and empire. It was a framework she used to link black struggles, and in particular black women’s struggles, within the United States with those fought against colonialism and imperialism elsewhere and one that specifically challenged liberal representations linking a quintessentially “American” story of domestic racial progress and inclusiveness to a larger unbroken global narrative of American expansion during the post–World War II period. Finally, the last part of the chapter turns briefly to Jones’s work after her deportation—namely, her role in founding the West Indian Gazette and, in particular, her launching of the Caribbean Carnival in London. I connect my reading of the Carnival to my previous discussions on the politics of form and the dialogic limits of the novel and the work of Mikhail Bakhtin. Turning specifically to Bakhtin’s influential theory of the carnival, the chapter concludes by reading the Caribbean Carnival as a form that challenges or “novelizes” the dominant discourse of the state and that enacts, however tenuously, a postnational or cosmopolitan public sphere.

I. A Letter from the Limits of Citizenship When Jones was arrested for the second time in 1950 and held again on Ellis Island, she had been an active member of the Communist Party for nearly fifteen years and its highest-ranking black woman. Living and working in Harlem, she had functioned as a key organizer for the Party, serving, among other positions, as editor in chief of Weekly Review and secretary of the CPUSA’s Women’s Commission. She had also become a key theoretician, publishing numerous essays in the CPUSA’s theoretical journal Political Affairs, as well as articles and a regular column entitled “Half the World” in the Party’s official organ, the Daily Worker. As the title of her column reflects, Jones brought a strong women’s rights focus to the organizational and theoretical politics of the CPUSA.

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On one hand, her writings used Marxism and Leninism to articulate the specific capitalist interests that determined women’s, and in particular black women’s, subordinate position in society at the intersection of the “triple oppression” of race, class, and gender. At the same time, in a number of essays she wrote in the years prior to her arrest—most notably “An End to the Neglect of the Problems of Negro Women!,” she also made a related organizational critique of the “gross neglect of the special problems of Negro women” by the Party and other progressive movements.8 Documenting how black women bore the heaviest brunt of economic exploitation within postwar U.S. society (the “degradation and super-exploitation” of lower wages for equal work and relegation to such nonunionized low-paying labor as domestic worker), Jones argued that black women and their legacy of militancy against capitalism, colonialism, and racism needed to be made central to any progressive movement seeking to forge a broad-based national and international coalition for radical economic and social change. Jones’s writings, including explicitly her essay “For the Unity of Women in the Cause of Peace!,” came to serve as key documentary “evidence” in her arrest for un-American activities, which led to her being held at Ellis Island and to her eventual deportation.9 But, as in the case of C. L. R. James, Jones’s incarceration did not silence her; instead, she likewise used her imprisonment as an undesirable alien on Ellis Island as a generative political and cultural experience. Specifically, during her eighteen-day imprisonment, Jones wrote an essay, in the form of a letter, to the editor of the Daily Worker (John Gates), who published it a few days later under the title “Claudia Jones Writes from Ellis Island.”10 As in the case of James’s Mariners, Renegades, and Castaways, what interests me about the work is not only the content of its analysis, namely how Jones uses her alienage as a vantage point from which to critique the state of America during the early Cold War. I am also interested in the unusual form Jones employs (incorporating the essay with the epistolary) in attempting to represent her experience in the incarcerated shadows of citizenship, specifically her effort to approach it less analytically (as had been so characteristic of her political essays and articles) and instead, as she herself states, “descriptively.” It begins: Dear Johnny, In thinking about the collusion of the “free press” with the ruling circles’ attack on American democratic liberties, I decided to write to you. Of course, if I attempt to write descriptively, it will

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only be because, while I know you (and I) hold brevity to be the soul of wit, description should not be the second class citizen so here goes my letter. . . .  In employing the epistolary, Jones delimits a specific audience—both the editor of the Daily Worker and the paper’s left progressive readership—with whom she assumes an intimacy. (The letter also immediately establishes a starkly different addressee than does James in Mariners, which included, in his intended effort to use the book as part of his defense, the HUAC Committee.) Furthermore, Jones caustically asserts that it is only within this alternative media, as opposed to that of the “free press,” that her voice and her story might be heard. Of course, the fact that this conversation is taking place from a prison where she had been segregated from the nation’s civic and public spaces provides further testimony to how these alternative public spheres had become increasingly criminalized during the early Cold War—that is, how the spaces for precisely these conversations and debates to take place in public were being closed down. Jones’s employment of the epistolary is also reminiscent of Bulosan’s use of the form, both within America Is in the Heart and throughout his writings. And indeed the parallels between the two are illuminating. Oscar Campomanes and Todd Gernes argue that as a dialogic form founded upon distance, the epistolary that Bulosan employs in his work reflects the broader historical condition of alienation of Filipino migrants—both from the Philippines and from the United States.11 Much the same might be said of Jones’s “letter.” While it works to rejoin her with the community from which she has been separated, it also testifies to her enforced distance from it—a distance ultimately determined and delineated by the threshold of citizenship. That is, Jones’s “letter” might be read as rendering the distance between, and putting into dialogue, the mainland of American citizenship with its disavowed but constitutive other: the noncitizen alien—incarcerated, in this instance, on Ellis Island. (And indeed, as we will see, the entire letter is structured upon rendering legible the connection between the seen and unseen worlds of American citizenship and the American economy.) The epistolary has also long functioned, especially in the development of women’s writing, as a form that bridges public and private modes of discourse.12 It is a private letter, expressing personal thoughts and experiences, made public. In blurring the boundaries between public and private modes of writing, Jones’s employment of the epistolary reflects a broader rhetorical and political strategy that she develops in her writing,

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in particular during her incarceration and following her deportation. Namely, Jones increasingly incorporated her own individual experience and autobiographical life story into her theoretical analysis and critique of America, of American racial liberalism, and of imperial capitalism. On one hand, Jones’s use of the epistolary functions in this regard in a similar way to that of “reportage,” a type of discourse employed by radical writers during the 1930s and 1940s that was based on the principle of the “participant observer.” As Charlotte Nekola observes in Writing Red: An Anthology of American Women Writers, 1930–1940, “in all participant-observer pieces, there are really two stories: the writer’s story of her own participation, and the story of what she observes.”13 Jones’s “letter” can be read, in these terms, as a participant/observer piece intended to bridge the divide between spectator/intellectual and that of the represented “people”—the precise formal dilemma of “proximity” that James, through the mode of “storytelling,” and Bulosan, through that of the epistolary, had similarly sought to resolve. The epistolary form’s blurring between personal and public modes of writing also speaks directly to Jones’s stated attempt to write “descriptively.” She suggests that the subjective and literary language of description, rather than an ostensibly strictly theoretical or objective approach, can provide an equal if not more adequate mode of representing and interpreting her incarceration. She argues that this mode of description need not be a “second class citizen,” that is, that the realm of description is not necessarily limited, in Marxist terms, to merely positivist knowledge or empirical facts but can provide, from the perspective of incarceration, an alternative and critical form of knowledge. Her descriptions thus at once serve to convey to the reader what she “sees” from her window, but cast more broadly, Jones suggests that from her vantage point as an undesirable alien excluded from the nation, she can “see” what remains illegible beneath the ideological representations of American citizenship and democracy. It is worth quoting the following section of the letter at length: Homing pigeons gather aimlessly in the large yard on an island which lies in New York’s great harbor. Occasionally a pigeon flies in from the bay dotted with white caps and the pigeons scatter. They either gather in a solid mass and noiselessly fly away together, or, with loud grace, flap their wings and soar away. . . . One flapped his wings 31 times before he ascended to fly over the massed brownstone buildings with numerous windows.

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If one looks closely, it is obvious this is not just a haunt of homing pigeons or seagulls. The windows on all buildings are all wired with crisscross light iron bars. Others are heavier. . . . Around the huge yard, barbed-wire way beyond the height of a man, towers and outdoor lights, as on a baseball diamond, are spaced with regular frequency. . . . Look even closer. . . . Men in shirtsleeves or rough lumber jackets peer out from occasional windows on the right end of the yard, looking out on the bay, where now and then, on this foggy, rain-swept day, foghorns cry their warnings to occasional vessels. . . . Some of the ships are more beautiful than others. There are tugs and passenger ships. . . . Coastguard cutters and barges are anchored to the pier on the left of the island, which barely commands our view. It is not too foggy to see the towering skyscrapers which beckon beyond the bay, on the other shore, on the mainland. One cannot imagine the mainland without its wealth of men, women and children of many lands, who for centuries—and likewise today—toiled in mine, mill and factory and the endless plain—all the stretch of these great green states to make America. From this view, another famous island, that so many ships and their passengers from five continents have eagerly nodded to, throughout the last 300 centuries, cannot be seen. Bedloe’s Island, home of the Statue of Liberty, gift of the descendants of Joan of Arc, lies on the left of this show. . . . And well it does— for this woman, with liberty’s torch, still stands proudly aloft her earthy home. . . . And literally stands with her back to Ellis Island. Here, on Ellis Island, it would not be well for her shadow to grace the newly established wing of the Attorney General of the U.S.— or as the 17 imprisoned inmates of this wing call it—“the McCarran Wing.” In this wing, are 17 men and women—a virtual United Nations in composition.14 Jones’s letter consists almost entirely of deeply “descriptive” images of the prison of Ellis Island, set against a variety of descriptions of other sights visible—ostensibly from the vantage point of Jones’s imprisonment—in “New York’s great harbor.” The juxtaposition of various images of freedom (birds in flight, ships in motion, the Statue of Liberty, and, indeed, Ellis Island itself) with those of the prison and its “barred windows” serves to underscore, both Carole Boyce Davies and Patricia

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Saunders have argued, the contradictions underlying the delivery of U.S. freedom. In particular, Saunders emphasizes that the contradiction underscores how, for black women, “political expression through free movement . . . has never been a privilege extended.”15 But it is also important to note how Jones repeatedly emphasizes that what she describes is not immediately apparent—that it remains difficult to see (“If one looks closely,” “Look even closer,” “It is not too foggy to see”). In doing so, Jones implies that what her “descriptive” language does is illuminate or guide us to see that which remains barely legible from within these various and iconic images of freedom and America. They are, as such, dialectical images (and not, in this respect, “second class citizens” to theoretical analysis). Cast from the vantage point of the incarcerated shadows of citizenship, Jones’s “descriptive” language might thus be understood as an effort to produce an alternative structure of recognition, one that renders that which is immanent to but disavowed by the representational economy of American citizenship and capitalism. Immanent to the languid and peaceful image of freedom articulated by the noiseless birds in flight is the obfuscated image of incarceration and violent exclusion upon which it depends; immanent to the wealth and progress expressed by the “towering skyscrapers” is the “wealth” of the collectivity of multinational and multiracial workers upon whose invisible labor in “mine, factory and field” it relies; and immanent to the liberatory narrative of American citizenship evoked by the Statue of Liberty, and Ellis Island itself, is the production of an incarcerated heterogeneity of undesirable aliens publicly preserved as the citizen’s constitutive outside. In the end, if the epistolary is a dialogic form, then Jones’s “descriptive” letter might be understood as a formal effort (like Wright’s travel writing, James’s “storytelling” and Bulosan’s own use of the epistolary, in this regard) to place the liberatory promise of America and the American nation-state in dialogue with its occluded subjects of exploitation and violent exclusion—those who have been its hidden face and its very condition of possibility.

* * * In this context, we can understand Jones’s description of the prisoners on Ellis Island as a “virtual United Nations” as another such dialectical image. Davies suggests that the phrase reflects Jones’s “rhetorical intent to speak for the range of people victimized by the McCarran Act.”16 But Jones’s use of the phrase might also be understood as a more subtle rhetorical strategy

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to evoke the incarcerated heterogeneity on Ellis Island as a dialectical counterimage to the iconic and exceptional picture of Ellis Island, and, by extension, that of America itself, which it had been used to portray, namely, America as an embodiment of the world—as one world in microcosm. Indeed, during the 1940s and 1950s, as I argued in the introduction, Ellis Island had come to be a perfect and often-used symbol for invoking an image of America founded on the prevailing discourse of pluralism— America as a “nation of nations.”17 (And here we might again consider A. H. Raskin’s New York Times exposé of Ellis Island with which I began this book, where he describes Ellis Island as a “prototype of the United Nations spirit.”) In other words, in describing the prison on Ellis Island as a “virtual United Nations,” Jones suggests–as will James two years later— that these imprisoned aliens not only animate the limits and contradictions of this ideal of America embodied by the institution, but in fact form a heterogeneous community more in keeping with a radicalized but genuine cosmopolitan Americanism than that of the American nation-state from which they have been discarded and displaced. And like James, Jones also finds in this cosmopolitan subaltern counterpublic a model for imagining and articulating an alternative nonnational form of political subjectivity and community capable not only of refuting the reactive nationalism of Cold War America constituted by the McCarran-Walter Act but also that of U.S. imperial capitalism, or what Jones often referred to as “Wall Street imperialism” (a term suggestive of the “towering skyscrapers” in whose shadow, along with the Statue of Liberty, Jones finds herself imprisoned). Jones proceeds to map out the more precise character of this political community imprisoned on Ellis Island—those, “threatened by the government,” she writes, “with becoming the first inmates of America’s concentration camps.” Among our company of 17 is a Slavic-American, the brawn and brain of whose people are forever merged with the great industrial achievements of America’s working people—the miners of Pittsburgh, the auto workers of Detroit, the anthracite and copper miners on the Messable range of the Minnesotas. Here is a Finnish American, who sat four years in a similar detention jail, when another attorney general, Palmer by name, sought to impose Alien and Sedition raids and laws, defeated by the mass protests of Americans of an earlier day. Here are trade unionists from fur, electrical and maritime industries, who smile their firm greetings of approval when, from shops

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and locals, wires or letters come, telling of actions taken on behalf of American liberty. Here is a Negro man from the British West Indies whose people’s blood mixed with Crispus Attucks, on that early day on Boston Commons when West Indian warriors, of the strain of Toussaint l’Ouverture, fought in the American Revolution. Second-class citizens, like 15 million Negro Americans, whose sons serve in Jim Crow units in Korea, they are no strangers to the second-class, Jim Crow justice likewise meted out to West Indians of foreign birth. Here are women, Negro and white, whose lives, like those of Emma Lazarus and Harriet Tubman, are a refutation of women’s inequality in any field of endeavor; women, whose lives from early youth was [sic] pursuit of truth and, once learning, applied that truth learned in American homes and schools to help guarantee life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in devotion to the American people and to future generations of children by participating in the struggles of our people. Here too, are leading representatives of the vanguard party of all the toiling people—Communist leaders. One of the women, as you know, was confined for over a week to solitary confinement and was under constant surveillance. All 17 here are examples of devotion to the struggles of the labor movement, in the fight for Negro rights, against discrimination and lynching, in the fight for democracy, in our efforts on behalf of the peace and security of the people. And some hold beliefs that only under a Socialist society can these rights be finally secured! There is a Spanish American, a Ukrainian-American, an ItalianAmerican, a Greek-American, and Jewish Americans. Descendants of Haym Solomon and Giuseppe Garibaldi, and of the people of Simon Bolivar and La Pasionaria, Sam Martin, they are proud and honored descendants of these heroes and heroines.18 It is striking how Jones’s depiction of the collection of imprisoned undesirable aliens prefigures C. L. R. James’s subsequent description, two years later, of his fellow inmates of “mariners, renegades, and castaways.” Though unlike in James’s formulation, which is composed entirely of men, Jones makes women and women’s struggle against inequality central to her depiction of this community of alienage. But both similarly go to great lengths to emphasize and catalogue the racial and national diversity of the incarcerated community on Ellis Island (a “virtual

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United Nations” in Jones’s words, and a “microcosm of the whole world” in James’s terms). In doing so, both cast this multiracial subaltern community of undesirable aliens as a refracted counterimage or counterpublic, as I suggest above, to the immigrant picture of America so powerfully projected by the institution. The first part of her description depicts a collection of immigrant and African American men and women who are heirs to the legacies of progressive individuals and communities that have worked and struggled to advance the principles of justice and freedom in America from its very founding (e.g., “a Slavic-American . . . whose people are forever merged with the great industrial achievements of America’s working people”; “a Negro man from the British West Indies,” whose people “fought in the American Revolution”; “women, Negro and white” who worked “to help guarantee life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’’). Jones’s depiction thus implies that this collection of aliens—excluded from and rendered unassimilable to the nation—represents a progressive subaltern counterformation of precisely the immigrant tradition that Ellis Island was intended to express, and as such is a community more in keeping with the inclusive and liberatory principles of America and American pluralism than the nation itself from which they have been excluded. Beyond seeing it as a refutation to the exclusionary Americanism of the Cold War state, Jones also finds in this subaltern collectivity at the boundaries of national belonging a model of political subjectivity that not only challenges the limits of citizenship but also complicates the prevailing socialist model of the international proletariat. A self-identified communist, Jones remained very much committed to a Marxist-Leninist theoretical framework in her work (and would most certainly include herself among those she refers to in the letter as holding the “beliefs that only under a Socialist society can these rights [i.e., ‘for the labor movement,’ ‘against discrimination,’ ‘for democracy,’ ‘on behalf of peace and security’] be finally secured!”). Indeed, here we might quickly underscore another crucial distinction to James, who goes to great rhetorical length to distance himself and criticize the Communist Party in Mariners. “The Communists,” he states emphatically, “knew me personally as their open and avowed enemy. . . . I knew their long record of murders of political enemies. . . . And in my case the reader of this book will not need to be told how deep in me is the revulsion from everything they stand for.”19 The vehemence of James’s critique, and his accompanying outrage at being housed with them at the prison, has led several critics to accuse James of acquiescing to the political demands of the Cold War

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moment, but, notwithstanding, James’s formulation of the “spontaneous expressions” of the “mariners, renegades, and castaways,” as discussed in the previous chapter, was fully consistent with his ongoing critiques of the vanguard theory of the Communist Party and Trotskyism and central to his eventual break from the latter.20 In sharp contrast, Jones, in her letter and throughout her writing and activism, unapologetically avowed her commitment to communism and the Communist Party and self-identified as one of the “leading representatives of the vanguard of all the toiling people.” At the same time, Jones persistently sought to complicate the existing communist position on class by interrogating the intersection of class exploitation with that of racial and gender subordination, both within a national and international frame of imperial capitalism. Her portrayal of the subaltern multiracial and international community on Ellis Island (those whom James will later deem the “mariners, renegades, and castaways”) can be seen as part of that theoretical effort. That is, it draws together a constellation of individuals whose struggles and lives correspond to the range of theoretical and political commitments in Jones’s writing and activism (labor rights, racial justice, women’s rights, and international “peace and security”). And what links these multiple identities and, in turn, the various political positions and struggles they encapsulate is not simply class-consciousness but their shared alienage from the nation—their mutual classification as illegal or undesirable aliens. On one hand, their shared alienage and definition as foreign subversives testifies to how a widening range of forms of dissent and political activism had become identified with communism during the early Cold War and thus criminalized and subsequently policed by the state through the politics of citizenship. They are turned into what Davies aptly terms “deportable subjects.”21 At the same time, this mutual distance from citizenship becomes a generative standpoint from which Jones not only challenges the ideological and political limits and contradictions of the national paradigm but also through which she is able to articulate linkages between these different identities. (“Here are trade unionists”; “Here is a Negro man from the British West Indies”; “Here are women, Negro and white”; “Here are . . . Communist leaders.”) The refusal of nationalization opens up a space, in other words, for Jones to think across and connect, at the intersection of capitalism and the repressive politics of citizenship, these various racial, class, gender, and national formations— joining them together in a global subaltern counterpublic struggling for democracy.

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Finally, the location at the border between the nation and its “outside” also enables Jones to recast these domestic struggles for racial, gender, and economic justice within the United States—of which she includes her “fight to win the rights of citizenship”—within a critical transnational or global frame. Specifically, she places the denial of her and her fellow aliens’ citizenship within a larger historical narrative of “American” struggles for liberty and justice dating back to the American Revolution, but one that cannot be confined to a national telos or national narrative of expanding freedom. Instead, these undesirable aliens are heirs to and represent an international collection of figures and communities who have fought against colonialism and fascism around the world (e.g., Toussaint L’Ouverture, Simón Bolivar, La Pasionaria). Instead of a canonical site where the international is integrated and assimilated into the nation, Ellis Island, as a space of exclusion, houses discrepant international histories and identities that draw America out into a global analytic. Reclassified by the state as undesirable aliens, the “hyphenated” Americans Jones chronicles do not embody the cosmopolitan ideal of America expressed by the integrative principle of hyphenation but instead that of a counter-cosmopolitan global community whose linked struggles against colonialism and fascism draw America and American state practices out into a critical international frame of imperial capitalism. Jones’s “letter” from Ellis Island, in this respect, reflects a theoretical and political project central to her work—namely, to articulate linkages across various axes of oppression, such as class, race, and gender, but also to connect these local or national struggles to broader global struggles against colonialism and imperialism. While Jones’s incarceration certainly speaks to the growing criminalization of communism during the early Cold War and, correspondingly, to that of noncitizen “aliens,” Jones’s persistent effort to make these links between domestic struggles for racial, gender, and economic justice in the United States with those being fought against imperialism elsewhere also posed a particular and perhaps even more unnerving threat to the state—in particular to what had emerged at the time as one of its central political ideologies: racial liberalism. It was a challenge for which the state sought relentlessly and ruthlessly to silence her but one she persisted in making in a number of political and cultural forms and from a variety of locations both inside and outside the nation.

