Afroasian Encounters: Culture, History, Politics

Afroasian Encounters: Culture, History, Politics

Afroasian Encounters: Culture, History, Politics

Afroasian Encounters: Culture, History, Politics

Synopsis

"As fresh and exciting as it is important. This crucial book changes the conversation around American Studies and Ethnic Studies in key ways, challenging scholars to light out for previously-uncharted places on our mental maps in which borders are interrogated and challenged, alliances forged through imagined communities, commerce, popular culture, or politics are investigated and probed, and questions that are simultaneously new, and half a century old, are revivified. This volume, the first interdisciplinary anthology dealing with Afro Asian encounters, stands to become a landmark work in the field." - Shelley Fisher Fishkin, Stanford University

How might we understand yellowface performances by African Americans in 1930s swing adaptations of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado, Paul Robeson's support of Asian and Asian American struggles, or the absorption of hip hop by Asian American youth culture? AfroAsian Encountersis the first anthology to look at the mutual influence of and relationships between members of the African and Asian diasporas. While these two groups have often been thought of as occupying incommensurate, if not opposing, cultural and political positions, scholars from history, literature, media, and the visual arts here trace their interconnections and interactions, as well as the tensions between the two groups that sometimes arise.Afro Asian Encountersprobes beyond popular culture to trace the historical lineage of these coalitions from the late nineteenth century to the present. A compelling foreword by Vijay Prashad sets the volume in the context of the Bandung conference half a century ago, and an illuminating afterword by Gary Okihiro charts the contours of a "Black Pacific." From the history of Japanese jazz composers to the current popularity of black/Asian "buddy films" like Rush Hour,Afro Asian Encountersis a groundbreaking intervention into studies of race and ethnicity and a crucial look at the shifting meaning of race in the twenty-first century.

Excerpt

One evening in early 1955, the African American writer Richard Wright picked up his evening newspaper. He casually glanced over the items but was stopped by one notice. in far off Indonesia, representatives from twenty-nine newly liberated countries in Africa and Asia planned to gather for a conference. Wright rushed to tell his wife, the Communist Ellen Poplar, that he wished to attend the conference and write about it. When Poplar read the article, she exclaimed, “Why, that's the human race,” for, indeed, not only did the twenty-nine nations include a vast amount of humanity but also its agenda (disarmament and cooperation) articulated the hopes of the majority. Wright agreed. He wanted to write about it because he knew that writers from the advanced industrial states frequently displaced the actual voices of liberation from the new nations. the journalists spoke of the new nations, often even against them, but they did not give them room to speak themselves. Wright wanted to remedy that: “I know that people are tired of hearing of these hot, muddy faraway places filled with people yelling for freedom. But this is the human race speaking.” the book that Wright produced from his trip, The Color Curtain, inaugurates our tradition of AfroAsian studies.

Richard Wright was no stranger to the dynamic that would unfold at Bandung. He understood the desire of a people for freedom from his own life and experiences, and he already had contacts with the leaders from the darker nations who would meet at Bandung. Indeed, Wright's political life after he removed himself from the United States in July 1947 intersected frequently with the dynamic of Bandung. in Paris, Wright met the major figures of negritude, Aimé Césaire and Leopold Senghor, and the two main political figures of Pan-Africanism, George Padmore and Kwame . . .

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