Through a reading of periodicals, memoirs, speeches, and fiction from the antebellum period to the Harlem Renaissance, this study re-examines various myths about a U.S. progressive history and about an African American counter history in terms of race, democracy, and citizenship. Reframing 19th century and early 20th-century African-American cultural history from the borderlands of the U.S. empire where many African Americans lived, worked and sought refuge, Knadler argues that these writers developed a complicated and layered transnational and creolized political consciousness that challenged dominant ideas of the nation and citizenship. Writing from multicultural contact zones, these writers forged a "new black politics"—one that anticipated the current debate about national identity and citizenship in a twenty-first century global society. As Knadler argues, they defined, created, and deployed an alternative political language to re-imagine U.S. citizenship and its related ideas of national belonging, patriotism, natural rights, and democratic agency.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgments Introduction: Black Politics and Diasporic Intimacy: Remapping the Nation and Citizenship Part I: Transnational Citizenship in the "Golden Age of Black Nationalism" 1. "To Breathe Central America": Hemispheric Interplays and Martin Delany’s Imagining of Citizenship in the Colored Republic 2. Fashioning Democracy in America: Eliza Potter, Elizabeth Keckley and Black Working-Class Women in the Consumer Republic 3. Trans-American Seductions and Creolized Black Reconstruction: The Imagining of Democratic Agency in Post-Civil War African-American Fiction Part II: Reconstructing Black Citizenship at the Age of Empire 4. Accommodated Citizenship: Black Cowboys and the Borderland West 5. Sensationalizing Patriotism: Sutton Griggs and the Sentimental Nationalism of Citizen Tom 6. Policing the Isthmus: The Contested TransPacific Geography of a New World Negro Epilogue: The Signifyin(g) Monkey Round the World Notes Bibliography Index
Stephen Knadler is Associate Professor of U.S. literature at Spelman College. He is the author of The Fugitive Race: Minority Writers Resisting Whiteness.
"A particularly informative resource for scholars interested in engaging early African American literature as a part of the transatlantic diaspora. Recommended."