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II. Testimonies and Testimonials After being transferred to New York City Women’s Prison on November 17, 1950, Jones was released on bail approximately a month later, once her deportation order under the McCarran Act had been served. Six months later, during which time she had returned to her activism in Harlem, speaking at rallies and at the Communist Party headquarters, she was arrested for a third time along with sixteen other communists. After once again being released on bail, she went on trial at the start of 1953 and was eventually convicted under the Smith Act and sentenced to serve a prison sentence of one year and a day; all the while, her deportation proceedings were continuing under the McCarran-Walter Act. The only black woman among thirteen people who went on trial, Jones’s codefendants included Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, who was then president of the Women’s Commission of the Communist Party (of which Jones was secretary) and a close personal friend and fellow communist theorist and activist for women’s rights.22 At the trial, Jones read a carefully prepared statement to the court in response to the charges. Subsequently published in a collection entitled 13 Communists Speak to the Court, Jones’s testimony can be read, in one context, as an important statement of evidence against the transgressions of the Cold War state that reflects many of her larger and enduring political and theoretical concerns. At the same time, in another, though not mutually exclusive, context, her testimony can also be considered as yet another innovative and significant cultural form—one that can be read in relation to other forms that Jones employed during her period of incarceration and deportation (such as her “Letter from Ellis Island,” but also her brief autobiography, editorials, and poetry), which made use of different techniques of narration in an effort to render legible her experience and her critical vantage point from her racial and political exclusion from citizenship. Reconsidering her court testimony as a genre is thus part of my larger effort in the second half of this book to extend the scope of what constitutes legitimate cultural forms to include what I have called “peripheral forms” that have been excluded from prevailing generic categories. Lisa Lowe provides a useful explication for considering the testimony—along with other forms often considered outside the realm of the “aesthetic”—as a significant genre. In her essay “Work, Immigration, Gender,” she analyzes the testimony given by a female garment worker, Fu Lee, at a community meeting in San Francisco about the conditions of her factory: “The aim,” Lowe writes, “is not to ‘aestheticize’

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the testimonial text but rather to displace the categorizing drive of disciplinary formation that would delimit the transgressive force of articulations within regulative epistemological or evaluative boundaries.” She concludes, “Cultural forms of many kinds are important media in the formation of oppositional narratives and are crucial to the imagination and rearticulation of new forms of political subjectivity, collectivity, and practice.”23 Jones’s testimony opens with her declaring, “Your Honor, there are a few things I wish to say.”24 In stating her desire to speak and her emphatic assumption of the first-person voice, Jones begins by pressing back against a number of different legal and social mechanisms working to silence her. First, her reclassification as an enemy alien or alien communist placed her outside the dialogic and ideological boundaries of the state, disqualifying her from being able to speak through the law as a rights-bearing subject. In detailing C. L. R. James’s similar reclassification, Donald Pease argues that being deemed an enemy alien meant one’s “legal subjectivity underwent demotion to the status of ‘you.’” He continues, “The state’s restriction of his pronominal identifications to the ‘you’ who must obey the law had also disallowed James membership in the ‘we’ of ‘we the people’ whose sovereign will the state was understood to represent. ‘You’ could never become ‘we’ because ‘you’ named the subversive with whom the state had refused the rights of dialogue as an ‘I.’”25 Jones’s opening represents, as such, a resistant effort to reclaim the pronominal standpoint denied her by the state and a critical and interpretive standpoint from which she could initiate a dialogue with the state that would provide an alternative account and judgment to that of the court. Second, Jones’s statement also represents a resistant effort to claim a voice for herself as a radical black woman. She refuses to assume the subject position of selfless and silenced woman. In response to the court’s refusal to read any of the article (“Women in the Struggle for Peace and Security”) that had been submitted as documentary evidence against her, she declares: “You dare not, gentlemen of the prosecution, assert that Negro women can think and speak and write!”26 Finally, Jones’s explicit assumption of the autobiographical voice also reflects—on another, though intimately related, level—a rhetorical strategy that Jones employs throughout her testimony to explicitly use her own life experience and story of alienage to challenge the prevailing racial logics and practices of the Cold War state. In particular, she uses her own life story as counterevidence to the state’s ideological employment of African American life stories during the early Cold War

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as evidence of American racial progress and, in turn, of the virtue of U.S. global leadership. It is in this context that we might consider the significance of Jones’s emphasis on her autobiography as a response to the political charges against her that she was an enemy of the state. She declares: It was here on this soil (and not as Mr. Lane would depict to this Court as a young child of eight years of age waving revolutionary slogans), that I early experienced experiences which are shared by millions of native-born Negroes—the bitter indignity and humiliation of second-class citizenship, the special status which makes a mockery of our Government’s prated claims of a “free America” in a “free world” for 15 million Negro Americans.27 On one hand, we can hear refracted in her testimony the common Cold War effort (via “Mr. Lane”) to paint communism as a fundamentally foreign or alien threat (keeping in mind that Jones lived in Trinidad until the age of eight). Indeed, the McCarran-Walter subcommittee had emphatically and repeatedly declared immigration policy to be a matter of “internal security,” rehearsing the well-worn charge that “the Communist movement in the United States is an alien movement.”28 Directly countering this claim, Jones recounts her emerging radical political orientation as instead thoroughly indigenous to American “soil”—aligning it with the shared alienage of “millions of native-born Negroes” denied the rights of citizenship. In doing so, she not only challenges efforts to displace her radical communist politics as “foreign” to the United States, but we can also hear in her testimony an attempt to use her own life story as a counterpoint to the prevailing American representations of African American racial formation as a symbol of American exceptionalism being projected to the world, that is, “our Government’s prated claims of a ‘free America’ in a ‘free world’ for ‘15 million Negro Americans.’” We can hear in her testimony, in other words, an effort to disrupt the dominant narrative of racial liberalism mobilized by the state at the time, which—as I have traced over the course of this book—projected a domestic story of racial progress to the world in order to legitimate the terms of U.S. global governance in the years after World War II, especially in respect to the decolonizing world. Mary Dudziak and Penny Von Eschen have shown how the Truman administration disseminated narratives of racial progress and of a racially inclusive nationalism as a “critical ideological component in the U.S. pursuit of global hegemony.”29 In Cold War Civil Rights, Dudziak,

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for instance, examines the government’s deep investment and proactive role in working to influence international perceptions about U.S. racial relations during the early post-WWII years.30 The United States Information Services (USIS) as well as Voice of America published and broadcast numerous materials overseas that set out to present positive images of black American life and to provide a favorable portrait of America as a nation of racial progress and a champion for black American aspirations. One of the most significant expressions of the government’s representation of race relations was The Negro in American Life, a pamphlet produced in 1950 or 1951—in precisely the same period as Jones’s arrest that lead to her imprisonment and eventual deportation. As Dudziak points out, the pamphlet acknowledged the nation’s legacy of racial failings, but it sought to use that past to its advantage by incorporating it into an ongoing progressive and redemptive story of American democracy. The pamphlet thus recognized the unfortunate history of slavery in the country, arguing that its legacy represented the central cause of American racial prejudice. But in doing so, its intention was at once to provide evidence of how open and free American society was in its ability and willingness to acknowledge this shameful past and also, more importantly, to ask the reader to “marvel at the progress that had been made.” Central to the pamphlet’s developmental narrative of American democracy was the promise and possibility offered by the American education system. It contended that access to education would eventually lift up “the Negro” out of the conditions of discrimination in which he found himself, by making him more capable of demanding the rights he deserved and in turn more worthy of being treated equally by his fellow white citizens. “Given education, he is enabled to speak up for his rights; he increases the prestige of his community and his own self-respect and is able thereby to develop friendly face-to-face relations with the white population.”31 Accompanying the ideological representations of the anonymous “Negro in American life,” the USIA also crafted stories of specific individual life narratives portraying examples to the decolonizing world of the great success of famous black Americans. Premised upon the developmental narrative of racial liberalism put forward in Gunnar Myrdal’s American Dilemma—which had become, as discussed in Chapter 3, the dominant liberal discourse on race in the postwar period—these life narratives admitted that discrimination and prejudice existed but also argued that racism was a residual formation that was gradually disappearing, and that determined and talented individuals had been able to overcome it. Articles lauding exemplary and successful individual

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life stories, such as “Working for World Peace: Dr. Bunche in History” or “Harry Belafonte’s Crusade for Americanism,” were circulated through Asia, Europe, and especially Africa (in the Gold Coast, Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa) as intended symbols of the triumph of American inclusiveness and its racial progress. Thus, as Penny Von Eschen argues, “A stress on the achievements of black Americans as examples of American democracy at work was often deemed more desirable than the image of group advancement.”32 With this ideological agenda, the State Department also promoted a number of African American cultural tours abroad. In Satchmo Blows up the World: Jazz Ambassadors Play the Cold War, Von Eschen reconstructs how the government sponsored several high-profile tours by Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and others as “goodwill ambassadors,” that is, as part of a “self-conscious campaign against worldwide criticism of U.S. racism, striving to build cordial relations with new African and Asian states.” She argues that the tours, which were intended to promote a vision of a color-blind American democracy, foregrounded the importance of these African American individuals and of African American culture during the Cold War, “with blackness and race operating to project an image of American nationhood that was more inclusive than the reality.”33 Grounding her discussion in this historical and ideological context, Jodi Melamed argues that in deploying these life stories, the state positioned the “American Negro” as a “witness” to “America’s” underlying freedom and democracy during the early years after World War II, and thus employed narratives of African American lives for an ideological agenda.34 These narratives, she writes, “worked to change the dominant reference points of national identity by powerfully inserting a narrative of the ‘Negro’ as fully ‘American’ into an earlier story of US manifest destiny, portraying the ‘American Negro’ as an instrument for bringing US-style freedoms to the world.”35 In turn, Melamed uses this narrative of the “American Negro” as “America’s witness” as a counterpoint to her reading of Du Bois’s late work, The Autobiography of W. E. B. Du Bois: A Soliloquy on Viewing My Life from the Last Decade of Its First Century. Briefly put, Melamed reads Du Bois’s third and final autobiography not as a dogmatic statement of support for the Soviet Union as it has often been considered (and the grounds upon which it has often been dismissed) but instead as an effort to subtly challenge these prevailing and ideologically driven liberal representations of race by renarrativizing the “American Negro” as a “witness” not for America but against U.S. neocolonialism.

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Melamed’s paradigm of “witnessing” provides a wonderfully useful model for interpreting Jones’s testimony before the court and for connecting her testimony to a broader rhetorical strategy in much of her writing. Put simply, Jones refuses to witness for the prosecution. That is, rather than witness for America, Jones witnesses against the existence of democracy in the United States, declaring that the trial testifies to an emergent “fascist drive on free speech and thought in our country.”36 In her subsequent testimony, she in turn frames the telling of her life story as a means to account for how she came to believe in communism over and above American liberal nationalism: “It was out of my Jim Crow experiences as a young Negro woman, experiences likewise born of working-class poverty that led me in my search of why these things had to be that led me to join the young Communist League and to choose at the age of 18 the philosophy of my life, the science of MarxismLeninism—that philosophy that not only rejects racist ideas, but is the antithesis of them.”37 At once a brash and resistant refusal to disavow her radical political affiliation before the court, Jones’s explanation of her conversion to communism can also be read as a subtle effort to articulate an oppositional witness to racial liberalism’s ideological project of employing “American Negro” life stories as testimonials for America and American racial democracy. Her life story of racial, class, and gender oppression and exclusion from the rights of citizenship cannot be reconciled to a developmental narrative of American democracy. Instead, her testimony implies the prevailing epistemic framework of liberal nationalism had rendered the cause or meaning of these forms of oppression illegible to her, requiring her to search for an alternative education that might provide a more satisfactory interpretive frame for understanding Jim Crow segregation and poverty—for “why these things had to be.” In the end, Jones constructs the meaning of her life story as the formation of a critical consciousness about race, gender, and class in the development of capitalism that leads her to “witness” to an ideal of communism as an antiracist discourse in place of and in opposition to the developmental narrative of American democracy. Ultimately, Jones fashions her own, as well as other black American life narratives (e.g., her biographical essay on Joe Louis, “Lift Every Voice—For Victory!”) as countersymbols to racial liberalism and the deployment of “Negro American life stories” as witnessing to American freedom.38 In particular, she uses her trial, incarceration, and eventual deportation as an undesirable alien under the McCarran-Walter Act as

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conceptual levers around which she casts her own life story as a critical counternarrative capable of not only challenging the racial and ideological limits and contradictions of the liberal nation-state but out of which she ultimately develops an alternative critical and global perspective on the meaning of race during the early Cold War.

* * * In the brief, eight-page autobiography (1955) that she wrote to William Foster (then chairman of the CPUSA) only days before her deportation, Jones begins her life story by recounting how her parents were drawn to emigrate from Trinidad, as were so many immigrants, by the promise of the United States.39 “Like thousands of West Indian immigrants,” she writes, “they hoped to find their fortunes in America where ‘gold was to be found on the streets’ and they dreamed of rearing their children in a ‘free America.’”40 Her life story soon testifies, however, to what Bulosan had similarly experienced and described as the great divide between the “promise” of America and the “real” America.41 She continues, “This dream was soon disabused. . . . [O]ur family suffered not only the impoverished lot of working class native families, and its multi-national populace, but early learned the special scourge of indignity stemming from Jim Crow national oppression.”42 (Jones tells much the same story in her interview with the Caribbean News the following year [1956] in, “I Was Deported Because I Fought the Colour Bar.”)43 Jones recounts how her “formal education on American soil” not only failed to provide her a satisfactory interpretive frame to make sense of her racialized exclusion from the rights of citizenship, but it reproduced “Jim Crow in the class rooms and in the social life of the schools.”44 Jones chronicles a series of episodes of racial and class oppression from her youth—episodes that she could not make sense of at the time of their occurrence because, she argues, her “formal education” and the “ideal” of America that had structured her family’s immigrant aspirations did not provide her a means for organizing them into any coherent or explanatory order. She is left only to wonder, “Why there was wealth and poverty; why there was discrimination and segregation; why there was a contradiction between the ideas contained in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights” with “its precepts of the pursuit of all of ‘life, liberty and happiness.’”45 The ethos of the development of her life story becomes, in this respect, the story of her developing the capacity to answer these questions—a process that entails, much like Bulosan’s

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immigrant narrative, abandoning one form of education founded on the epistemic frame of liberal nationalism in order to fashion an alternative or oppositional one that might enable her to make sense of these oppressive contradictions. In a further, even more intimate parallel to Bulosan, Jones marks the origins of this alternative education when she similarly contracted tuberculosis because of poor living and working conditions and was confined to a sanitarium for a year. “I had an opportunity,” she writes, “to read avidly, to think deeply.”46 Guided by her exposure to poverty and the terrible working conditions she had witnessed as a worker in a laundry factory and those that had caused her mother’s untimely death at the age of thirty-seven after years of working in a garment factory, this nascent informal education was further developed, she intimates, through the vibrant alternative public spheres of leftist and Pan-Africanist politics circulating in Harlem during the period. “I spent a lot of time,” she writes, “coming from work listening to the street corner meetings of the various political parties and movements in Harlem.”47 Eventually, this alternative education led her to Marxism/Leninism— the “philosophy of my life,” as she testified at her trial—which enabled her to reinterpret these racial, class, and gender inequities whose cause had remained illegible to her. Specifically, she explains how she came to understand these “contradictions” not as anomalies to American democracy, as postured by Cold War liberalism, but as structural necessities, deeply woven into the very fabric of American citizenship by the development and entanglement of modern capitalist relations with racialist ideologies. She comes in this context to recast her racialized alienage as an immigrant as “typical,” as “shared by millions of native-born Negroes.” “I was later to learn,” she writes, “that my lot was not just an individual matter, but that millions of working class people, and Negro people nativeborn suffered this lot under capitalism, if not identical, in one degree or another.”48 It enabled her, in other words, to reinterpret her individual autobiography as a collective one—to recast her life story as a form of testimonio. Her autobiography can be read in this respect (as can her testimony before the court), as another instance of what Fredric Jameson has termed a “counter-autobiography.”49 That is, the narrative of Jones’s life story is marked not by a centering or emergence of her individual subjectivity through her assimilation into the nation but ultimately by her ability to depersonalize her individual story and to decenter her

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subjectivity out of her exclusion from the rights of citizenship into radical alternative nonnational forms of solidarity and collectivity. While the American immigrant story usually hinges on the assimilative moment of conversion—that is, the ethnic Other’s willingness to renounce his or her Otherness to become American, the life story of Jones’s education culminates in her conversion to communism and her joining and subsequent involvement in the Communist Party in 1934. (As it had for Wright, who became involved in the Party during roughly the same period, the Party’s strong advocacy and involvement in the Scottsboro trial in 1931 made a deep impression on Jones.) The Party provided Jones with various forms of material and social support: organizational structures (e.g., the Young Communist League, the National Negro Congress, the Congress of American Women) for the further development of her political education and activist-intellectual work; a network of social and professional connections; and various publishing outlets for her writing—both her political essays in the CP journal Political Affairs and her articles and journalism in the Daily Worker. As had been the case for Bulosan, James, and Wright, Jones thus found in the vibrant alternative radical public spheres during the 1930s (e.g., the Communist Party, but also trade unions and various other radical black political and social organizations in Harlem) an alternative form of community in the United States, as well as an alternative critical framework through which she could reinterpret and resist—through her writings and activism—a culture that had offered her only, as she put it, a “badge of inferiority.” At the same time, of the figures examined in this book, only Jones both joined and remained a self-identified communist and Communist Party member for the remainder of her life. Certainly, myriad factors exist to explain each figure’s respective personal, political, and theoretical relationship to or distance from communism and the Communist Party, but it is worth considering at least how Jones’s social and economic vulnerability as a radical black noncitizen woman in the United States rendered the organizational structure and support of the Party all the more vital. At the same time, Jones’s decision to remain attached to the CPUSA, especially as a noncitizen radical in the age of the Smith and McCarran-Walter Acts, placed her at greater risk with the state than even those native-born radicals who stayed within the CPUSA’s circles during the period, such as Paul Robeson, W. E. B. Du Bois, Esther Jackson, and William and Louise Patterson, to name a relative few. And indeed it is worth emphasizing that among the figures examined in this study, Jones suffered the most severely at the punishing

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hands of the state—arrested four times, constantly harassed, imprisoned for nearly ten months in a federal penitentiary, and then deported. Her story thus certainly testifies to the fervent anticommunism during the early Cold War and, correspondingly, to the increased criminalization of noncitizen “aliens” such as Jones, who were persistently linked to the threat of communism in the United States. One might also suggest, as Davies does so convincingly, that Jones’s tragic fate testifies also to how her unruly subject position as a radical black feminist Caribbean immigrant made her even more threatening and positioned her even further outside the acceptable ideological boundaries of the U.S. state and U.S. political consciousness. But there is another, though inextricably linked, aspect of her work that posed a particular threat, as I have been trying to suggest, to racial liberalism and its suturing of a domestic narrative of racial progress to a larger global narrative of U.S. expansion during the early Cold War. This aspect of her work brings us back one final time to her autobiography and her testimony before the court, and to her efforts to refashion her life story into a form capable of challenging representations of African American racial formation as a sign of American freedom and exceptionalism. Specifically, Jones argues that her alternative education, forged out of the failings and limits of her “formal education,” leads her to reinterpret her identity and her racial and class struggle, not within a developmental national narrative of American democracy, but instead within the international or transnational development of capitalism. What became “instilled in me,” she writes, was a growing “consciousness” of the “interrelationship to Caribbean independence . . . of the struggle for Negro equality in the U.S., linked indissolubly . . . with the freedom and equality of the American trade unions and working class as the future class of society.”50 At a moment when the state was linking African American life stories to a national narrative of racial progress and American freedom that legitimated U.S. internationalism, Jones’s life story culminates in her eventual ability to think beyond the nation and to understand the “interrelationship” between black struggles and labor struggles within the United States, to decolonization movements in the Caribbean and elsewhere in a radical counterinternationalism to U.S. state and global power. On a quite immediate level, Jones’s effort to recast domestic racial struggles, in particular the struggles of black women, into a critical global frame was both a direct and intentional challenge to prevailing Cold War racial meanings being orchestrated by the state at the

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time. That is, Jones was keenly aware that the Truman administration’s domestic racial politics were, in part, oriented to swaying the opinions of an international audience—in particular those in the decolonizing world. In turn, she used the example of her own incarceration and deportation, as well as the “life stories” of other African Americans, as countersymbols intended to specifically and explicitly undercut this ideological effort of the administration to manage international perceptions of American race relations. “Consider the hypocrisy of the Truman Administration,” Jones writes in “An End to the Neglect of the Problems of the Negro Woman!,” “which boasts about ‘exporting democracy throughout the world’ while the state of Georgia keeps a widowed Negro mother of twelve children under lock and key. Her crime? She defended her dignity . . . from the attacks of a ‘white supremacist.’”51 And in, “For the Unity of Women in the Cause of Peace,” she argues that the Truman administration’s “bourgeois chauvinist contempt of Negro women is so great that even the U.N. appointment of an Edith Sampson is not on the base of leadership ability of Negro women but admittedly ‘to counter Russian propaganda.’”52 Jones can be heard not only undermining the ideological efforts of the Truman administration to project an image of domestic racial progress internationally but also perhaps, more specifically, countering its employment of particularized African American life stories to “witness” for that developmental story of American freedom. But finally, and more fundamentally, Jones’s commitment to an international political economic history of race also challenged—and was increasingly at odds with—the Truman administration’s concerted efforts to redefine the meaning of race within a liberal national framework during the early Cold War. Racial liberalism, which achieved political centrality during the administration’s tenure in the late 1940s, interpreted race and racism as a domestic problem—as an aberration in American life that represented a chapter in the story of America’s progressive national development. It was stripped of any and all analysis of political economy. Von Eschen has demonstrated in Race Against Empire how this revamped nationalist narrative not only obfuscated but also increasingly delegitimated what had been an earlier anti-imperialist global political economic critique of race and racism as an important component of the black public sphere during the 1930s and early and mid-1940s.53 Amid the increasingly bipolar politics of the Cold War, efforts to articulate and advocate these forms of international alliances and affinities—particularly those between black American struggles for civil rights and anticolonialism in Africa—were increasingly deemed

