Left of Karl Marx: The Political Life of Black Communist Claudia Jones

By Shabazz, Rashad | Wagadu: a Journal of Transnational Women's and Gender Studies, Fall 2009 | Go to article overview

Left of Karl Marx: The Political Life of Black Communist Claudia Jones


Shabazz, Rashad, Wagadu: a Journal of Transnational Women's and Gender Studies


Review of Left of Karl Marx: The Political Life of Black Communist Claudia Jones by Carol Boyce Davies, Duke University Press, Durham, 2008.

Left of Karl Marx by Carol Boyce Davies is an engaging and long over due scholarly treatment of the life of one of most important and yet obscure Black radicals-Claudia Jones. The Trinidadian born Jones (1915-1964) was a contemporary of more famous male Black radicals: Du Bois, C.L.R. James and Richard Wright. Jones was deeply informed by Marxism; and like her contemporaries, struggled with Marxism's applicability to Black life. Cedric Robinson's publication of Black Marxism, a path-breaking treatment of Black radicalism and Marxism, provides the historical, political and theoretical context for the emergence of Black radicals like Jones. Yet, despite its genius, Robinson's treatment was preoccupied with men. Gendering the Black radical tradition as male obscures our understanding of the numerous women, who, like Du Bois, James and Wright, rediscovered Black radical traditions and challenged Marxism's hold on radical social change. Davies treatment of Jones is an invaluable corrective to the male-centered analyses of the Black radical tradition, and perhaps more importantly, it resurrects a vital Black radical activist.

Jones' obscurity is by no means a reflection on her political legacy. As Davies points out, it sadly reflects that "women are not generally assigned importance as intellectual subjects" (Davies, p. 34). A valiant fighter for social justice for oppressed people globally, Jones left an indelible mark on the world. Buried in Higate cemetery to the left of her political mentor Karl Marx, Davies illustrates how Jones' spatial location in death continues her lifelong struggle to radicalize, rethink and expand the political limitations of Marxism. To The Left of Karl Marx is "an apt metaphor", writes Davies for this fascinating study (Davies, p. 2). Early in the text Davies argues, her book is not a biography. Left of Karl Marx is part of a unique tradition of critical studies of political figures and artists. Davies' study is reminiscent of Saint Genet, Jean-Paul Sartre's critical biography of playwright Jean Genet. Part biography, part philosophical treaties and part literary criticism, Saint Genet uses biography to explore the art and politics of Genet. Through examining Genet, one gets a sense of France in the post-War years. Left of Karl Marx is part political biography, part Black diasporic analysis and part Black feminist critique. Like Saint Genet, Davies uses Jones' life to unpack the complex political terrain of the mid-twentieth century. Examining the political life of Jones acquaints readers with the radical politics Blacks participated in. Davies denies the links to biography to assure readers, particularly those in academia, that her study is scholarly in its approach and rigorous in its engagement. However, biography is undeniably an important element of her study and does not detract from its rigor nor diminish its scholarship; rather it adds a dynamic interstice to Jones' political and intellectual excavation. Thoroughly researched, Davis treatment of Jones connects her elusive and fragmented life. Scholars and students across disciplines will find something useful in this book. Historians will find Davies archival research pulled from, like Jones herself, multiple sites across the western world, worthy of praise. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Left of Karl Marx: The Political Life of Black Communist Claudia Jones
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.