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un-American and incompatible with American citizenship. African Americans who continued to approach racism as part of an international nexus of imperialism and capitalism found themselves increasingly the targets of efforts by the Truman administration (and subsequent administrations) to silence them, an effort that certainly included Claudia Jones. In this context, we can perceive Jones’s work during this period of incarceration and deportation as, in part, a resistant effort to keep alive—under increasingly difficult pressures and from the limits of citizenship—these international affinities or “interrelationships” in the name of racial justice, which the United States sought to sever. Through the theoretical paradigm of Marxism/Leninism, Jones connected her life story and history as a noncitizen immigrant black woman in the United States not only to the struggles of “millions of native-born Negroes” but to men and women across Africa, Asia, and Latin America whose lives had been fundamentally shaped by similar processes of racial capitalism. Jones ultimately advocated a radical cosmopolitan conception of democracy, which embraced political, economic, and civil rights on a global scale. It was a radical cosmopolitan vision that recast the international of the early Cold War not as a space where American freedom fought against Soviet communism, but as a space where anticolonial socialism struggled against neocolonial capitalism. In the end, as much as her refusal to disown her radical communist affiliations and support for the Soviet Union made her a threat to Cold War America and positioned her outside the acceptable boundaries of American citizenship, it was her refusal to disavow these anti-imperial international solidarities—in particular her refusal to disidentify the struggles of black Americans for civil and economic rights in the United States with those against colonialism elsewhere—that proved perhaps even more unacceptable to the state. And, indeed, in her testimony before the court, Jones highlighted the anticolonial and anti-imperial international female solidarities expressed in her article “Women in the Struggle for Peace and Security,” which the state had used as evidence in her indictment but had refused to allow to be read at the trial. “And why, your Honor?” Jones asked. The article did not advocate for the violent overthrow of the U.S. government (as the charges against her asserted), but rather “it urges American mothers, Negro women and white, to write, to emulate the peace struggles of their anti-fascist sisters in Latin America, in the new European democracies, in the Soviet Union, in Asia and Africa to end the bestial Korean War.”54 Jones concludes that the

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state’s criminalization of the essay provides “further proof that what we were also tried for was our opposition to racist ideas, so integral a part of the desperate drive by the men of Wall Street to war and fascism.”55 Jones was one of thirteen accused communists on trial, but reading her testimony in this context allows us to place her also among another list of un-American codefendants from the period—namely, a range of African American and minority intellectuals, writers, and artists who maintained a broad cosmopolitan anti-imperial and antiracist framework. This list certainly includes W. E. B. Du Bois and Paul Robeson, as well as each of the other figures examined in this study: C. L. R. James, Carlos Bulosan, and Richard Wright. Indeed, Jones’s testimony might remind us again of Wright’s declaration concerning his self-exile from the United States in 1952: “So far as the Americans are concerned, I’m worse than a communist for my work falls like a shadow across their policy in Asia and Africa.”56 Ultimately, Jones’s incarceration and deportation as an undesirable alien provides a poignant example of the repressive politics of the early Cold War—and, more specifically, how the state worked to silence those radical black global imaginings that challenged the state’s own global designs in the early years after World War II through the denial or annulment of citizenship and citizenship rights. And Jones’s long-standing erasure from American political and cultural consciousness does reflect, at least in part, the effectiveness of the U.S. state’s cruel methods to displace her and other alternative radical voices from the nation. At the same time, however, Jones was able to use her alienage to her rhetorical advantage. Out of the political and racial limits of citizenship, she fashioned a series of innovative literary forms—as in her “Letter from Ellis Island,” in her testimony, and in her memoir—that spoke back to the nation-state from the standpoint of alienage and used the personal voice in various genres to link her own life story to a global subaltern counterpublic struggling for a radical democracy at the intersection of imperial capitalism and the racial and racializing state. What Jones suggests in each of these works is that her political and racialized exclusion from citizenship at once animates the contradictions of the U.S. nation-state, but it also opens up a necessary space for her to think beyond the epistemic limits of the national paradigm and to connect struggles for racial, gender and economic justice in the United States with anticolonial and antifascist struggles worldwide. Indeed this powerful ability to draw linkages of class with race, colonialism, and gender within an internationalist framework is perhaps the central organizing characteristic of

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Jones’s theoretical oeuvre (and what makes her, in Davies’s characterization, “left of Marx”). And the condition of alienage—her position at the racial and political limits of citizenship—represents a crucial epistemic and political standpoint from which she articulates these linkages within, while complicating, the international capitalist framework of Marxism/Leninism.

III. Formal Endings Jones, as I mentioned at the outset of this chapter, was eventually sentenced to a year and a day in the Women’s Federal Penitentiary in Alderson, West Virginia, of which she was forced to serve nearly ten months, even with a serious heart condition that would eventually prove fatal. Upon her release, and after a hospitalization at Mount Sinai Hospital, Jones was deported from the United States as an undesirable alien. To give a sense of the level of scrutiny Jones continued to receive, her FBI files contain a report by an agent verifying that Jones did indeed board the Queen Elizabeth for London on December 9, 1955, and “did not appear to leave her cabin again before the boat had launched.”57 In Left of Karl Marx, Davies has eloquently argued that Jones’s deportation from the United States did not lead to the end of her political life but that she was instead able to shift “the pain of deportation into the possibilities of diaspora.”58 Excluded from the nation, Jones developed an even more internationalist political vision. While she continued to ground her analysis in Marxism/Leninism, Jones’s concerns after arriving in England became centered more directly on Pan-Africanism and anticolonial struggles. In particular, she participated and politically organized for the London Caribbean community that was rapidly developing in the years after World War II. This international or diasporic political framework that grew out of her deportation led, ultimately, to Jones’s innovation of two correspondingly international or diasporic cultural forms. First, in 1957, Jones helped found the West Indian Gazette, later retitled the West Indian Gazette and Afro-Asian-Caribbean News, the first newspaper dedicated to the Caribbean community in London. Jones served as its editor for eight years up until her death in 1964. The paper covered the African world, the Asian world, particularly decolonization struggles, but also specifically the Caribbean—addressing issues facing both the Caribbean community in London (such as the Commonwealth, or “Color Bar,” Immigration Bill of 1962) and those at “home,” (such as the West Indies

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Federation, of which Jones, like C. L. R. James, was a strong proponent).59 The paper became, Davies argues in Left of Karl Marx, “one of the defining forces of the Caribbean community of the 1950s and 1960s.”60 And as the change in the paper’s title reflects, Jones also sought to align it with many of the same concerns of the “Afro-Asian Conference,” and the “Committee of Afro-Asian and Caribbean Organizations”—both political organizations she also helped found, and that were based, as Jones wrote in the conference’s charter, on the international and interracial anticolonial model of Bandung.61 In working to elaborate and advance the Afro-Asian principles of Bandung through the West Indian Gazette and Afro-Asian-Caribbean News along with these other organizations, Jones’s work reminds us on one hand of Wright’s similar turn to the conference at Bandung during his period of self-exile. He likewise found in it a powerful, if precarious, alternative vision of global politics to the bipolar Cold War, one founded on nonalignment and on international solidarity for the independence of African and Asian nations. At the same time, Jones’s development of these Afro-Asian cultural forms and political organizations also might remind us of the end of Carlos Bulosan’s America Is in the Heart and the farewell at the dawn of World War II between Carlos, the Filipino migrant narrator, and Larkin, the “Negro bootblack.” Their final goodbye, as I argued, might be read as symbolically marking the beginning of a broader closing down of alternative radical forms of interracial affiliations amid the rise of racial liberalism. And as we saw subsequently in the lives and work of Wright, James, and Jones, racial liberalism’s suturing to the politics of the Cold War led to increasing pressure to limit appeals to racial reform and forms of interracial imaginings to the framework of the nation-state and to liberal pluralism and the increasing delegitimation, even criminalization, of other forms of identification—be they antiracist, internationalist, or diasporic. In Jones’s development of these Afro-Asian cultural and political forms, we might thus mark a reemergence of alternative radical interracial affiliations and internationalisms only now outside the repressive Cold War American nation-state and out of a diasporic or postnational alternative public sphere in the global context of decolonization. Second, Jones also was instrumental in founding the Caribbean Carnival in 1959, which later became the Notting Hill Carnival, perhaps her most well-known legacy to the West Indian community and culture of London. The event was intended to help unify the heretofore isolated immigrant communities of Caribbean origin in London and to

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introduce to Britain their cultural expression. As Jones herself noted in her accompanying statement on the Carnival’s significance, “A People’s Art Is the Genesis of Their Freedom,” the Carnival would show the British people the “vividness of our national life” and would “help to extend the already acknowledged cultural influence of the Caribbean throughout the Commonwealth.”62 At the same time, the Carnival also had its more immediate political origins as a response to the Notting Hill Race Riots of 1958 and, more specifically, to the subsequent murder of the Antiguan immigrant Kelso Cochrane in May 1959. Emerging out of this context, the Carnival became an important and enduring component of social and political mobilization as well during the festival’s early years and then again during the 1970s. A number of critics have elaborated on the social and political history and significance of the Notting Hill Carnival (and the Caribbean Carnival in diaspora more generally) as both an act of cultural affirmation and social contestation.63 My interest here is far more limited. The Caribbean Carnival allows me in the final section of the chapter—and book—to briefly turn back one last time to the question of the politics of form. More specifically, the Carnival, considered as another “peripheral form,” allows me to readdress questions raised earlier about the closing down of alternative public spheres, and about the dialogic limits of both the nation and the novel. It is certainly not a coincidence that Bakhtin is one of the central theorists of both the novel and the carnival—as they perform, in his analysis, a related politically democratizing function.64 As discussed earlier, Bakhtin argues that the novel is a “dialogic” form, in that it undermines efforts to establish a unified language by enacting the fundamental multiplicity or “heteroglossia” that constitute any given language. In contrast to “monologic” forms such as the epic, which posit a unitary model of utterance, the novel exposes, through its multiplicity of voices, how meaning is the product of dialogue—of the interaction of different, indeed contestatory, socio-ideological voices that comprise any ostensibly unified language. This is central, once again, to Bakhtin’s belief in the politically defamiliarizing and democratizing power of the novel. That is, the novelization of monologic genres corresponds to the novelization of a monologic national culture into a dialogic interplay of a multitude of competing, and often conflicting, languages within a given community of different social groups or social forces—based, for example, on ethnicity, class, sect, or gender. In the first half of the book, I argued, in turn, that Bulosan’s America Is in the Heart and Richard Wright’s The Outsider animate the

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potential political limits of Bakhtin’s formative theory. I suggested that in attempting to articulate the experiences of those at the subaltern limits of citizenship, both works reveal the normative national horizon of the dialogic imagination—that is, how the existing linguistic/ideological boundaries of the nation establish a frame of intelligibility that enables certain voices, however conflictual, to be heard in the first place and that renders other utterances incomprehensible. Briefly put, in representing voices at the political and ideological limits of U.S. citizenship, Bulosan’s and Wright’s works expose at once the dialogic limits of the nation and, correspondingly, that of the novel. In the second half of the book, I then examined a series of nonnovelistic works that incorporated other—often hybrid—forms or genres (e.g., memoir, the epistolary, travel literature). I read these peripheral forms as efforts to articulate representational modes capable of telling these untold tales at the subaltern limits of citizenship—in particular, those shadow narratives of the transnational that put the nation in “dialogue” with its disavowed social relations of empire and imperial capitalism. I want to suggest that the Caribbean/Notting Hill Carnival, which Jones founded, can be considered another such nonnovelistic dialogic form forged out of the limits of national belonging. As a “spectacle, but without a stage,” in which the participant, in Julia Kristeva’s words, is “both actor and spectator” (or both participant and observer), the carnival is a form in which normal rules of social intercourse are not enforced.65 Much of the cultural criticism on carnival emphasizes that the wearing of disguises and/or the anonymity of the large crowd allows certain things to be said, certain forms of social power to be exercised that are muted or suppressed outside the ritual sphere. Beyond a celebration or festival, the carnival has long served, among other things, as the “people’s informal courtroom” (and the inversion of Jones’s testimony before the state court is telling), in which songs and verse are sung in critical judgment of official culture or dominant institutional powers.66 And, indeed, in the early years of Notting Hill, the Carnival helped to mobilize an effective social opposition to an increasingly racist articulation of British national identity in the post–World War II years and the growing anti-immigration legislations of the British state. (And in the 1970s it became a catalyst for a number of confrontations between the black community and the state—the London police force in particular.)67 For our purposes, what is particularly relevant about the carnival is Bakhtin’s insistence that it is a key location of uninhibited speech. It was,

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for him, the only place, as James C. Scott argues, “where undominated discourse prevailed”—a space free of the tensions created by subordination and surveillance and where, as such, secrecy or the euphemisms of official discourse were unnecessary.68 It constitutes an alternative “social space”—“a utopian realm of community, freedom, equality, and abundance” that unmoors, albeit temporarily, fixed social roles and facilitates a free and familiar dialogue between people.69 “Bakhtin wants us,” Scott argues, “to take carnival speech as something of a shadow society in which the distortions created by domination were absent.”70 Leaving aside Bakhtin’s optimism—or perhaps overoptimism—about the carnival’s liberatory potential to enable undominated discourse, what interests me here is reading this notion of a “shadow society” back alongside the works previously discussed. My reading of Wright’s novel The Outsider, for instance, focused upon the concept of secrecy and argued that it bore witness in part to the shrinking of alternative public spheres in Cold War America—to the increasing difficulty of finding a space or form in which nondominant knowledges with others might be shared. The figure of the “outsider” becomes, under the repressive surveillance of the United States during the early Cold War, a shadow society of one. He remains, as it were, tragically unable to lose himself in the crowd. And in Mariners, Renegades, and Castaways, James created a hybrid form wherein the alternative and criminalized forms of knowledge circulating among the incarcerated heterogeneity on Ellis Island in the shadows of America might be heard. And, indeed, throughout the book, I have made a case for each of the works as efforts to render legible at the formal limits of the nation what I have deemed the shadow narratives of the transnational. The Notting Hill Carnival, at least in its early incarnation under the stewardship of Jones during the late 1950s and early 1960s, might be considered as another effort to create a form capable of representing these shadow narratives of the transnational. Based on ritual spectacle, it is a form that rendered those shadow narratives of empire and of diaspora legible through the defiant redefinition or “counter-habitation” of the very public space of the street.71 In other words, the form of the Carnival sought to transform, at once temporarily but also more enduringly, the national streets of London into an alternative transnational public sphere—one through which the vernacular cosmopolitanism of Britain’s diaspora populations might be articulated. It “fused,” in the words of Jones, “the cultural, spiritual, as well as political and economic interests of West Indians in the U.K. and at home.”72 This transnational

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public sphere, in turn, became a space not only of festive celebration and spectacular expressions of the masquerade but one through which to contest and finally to novelize a then dominant monologic culture of British national and racial identity from the subaltern limits of national belonging. Like James’s Mariners, like Wright’s travel literature, and like Jones’s own “Letter from Ellis Island,” the Carnival is a form that put the nation into a defamiliarizing critical dialogue with its disavowed but constitutive legacy of empire and imperial history—and in the case of the Notting Hill Carnival, with a diasporic black British identity whose emergence was due in large measure to that shadow narrative of empire. Last, Jones’s creation after her deportation from the United States of the Carnival and the West Indian Gazette and Afro-Asian-Caribbean News raises a further and final suggestive question. A number of historians, such as Penny Von Eschen and Nikhil Singh, have compellingly documented the story of the Cold War U.S. state’s destruction and fragmentation of the radical alternative black public sphere and those individual radical voices that had been so vibrant during the 1930s and 1940s. Noting the hounding and fate of numerous black radicals (including Jones, as well as James, Wright, Du Bois, and numerous others) during the early Cold War, Singh aptly refers to the “completion of the political purge of the black Left that had come of age only a decade before.”73 But Jones’s case raises the question of whether there is not also perhaps another side to the story—namely, whether, at least in some instances, those race radical internationalisms and those alternative public spheres did not merely fragment and disappear but rather moved beyond the nation—brought both materially and imaginatively by those very individuals the state sought to purge through exclusion from citizenship to other countries and to other even more worldly or cosmopolitan forms.

Conclusion: An Empire of Alienage

On the eve of Claudia Jones’s deportation from the United States, on December 7, 1955, a banquet was held in her honor at the Skyline Ballroom in Harlem. Speaking at the occasion, William Patterson, a leader of the CPUSA and secretary of the Civil Rights Congress, envisaged how Jones’s deportation would lead not to her silence—as the state’s actions intended—but instead to an even more radical global political practice.1 Claudia goes as a deportee, but as Frederick Douglass once left our shores carrying a message describing the crime of slavery, as William E. Burghardt Du Bois once went to Europe to denounce the monstrous crimes inherent in racism, Claudia Jones will show the racist rulers of America now threaten all mankind. Then on the other hand she will testify to the fact that growing insoluble contradictions plague the American enemies of freedom-loving peoples. Claudia will say that the ever-growing unity of the American people around the cause of civil liberties and civil rights testifies to who will best whom in the United States. Claudia’s words will strengthen our allies.2 At a time when the U.S. state was promoting tours of numerous “goodwill ambassadors” intended to “witness” or testify for the story of American freedom and racial progress, Jones’s deportation produced, as it were, an unsanctioned ambassador who, in Patterson’s terms, promised to “testify” to a very different story of America. Patterson redefines or relocates Jones’s alienage and deportation into a long and vital tradition of black

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cosmopolitanism—individuals who had traveled beyond the nation and “testified” against the story of American freedom and for a legacy of racial violence and “monstrous crimes” to an international or global audience. It was a story, in the context of the early Cold War, that directly countered the American exceptionalist tales being so diligently exported by the state as part of its concerted ideological effort to project a progressive and inclusive portrait of U.S. race relations that would help legitimate the nation’s international ambitions. At the same time, Patterson also predicted that Jones would serve as an ambassador for a very different set of international relations. Testifying not before the state anymore but a global audience, for the growing struggle for racial justice in the United States, Jones’s “goodwill tour” promised to “strengthen” forms of solidarity with anticolonial and antiracist “allies” around the world—as did the work and lives of each of the figures examined in this study—in a radical counterinternationalism to U.S. state and global power in the early years after World War II. Approaching Patterson’s remarks from a slightly broader perspective, we might see in it a subtle challenge not only to the U.S. state but also to periodizations of the Left—and the ethnic Left in particular—during the early Cold War. And, in turn, we might see it as suggesting what has been one of the underlying arguments guiding this book. As a number of historians have documented, the early post–World War II period was an era of profound political repression that devastated the radical alternative public spheres—and in particular, the radical worldly imaginings of the alternative black public sphere—that had been so vibrant during the previous decades.3 And one need look no further than the various personal experiences that each of the figures in this study underwent during the period (e.g., blacklisting, the denial of passports, incarceration, deportation) to find evidence of the early Cold War state’s political fury and its concerted efforts to fragment and destroy a once-vibrant Left. But while a great deal has been illuminated by this vital historical perspective on the era, this narrative of political decimation has also perhaps constrained us from being attentive enough to the persistence and emergence of new forms and traditions of radical black and minority dissent during the period. As Bill V. Mullen and James Smethurst argue in Left of the Color Line, “cultural archaeologists searching for the remains of a buried radical past too often limit their efforts to the Red Decade of the 1930s and the countercultural 1960s.”4 It has been one of the implicit contentions of this book that while the post–World War II period was an era of profound political repression

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of race radical visions, a vibrant and significant tradition of African American and minority Left critique still existed. More specifically, I have argued that the repressive politics of national belonging through which the state policed the boundaries of the American public sphere paradoxically engendered, as in the example of Patterson’s depiction of Jones above, the creation of a series of radical cosmopolitan visions fashioned out of the condition of alienage that challenged the dominant ideas of race, nation, and the novel, and that constituted a coherent and significant literary and political tradition of dissent during the early years after World War II.

* * * Returning to Jones, we might conjecture that one of those “monstrous crimes” or “insoluble contradictions” of America about which she would testify to the world was her incarceration and harsh treatment at the detention center on Ellis Island during the early Cold War. At the conclusion of her “Letter from Ellis Island,” she describes in detail her and her fellow detainees’ experience of imprisonment and their status as “enemy aliens”: Many of us have had no hearings or legal examinations of any kind. We have never been confronted with any evidence, or made familiar with any crime, alleged or charged against us. Nor have any of us been informed or charged with the slightest infraction of the terms of our release on bail. . . . Nevertheless the government has re-arrested us without due process of law, and seeks to assign us to a virtual life-long imprisonment on Ellis Island. We are threatened by the government with becoming the first inmates of America’s concentration camps, the direct victims of the mad drive of the ruling circles to fascism at home and atomic war abroad.5 On one hand, Jones’s remarks closely prefigure C. L. R. James’s description of his internment at the same institution two years later: “At Ellis Island I was an alien and as such entitled to no consideration whatsoever . . . I had no human rights. . . . How to characterize this otherwise than as inhuman and barbarous? And what is its origin except that overweening national arrogance which is sweeping over the world like some pestilence?”6 At the same time, both Jones’s and James’s accounts of their incarcerations also sound all too familiar to our contemporary moment, in which

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an imperial U.S. state has assumed the prerogative to suspend the law under pretense of a wartime state of emergency and to strip individuals not only of the rights of citizens but also the rights of international law. Indeed, while the institution of Ellis Island was closed down not long after James’s internment, its institutional model of an island detention center for enemies of the state floating at the boundaries of the nation has certainly endured. In fact, it has come to represent a key geographical and juridical space in the development of post–World War II forms of U.S. state and global power—especially in the more recent and ongoing “War on Terror.” This is seen nowhere more poignantly and tragically than in the island war prison at Guantánamo Bay. Guantánamo occupies, as numerous critics have pointed out, a notoriously liminal political or national space—at once part of and not part of Cuba, and at once part of and not part of the United States. The nearly eight hundred prisoners who have been held at the geographically and legally indeterminate space—many since November 2001—inhabit a juridical void. In the words of Florian Westphal, a spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross: “The Guantánamo prisoners inhabit a legal limbo. . . . [T]hey have been placed beyond the law. . . . [A]s ‘enemy combatants’ they can be held indefinitely and have no means of recourse at their disposal through any legal mechanism.”7 Judith Butler writes that, according to the authority that holds them, “the prisoners indefinitely detained in Guantánamo Bay are not considered ‘subjects’ protected by international law, are not entitled to regular trials, to lawyers, to due process”; “the humans who are imprisoned in Guantánamo,” Butler goes on, “do not count as human.”8 Numerous critics have, in turn, interpreted the geographical and juridical landscape of Guantánamo—where national sovereignty and the rights of citizens are voided—as indicative of a new formation of U.S. empire. Using the example of Guantánamo, Donald Pease has powerfully defined a post–9/11 “Global Homeland State” that has “redescribed the entire planet as the space that the U.S. security apparatus was required to police in its war against global terrorism. . . . The Homeland named a form of global governmentality whose territorial boundary was everywhere and whose center was nowhere.”9 And Amy Kaplan has described how a hundred years of imperialism laid the legal groundwork for the contemporary emergence for what she terms a growing “global penal archipelago, where the United States indefinitely detains, secretly transports, and tortures uncounted prisoners from all over the world.”10 In her presidential address to the American Studies Association in 2003, Kaplan

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concludes by speculating whether “this floating colony will become the norm rather than an anomaly, that homeland security will increasingly depend on proliferating these mobile, ambiguous spaces between the domestic and the foreign. . . . This limbo space of Guantánamo may in fact become a new ground zero, a foundation on which both the American homeland and American empire are being rebuilt.”11 As the depictions of C. L. R. James and Claudia Jones from Ellis Island both suggest, however, the “foundation” for this “rebuilt” American empire might be traced back several decades earlier. Certainly, there are differences between the two spaces—perhaps most important, as both Kaplan’s and Pease’s depictions highlight, that Guantánamo Bay is not within the United States’ territorial national borders. Nonetheless, James’s and Jones’s stories of internment haunt the legal, political, and racial grounds of Guantánamo. Suspended in an indefinite time and space, they have been similarly reduced, to reiterate Butler, to humans “who do not count as human.” Or, in the words of James in 1952, “an alien is not a human being.”12 At the same time, if in this context we locate James’s and Jones’s analyses of Ellis Island alongside the other figures and works in this study, we might suggest that collectively, these works forged out of the political and racial limits of citizenship anticipated and highlighted new forms, discourses, and cultures of empire that were emerging in the years after World War II and that have come to profoundly shape our world today. It is an imperial state for whom the racializing and punishing condition of alienage has become increasingly central—and, just perhaps, increasingly unsettling—to its economic and political imperatives. Alienage, as I have argued over the course of this book, defines the status of individuals and social groups excluded from membership in the social polity. Produced at the negative limits of citizenship, it marks the boundaries against which the terms of national belonging and the national community are in part defined, given form, and consolidated. As such, the varying categories and historically shifting terms of alienage can tell us a good deal about how the nation imagined and constructed itself during the decade after World War II, when the United States rose to become the dominant power in the world (as well as now, when the United States clings to its status as the global hegemon). At the same time, alienage also represents a disruptive subject position. Located at the borders of inclusion and exclusion—or between the domestic and the foreign—the condition of alienage animates the incoherencies between the nation’s self-imaginings and its economic and political global ambitions.

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It bears within it those transnational histories (of empire, racial capitalism, and migrant labor) that the nation would rather forget and, during the period of the early Cold War, those voices (of revolutionary anticolonialism, trade union socialism, and radical black internationalisms) that it worked increasingly hard to exclude from a redefined national public sphere. From this liminal standpoint at the boundaries of national belonging, each of the writers examined in this study challenged the limits and contradictions of the United States and the U.S. nation-state at the dawn of the “American Century.” In particular, they used their dispossession from the nation to fashion a critical global perspective on the meaning of race, one that unsettled the paradigm of racial liberalism, which had emerged as a central political ideology for managing domestic consensus and defining and legitimating American internationalism in the period after World War II. Recasting their alienage in the global context of racial capitalism, their work animated how the inclusive universalism of the nation’s liberal pluralism depended upon a disavowed structure of racialized exclusion. These writers, in turn, developed innovative literary and cultural forms through which to represent the emergence of new transnational communities and political subjects at the limits of citizenship—those whom James and Bulosan referred to suggestively as “castaways.” Neither citizens nor the proletariat, they constituted instead a multiracial stateless subaltern counterpublic in the shadows of a global post–World War II economic and political order increasingly dominated by the United States. In the end, these anomalous subjects reflected and contested an emergent form of American imperial state developing in the years after World War II —one that is still very much with us today and one that relies on the creation of evermore racialized “castaways” for its economic and political ambitions. Within this framework, we might locate the contemporary anomalous space of Guantánamo among a series of interconnected exclusionary sites and procedures of alienage. We can point, for example, to the USA Patriot Act, which voids many civil and human rights for “un-American” or non-American Arabs, Muslims, and South Asians. Resurrecting the logic and rhetoric of the McCarran Act, which was declared unconstitutional in 1990, the current internal security act gives the state broad powers to deem immigrants “inadmissible” to the United States for advocacy of groups it determines “undermine our anti-terrorism efforts” and to detain or deport an alien who “solicits funds or membership or provides material support to a certified

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terrorist organization.”13 And we might also point to the increasing militarization of U.S. borderlands adjoining Mexico under the Department of Homeland Security—another ambiguous zone where many of the protections of civil and human rights have been stripped. These disparate examples overlap as spaces and procedures that work to satisfy varying political and economic imperatives of the state by creating racialized and criminalized figures that the nation must exclude in order to achieve coherence and unity. They are the disavowed face of American universalism and its very condition of possibility. They reveal, as I suggested in the introduction, how becoming American is inseparable from unbecoming Americans. From a critical legal perspective, we might also consider these conditions of alienage, both then and now, in relation to what Scott Michaelsen has suggestively referred to as a “permanent state of racial emergency.”14 Michaelsen looks to constitutional law to trace the history of its inconsistent application of equal protection and due process. In this context he compares the order for Japanese internment during World War II, the USA Patriot Act, and the history of aggressive search and seizure along the United States–Mexico borderlands and argues that they all exemplify what he terms “the permanent state of racial exception.”15 They testify, in other words, to an underlying racist exceptionalism that is not anomalous to but in fact constitutive of the universalist principles of American citizenship. Finally, if the current U.S. imperial state depends upon producing ever-expanding numbers and categories of racialized and excluded “castaways” from the nation, then the worldly visions that these writers forged out of the condition of alienage at the dawn of the “American Century” have become perhaps all the more relevant. Out of a marked and repressive tradition of exclusion from the United States, these writers created a vital tradition of innovative literary and cultural forms that articulated modes of belonging in the world beyond the representational limits of the nation (and the novel) and that fashioned alternative political, social, and aesthetic imaginaries to the state. Indeed, in the global or cosmopolitan imaginaries of these works, we can locate a critical counterdiscourse of universalism (e.g., of freedom and of democracy) that emerged in the face of and in opposition to the prevailing universal visions of America, whose global designs had been predicated upon their exclusion. In the end, by refusing to accept the limitations of liberal racial reform at home and by challenging U.S. imperial politics abroad, these writers advanced more worldly and expansive political conceptions

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toward anti-imperialism and anticapitalism. Against the structures of alienage that continue to underwrite the United States as both a nation and an empire, these figures left behind a rich legacy of universalist visions of social justice and aesthetic practice that can help remind us of more radical thresholds of democracy.


Introduction 1. It is a story that speaks, in fact, to another enduring tradition of the island as a site of cultural hierarchy and policing, wherein many white “ethnic” families had hostile encounters with the authorities of Ellis Island, often resulting in being rejected entry into the country or in drastic name changes. 2. Quoted in Vincent Cannato, American Passage: The History of Ellis Island (New York: HarperCollins, 2009), 349. Cannato provides a succinct history of Ellis Island’s transformation into an immigration prison (350–76). 3. “Harbor Camp for Enemy Aliens,” New York Times, January 25, 1942, quoted in Cannato, American Passage, 352. 4. Quoted in Cannato, American Passage, 357. 5. The 1952 McCarran-Walter Act, or Immigration and Nationality Act, revised but continued the national-origins quota system of immigrant selection in effect since 1929. Crafted as a government tool in the battle against communism, the act also gave immigration officials the unprecedented authority to arrest without warrant, hold without bail, and deport for an action that was legal when committed, any alien residing in the United States. 6. Louis Adamic, A Nation of Nations (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1945). 7. My use of the term “unbecoming Americans” is intended to invoke three interrelated ideas at the heart of this book. First, it describes those individuals whose racialized identity and/or political beliefs rendered them unfit for American citizenship during the early post–World War II period. Second, it underscores how the construction of the assimilated or abstract citizen-subject in the United States—that is, the process of becoming American—is founded upon the abjection of certain forms and figures of particularity that come to signify its constitutive outside. And finally, it describes the effort of each of these figures to transform their alienage from the United States into a political, epistemic, and aesthetic standpoint from which to imagine

206 / notes to pages 4–7 other forms of belonging in the world beyond the discourse of American citizenship and national belonging. 8. C. L. R. James, Mariners, Renegades, and Castaways: The Story of Herman Melville and the World We Live In (1953; reprinted with an introduction by Donald Pease, Hanover, N.H.: Dartmouth College Press, 2001). 9. Claudia Jones, “Claudia Jones Writes from Ellis Island,” Daily Worker, November 8, 1950. A copy of the letter is also located in the Claudia Jones Memorial Collection, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library. 10. Carlos Bulosan, America Is in the Heart (1946; repr., Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1976), 285. 11. Richard Wright, The Outsider (1953; reprinted and restored text established by the Library of America, New York: HarperCollins, 1993). 12. See Mae Ngai’s Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004); Linda Bosniak’s, The Citizen and the Alien: Dilemmas of Contemporary Membership (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008); and Chandan Reddy’s Freedom with Violence: Race, Sexuality and the US State (Durham: Duke University Press, 2011). On other citizenship scholarship related to questions of race, immigration, and national identity, see, for example, Leti Volpp and Mary Dudziak, Legal Borderlands: Law and the Construction of American Borders (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006); Lisa Lowe, Immigrant Acts: On Asian American Cultural Politics (Durham: Duke University Press, 1997); Lauren Berlant, The Queen of America Goes to Washington City: Essays on Sex and Citizenship (Durham: Duke University Press, 1997); and David Hollinger, Postethnic America: Beyond Multiculturalism (New York: Basic, 1995). 13. Bosniak, The Citizen and the Alien, 140. 14. My use of the term “alien citizen” is taken from Mae Ngai, who defines it in Impossible Subjects as “persons who are American citizens by virtue of their birth in the United States but who are presumed to be foreign by the mainstream of American culture and, at times, by the state” (2). 15. Some of the pioneering work on black radicalism in U.S. history includes that of Cedric Robinson, Black Marxism: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition (London: Zed, 1983); Robin Kelley, Race Rebels: Culture, Politics, and the Black Working Class (New York: Free Press, 1994); Paul Gilroy, The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Consciousness (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1993); and Nikhil Pal Singh, Black Is a Country: Race and the Unfinished Struggle for Democracy (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2004). For works that have sought to situate black radicalisms in a context of literary production, see William Maxwell, New Negro, Old Left: AfricanAmerican Writing and Communism between the Wars (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999); James Smethurst, The New Red Negro: The Literary Left and African American Poetry, 1930–1946 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999); Carole Boyce Davies, Black Women, Writing and Identity: Migrations of the Subject (New York: Routledge, 1994); Brent Edwards, The Practice of Diaspora: Literature, Translation and the Rise of Black Internationalism (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003); and Michelle Stephens, Black Empire: The Masculine Global Imaginary of Caribbean Intellectuals in the United States, 1914–1962 (Durham: Duke University Press, 2005). 16. My argument builds on a long tradition of scholarship linking the sociology and the generic history of the novel to the nation. See, for example, Benedict Anderson,

notes to pages 8–10 / 207 Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (London: Verso, 1983); Edward Said, Culture and Imperialism (New York: Knopf, 1993); Lowe, Immigrant Acts; Doris Sommer, Foundational Fictions: The National Romances of Latin America (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993); and Franco Moretti, Atlas of the European Novel, 1800–1900 (London: Verso, 1998). 17. The phrase “humanity in miniature” comes from Gunnar Myrdal’s discussion of what he termed the “American Creed” in his quasi-official race-relations study An America Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1944), 1021. 18. Horace Kallen, “Democracy versus the Melting Pot,” Nation 100 (February 18 and 25, 1915): 190–94, 217–20; Culture and Democracy in the United States (1924; repr., New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction, 1998), 124. Kallen first used the term “cultural pluralism” in the latter publication. For critiques of Kallen, see Werner Sollors, Beyond Ethnicity: Consent and Descent in American Culture (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986); and John Higham, Send These to Me: Immigrants in Urban America (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1975). For other good general analyses and overviews of cultural pluralism, see Werner Sollors, “Foreword: Theories of American Ethnicity,” in Theories of Ethnicity: A Classical Reader (New York: New York University Press, 1996), x–xliv, esp. his section “Assimilation versus Pluralism,” xxv–xxix; Werner Sollors, “A Critique of Pure Pluralism,” in Reconstructing American Literary History, ed. Sacvan Bercovitch (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1986), 250–79; and Olivier Zunz, “The Genesis of American Pluralism,” Tocqueville Review 9 (1988): 201–19. For a good discussion of the intertwining of cultural pluralism and American universalism, see Nikhil Pal Singh, “Culture/ Wars: Recoding Empire in an Age of Democracy,” American Quarterly 50 (September 1998): 471–522. 19. Quoted in Mary L. Dudziak, Cold War Civil Rights: Race and the Image of American Democracy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000), 7. 20. Louis Adamic, “The Crisis Is an Opportunity,” Common Ground 1 (Autumn 1940): 62–73. 21. Singh, Black Is a Country, 7. For other discussions of the interconnection between domestic racial politics and civil rights reform and U.S. geopolitics during the early Cold War, see Dudziak, Cold War Civil Rights; Penny Von Eschen, Race Against Empire: Black Americans and Anticolonialism, 1937–1957 (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1997); Thomas Borstelmann, The Cold War and the Color Line: American Race Relations in the Global Arena (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001), 75, and Carol Anderson, Eyes off the Prize: The United Nations and the African American Struggle for Human Rights, 1944–1955 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003). 22. For an excellent discussion of the rise of racial liberalism, see Jodi Melamed’s Represent and Destroy: Rationalizing Violence in the New Racial Capitalism (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2011). She charts its rise among various “official antiracist regimes”—which she calls “race-liberal orders”—from the end of World War II to the present. She focuses on racial liberalism, liberal multiculturalism, and neoliberal multiculturalism. 23. President Truman’s Executive Order 9981 (1948) desegregated the armed forces. There was the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act of December 17, 1943 (57 Stat. 600) and the repeal of the Filipino and Indian Exclusion and Ineligibility to Citizenship Act

208 / notes to pages 10–16 of July 2, 1946 (60 Stat. 416). The provision excluding Japanese and Koreans was not repealed until 1952. 24. Von Eschen, Race Against Empire, see esp. 69–95. 25. Carlos Bulosan was blacklisted and threatened on more than one occasion with deportation; Richard Wright went into self-exile in Paris, where he remained under surveillance by the FBI for the final fourteen years of his life. He also had his passport restricted and lived under the continual threat of having his passport revoked under the Smith Act. In addition to being incarcerated twice on Ellis Island, Claudia Jones was imprisoned for a year in a West Virginia prison under the Smith Act and subsequently deported under the McCarran-Walter Act. She was not granted a passport for several years after arriving in England. C. L. R. James was imprisoned on Ellis Island for four months before being deported under the McCarran-Walter Act. 26. For a work that attempts to refocus attention on the existence of a radical black and minority political and literary tradition of critique during the early Cold War, see Bill V. Mullen and James Smethurst, eds., Left of the Color Line: Race, Radicalism and Twentieth-Century Literature of the United States (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003). 27. The Bandung Conference was a meeting of twenty-nine African and Asian nations, most of them newly independent, to discuss mutual anticolonial interests. It led to the founding of the Non-Aligned Movement. 28. Martha Nussbaum, “Patriotism and Cosmopolitanism,” in For Love of Country: Debating the Limits of Patriotism, ed. Josh Cohen (Boston: Beacon, 1996), 4. 29. David Hollinger, “Not Pluralists, Not Universalists, the New Cosmopolitans Find Their Own Way,” Constellations 8, no. 2 (June 2001): 237. 30. Pheng Cheah and Bruce Robbins, eds., Cosmopolitics: Thinking and Feeling beyond the Nation (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1998), 1. 31. In this respect, my use of the term “counter-cosmopolitanisms” is in stark contrast to Kwame Anthony Appiah’s use of the term in his book Cosmopolitanism, where he employs it to define reactive forms of fundamentalism, “universalisms without tolerance,” as he describes them (see Kwame Anthony Appiah, Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers [New York: Norton, 2006], 137–55). 32. See Said, Culture and Imperialism, 244. 33. Donald Pease and Amy Kaplan, eds., Cultures of U.S. Imperialism (Durham: Duke University Press, 1993); John Carlos Rowe, Literary Culture and U.S. Imperialism: From the Revolution to World War II (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000); Donald Pease and Robyn Wiegman, eds., The Futures of American Studies (Durham: Duke University Press, 2002); Amy Kaplan, The Anarchy of Empire in the Making of U.S. Culture (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002). Significant contributions to this rapidly growing effort to recover vocabularies of opposition include works by Wai Chee Dimock, Robin Kelley, Lisa Lowe, Nikhil Pal Singh, Penny Von Eschen, and Brent Hayes Edwards. 34. Richard Wright, White Man Listen! (New York: HarperCollins, 1957), 101. 35. The notion of a “third set of ideas” can be found in a number of places in Wright’s later work. For example, the district attorney in his novel The Outsider deems the criminal violence he is investigating to be the result of a “third set of ideas” (Wright,

notes to pages 16–24 / 209 The Outsider, 375). See also Wright’s discussion of a “third way of knowing” in respect to the “tragic elite” of the colonial world in his essay “Tradition and Industrialization” in White Man Listen! (107–11). 36. Richard Wright, The Color Curtain (1956; repr., Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1994), 208. 37. David Lloyd, Anomalous States: Irish Writing and the Post-Colonial Moment (Durham: Duke University Press, 1993), in particular, see the final essay, “Violence and the Constitution of the Novel.” 38. Ibid., 127. 39. Ibid., 134. 40. Ibid., 152. 41. Ibid., 129. 42. Roberto Schwarz, Misplaced Ideas: Essays on Brazilian Culture, trans. John Gledson (London: Verso, 1992). 43. Ibid., 23. 44. Ibid. 45. Ibid., 53. 46. My use of the paradigm of “postnational” is indebted to Donald Pease’s articulations of it in works such as “National Identities, Postmodern Artifacts, and Postnational Narratives,” boundary 2, 19, no. 1 (1992): 1–13. More recently he has used the postnational to position the field “outside” the nation and within the contradictions between the state formation and national culture. For example, see “C. L. R. James, Moby Dick, and the Emergence of Transnational American Studies,” in The Futures of American Studies, ed. Pease and Wiegman (Durham: Duke University Press, 2002), 135–63. I am also indebted to Roderick Ferguson’s elaboration of the term in Aberrations in Black: Toward a Queer of Color Critique (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2003); and John Carlos Rowe, ed., Postnationalist American Studies (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000). 47. Myrdal writes: “In practically all of its divergences, Negro culture is not something simply independent of general American culture. It is a distorted development, or a pathological condition, of the general American culture” (An American Dilemma, 928). 48. See Mikhail Bakhtin, The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays, ed. Michael Holquist, trans. Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1981). 49. See Carole Boyce Davies, Left of Karl Marx: The Political Life of Black Communist Claudia Jones (Durham: Duke University Press, 2008) as well as her essay “Deportable Subjects: U.S. Immigration Laws and the Criminalizing of Communism,” South Atlantic Quarterly 100, no. 4 (Fall 2001): 949–66. See also Dayo Gore, Radicalism at the Crossroads: African American Women Activists in the Cold War (New York: New York University Press, 2011); Cheryl Higashida, Black Internationalist Feminism: Women Writers of the Black Left, 1945–1995 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2011); and Erik McDuffie, Sojourning for Freedom: Black Women, American Communism, and the Making of Black Left Feminism (Durham: Duke University Press, 2011). 50. Stephens, Black Empire.

210 / notes to pages 27–33 1 / Neither Citizen nor Alien 1. Carlos Bulosan, America Is in the Heart (1946; repr., Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1976), 69; hereafter cited parenthetically. 2. See H. W. Brands, Bound to Empire: The United States and the Philippines (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992), 20–38. See also Meg Wesling, Empire is Proxy: American Literature and U.S. Imperialism in the Philippines (New York University Press, 2011), 3–5. 3. Ronald Takaki, Strangers from a Different Shore: A History of Asian Americans (Boston: Little, Brown, 1989), 57. 4. Carlos Bulosan, “My Education,” in On Becoming Filipino: Selected Writings of Carlos Bulosan, ed. E. San Juan Jr. (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1995), 125. 5. See Franco Moretti, The Way of the World (London: Verso, 1987); Lisa Lowe, “Decolonization, Displacement, Disidentification: Writing and the Question of History,” in Immigrant Acts: On Asian American Cultural Studies (Durham: Duke University Press, 1997); Raymond Williams, The Country and the City (New York: Oxford University Press, 1973); and Mikhail Bakhtin, The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays, ed. Michael Holquist, trans. Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1981). 6. Williams, The Country and the City, 279. 7. For criticisms that have argued that the novel reproduces the bildungsroman mode of self-formation, see, for example, Elaine Kim’s essay “Beyond Railroads and Internment: Comments on the Past, Present, and Future of Asian American Studies,” in Privileging Positions: The Sites of Asian American Studies, ed. Gary Okihiro et al. (Pullman: Washington State University Press, 1995). See also Shelley Wong’s essay “Unnaming the Same: Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Dictée,” in Writing Self, Writing Nation, ed. Norma Alarcón, Elaine Kim et al. (Berkeley: Third Woman Press, 1994). For criticisms that have read it as subverting the mode of the bildungsroman, see Shirley Geok-lin Lim’s “The Ambivalent American: Asian American Literature on the Cusp,” in her Reading the Literatures of Asian America (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1992); Gabriel Jose Gonzalez, S.J., “America Is in the Heart as a Colonial-Immigrant Novel Engaging the Bildungsroman,” Kritika Kultura 8 (2007): 99–110; and, perhaps most notably, Lisa Lowe’s reading in Immigrant Acts, 34–35. 8. Sua-ling Cynthia Wong, Reading Asian American Literature: From Necessity to Extravagance (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993), 134–35. 9. Moretti, The Way of the World, 4. 10. What America Is in the Heart also shares with the bildungsroman tradition is that this journey is a decidedly male enterprise. For a discussion of how gender figures in the novel, see Rachel Lee’s chapter “Fraternal Devotions: Carlos Bulosan and the Sexual Politics of America,” in her The Americas of Asian American Literature: Gendered Fictions of Nation and Transnation (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2002). 11. Quoted in Christina Duffy Burnett and Burke Marshall, eds., Foreign in a Domestic Sense: Puerto Rico, American Expansion, and the Constitution

notes to pages 33–38 / 211 (Durham: Duke University Press, 2001), 5. For an important discussion of this category as it ref lects the paradoxes of U.S. empire, see Mae Ngai’s Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004), 96–126; see also Amy Kaplan’s The Anarchy of Empire in the Making of U.S. Culture (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002), 1–12. 12. Quoted in Ngai, Impossible Subjects, 119. 13. Epifanio San Juan, The Philippine Temptation: Dialectics of Philippines–U.S. Literary Relations (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1996), 133. 14. Howard DeWitt, California Dream (New York: Kendall Hunt, 1999), 131. See also Ernesto Galarza’s Strangers in Our Fields (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1984); Cletus Daniel’s, Bitter Harvest: A History of California Farmworkers, 1870–1941 (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2001); and Philip Vera Cruz’s A Personal History of Filipino Immigrants and the Farmworkers Movement (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1980). This description of movement here, in turn, certainly evokes one of the most enduring genres and iconographic images of Depression-era culture: the narrative/image of the migrant agricultural worker in California. In his book on Popular Front culture, The Cultural Front: The Laboring of American Culture in the Twentieth Century (London: Verso, 1996), Michael Denning suggests that the narrative of migrant laborers in California was perhaps the single “best-known Popular Front genre. . . . Indeed, the ‘Okie exodus’ . . . to California remains one of the most striking examples of Popular Front narrative becoming part of American mass culture” (259). On one hand, the representation of Carlos’s perpetual displacement within America Is in the Heart shares and astutely echoes many themes of this existing genre—most specifically the theme of horizontal movement as a critical commentary on the ills of the American Dream and on the American narratives of social mobility. At the same time, however, Carlos’s pattern of fugitive movement—of enforced “f light”—cannot be assimilated to this existing generic pattern of movement. Instead, structured as it is upon the racial and sexual criminalization of his Filipino identity, Carlos’s episodic and horizontal movement of f light evokes representations or patterns of minority movement, including that of a tradition in African American literature traceable back to slave narratives and that has been associated with the genre of the picaresque. Indeed, we might suggest that while the pattern of movement and mobility associated with the “promise” of America is tied to the bildungsroman in America Is in the Heart, it is transformed into the picaresque in the “real” America. In this respect, Bulosan’s novel can also be read as echoing Richard Wright’s Native Son, a novel that America Is in the Heart directly references, and whose writer had a great impact on Bulosan. Wright’s novel explores a similar pattern of fugitive movement through the figure of Bigger Thomas, and, indeed, the long second section of the novel is entitled “Flight,” which is a criminalized f light instigated by an interracial sexual border crossing. 15. Carey McWilliams, Brothers Under the Skin: African-Americans and Other Minorities (Boston: Little, Brown, 1943), 241.

212 / notes to pages 39–53 16. My analysis of the writing of the novel as an alternative bildungsroman is indebted to Joey Slaughter’s work on rethinking the relationship between human rights law and the bildungsroman genre in narrative terms. See his Human Rights, Inc.: The World Novel, Narrative Form, and International Law (New York: Fordham University Press, 2007). 17. The following studies investigate the interpellating function of the bildungsroman: Moretti, The Way of the World; Lowe, “Decolonization, Displacement, Disidentification: Writing and the Question of History,” in Immigrant Acts; Slaughter, Human Rights, Inc.; and David Lloyd, Nationalism and Minor Literature: James Clarence Mangan and the Emergence of Irish Cultural Nationalism (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987). 18. Lloyd develops this analysis in his chapter “Violence and the Constitution of the Novel,” in his Anomalous States: Irish Writing and the Post-Colonial Moment (Durham: Duke University Press, 1993). 19. Oscar V. Campomanes and Todd S. Gernes, “Two Letters from America: Carlos Bulosan and the Act of Writing,” MELUS 15, no. 3 (1988): 22. 20. See for example Wesling, Empire’s Proxy, 139–163. 21. Susan Evangelista, Carlos Bulosan and His Poetry: A Biography and Anthology (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1985), 27. 22. Campomanes and Gernes, “Two Letters from America,” 23. 23. Ibid., 24. 24. Lowe, Immigrant Acts, 46. 25. Ibid., 30. 26. Ibid., 44. 27. Ibid. 28. Carlos Bulosan, “The Writer as Worker,” in On Becoming Filipino, ed. E. San Juan Jr. (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1995), 144. 29. Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (London: Verso, 1983), 6. 30. Bruce Robbins, Feeling Global: Internationalism in Distress (New York: New York University Press, 1999), 69. 31. Ibid., 70. 32. See Fredric Jameson’s essay “On Literary and Cultural Import-Substitution in the Third World: The Case of the Testimonio,” Margins (Spring 1991): 11–34. 33. For a discussion of “black worldliness,” see Nikhil Pal Singh’s “Culture/Wars: Recoding Empire in an Age of Democracy,” American Quarterly 50 (September 1998): 471–522. 34. W. E. B. Du Bois, Color and Democracy: Colonies and Peace (1945; repr., Millwood, N.Y.: Kraus-Thomson, 1975), 6. 35. Aimé Césaire, Discourse on Colonialism, trans. Joan Pinkham (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1972), 3. 36. Du Bois, Color and Democracy, 6. 37. Ibid., 7. 38. Ibid., 141. 39. Victor Bascara, Model Minority Imperialism (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2006), 51.

notes to pages 53–66 / 213 40. See Gary Gerstle’s “The Limits of American Universalism,” American Quarterly 45, no. 2 (June 1993): 230–37. Gerstle synthesizes an argument he develops at much greater length in Working-Class Americanism: The Politics of Labor in a Textile City, 1914–1960 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2002). 41. Ibid., 234. 42. For a discussion of New Deal reconfigurations of Americanism, see Alan Brinkley, The End of Reform: New Deal Liberalism in Recession and War (New York: Vintage, 1996). 43. Robert Zieger has observed that in the 1890s and beyond, the AFL responded to the “menace” of mass immigration by stressing their firm allegiance to an American sense of national identity rather than a transnational or even domestic workingclass alliance. Organized labor, he argues, deliberately emphasized its American character and became an agent in the regulation of immigration (Robert Zieger, American Workers, American Unions [Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986]). 44. For a discussion of the legacy of race and racism in the AFL, see Bruce Nelson, Divided We Stand: American Workers and the Struggle for Black Equality (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001). 45. Nelson Lichtenstein, State of the Union: A Century of American Labor (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2002), 82. 46. Carey McWilliams, Brothers Under the Skin (Boston: Little, Brown, 1943), 4, quoted in Singh, “Culture/Wars: Recoding Empire in an Age of Democracy,” 475. For an extended discussion of the rise of pluralism as a model of American universalism, see also Werner Sollors, “Foreword: Theories of American Ethnicity,” in Theories of Ethnicity, ed. Sollors (New York: New York University Press, 1996), x–xliv. 47. Singh, “Culture/Wars,” 475. 48. Ibid. 49. Ibid. 50. Quoted in Campomanes and Gernes, “Two Letters from America,” 22. 51. See, for example, San Juan’s introduction to On Becoming Filipino, 12; Evangelista, Carlos Bulosan and His Poetry: A Biography and Anthology, 27; and Campomanes and Gernes, “Two Letters from America,” 10. 52. Rachel Lee, The Americas of Asian American Literature, 17–44. 53. Kaplan, The Anarchy of Empire in the Making of U.S. Culture. 54. Quoted in E. San Juan Jr., On Becoming Filipino, 216. 55. Mary Dudziak, Cold War Civil Rights: Race and the Image of American Democracy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000). 56. E. San Juan Jr., introduction to On Becoming Filipino, 37.

2 / The Epistomology of Unbelonging 1. Quoted in Mary Dudziak, Cold War Civil Rights: Race and the Image of American Democracy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000), 20. Wright closely followed, in particular, the story of the brutal murder of the African American ex-serviceman George Dorsey in Georgia, which received a great deal of national and international attention. In her book, Dudziak goes on to argue: “In the years

214 / notes to pages 66–72 following World War II, a wave of violence swept the South as African-American veterans returned home. Lynchings and beatings of African Americans, sometimes involving law enforcement officials, were covered in the media in this country and abroad” (23). 2. Quoted in Hazel Rowley, Richard Wright: The Life and Times (New York: Henry Holt, 2001), 352. 3. Chandan Reddy, “The Migrating Present: Alienage, Race and the Politics of Black Internationalism, 1898–1953” (Ph.D. diss., Columbia University, 2004), Proquest (UMI Number: 3145271), 214. 4. Richard Wright, “I Choose Exile,” unpublished, undated essay written in 1950, Richard Wright Papers, Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. 5. Quoted in Michel Fabre, The Unfinished Quest of Richard Wright (Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 1993), 20. 6. Wright, “I Choose Exile,” 5. 7. Brent Hayes Edwards, The Practice of Diaspora: Literature, Translation and the Rise of Black Internationalism (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003), 4. 8. James Baldwin, “Alas Poor Richard,” in Nobody Knows My Name: More Notes of a Native Son (New York: Dial, 1961), 203. 9. Quoted in Nikhil Pal Singh, Black Is a Country: Race and the Unfinished Struggle for Democracy (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2004), 161. 10. Milton Rugoff, review of The Outsider, by Richard Wright, New York Herald Tribune Book Review, March 1953, 4. See also L. D. Reddick, “A New Richard Wright?,” Phylon 14 (second quarter 1953): 213–14. 11. Arna Botemps, review of The Outsider, by Richard Wright, Saturday Review, March 1953, 15–16. 12. J. Saunders Redding, review of The Outsider, by Richard Wright, Baltimore Afro-American. May 19, 1953, 15–16. 13. Max Eastman, “Man as a Promise,” review of The Outsider, by Richard Wright, Freeman, May 4, 1953, 567–68. 14. Nelson Algren, “The Art of Fiction,” interview, Paris Review (Winter 1955). 15. Paul Gilroy, The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness (London: Verso, 1993), 146–87. 16. Abdul JanMohamed, The Death-Bound Subject: Richard Wright’s Archaeology of Death (Durham: Duke University Press, 2005), 175–210. 17. Wright’s “epistemology of unbelonging” was part of a long tradition of African American letters dating back at least to the late nineteenth century that had sought to conceptualize African American identity as located at once inside and outside the nation, including such writers as Paul Laurence Dunbar, W. E. B. Du Bois, Charles Chesnutt, James Weldon Johnson, and Pauline Hopkins, among others. 18. Quoted in Dudziak, Cold War Civil Rights, 9. See also Brenda Gayle Plummer, Rising Wind: Black Americans and U.S. Foreign Affairs, 1935–1960 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996), 86. 19. Dudziak, Cold War Civil Rights, 12. 20. Gunnar Myrdal, An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1944); hereafter cited parenthetically. 21. Walter Jackson, Gunnar Myrdal and America’s Conscience: Social Engineering and Racial Liberalism 1938–1987 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1990), 13.

notes to pages 72–86 / 215 22. Jodi Melamed, “The Spirit of Neoliberalism: From Racial Liberalism to Neoliberal Multiculturalism,” Social Text 24, no. 4 (Winter 2006): 6. 23. Jodi Melamed, “W. E. B. Du Bois’s UnAmerican End,” African American Review 40, no. 3 (2006): 534. 24. Richard Wright to Dorothy Canfield Fisher, July 20, 1944, Canfield Fisher Papers, quoted in Rowley, Richard Wright: The Life and Times, 289. 25. Richard Wright, “Richard Wright Suggests,” New York Post, November 30, 1944. 26. Richard Wright, introduction to Black Metropolis: A Study of Negro Life in a Northern City, by St. Clair Drake and Horace Cayton (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1945), xxix. 27. Gunnar Myrdal to Mr. and Mrs. Ira and Edita Morris, September 17, 1959, Richard Wright Papers, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. 28. Jackson, Gunnar Myrdal and America’s Conscience, 55. 29. Richard Wright, “Tradition and Industrialization,” in White Man Listen! (New York: Harper Perennial, 1957), 64. 30. Richard Wright, The Outsider (1953). All citations refer to restored text established by the Library of America, introduction by Maryemma Graham (New York: Harper Perennial, 1993), 163–64. Hereafter cited parenthetically. 31. See Satya Mohanty’s “The Epistemic Status of Cultural Identity: On Beloved and the Postcolonial Condition,” in Reclaiming Identity: Realist Theory and the Predicament of Postmodernism, ed. Paula M. L. Moya and Michael Hames-García (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1997), 29–66. 32. Ibid., 43. 33. Ibid., 58. 34. Edward Said, “The Mind of Winter: Reflections on Life in Exile,” Harper’s, September 1985, 49–55. 35. Mohanty, “The Epistemic Status of Cultural Identity,” 60. 36. Abdul JanMohamed, The Death-Bound Subject, 43. 37. C. L. R. James, “Black Studies and the Contemporary Student,” in At the Rendezvous of Victory (London: Allison and Busby, 1984), 196. 38. Abdul JanMohamed, “Negating the Negation as a Form of Affirmation in Minority Discourse: The Construction of Richard Wright as a Subject,” Cultural Critique (Fall 1987): 245–66. 39. Ibid., 255 40. Quoted ibid., 258. 41. Ibid. 42. Richard Wright, Black Boy (1944). All references refer to reprinted and restored text established by the Library of Congress (New York: Harper Perennial, 1991), 200. 43. JanMohamed, “Negating the Negation,” 261. 44. Frantz Fanon discusses counterhegemony and the role of culture in his theory of national consciousness. See his “On National Culture,” in The Wretched of the Earth, trans. Constance Farrington (New York: Penguin, 1967), 206–48. 45. Raymond Williams, The Long Revolution (New York: Columbia University Press, 1961), esp. 72–100. 46. Ibid., 87. 47. Ibid., 88.

216 / notes to pages 87–98 48. Ibid., 90 49. Ibid. 50. Ann Douglas, “Periodizing the American Century: Modernism, Postmodernism, and Postcolonialism in the Cold War Context,” Modernism/modernity 5, no. 3 (1998): 82. 51. Taylor Branch, Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954–1963 (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1988), 209. This “clue” also suggests how connected commitments to racial justice had become with political subversion. 52. Arthur Schlesinger Jr., “The Communist Party,” Life, July 29, 1946, 90. 53. Passed in 1940, the Smith Act, also known as the Alien Registration Act, made it an offense to “advocate or belong to a group that advocated the violent overthrow of the government.” Aside from revoking passports and the threat of prison sentences, the Smith Act also required registration of all aliens living in the United States. 54. See Thomas Borstelmann, The Cold War and the Color Line: American Race Relations in the Global Arena (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001); Penny Von Eschen, Race Against Empire: Black Americans and Anti-Colonialism, 1937–1957 (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1997); Singh, Black Is a Country; Dudziak, Cold War Civil Rights; and Carol Anderson, Eyes off the Prize: The United Nations and the African American Struggle for Human Rights, 1944–1955 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003). 55. Dudziak, Cold War Civil Rights, 11. 56. Singh, Black Is a Country, 164. 57. Ibid., 169. 58. Wright, “I Choose Exile,” 2. 59. Wright to Margit Salboniere, 1960, quoted in Julia Wright, introduction to Haiku: This Other World (New York: Arcade, 1998), x. 60. Quoted in Fabre, The Unfinished Quest, 336. 61. See Mikhail Bakhtin’s The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays, ed. Michael Holquist, trans. Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1981). 62. Ibid., 68. 63. Michael Holquist, Dialogism: Bakhtin and His World (New York: Routledge, 1985), 82. 64. David Lloyd, Anomalous States: Irish Writing and the Post-Colonial Moment (Durham: Duke University Press, 1993). My reading of Bakhtin is deeply indebted to Lloyd’s excellent analysis and application of Bakhtin’s work to the postcolonial context of Irish writing. 65. Ibid., 152. 66. Ibid. 67. Ibid. 68. Bakhtin, The Dialogic Imagination, 345n. 69. Ibid., 262–63; my italics. 70. Quoted in Earl Ofari Hutchinson’s Blacks and Reds: Race and Class in Conflict, 1919–1990 (East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1995), 151. For a firsthand account of Wright’s involvement with the Communist Party, see his much-celebrated essay “I Tried to Be a Communist,” Atlantic Monthly, September 1944, 48–56.

notes to pages 99–113 / 217 71. Cedric J. Robinson, Black Marxism: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1983), 294. 72. JanMohamed, The Death-Bound Subject, 176. 73. Milton Rugoff, review of The Outsider, by Richard Wright, New York Herald Tribune, March 22, 1953, 4. 74. Orville Prescott, review of The Outsider, New York Times, March 18, 1953, 29. 75. Roi Ottley, “Wright Adds a New Monster to the Gallery of the Dispossessed,” review of The Outsider, Chicago Sunday Tribune, March 22, 1953, 3. 76. James N. Rhea, review of The Outsider, Providence Sunday Journal, March 22, 1953, 7. 77. Review of The Outsider, Jet, March 26, 1953, 42. 78. Melvin Altshuler, “An Important but Exasperating Book,” review of The Outsider, Washington Post, March 22, 1953, 4. 79. Lorraine Hansberry, review of The Outsider, Freedom, April 1953, 5. 80. Altshuler, “An Important but Exasperating Book,” 4. 81. Lloyd, Anomalous States, 127. 82. Ibid., 127–28. 83. Williams, The Long Revolution, 90.

3 / Richard Wright’s Cosmopolitan Exile 1. Edward Said, introduction to Reflections on Exile and Other Essays (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000), xxiii. 2. Richard Wright to James Holness, July 7, 1959, Fabre private papers, quoted in Hazel Rowley, Richard Wright: The Life and Times (New York: Henry Holt, 2001), 475. 3. Richard Wright, Pagan Spain (1957; repr., New York: Harper Perennial, 1995), 21. 4. Richard Wright, introduction to White Man, Listen! (New York: Harper Perennial, 1957), xxix. 5. Cornel West, introduction to Black Power: Three Books from Exile: Black Power; The Color Curtain; and White Man, Listen!, by Richard Wright (New York: Harper Perennial, 2008), viii. 6. Wright, The Color Curtain: A Report on the Bandurg Conference (1959; repr., Jackson: Banner, 1994), 71.. 7. Richard Wright, “Tradition and Industrialization,” in White Man Listen!, 66. This is the class upon which Frantz Fanon will focus such stringent criticism (see his “Pitfalls of National Consciousness,” in The Wretched of the Earth [New York: Grove, 1961]). 8. See Gayatri Spivak’s discussion of this concept in, among other places, Other Asias (Oxford: Blackwell Press, 2008), especially the first chapter, “Righting Wrongs—2002: Accessing Democracy among the Aboriginals.” 9. David Scott, Conscripts of Modernity: The Tragedy of Colonial Enlightenment (Durham: Duke University Press, 2004), 173. 10. See, for instance, Stuart Hall interview by Bill Schwarz, “Breaking Bread with History: C. L. R. James and The Black Jacobins,” History Workshop Journal 46 (Autumn 1998): 17–31. 11. Scott, Conscripts of Modernity, 101. 12. Richard Wright, The Color Curtain, 54. 13. For examples of this line of critique against Wright, see Nina Kressner Cobb, “Richard Wright and the Third World,” in Critical Essays on Richard Wright, ed.

218 / notes to pages 113–19 Yoshinobu Hakutani (Boston: G. K. Hall, 1982); and Dohra Ahmad, Landscapes of Hope: Anti-Colonial Utopianism in America (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 178–93. 14. Anthony Appiah, “A Long Way from Home: Richard Wright in the Gold Coast,” in Richard Wright: Modern Critical Views, ed. Harold Bloom (New York: Chelsea House, 1987), 173–90. 15. United Nations Department of Social and Economic Affairs, Measures for the Economic Development of Underdeveloped Countries (New York: United Nations, 1951), quoted in Arturo Escobar, Encountering Development: The Making and Unmaking of the Third World (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994), 3–4. 16. Harry Truman, Second Inaugural Address (1949), Public Papers of the President of the United States: Harry S. Truman (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1964). 17. Wright, White Man, Listen!, 50. 18. Ibid., 66–67. 19. Wright, The Color Curtain, 208. 20. Ibid., 219. 21. Bill Mullen, Afro-Orientalism (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2004), 66. 22. Kressner Cobb, “Richard Wright and the Third World,” 230. 23. Kevin Gaines, “Revisiting Richard Wright in Ghana: Black Radicalism and the Dialectics of Diaspora,” Social Text 19, no. 2 (Summer 2001): 82. 24. Nikhil Pal Singh, Black Is a Country: Race and the Unfinished Struggle for Democracy (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2005), 222. 25. Richard Wright, Black Power: A Record of Reactions in a Land of Pathos (1954). Reprinted in Black Power: Three Books from Exile: Black Power, The Color Curtain, White Man, Listen! (New York: Harper Perennial, 2008), 24. 26. Eric Williams, Capitalism and Slavery (London: Andre Deutsch, 1944). Williams’s book examines the constitutive role of slavery in the production of Western modernity (i.e., how modernization and development are mediated by the history of slavery). Williams argues that capitalism and slavery, rather than being distinct modes of production, had been historically linked economic and ideological projects. He argues that slavery had formed the basis of capitalist accumulation in the era preceding the Industrial Revolution. He further suggests that slavery opposition had become a “convenient foil” for the expansion of freedom defined as the expansion of the free enterprise of capitalism. Williams’s book, which came out the same year as Myrdal’s study, thus served to undermine the progressive narrative of liberal history that underwrote theories of modernization and racial liberalism. 27. Paul Gilroy, The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness (London: Verso, 1993), 146–87. Calling Wright’s later work a form of “intercultural hermeneutics,” Gilroy argues that Wright came to understand “race” as a central category not only in American life but also in the West in general and in the metaphysics of modernity in particular. In this context, Wright’s later work, Gilroy argues, marks a political shift in Wright’s political vision from an exclusive concern with the racial subordination and labor exploitation of African Americans within the domestic political economy of the United States to one in which he situated that form of racialized exploitation in relation to broader histories of colonialist and imperialist capitalisms

notes to pages 120–27 / 219 and exploitative political regimes across the globe. Gilroy develops this reading through his construction of the “Black Atlantic,” a conceptual frame that marks the international and transnational dimension of black intellectual thought. Focusing on Wright’s cosmopolitanism and epistemology of unbelonging forged out of the condition of racialized alienage from the nation, I stress a different set of resonances that emerge in Wright’s later work, though Gilroy’s contribution to a diasporic rethinking of Wright remains foundational for me. 28. Wright, “Tradition and Industrialization,” in White Man, Listen!, 97. 29. Wright, introduction to White Man, Listen!, xxix. 30. Wright, Black Power, 163. 31. Scott, Conscripts of Modernity, 174. 32. Walter Mignolo, “The Many Faces of Cosmo-polis: Border Thinking and Critical Cosmopolitanism,” Public Culture 12, no. 3 (2000): 722. 33. Paul Gilroy, Postcolonial Melancholia (New York: Columbia University Press, 2005), 67. 34. Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment, trans. John Cummings (New York: Continuum, 1971). 35. Wright, “Tradition and Industrialization,” in White Man, Listen!, 64. 36. Ibid., 62. 37. Alex Weik, “‘The Uses and Hazard of Expatriation’: Richard Wright’s Cosmopolitanism in Process,” African American Review 41, no. 3 (2007): 460. 38. Mignolo, “The Many Faces of Cosmo-polis,” 724. 39. Ibid., 741. 40. Ibid., 743. 41. Ibid., 742. 42. Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, trans. Constance Farrington (New York: Grove, 1968), 316. 43. Wright, The Color Curtain, 219–20. 44. See Paul Gilroy’s chapter on Wright in The Black Atlantic, 146–87, but also especially his discussion of “negative loyalty” and Wright in Against Race: Imagining Political Culture beyond the Color Line (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000), 283–87. My own reading of Wright’s later work is deeply indebted to Gilroy’s work. Where I differ is in my reading of Wright’s cosmopolitanism. Where Gilroy interprets cosmopolitanism as the universal postracial model that might emerge out of the antinomies of modernity, in my reading of Wright, his cosmopolitanism itself embodies those very antinomies and paradoxes. 45. Wright, White Man, Listen!, 51. 46. Quoted in Michel Fabre, The Unfinished Quest of Richard Wright (Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 1993), 387. 47. My use of the term “concept metaphor” is taken from Gayatri Spivak from Outside in the Teaching Machine (New York: Routledge, 1994), where she responds to criticism by Benita Parry: “Whatever the identitarian ethnicist claims of native or fundamental origin (implicit, for example, in Parry’s exhortation to hear the voice of the native), the political claims that are most urgent in decolonized space are tacitly recognized as coded within the legacy of imperialism: nationhood, constitutionality, citizenship, democracy, even culturalism. Within the historical frame of exploration, colonization, decolonization—what is being reclaimed is a series of regulative political

220 / notes to pages 127–39 concepts, the supposedly authoritative narrative the production of which was written elsewhere, in the social formations of Western Europe. They are being reclaimed, indeed claimed, as concept-metaphors for which no historically adequate referent may be advanced from postcolonial space, yet that does not make claims less important. A concept-metaphor without an adequate referent is a catachresis. These claims for founding catachreses also make postcoloniality a deconstructive case” (60). 48. Wright, White Man Listen!, 55.

4 / The Undesirable Alien and the Politics of Form 1. C. L. R. James, Mariners, Renegades, and Castaways: The Story of Herman Melville and the World We Live In (1953; reprinted with an introduction by Donald E. Pease. Hanover, N.H.: Dartmouth College Press, 2001); hereafter cited parenthetically. 2. Stuart Hall, “C. L. R. James: A Portrait,” in C. L. R. James’ Caribbean, ed. Paget Henry and Paul Buhle (Durham: Duke University Press, 1996), 12. 3. The only mention of it in James’s FBI files, which are the size of two Manhattan phone books, is from a letter from a professor from Oregon—whose name is blacked out—alerting the government of James’s reading, claiming it was a “suspicious” critique of Western civilization. The FBI thanked the professor, assured him they were already on the aesthetic case, but encouraged him to keep his eyes open for further “suspicious” works (FBI File on C. L. R. James [Wilmington, Del.: Scholarly Resources, 2000]). 4. Prior to Pease’s reassessment of Mariners (in particular his introduction to the book’s reissue in 2001), critics consistently accused James’s book of falling victim to its political circumstances. James’s often celebratory evocations of American democratic culture in the book, juxtaposed with his repeated denunciations of communism and the Soviet Union, led many to argue that James—facing imminent deportation—used his reading of Melville to tell Cold War America what it wanted to hear. See, for example, Paul Buhle, The Artist as Revolutionary (London: Verso, 1988), 106, 110; Darrell Levi, “C. L. R. James: A Radical West Indian Vision of American Studies,” American Quarterly 43, no. 3 (1991): 486–501; and Timothy Brennan, At Home in the World: Cosmopolitanism Now (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1997), 224. One notable exception to this critical trend is Cedric Robinson’s compelling essay “C. L. R. James and the World-System,” in C. L. R. James: His Intellectual Legacies, ed. Selwyn R. Cudjoe and William Cain (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1995), 244–59. Since the book’s reissue, critical attention has generally shifted to the more radical political undercurrents of the text’s critique of Cold War America and the modern nation-state in general—in particular within the context of the transnational or postnational “turn” in American studies. See, for example, Christopher Gair, ed., Beyond Boundaries: C. L. R. James and Postnational Studies (London: Pluto Press, 2006); and Stephens, Black Empire, 204–41. 5. Donald Pease, “‘C. L. R. James, Moby-Dick, and the Emergence of Transnational American Studies,” Arizona Quarterly 56, no. 3 (2000): 106. 6. Alex Woloch, The One vs. the Many: Minor Characters and the Space of the Protagonist in the Novel (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2003). 7. Ibid., 31. 8. David Scott, Conscripts of Modernity: The Tragedy of Colonial Enlightenment (Durham: Duke University Press, 2004), 12.

notes to pages 141–61 / 221 9. C. L. R. James to Jay Leyda, March 15, 1953, in The C.L.R. James Reader, ed. Anna Grimshaw (Cambridge: Blackwell, 1992), 232. 10. Hazel Carby, “Proletarian or Revolutionary Literature: C. L. R. James and the Politics of the Trinidadian Renaissance,” South Atlantic Quarterly 87 (Winter 1988): 39–52. 11. Ibid., 45. 12. Ibid., 51. 13. Ibid., 49. 14. Belinda Edmondson, Making Men: Gender, Literary Authority, and Women’s Writing in Caribbean Narrative (Durham: Duke University Press, 1999), 106. 15. This critique of vanguardism and the emphasis on the autonomy of spontaneous social movements represented the two central distinguishing positions of the Johnson-Forest Tendency, the group James cofounded after breaking with Trotskyism with Trotsky’s former secretary Raya Dunayevskaya. Also, for a good staging of the debate in Marxist theory between vanguardism and “spontaneity,” especially as it relates to Gramsci’s theory of the “organic intellectual,” see José Rabasa, “The Comparative Frame in Subaltern Studies,” Postcolonial Studies 8, no. 4 (2005): 365–80; and David Lloyd, Anomalous States: Irish Writing and the Post-Colonial Moment (Durham: Duke University Press, 1993). 16. Walter Benjamin, Illuminations, trans. Harry Zohn, ed. Hannah Arendt (New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1968), 91. 17. Ibid., 84. 18. Ibid., 98. 19. Ibid., 84–85. 20. Stephens, Black Empire, 248–67. 21. Ibid., 251. 22. Lisa Lowe, Immigrant Acts: On Asian American Cultural Politics (Durham: Duke University Press, 1996), 15. 23. C. L. R. James, The Black Jacobins, 2nd ed. rev. (New York: Vintage, 409), 1989. 24. Edward Said, Culture and Imperialism (New York: Knopf, 1993), 332. 25. Buhle, The Artist as Revolutionary, 110; Cain, “The Triumph of the Will and the Failure of Resistance: C. L. R. James’s Readings of Moby-Dick and Othello,” in C. L. R. James: His Intellectual Legacies, 260–73; Levi, “C. L. R. James: A Radical West Indian Vision of American Studies,” 486–501; Brennan, At Home in the World, 224. 26. Stephens, Black Empire, 252. 27. See Anna Grimshaw’s introduction to The C. L. R. James Reader. 28. Stephens analyzes this same passage and argues that James adopts the term “isolato” to embody one of his central critiques of the nation-state and its universal ideals. Namely, as “isolatoes,” these mariners reflect a condition of isolation that testifies to the failure of the nation-state and its principles of inclusion—that is, the nationstate and nationalism produce those excluded from or isolated from the state. “The national state,” she argues, “created the isolatoes of the modern world” (see Stephens, Black Empire, 257). At the same time, however, if we hear in “isolato,” as I am suggesting, not only the echo of the term “isolation” but also that of “island,” then we might reconsider it not merely as expressing a negative critique of the nation-state but as in fact also subtly suggestive of an alternative form of political and social organization. 29. Stephens, Black Empire, 261.

222 / notes to pages 161–64 30. See C. L. R. James, “On Federation,” “Lecture on Federation,” and “A National Purpose for Caribbean Peoples,” in At the Rendezvous of Victory: Selected Writings (London: Alison and Busby, 1984). The West Indies Federation was a political identity existing between 1958 and 1962, which proposed to join the various British colonies in the Caribbean into a new, independent national entity. It was, in fact, the promise of federation that drew James back to the Caribbean from Britain. In Trinidad, from 1958 to 1962, James was the secretary of the Federal Labour Party, the governing party of the West Indies Federation. In the four years that the Federation formally existed, it never became a fully functioning political entity. Rather, an initial federal framework was established in order to open up more substantive discussions regarding the form of the new national institutions that would be the basis of the new nation. However, the Federation failed due in large measure to in-fighting among the islands over such issues as the nature of the federal constitution, power-sharing arrangements in the new nation, and the system by which representatives would be elected. And discussions on federation were from the beginning threatened by similar racial concerns as that posed by the nation-state itself, which it was meant to resolve: the large East Indian communities in Trinidad and Guyana, for instance, felt threatened by the prospect of a federation demographically dominated by blacks. The failure of the West Indies Federation came as an enormous blow to James and led directly to his return to England at the end of 1962. 31. C. L. R. James, “Revolutionary Solution to the Negro Problem in the USA,” in The Future in the Present (London: Allison and Busby, 1977), 120–36.

5 / Talking Back to the State Epigraph: Claudia Jones, “Speech to the Court, February 1953,” in 13 Communists Speak to the Court (New York: New Century, 1955); reprinted in Buzz Johnson, “I Think of My Mother”: Notes on the Life and Times of Claudia Jones (London: Karia Press, 1985), 121–26. 1. Included in the extensive FBI files on Jones, parts of which are located in the Claudia Jones Memorial Collection, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library. 2. The unpublished autobiography, dated December 6, 1955, is located in the Claudia Jones Memorial Collection, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library. 3. Interestingly, Jones mentions her marriage to Abraham Scholnick only in a handwritten postscript to her typewritten autobiographical letter to William Foster. It reads: “P.S. I was married to Abraham Scholnick in September 1940 in NYC. I was divorced Feb. 27, 1947.” 4. This chapter owes a great deal to the innovative and extensive scholarship on Jones by Carole Boyce Davies. See her Left of Karl Marx: The Political Life of Black Communist Claudia Jones (Durham: Duke University Press, 2008); see also her “Deportable Subjects: U.S. Immigration Laws and the Criminalization of Communism,” South Atlantic Quarterly 100, no. 4 (Fall 2001): 949–66; and her response to a book discussion on Left of Karl Marx, in “Sisters Outside: Tracing the Caribbean/ Black Radical Intellectual Tradition,” Small Axe 28 (March 2009): 217–28. Other excellent research on Jones includes Dayo Gore’s Radicalism at the Crossroads: African American Women Activists in the Cold War (New York: New York University Press, 2011); Erik McDuffie’s Sojourning for Freedom: Black Women, American

notes to pages 164–70 / 223 Communism, and the Making of Black Left Feminism (Durham: Duke University Press, 2011); and Cheryl Higashida’s Black Internationalist Feminism: Women Writers of the Black Left, 1945–1995 (Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2011). For additional earlier scholarship specifically on Jones, see, for instance, Marika Sherwood, with Donald Hinds, Colin Prescod, and the 1966 Claudia Jones Symposium, Claudia Jones: A Life in Exile (London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1999); Johnson, “I Think of My Mother”; Claudia May, “Nuances of Un-American Literature(s): In Search of Claudia Jones; A Literary Retrospective on the Life, Times and Works of an Activist Writer” (Ph.D. diss., University of California, Berkeley, 1996); Mary Helen Washington, “Alice Childress, Lorraine Hansberry, and Claudia Jones: Black Women Write the Popular Front,” in Left of the Color Line: Race, Radicalism and Twentieth Century Literature of the United States, ed. Bill V. Mullen and James Smethurst (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003), 183–204; Yumeris Morel, “Claudia Jones: Race, Class and Feminist Consciousness” (master’s thesis, Binghamton University, 2000); and Bill Schwarz, “Claudia Jones and the West Indian Gazette: Reflections on the Emergence of Post-Colonial Britain,” Twentieth Century British History 14, no. 3 (2003): 264–85. 5. Davies, Left of Karl Marx, 2. 6. See Mary Helen Washington, “Alice Childress, Lorraine Hansberry, and Claudia Jones: Black Women Write the Popular Front,” in Left of the Color Line: Race, Radicalism and Twentieth Century Literature of the United States, ed. Bill Mullen and James Smethurst (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003), 183–204; Gerald Horne, Race Woman: The Lives of Shirley Graham Du Bois (New York: New York University Press, 2000); and Lashawn Harris, “Running with the Reds: African American Women and the Communist Party during the Great Depression,” Journal of African American History 90, no. 1 ( Winter 2009): 21–43. 7. Davies, Left of Karl Marx, 25. 8. Claudia Jones, “An End to the Neglect of the Problems of Negro Women!” June 1949, reprinted in Political Affairs 53 (March 1974): 28–42. Reprinted again in Beverly Guy-Sheftall, Words of Fire: An Anthology of African-American Feminist Thought (New York: New Press, 1995): 108–24. 9. Claudia Jones, “For the Unity of Women in the Cause of Peace!,” Political Affairs 30 (February 1951): 151–68. 10. Claudia Jones, “Claudia Jones Writes from Ellis Island,” Daily Worker, November 8, 1950. 11. Oscar V. Campomanes and Todd S. Gernes, “Two Letters from America: Carlos Bulosan and the Act of Writing,” MELUS 15, no. 3 (1988): 15–46. 12. For a discussion on the relation of the epistolary to the history of (middleclass) women’s writing, see, for example, Nancy Armstrong’s “Writing Women and the Making of the Modern Middle Class,” in Epistolary Histories: Letters, Fiction, Culture, ed. Amanda Gilroy and W. M. Verhoeven (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 2000). 13. Charlotte Nekola, “Worlds Unseen: Political Women Journalists and the 1930s,” in Writing Red: An Anthology of American Women Writers, 1930–1960, ed. Nekola and Paula Rabinowitz (New York: Feminist Press at the City University of New York, 1987), 195. Nekola provides a brief but compelling discussion of several formal innovations in the genre of journalism by radical women writers from the period. 14. Jones, “Claudia Jones Writes from Ellis Island.”

224 / notes to pages 171–80 15. Patricia Saunders, “Woman Overboard: The Perils of Sailing the Black Atlantic, Deportation with Prejudice,” Small Axe 28 (March 2009): 214. See also Carole Boyce Davies’s reading of the “letter” in Left of Karl Marx, 106–7. 16. Davies, Left of Karl Marx, 154. 17. As I discuss in more detail in the introduction, the phrase “nation of nations” was popularized during the period and had its origins in the work of Louis Adamic, A Nation of Nations (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1945). For a good general overview of the history of the concept, and of cultural pluralism more generally during the period, see Werner Sollors, “Foreword, Theories of American Ethnicity,” in Theories of Ethnicity: A Classical Reader (New York: New York University Press, 1996), x–xliv (in particular his section “Assimilation versus Pluralism,” xxv–xxix); Werner Sollors, “A Critique of Pure Pluralism,” in Reconstructing American Literary History, ed. Sacvan Bercovitch (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1986), 250–79; Olivier Zunz, “The Genesis of American Pluralism,” Tocqueville Review 9 (1988): 201–19. 18. Jones, “Claudia Jones Writes from Ellis Island.” 19. C. L. R. James, Mariners, Renegades & Castaways: The Story of Herman Melville and the World We Live In (1953; reprinted with an introduction by Donald Pease, Hanover, N.H.: Dartmouth College Press, 2001), 126. 20. Several of the critics who lodged criticisms against James’s disavowal of communism, whom I discuss in more detail in chapter 4, include Paul Buhle, The Artist as Revolutionary (London: Verso, 1988), 106, 110; Darrell Levi, “C. L. R. James: A Radical West Indian Vision of American Studies,” American Quarterly 43, no. 3 (1991): 492; and Timothy Brennan, At Home in the World: Cosmopolitanism Now (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1997), 224. 21. See Davies’s chapter “Deportation: The Other Politics of Diaspora,” in Left of Karl Marx, 131–66; and her essay “Deportable Subjects,” 949–66. 22. Flynn was an organizer for the Industrial Worker’s of the World (IWW). She later became a founding member of the American Civil Liberties Union. A member of the Communist Party since 1936, she became its chairwoman in 1961. Flynn and Jones went on to serve time together in Alderson Federal Prison for Women, where their personal and political admiration for one another grew even deeper. Upon her release, Jones dedicated a poem to Flynn, who was serving a longer, twenty-eightmonth, sentence. 23. Lisa Lowe, Immigrant Acts: On Asian American Cultural Production (Durham: Duke University Press, 1996), 157–58. For another interesting and detailed discussion of the testimonial as a genre, see April Shemak, Asylum Speakers: Caribbean Refugees and Testimonial Discourse (New York: Fordham University Press, 2010). 24. Jones, “Speech to the Court,” February 1953. All citations refer to the version in 13 Communists Speak (New York: New Century, 1955), 19–26. 25. Donald Pease, introduction to Mariners, Renegades, and Castaways, xxvi–xxvii. 26. Jones, “Speech to the Court,” 22. 27. Ibid., 24. 28. Quoted in Mae Ngai, Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004), 237. 29. Penny Von Eschen, Race Against Empire: Black Americans and Anti-Colonialism, 1937–1957 (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1997), 128; see also Mary Dudziak, Cold War Civil Rights: Race and the Image of American Democracy (Princeton

notes to pages 180–87 / 225 University Press: Princeton, 2000), 47–78; and Penny Von Eschen, Satchmo Blows Up the World: Jazz Ambassadors Play the Cold War (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2004), 1–27. 30. Dudziak, Cold War Civil Rights, 47–79. 31. Quoted ibid., 51–52. 32. Von Eschen, Race Against Empire, 128. 33. Von Eschen, Satchmo Blows Up the World, 4. 34. Jodi Melamed, “W. E. B. Du Bois’s UnAmerican End,” African American Review 40, no. 3 (2006): 533–50. 35. Ibid., 539. 36. Jones, “Speech to the Court,” 21. 37. Ibid., 24. 38. Claudia Jones, Lift Every Voice—For Victory!, pamphlet (New York: New Age, 1942). Jones’s pamphlet mirrors in many respects the form of the particularized African American life story employed by the state during the period but subversively redirects the form to witness for a radically redefined communist America. Jones uses the story of Joe Louis and his victory over Max Schmeling to mobilize, initially, a patriotic narrative of antifascism that testifies for why the United States should enter the war against Nazi Germany. But in articulating “what Joe Louis was fighting for,” she uses his life story to call for the desegregation of the military and, more broadly, to inveigh against all forms of domestic discrimination that are “doing the work of Hitler and Hirohito—the Quisling work of the fifth column.” Ultimately, Louis’s “life story” witnesses not for a current American exceptionalism and American racial inclusiveness but instead against the prevailing “racial disunity” in the United States and, in turn, for communism, which was similarly fighting “for America—for all the people.” 39. Claudia Jones, “Autobiographical History,” manuscript, December 6, 1955, Claudia Jones Memorial Collection, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library. 40. Ibid., 1. 41. Carlos Bulosan, “My Education,” in On Becoming Filipino: Selected Writings of Carlos Bulosan, ed. E. San Juan Jr. (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1995), 125. 42. Jones, “Autobiographical History,” 1. 43. Claudia Jones, “I Was Deported Because I Fought the Colour Bar,” interview by George Bowrin, Caribbean News (June 1956), quoted in Johnson, “I Think of My Mother.” 44. Jones, “Autobiographical History,” 2. 45. Ibid. 46. Ibid., 3. 47. Ibid., 5. 48. Ibid., 2. 49. Fredric Jameson, “On Literary and Cultural Import-Substitution in the Third World: The Case of the Testimonio,” Margins (Spring 1991): 11–34. 50. Jones, “Autobiographical History,” 4. 51. Jones, “An End to the Neglect of the Problems of the Negro Woman!,” 4. 52. Claudia Jones, “For the Unity of Women in the Cause of Peace!” Political Affairs 30 (February 1951): 161. 53. Von Eschen, Race Against Empire, 128–33.

226 / notes to pages 188–93 54. Jones, “Speech to the Court,” 23. 55. Ibid. 56. Richard Wright to Margit Salboniere, 1960, quoted in Julia Wright, introduction to Haiku: This Other World, ed. Yoshinobu Hakutani and Robert L. Tener (New York: Arcade, 1998), x. 57. Memorandum in Jones’s FBI files dated December 9, 1955, print version located in Claudia Jones Memorial Collection, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library. 58. Davies, Left of Karl Marx, 118. 59. Jones wrote a series of editorials in support of the Federation for the West Indian Gazette and Afro-Asian Caribbean News as well as the article “West Indies Federation” (March 1958): 2. 60. Davies, Left of Karl Marx, 172. 61. As Davies notes, the Committee of Afro-Asian and Caribbean Organizations was significant in its effort to bring together and mobilize numerous different political groups “for rallies, protests, and marches in support of liberation struggles in various areas of the colonial world, including the United States, such as the rally in support of the March in Washington, 1963” (Left of Karl Marx, 64). 62. Claudia Jones, “A People’s Art Is the Genesis of Their Freedom,” Caribbean Carnival 1959 program, print copy located in Claudia Jones Memorial Collection, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library. 63. For an analysis of the social and political history and significance of the Notting Hill Carnival, see, for instance, Ashley Dawson, Mongrel Nation: Diasporic Culture and the Making of Postcolonial Britain (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2007), in particular his chapter “Behind the Mask: Carnival Politics and British Identity in Linton Kwesi Johnson’s Poetry,” 73–95. Dawson focuses primarily on the 1970s but also provides a cultural history of the Carnival from its origins that includes discussion of Jones. See also John Cowley, Carnival, Canboulay, and Calypso: Traditions in the Making (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996); Carole Boyce Davies, “Carnivalised Caribbean Female Bodies: Taking Space/Making Space,” Thamyris 5, no. 2 (Autumn 1998): 333–46; Kwesi Owusu and Jacob Ross, Behind the Masquerade: The Story of the Notting Hill Carnival (London: Arts Media Group, 1988); and Cecil Gutzmore, “Carnival, the State, and the Black Masses in the United Kingdom,” in Black British Culture and Society: A Text Reader, ed. Kwesi Owusu (New York: Routledge, 2000), 361–77. 64. For Bakhtin’s analysis of the carnival, see Rabelais and His World, trans. Hélène Iswolsky (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1984). For further discussion of Bakhtin and the carnival, see, for instance, Peter Stallybrass and Allon White, The Politics and Poetics of Transgression (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1986); Michael Holquist, Dialogism: Bakhtin and His World (London: Routledge, 1990), 89–90; James C. Scott, Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990), 175–78; and Sue Vice, Introducing Bakhtin (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1997), 149–200. 65. Julia Kristeva, “Word, Dialogue and Novel,” in Kristeva Reader, ed. Toril Moi (New York: Columbia University Press, 1986), 48–49. 66. David Gilmore, quoted in Scott, Domination and the Arts of Resistance, 173.

notes to pages 193–98 / 227 67. For a discussion on the racial politics of the Carnival in London during the 1970s, see Dawson, Mongrel Nation, 73–95. 68. Scott, Domination and the Arts of Resistance, 175. 69. Bakhtin, Rabelais and His World, 9. 70. Scott, Domination and the Arts of Resistance, 175–76. 71. Edward Said refers to the notion of “counter-habitation” at the end of Culture and Imperialism, 326. As Said notes, he takes the term from Paul Virilio, L’Insécurité du territoire (Paris: Stock, 1976), 88. 72. Jones, “A People’s Art Is the Genesis of Their Freedom.” 73. Nikhil Pal Singh, “Retracing the Black-Red Thread,” American Literary History 15, no. 4 (Winter 2003): 832.

Conclusion 1. Patterson was also one of the key people behind the “We Charge Genocide” petition presented to the United Nations in 1951, which charged the U.S. federal government with genocide under Article II of the U.N. Genocide Convention for failing to act against lynching. As such, he, too, was a witness against the sort of “monstrous crimes” of the United States against black people for an international audience. 2. William Patterson, “Remarks on the Eve of the Deportation of Claudia Jones,” manuscript, December 8, 1955, Claudia Jones Memorial Collection, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library. 3. There has been a growing body of excellent scholarship over the past several years on the relationship between black and minority culture and the radical Left during the mid-twentieth century. Much of this scholarship, however, either ends its study at the end of World War II or, if it continues into the postwar years, it has focused, understandably, on the fragmentation and decimation of the radical black and minority literary and cultural Left in the context of the Cold War. To give just a few examples: Bill V. Mullen, Popular Fronts: Chicago and African-American Cultural Politics, 1935–1946 (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1999); James Smethurst, The New Red Negro: The Literary Left and African American Poetry, 1930–1946 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999); William Maxwell, New Negro, Old Left: African-American Writing and Communism Between the Wars (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999); and Nikhil Pal Singh, Black Is a Country: Race and the Unfinished Struggle for Democracy (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2004). My intent is not to dispute in any way the historical argument about the Cold War’s decimation of radical literary and cultural politics during this period, which these works wonderfully chronicle. Rather, I have intended to build on this scholarship by suggesting that this decimation, which was often carried out through the politics of citizenship, paradoxically produced its own tradition of radical responses—a series of innovative literary and political forms that are perhaps all the more resonant for their flickering emergence under the growing political darkness of the age. Some recent scholarship that has sought to emphasize the persistence of a radical black and minority Left literary and cultural tradition in the postwar years includes: Bill V. Mullen and James Smethurst, eds., Left of the Color Line: Race, Radicalism and Twentieth Century Literature of the United States (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003); Dayo Gore’s Radicalism at the Crossroads: African American Women Activists in the Cold War (New York: New

228 / notes to pages 198–203 York University Press, 2011); and Cheryl Higashida’s Black Internationalist Feminism: Women Writers of the Black Left, 1945–1995 (Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2011). 4. Mullen and Smethurst, Left of the Color Line, 2. 5. Claudia Jones, “Claudia Jones Writes from Ellis Island,” Daily Worker, November 8, 1950. 6. C. L. R. James, Mariners, Renegades, and Castaways: The Story of Herman Melville and the World We Live In (1953, reprinted with an introduction by Donald Pease, Hanover, N.H.: Dartmouth College Press, 2001), 140–41. 7. International Center for the Red Cross, “Guantánamo Bay: Overview of the ICRC’s Work for the Internees,” January 30, 2004, www.icrc.org/eng/resources/documents /misc/5qrc5v.htm. 8. Judith Butler, Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence (London: Verso, 2004), xv, xvi. 9. Donald Pease, “The Extraterritoriality of the Literature for Our Planet,” American Literary Globalism, special issue, ESQ 50, nos. 1–3 (2004): 177–221. 10. Amy Kaplan, “Where Is Guantánamo?” American Quarterly 57, no. 3 (September 2005): 853. 11. Amy Kaplan, “Violent Belongings and the Question of Empire Today—Presidential Address to the American Studies Association, October 17, 2003,” American Quarterly 56, no. 1 (March 2004): 14–15. 12. James, Mariners, Renegades, and Castaways, 140. 13. Quoted in “How the Anti-Terrorism Bill Allows for Detention of People Engaging in Innocent Associational Activity,” October 23, 2001, ACLU.org. The language is taken from the PATRIOT Act legislation and can be found at Cong. Rec. 147 Pt. 15 Oct. 25, 2001 to November 7, 2001: 20691. 14. Scott Michaelsen, “Between Japanese American Internment and the USA PATRIOT Act,” Aztlán 30, no. 2 (Fall 2005): 89. 15. Ibid., 87.


Adamic, Louis, 3, 9, 46, 55, 57, 205n6, 224n17 Adorno, Theodor, 80, 123 AFL, 54, 213n43 African Americans: alienage of, 51, 70, 91, 120, 179, 184–85; alternative knowledge/third set of ideas of, 91–99, 158–62, 208n35; citizenship of, 4, 21, 51–52, 179–82; Cold War repression of, 66–68, 92–94; cosmopolitan traditions of, 6–7, 108–10, 189, 197–99; destroyed public sphere of, 195, 198–99, 227n3; government promotion of prominent examples of, 181, 187, 225n38; as internal emigrés and outsiders, 87–88, 101–2; lynchings of, 66, 213n1, 227n1; marginalized voices of women of, 164–68, 171, 178, 187; Myrdal’s study of, 20–21, 57, 70–78, 81, 92–93, 127–30, 180–81, 209n47; organized labor and, 54; as post-war expatriates in Paris, 68–69; racial liberalism and, 72–74, 78, 179, 182–83, 186–90, 198; segregation/ ghettoization of, 118–19, 182–83. See also race/racism; racial capitalism; racial liberalism Ahab (character), 136, 137, 139–40, 141 Algren, Nelson, 69, 214n14 alienage, 4–5, 11, 15, 66–67, 201–4; African American status and, 20–22, 51, 70, 77–82, 97, 121–23, 129–30,

179, 184–85, 214n17, 218n27; in Bulosan’s alternative bildungsroman, 31–32, 58; Cold War production of, 64–67, 92–95, 136–37, 156–57, 198–99; diasporic global consciousness and, 152–54; as epistemic and political standpoint, 11–12, 60–62, 77–81, 91, 97, 128–30, 136–37, 151–53, 189–90, 202–4; Filipino status and, 20, 33–34; of James’s isolatoes, 148–52, 159–62; Jones’s portrayals of, 175–76, 184–85; official classifications of, 6, 20, 33–34, 132, 133, 178, 206n14; as political/ social formation, 11–12, 151–52, 160–61, 173–76; racial basis of, 56–58, 203–4; shifting terms of, 66–67; U.S. empire and, 5, 58, 151, 160–61, 199– 204; of Wright’s self-exile, 65–68. See also citizenship “alien citizens” (as term), 6, 67, 206n14 “alien” classification, 22, 33–34, 132, 133, 178, 183, 189 Alien Registration Act. See Smith Act of 1940 “alien subversive” classification, 22, 132 alternative bildungsroman, 19–20; America Is in the Heart as, 29–32, 39–42, 59–60, 192–93, 210n7, 210n10; countercosmopolitan experience in, 48–52; spatialization of, 48 alternative public spheres, 24, 101–2, 184

230 / index alternative universalism, 16–17, 208n35; black worldliness as, 50–52; in Bulosan’s America Is in the Heart, 41–42, 49–65. See also counter-cosmopolitanisms Altshuler, Melvin, 101 America Is in the Heart (Bulosan), 4, 16, 19–20, 27–65, 191; affirmation of America in, 52–53, 58–62; as alternative bildungsroman, 29–32, 39–48, 59–60, 210n7, 210n10; alternative discourses of America in, 52–58; alternative models of education in, 41–47; Carlos’s reading list and imagined community in, 46–48; counter-cosmopolitanism of, 49–65; generic status of, 39–42; global belonging and collective experience in, 48, 61–62; isolated social geography in, 37–39; Lincoln’s story in, 27–29, 41–42; narrative of American upward mobility in, 27–29; patterns of movement and flight in, 32–39, 211n14; postnational narrative of America in, 20, 31, 55–58, 61–62; presaging of Cold War politics in, 62–65 American Civilization (James), 146, 155 American Communist Party (CPUSA), 14, 131; James’s rejection of, 174–75; Jones’s activism in, 14, 166–67, 174–75, 182, 184–86; Women’s Commission of, 166, 177; Wright’s involvement with, 94, 98–99, 108, 216n70; in Wright’s The Outsider, 90, 91, 102, 107, 131 An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy (Myrdal), 20–21, 123, 209n47; critical scholarship on, 72; goals of, 72–73, 75; model of racial liberalism of, 70–77, 92–93, 127–30, 180–81; on universalism of the American Creed, 57, 73–74, 78–79, 81, 128–30 American exceptionalism, 2–3, 154–55, 198–204; cultural pluralism in, 3, 8–9, 55–58, 172, 207n18, 223n17; domestic racial division and, 9–12; postnational narratives of, 20, 31–32, 61–62, 209n46; promise of bildung in, 27–29, 34–35, 48; promise of education in, 42–52, 183–84, 185; racial liberalism as discourse of, 8–11, 20, 38, 51–52, 63–65, 71–72, 127–30, 165–66, 176,

179–82, 186–89, 207nn22–23, 208n25, 225n38; universalist claims of, 7–9, 14–17, 30, 49, 54, 57, 73–74, 108, 128–29; U.S. imperialism and, 8–10, 61–62, 199–204 American internationalism, 13–15, 20–21 Americanism, 53–55 American Studies, 4, 14, 134 The Anarchy of Empire (Kaplan), 14 Anderson, Benedict, 47–49 Anomalous States (Lloyd), 96–97 anticommunism. See communists/ subversives Appiah, Kwame Anthony, 113, 208n31 Armstrong, Louis, 181 Asian Americans, 42–43 The Autobiography of W. E. B. Du Bois (Du Bois), 181–82 Bakhtin, Mikhail, 216n64; on the dialogic form of the novel, 21, 95–98, 122, 166, 192–93; Lloyd’s analysis of, 96–97, 101; on public spaces and carnival, 24, 158, 166, 192–94 Baldwin, James, 68, 122 Bandung Conference of 1955, 12, 16–17, 115–16, 121, 126, 191, 208n27 Bascara, Victor, 52–53 Belafonte, Harry, 181 Benjamin, Walter, 144–45 Beyond a Boundary (James), 146 Bhabha, Homi, 12 bildungsroman form, 19–20, 27–32, 61, 192–93, 210n7, 210n10; migrant labor and, 29–30, 33; movement and mobility in, 32–33; as narrative of American self-formation, 27–28; normative demands of, 38–39; subaltern responses to, 39–42, 48 The Black Atlantic (Gilroy), 6, 69, 119, 218n27, 219n44 Black Boy (Wright), 44, 85–86, 90 Black Empire (Stephens), 6, 147–48, 161, 221n28 Black Is a Country (Singh), 6 The Black Jacobins (James), 112–13, 142, 152 Black Metropolis (Cayton and Drake), 75 Black Power (Wright), 22, 113, 116, 122; on African modernity, 120–21; on global slavery, 118–19

index / 231 black worldliness, 50–52 Bob Hunter (character), 131–32 Boggs, Grace Lee, 133 Boggs, James, 133 Bontemps, Arna, 69 Borstelmann, Thomas, 92 Bosniak, Linda, 4–5 Branch, Taylor, 89–90, 216n51 Brazilian novel, 18 Brennan, Timothy, 155 Brothers under the Skin (McWilliams), 56–57 Buhle, Paul, 155 Bulosan, Carlos, 4, 5, 19–20, 60, 119, 189; affirmation of America by, 52–53, 58–62; alternative universalism of, 16, 41–42, 45–46, 49–52, 191; black public sphere and, 50; Cold War repression of, 62–65, 208n25; death of, 65; epistolary form of, 40–41, 168; “non-citizen national” classification of, 4; political and labor activism of, 14–15, 53–58, 63–65; on the promise of America, 28–29; radical counterinternationalism of, 12; on struggle against fascism, 50–52. See also America Is in the Heart Butler, Judith, 200 Cain, William, 155 Campomanes, Oscar, 40–41, 168 Capitalism and Slavery (Williams), 110, 118–19, 218n26 Carby, Hazel, 141–42 Caribbean Carnival, 24, 166, 191–95 Carlos (character), 191; affirmation of America by, 52–53, 58–62; counter-cosmopolitanism of, 49–52; exclusion of, 37–42; fragmented movement and f light of, 32–39, 211n14; on global belonging, 61–62; informal education/awakening of, 42–48; labor organizing work by, 55, 59–60; lost family farm of, 36; narrative of progress of, 28–29; reading lessons of, 27–28; reading list of, 46–48 Carnegie Corporation, 72, 75 Carnival, 24, 166, 191–95 Cayton, Horace, 75, 76 Césaire, Aimé, 51, 68

Chinese Exclusion Act, 207n23 CIO (Congress of Industrial Organizations), 14, 54 citizenship, 2–5, 24, 201–4; of African Americans, 4, 21, 51–52, 179–82; of communists and subversives, 10, 64, 66–67, 132–33, 158, 174–75, 208n25; as egalitarian civic nationalism, 8; exclusion from, 3–5, 51–52, 64, 205n7; as mechanism of state repression, 20, 66–67, 74, 93, 132, 159, 175, 189, 199; and the process of forgetting, 151; in production of migrant labor, 4, 6, 20, 22, 32–36, 67, 206n14; racial basis/ limits of, 5–6, 56–58, 202–4. See also alienage Civil Rights Congress, 197 “Claudia Jones Writes from Ellis Island” (Jones). See “Letter from Ellis Island” Clifford, James, 12 Cobb, Nina Kressner, 116 Cochrane, Kelso, 192 Cold War, 16–17, 201–4; Bulosan’s repression in, 62–65; civil rights reforms of, 10, 63–64, 92–93, 165; criminalization of identity and beliefs in, 20, 64, 67, 90–91, 132, 153, 155–56, 175, 186; decimation of alternative public spheres during, 70, 132, 158, 168, 194–95, 198; McCarthyism of, 64–65, 90–91; Non-Aligned movement and, 12, 115–16, 121, 126, 191, 208n27; racial liberalism discourse of, 63–65, 71–72, 127–30, 165–66, 176, 179–82, 186–89; repressive nationalist politics of, 64–67, 92–95, 136–37, 156–57, 198–99, 227n3; secrets and surveillance as modes of governance during, 64–67, 88, 94, 194–95, 208n25, 216n51, 216n53, 220n3. See also American exceptionalism; communists/subversives; McCarranWalter Act of 1952 Cold War Civil Rights (Dudziak), 180 colonialism. See imperialism Color and Democracy (Du Bois), 51–52 The Color Curtain (Wright), 22, 75–76, 115–16, 122, 125 Communist Party (CPUSA). See American Communist Party

232 / index communists/subversives, 1, 2, 20; conspiracy trials of, 163; at Ellis Island, 4, 22–23, 38, 67, 132–37, 142–47, 167–68; internationalist framework of, 174–75; link of black struggles with, 92–94; reduced rights as citizens of, 10, 64, 66–67, 208n25; state surveillance of, 89–91, 216n51, 216n53; trials and imprisonments of, 163; vanguard theory of political action of, 111–12, 161–62, 221n15. See also McCarran-Walter Act of 1952 concept metaphors, 127, 219n47 Conference of Paris of 1948, 115 Conscripts of Modernity (Scott), 138–39 contrapuntal consciousness, 152–54 Corsi, Edward, 2 cosmopolitanism, 24–25, 45–46, 108–9, 124; black traditions of, 6–7, 108–10, 189, 197–99; broadened definitions of, 12–17, 41–42, 45–46, 208n31; exclusion/alienage as standpoint of, 11–12, 49–52, 76–77, 129–30, 156–59, 175–76, 203–4; Jones’s radical conception of, 188–89; the novel and, 7, 17–19, 31–32; U.S. empire and, 8, 12; in Wright’s third way of knowing, 103–4, 107–11, 119–20, 125–26, 219n44. See also counter-cosmopolitanisms Cosmopolitanism (Appiah), 208n31 counter-autobiography, 48, 184–85 counter-conversions, 108 counter-cosmopolitanisms, 12–17, 208n31; alternative universalism of, 15–17, 41–42, 45–46, 49–52, 58, 208n35; anticolonial struggles and, 16–17; in Bulosan’s America Is in the Heart, 49– 65; at Ellis Island, 23, 149–52, 158–62, 172–76, 199–200 counterhegemony, 86–88, 215n44 The Country and the City (Williams), 29–30 CPUSA. See American Communist Party critical cosmopolitanism, 12, 124–25 Cross Damon (character): alienation of, 77–79; alternative knowledge of, 91–99, 110; on Cold War surveillance and repression, 89–90, 94; on modernity, 107–8, 116, 119;

narrative of violence of, 100–104; radical autonomy of, 81–82; secrets of, 83–91, 97, 158; women problems of, 81–82 Cry and Dedication (Bulosan), 16 cultural pluralism, 3, 7–10, 55–58, 154–57, 172, 207n18, 223n17 Culture and Imperialism (Said), 153–54 Cultures of U.S. Imperialism (Kaplan), 14 Daily Worker, 166, 167–68, 185 Davies, Carole Boyce, 23, 164–65, 170–71, 175, 186, 191, 222n4, 226n61 Defoe, Daniel, 44–45 Denning, Michael, 211n14 Department of Homeland Security, 203 deportation, 2, 4; of James, 74, 93, 132–34, 208n25; of Jones, 5, 23, 74, 93, 163–64, 177, 189–90, 197–98, 208n25; Wright’s portrayal of, 131–32 DeWitt, Howard, 36 The Dialectic of Enlightenment (Horkheimer and Adorno), 123 dialogic form, 21, 70–71, 95–99, 102–3, 122, 166, 192–93 Diop, Alioune, 68 Discourse on Colonialism (Césaire), 51 discrepant cosmopolitanism, 12 Dorsey, George, 213n1 Douglas, Ann, 89, 90 Drake, St. Clair, 75, 76 Du Bois, W. E. B.: on double consciousness, 78–79; final autobiography of, 181–82; on racism and colonialism, 50–52; state repression of, 74, 93, 185, 189 Dudziak, Mary, 64, 71, 92–93, 179–80, 213n1 Dunayevskaya, Raya, 133, 221n15 Eastman, Max, 69 Edmondson, Belinda, 142 Edwards, Brent, 6, 68 Ellington, Duke, 181 Ellis Island, 1–5, 205n1; as counterpublic sphere of America, 23, 149–52, 157–58, 172–76; incarceration of alien subversives at, 4, 22–23, 38, 67, 132–37, 167–68, 199–200; James on fellow inmates at, 142–47, 171; Jones on fellow

index / 233 inmates at, 171–76, 199; as model for transnational political subject, 156–59, 172 Ellison, Ralph, 68 Ely Houston (character), 77–79, 82, 90–91 empire. See imperialism “An End to the Neglect of the Problems of Negro Women!” (Jones), 167, 187 enemy aliens, 2, 178 “The Epistemic Status of Cultural Identity” (Mohanty), 79–80 epistemology of unbelonging, 11, 21, 49–50, 70, 77–82, 121–23, 129–30, 154, 214n17, 218n27 epistolary form, 40–41, 167–71 exceptionalism. See American exceptionalism exclusion from citizenship. See alienage Fanon, Frantz, 86, 125, 215n44, 217n7 fascism, 50–52 Federal Loyalty Program, 89–90 federation, 23; cultural pluralism and, 8; as model of political subjectivity, 143, 147–48, 160–61 Feeling Global (Robbins), 47–48 Ferguson, Roderick, 72 Filipino and Indian Exclusion and Ineligibility to Citizenship Act, 207n23 Filipinos. See Philippines/Filipinos Filipino Workers Association, 14 Flynn, Elizabeth Gurley, 177, 224n22 Food, Tobacco, Agricultural and Allied Workers, 64 “For the Unity of Women in the Cause of Peace!” (Jones), 167, 187 Foster, William, 164, 183 Franco, Francisco, 49, 50 The Futures of American Studies (Pease and Wiegman), 14 Gates, John, 167–68 gender: counter-cosmopolitanism and, 24; intersection with race and class of, 23–24, 166–67, 175, 182; in Wright’s epistemology of unbelonging, 81–82. See also women Gentry, Herbert, 68 Gernes, Todd, 168 Gerstle, Gary, 53 Gillespie, Dizzy, 181

Gilroy, Paul, 6, 69, 119, 122, 126, 218n27, 219n44 globalization, 24, 126, 147–48, 152–53 Gompers, Samuel, 54 Gore, Dayo, 23, 164–65, 227n3 Gramsci, Antonio, 17, 101, 221n15 Great Depression, 54, 66, 211n14 Grimshaw, Anna, 156 Guantánamo Bay prison, 200–202 Haitian Revolution, 112–13, 121 “Half the World” column (Jones), 166 Hall, Stuart, 133 Hansberry, Lorraine, 100–101 Harrington, Oliver, 66, 74 Harris, Lashawn, 165 Higashida, Cheryl, 23, 164–65, 227n3 Himes, Chester, 68 Hollinger, David, 12–13 Holquist, Michael, 96 Hoover, J. Edgar, 132 horizontal comradeship, 48–49 Horkheimer, Max, 122 Horne, Gerald, 165 Hukbalahap peasant uprising, 16–17 “I Choose Exile” (Wright), 93–94 imagined communities, 47–49 Imagined Communities (Anderson), 47–49 immigrants: narrative forms of, 2–3, 31–32; production of migrant labor and, 20, 33–35, 67, 185–90, 206n14. See also America Is in the Heart; migration/ migrant labor Immigration Act of 1918, 163 Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952. See McCarran-Walter Act of 1952 Immigration and Nationalization Service (INS), 132 immigration policy, 150–52; Chinese Exclusion Act on, 207n23; Filipino and Indian Exclusion and Ineligibility to Citizenship Act on, 207n23; Immigration Act of 1918 on, 163; on Mexican borders, 203; national-origins quotas in, 34, 205n5; repeal of exclusion laws in, 63; Smith Act on, 5, 64, 67, 92, 163, 164, 177, 208n25, 216n53; TydingsMcDuffie Act on, 33; USA Patriot Act on, 202–3. See also citizenship; McCarran-Walter Act of 1952

234 / index imperialism, 5–8, 11–12, 14–17; alternativeuniversalist responses to, 16–17, 41–42, 49–52, 152–54, 208n35; American racial liberalism and American forms of, 51–52, 71–72, 186–89; of America’s universalist narrative, 7–10, 13–17, 20–21, 30, 49, 54, 57, 73–74, 108, 128–29; benevolent assimilation goals of, 28, 38; control of the world economy as, 152–53; impact on spatial mobility of, 33–34; link of capitalism and slavery to, 110, 118–19, 172, 218nn26–27; racial logic of modernization in, 123–24; subaltern modes of narrative and, 17– 19; transformation into globalization of, 24, 126; U.S. annexation of the Philippines as, 33, 37–38, 61–62; of U.S. global reach, 200–204. See also Philippines Impossible Subjects (Ngai), 206n14 the internal emigré, 87–88, 101–2 Internal Security Act of 1950, 1, 2, 5, 20, 64, 67 internationalism, 13–15, 20–21, 57, 174–75; as counter-cosmopolitanism, 13–15, 49–52, 159–62; of global migrants, 156– 59; horizontal comradeship in, 47–49, 143; socialist discourse of, 14–15, 135, 143–44, 156; U.S. discourses of, 14, 57, 152–53, 186, 202. See also alternative universalism Irish novel, 17–18 Ishmael (character), 137 islands: as model of political/subjective community, 37–38, 52, 147–48, 159–62; transnational geographic imaginaries of, 37–38, 44–45, 58, 200–201 isolatoes, 148–52, 159–62 Jackson, Esther, 185 Jackson, Walter, 72, 76 James, C. L. R., 2, 22–23, 119, 132–62, 189; on alternative political forms, 191; on alternative ways of knowing, 158–62; on America’s excluded, racialized subjects, 58, 154–59; The Black Jacobins of, 112–13, 142, 152; critique of the CPUSA by, 174–75; critique of vanguardism by, 111–12, 161–62, 175; deportation of, 74, 93, 133, 208n25; dialectical materialist methodology

of, 138–41; on the dialectics of form, 140–41; on Ellis Island and its isolatoes, 147–52, 159–62; FBI file of, 220n3; incarceration at Ellis Island of, 4, 22–23, 38, 132–37, 142–47, 149, 199– 200, 208n25; Minty Alley of, 141–42; on paradoxical cosmopolitanism, 151–54; political activism of, 14–15, 133, 143–44, 174–75, 222n30; realism and, 141–42; on self-activity, 111–13, 135, 143–44, 146–48, 161–62, 221n15; study of the U.S. by, 146, 155; West Indies Federation of, 11, 16–17, 23, 160–61, 222n30; on Wright, 84–85, 158; writing career of, 142. See also Mariners, Renegades, and Castaways Jameson, Frederic, 48, 184–85 JanMohamed, Abdul, 69, 81, 84, 99–100 Japanese exclusion, 207n23 Japanese internment, 203 Jim Crow. See segregation/Jim Crow John Reed Clubs, 14, 99 Johnson-Forest Tendency, 14–15, 133, 221n15 Jones, Claudia, 2, 119, 163–95; alternative education of, 183–84, 185; autobiography of, 166, 183–90, 189, 222n2; citizenship petition of, 164; cosmopolitan vision of, 188; CPUSA work of, 14–15, 166–67, 174–75, 182, 184–86; critical scholarship on, 23; death of, 164; deportation of, 5, 23, 74, 93, 163–64, 177, 189–90, 197–98, 208n25; FBI files of, 190, 222n1; imprisonment in West Virginia of, 163, 190, 224n22; incarceration at Ellis Island of, 4, 23, 163, 167–68, 199–200, 208n25; internationalist and diasporic framework of, 11, 16–17, 186–92, 197–98, 226n59, 226n61; “Letter from Ellis Island” of, 166–76, 189, 195, 199; literary and cultural forms of, 23–24, 165–71, 177–78, 189–90; London Carnival of, 24, 166, 191–95; marriage of, 164, 222n3; racial capitalism as framework for, 24, 166, 175–76, 183, 186–90; racial liberalism and, 165–66, 176, 179–83, 186–90, 225n38; trial (under the Smith Act) and testimony of, 163, 166, 177–83, 188–89, 208n25; on “triple oppression,” 167, 175, 182;

index / 235 West Indian Gazette of, 166, 190–91, 195, 226n59, 226n61; women’s rights advocacy of, 166–68 Kallen, Horace, 8, 207n18 Kaplan, Amy, 14, 61, 200–201 Kelley, Robin, 6 Kierkegaard, Søren, 84 Kim, Elaine, 210n7 Koje Island, 150 Korean exclusion, 207n23 Korean War, 150 Kristeva, Julia, 193 labor activism, 14–15; in Bulosan’s American Is in the Heart, 55–58; of the Cold War, 64–65; racial transformations of, 54–55; in Wright’s The Outsider, 132–33 Larkin (character), 62, 64, 191 Left of Karl Marx (Davies), 191, 222n4, 227n3 Left of the Color Line (Mullen and Smethurst), 198 “Letter from Ellis Island” (Jones), 4, 166, 167–71, 189, 195, 199 Levi, Darrell, 155, 220n4, 224n20 Leyda, Jay, 141 liberal pluralism. See racial liberalism Lichtenstein, Nelson, 54 Lift Every Voice—For Victory! (Jones), 182, 225n38 Lincoln, Abraham, 27–29, 41–42 Literary Culture and U.S. Imperialism (Rowe), 14 literary form(s), 7, 190–95, 198–99, 202, 206n16; in Asian American literature, 43; Bulosan’s epistolary form as, 40–41, 168; James mode of storytelling as, 144–45; James’s hybrid Mariners, Renegades, and Castaways as, 22–23, 133–35, 140–41, 144, 162, 194–95; of Jones’s innovative variety, 23–24, 165– 71, 177–78, 189–90; national limits of, 30–32, 94–99; reportage by participant observers as, 169; subaltern modes of narrative in, 17–19, 22–23, 101; trial testimony as, 177–83; Wright’s dialogic form as, 21, 70–71, 95–99, 102–3, 122; Wright’s travelogues as, 22, 75–76, 94, 122–30. See also the novel

Lloyd, David, 17–18, 40, 96–97, 101, 216n64 The Long Revolution (Williams), 86–88 Louis, Joe, 182, 225n38 L’Ouverture, Toussaint, 112–13, 121, 125–26 Lowe, Lisa, 42–43, 151 lynching, 66, 213n1, 227n1 Macario (character), 44; alternative narrative of Ameica of, 55–58, 63; Spanish Civil War of, 49, 50; U.S. military service of, 58–59, 62 “The Many Faces of Cosmo-polis” (Mignolo), 124–25 Mariners, Renegades, and Castaways (James), 4, 22–23, 133–62; critical responses to, 134–35, 155, 220n4; democratic representation of characters in, 137–42; Ellis Island prisoners in, 133, 142–47; federation discourses in, 111–13, 135, 146–48, 161; as form of storytelling, 144–45; hybrid form of, 22–23, 133–35, 140–47, 161–62, 194–95; island spaces in, 147–52, 159–62, 221n28; James on writing of, 136–37, 149; language of American pluralism in, 154–59; omissions from republished editions of, 133–34, 146–47; paradoxical cosmopolitanism in, 151–54; role of the intellectual in, 112 Maxwell, William, 227n3 McCarran-Walter Act of 1952, 2, 5, 20, 64, 67, 93; excluded groups under, 155–56, 164, 170–72; internal security rationale for, 179; James’s detention and deportation under, 22, 132, 134, 208n25; Jones’s detention and deportation under, 23, 183, 208n25; national-origins quota system of, 205n5; racial basis of, 153, 163; unconstitutionality of, 202 McCarthyism, 64–65, 90–91 McDuffie, Erik, 23, 164–65 McKinley, William, 28, 61 McWilliams, Carey, 38, 46, 55–57 Melamed, Jodi, 72, 74, 181–82, 207n22 Melville, Herman, 22–23, 133; in Carlos’s reading list, 46; contemporary relevance of, 136; goal of Moby Dick of, 137; homage to America by, 156–57; Redburn of, 154. See also Mariners, Renegades, and Castaways; Moby Dick

236 / index Michaelsen, Scott, 203 Mignolo, Walter, 12, 122, 124–25 migration/migrant labor: of African Americans to the north, 118; alienage and, 67; the bildungsroman and, 29–31, 33, 38–42; in Bulosan’s America Is in the Heart, 30–42, 55–62; cosmopolitanism of, 13, 156–59, 172–74; of Filipinos in the U.S., 35–36, 211n14; in James’s Mariners, Renegades, and Castaways, 139–62; as model of political subjectivity, 12, 31–32, 135, 147–62; the novel and, 7, 22–23, 134–35, 144–47 Minty Alley (James), 141–42 Moby Dick (Melville), 4, 22–23, 133, 134, 136–37; Ahab’s totalitarian role in, 136, 139, 152; Ishmael’s intellectual role in, 137; the Pequod as an island in, 159; untold stories of the crew in, 137, 139– 40, 149, 151, 152–53. See also Mariners, Renegades, and Castaways modernity/modernization: Mignolo’s two sides of, 124–25; race and, 109, 117–22, 130; role of slavery in, 118–19, 218nn26–27; Truman’s view of, 114, 117; U.N. theory of, 114, 117; Wright’s vision of, 111–30 Mohanty, Satya, 79–80 Moretti, Franco, 30, 32–33 Mullen, Bill V., 116, 198, 227n3 “My Education” (Bulosan), 28–29 Myrdal, Gunnar, 20–21, 57, 70–78, 81, 92–93, 129–30, 180–81, 209n47. See also An American Dilemma narrative. See the novel Native Son (Wright), 99 The Negro in American Life (USIA), 180 Nehru, Jawaharlal, 127 Nekola, Charlotte, 169, 223n13 New American Studies, 14 New Deal, 54, 66 Ngai, Mae, 4–5, 206n14 Nkrumah, Kwame, 118 Noguchi, Yone, 44 Non-Aligned movement, 12, 115–16, 121, 126, 191, 208n27 “non-citizen national” classification, 4, 20, 30, 33, 56–58 Notting Hill Carnival, 191–95

Notting Hill Race Riots, 192 the novel, 7, 17–19, 206n16; alternative bildungsroman form of, 19–20, 29–32, 39–42, 48, 59–60, 192–93; bildungsroman form of, 19–20, 27–33; challenges to the limits of nation in, 30–32, 94–99, 141–42; dialogic limits of, 70–71, 95–99, 102–3, 122, 166, 192– 94; hierarchy of characters in, 137–38; James’s challenge to, 22–23, 133–35, 140–41, 144, 162, 194–95; as misplaced idea, 18; representational limits of, 7, 17–19, 30–31, 39–41, 94–98, 134–35, 140–42, 146, 192–93; subaltern modes of narrative in, 17–19, 40, 101. See also literary form(s) Nussbaum, Martha, 12 The One vs. the Many (Woloch), 137–38 Orientalism (Said), 14 outsiders. See alienage The Outsider (Wright), 4, 20–22, 66–71, 76–104, 209n47; alternative knowledge in, 91–99, 208n35; on the crisis of modernity, 107–8, 116; critical reception of, 21, 69–70, 100–101; epistemology of unbelonging in, 70, 77–82, 122, 214n17; existentialism in, 82, 84–85, 100; historical context of, 70–77, 88–91, 92–94; Hunter’s deportation in, 131–32; limits of the realist novel in, 94–99, 192–93; narrative of violence in, 99–104; role of secrecy in, 21, 70–71, 83–104, 158, 194 Padmore, George, 68 Pagan Spain (Wright), 75–76, 108, 122 Pan-Africanism, 184 participant-observer reportage, 169 Parting the Waters (Branch), 89–90 part-novels, 19, 41–42, 122 Patterson, Louise, 185 Patterson, William, 185, 197–99, 227n1 Pease, Donald, 14, 133, 178, 200–201, 209n46, 220n4 “A People’s Art Is the Genesis of Their Freedom” (Jones), 192 peripheral forms, 177–78, 193–94. See also literary form(s) Philippines/Filipinos: American schools in, 28; America’s exclusionary

index / 237 classifications of, 4, 20, 30, 33–34, 56–58; capitalist expansion in, 36; Hukbalahap peasant uprising in, 16–17; independence of, 54; Japanese occupation of, 58–59; migrant labor from, 19–20, 35–36, 50, 54–58; struggle for justice in the U.S. of, 50; U.S. annexation of, 33, 37–38, 61. See also America Is in the Heart Political Affairs, 166, 185 Popular Front Americanism, 53–55 postnational narratives of America, 20, 31–32, 61–62, 209n46 post–World War II period. See Cold War The Practice of Diaspora (Edwards), 6, 68 Présence Africaine journal, 68 Presidential Executive Order 9981, 207n23 Presidential Proclamation 2655, 2 Progressive Era. See cultural pluralism “Proletarian or Revolutionary Literature” (Carby), 141–42 Puerto Rico, 33 Race Against Empire (Von Eschen), 187–88 race/racism, 9–12; as basis for exclusion, 56–58, 203–4; black worldliness as response to, 50–52; global/transnational perspectives on, 7–8, 11, 23–24, 50–52, 92–94, 109–11, 129–30, 176, 187–90, 197– 99; impact on social mobility of, 33–34; liberal pluralism’s response to, 7–12, 20, 51–52, 63–65, 71–72, 127–30, 207nn22– 23, 208n25; literary consideration of, 5–8; lynching as expression of, 66, 213n1, 227n1; in organized labor, 54–56; postwar reforms in, 10–12; in production of migrant labor, 6, 20, 22, 33–34, 67, 185–90, 206n14; segregation and Jim Crow as, 56, 66, 71, 85, 86, 182–83; slavery in, 110, 118–19, 172, 218nn26–27. See also alienage racial capitalism, 11, 13, 51, 118–19, 121–22, 129, 166, 184, 188–90, 200–204 racial liberalism, 7–12, 191, 207nn22–23, 208n25; civil rights reform and, 10, 63–64; Cold War emergence of, 63–65, 71–75, 165–66, 176, 178–82, 225n38; Myrdal’s study of, 20–21, 57, 70–78, 81, 92–93, 127–30, 180–81, 209n47; as rationale for American imperialism, 51–52, 71–72, 128–30, 178, 186–89;

Truman administration’s use of, 179–80, 187–89 Raskin, A. H., 1, 3, 172 Redburn (Melville), 154 Redding, J. Saunders, 69 Reddy, Chandan, 4–5, 67 Renan, Ernest, 151 “The Revolutionary Solution to the Negro Problem in the U.S.A.” (James), 161–62 Robbins, Bruce, 13, 47–48 Robeson, Paul, 74, 93, 185, 189 Robinson, Cedric, 99 Robinson, Crusoe (Defoe), 44–45, 58 Roosevelt, Franklin D., 2, 59 Rowe, John Carlos, 14 Said, Edward, 80, 111, 121; on adversarial internationalization, 13–14; on counter-conversions, 108; on counterhabitation, 227n71; on diasporic global consciousness, 152–54 Sampson, Edith, 187 San Juan, E., Jr., 34, 65 Sartre, Jean-Paul, 68, 69 Satchmo Blows Up the World (Von Eschen), 181 Saunders, Patricia, 170–71 Schlesinger, Arthur, 92 Schmeling, Max, 225n38 Scholnick, Abraham, 164, 222n3 Schwarz, Roberto, 18 Scott, David, 112–13, 121, 138–39 Scott, James C., 194 Scottsboro trial, 185 secrecy, 20–21, 70–71, 83–104, 192–95; alternative knowledge/third set of ideas and, 91–95; Cold War repression and, 94–97, 158, 194; of the Cold War state, 88–91; as counterhegemonic strategy, 83–88, 90, 215n44; dialogic limits of the novel and, 94–99 segregation/Jim Crow, 56, 66, 71, 85, 86, 182–83, 227n1 self-activity, 111–12, 143–44, 161–62, 221n15 Senghor, Léopold, 68 Singh, Nikhil Pal, 6, 9, 56, 72; on An American Dilemma, 74; on black worldliness, 50; on state repression of radicals, 92–93, 195, 227n3; on urban ghettos of modernity, 118

238 / index slavery, 110, 118–19, 172, 218nn26–27 Smethurst, James, 198, 227n3 Smith Act of 1940, 5, 64, 67, 92, 163, 164, 177, 208n25, 216n53 socialist internationalism, 14–17 Spanish Civil War, 49, 50 Spivak, Gayatri, 96, 112, 219n47 State of the Union (Lichtenstein), 54 Statue of Liberty, 170, 172 Stein, Gertrude, 76 Stephens, Michelle, 6, 147–48, 156, 161, 221n28 storytelling, 144–45 subalternity, 17–18, 193; counterhegemony in, 86–88, 215n44; Gramsci’s portrayal of, 17, 101; as not assimilated to the state, 101 Taft-Hartley Act, 64 Takaki, Ronald, 28 the third set of ideas, 16–17, 91–99, 103–4, 107–11, 125–26, 208n35 13 Communists Speak to the Court, 166 Tolentino, Cynthia, 72 “Tradition and Industrialization: The Historic Meaning of the Plight of the Tragic Elite in Asia and Africa” (Wright), 110, 123–24 Trotsky, Leon, 111 Truman (Harry) administration: desegregation of the armed forces by, 207n23; fair deal of, 114; Federal Loyalty Program of, 89–90; narratives of racial progress of, 179–80, 187–89; Proclamation 2655 of, 2; on the third world, 116; veto of Internal Security Act by, 1 Tydings-McDuffie Act of 1934, 33 unbecoming Americans (as term), 3–5, 24, 203, 205n7 “undesirable alien” classification, 133, 183, 189 universalism: American claims of, 7–9, 14–17, 30, 49, 54, 57, 73–74, 108, 128–30; Bulosan’s alternative version of, 15–17, 41–42, 45–46, 49–65; labor and economic issues of, 54–58; vs. racial ways of knowing, 79–82. See also alternative universalism U.S. Information Agency, 180

U.S. War on Terror, 200–204 USA Patriot Act, 202–3 vanguardism, 111–12, 161–62, 174–75, 221n15 vernacular cosmopolitanism, 12 Voice of America, 180 Von Eschen, Penny, 10, 92, 179–81, 187–88, 195 War on Terror, 200–204 Washington, Mary Helen, 165 “We Charge Genocide” petition, 227n1 Weik, Alexa, 124 West, Cornel, 109 West Indian Carnival, 24, 166, 191–95 West Indian Gazette/and Afro-AsianCaribbean News, 166, 190–91, 195, 226n59, 226n61 West Indies Federation, 11, 16–17, 23, 135, 161–62, 190–91, 222n30, 226n59 Westphal, Florian, 200 White Man Listen! (Wright), 109–11, 115, 120 Wiegman, Robyn, 14 Williams, Eric, 110, 118–19, 218n26 Williams, Raymond, 29–30, 86–88, 101 Willkie, Wendell L., 9 Woloch, Alex, 137–38, 140, 145 women: marginalized voices of, 164–65, 178, 187; rights advocacy for, 166–68, 171; use of epistolary forms by, 168–69. See also Jones, Claudia “Women in the Struggle for Peace and Security” (Jones), 188–89 Women’s Commission of the Communist Party, 166, 177 Wong, Sau-ling Cynthia, 32 Wong, Shelley, 210n7 “Work, Immigration, Gender” (Lowe), 177–78 The Wretched of the Earth (Fanon), 125 Wright, Ellen, 75 Wright, Richard, 4, 14–15, 20–22, 46; on African American unbelonging, 20–21, 70, 77–82, 121–23, 129–30, 209n47, 214n17, 218n27; on alternative knowledge, 91–99, 103–4, 108–11, 125–26, 208n35; on the Bandung Conference, 115–16; Cold War experiences of, 66–67; on double vision,

index / 239 79–81, 111; Eurocentric intellectual tradition of, 76–77, 84–88, 99, 112–13, 123–24, 126–27; on global slavery, 118– 19, 218nn26–27; on life in France, 68; on modernity, 11–12, 22, 107–8, 111–27, 208n27; Myrdal’s impact on, 75–76, 78, 127–30; official surveillance of, 92–94; portrayals of women by, 81–82; on racial logic of capitalist modernization, 117–27; relationship to the Communist Party of, 94, 98–99, 108, 216n70; as

rootless cosmopolitan subject, 79, 82, 103–4, 107–11, 119–20, 191, 219n44; self-exile of, 4, 21–22, 65–69, 93–94, 103–4, 189, 208n25; on third world development, 113–17; travel writing of, 21–22, 75–77, 94, 108–30, 195; on violence, 99–104. See also The Outsider; Pagan Spain; White Man Listen! Writing Red (Nekola), 169, 222n4 Zieger, Robert, 213n43

About the Author

Joseph Keith is an assistant professor of English at Binghamton University, SUNY.