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Race, Rights and Reform
Black Activism in the French Empire and the United States from World War I to the Cold War

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Part of Global and International History

  • Publication planned for: December 2022
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781108732031

$ 29.99 (F)

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About the Authors
  • Sarah C. Dunstan constructs a narrative of black struggles for rights and citizenship that spans most of the twentieth century, encompassing a wide range of people and movements from France and the United States, the French Caribbean and African colonies. She explores how black scholars and activists grappled with the connections between culture, race and citizenship and access to rights, mapping African American and Francophone black intellectual collaborations from the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 to the March on Washington in 1963. Connecting the independent archives of black activist organizations within America and France with those of international institutions such as the League of Nations, the United Nations and the Comintern, Dunstan situates key black intellectuals in a transnational framework. She reveals how questions of race and nation intersected across national and imperial borders and illuminates the ways in which black intellectuals simultaneously constituted and reconfigured notions of Western civilization.

    • Reveals the rich and ongoing collaborations between black peoples as they fought for access to citizenship rights
    • Utilizes a range of sources from archives in North America and across Europe, including private correspondence, literary works, government documents and journals
    • Enriches and de-provincializes the study of black activism in the United States and France
    Read more


    • Winner, 2022 J. Russell Major Prize, American Historical Association

    Reviews & endorsements

    'Dunstan persuasively argues that black francophone thinkers and their African American counterparts drew upon the democratic ideals of the French and American Republics to fight racism, and in the process influenced each other. Race, Rights and Reform is well-written, deeply researched, and thoughtfully framed.' Alice L. Conklin, Ohio State University

    'Fascinating and deeply engaging. Sarah C. Dunstan's protagonists are intellectuals and reformers of a multilingual Black Atlantic, moving across three continents and four decades, exploring both the particularities of their blackness and the generalities of the human condition as refracted through the lenses of modernism, communism and existentialism. A bracing exploration of a de-racialized and de-colonized world struggling to be born.' Gary Gerstle, University of Cambridge

    'A truly trans-Atlantic history of twentieth-century Black activism, this timely book enriches and deprovincializes what still too often are nationally focused historiographies of race, racism, and empire. Whoever wants a deeper historical understanding of the global resonance of the Black Lives Matter movement should read this book.' Michael Goebel, Graduate Institute Geneva

    'This sophisticated, impeccably researched treatment is great for general collections … Recommended.' R. C. Cottrell, Choice Magazine

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    Product details

    • Publication planned for: December 2022
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781108732031
    • length: 329 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 mm
    • weight: 0.536kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Black is a country, n'est-ce pas? Race, rights and nation in the Wilsonian moment
    2. Anti-Imperial comrades: black radicalism and the communist possibility
    3. La vogue nègre: racial renaissance at the intersection of republic, empire and democracy
    4. Civilization's gone to hell? Revolutionary poetry, humanism and the crisis of sovereignty
    5. Give me liberty!: Black intellectual struggles against fascism in the fight for democracy
    6. 'A new fascism, the American brand': anti-communism, anti-imperialism and the struggle for the west
    7. 'The Sword of Damocles': Présence Africaine and decolonization in the face of the Cold War

  • Author

    Sarah C. Dunstan, Queen Mary University of London
    Sarah C. Dunstan is a historian of twentieth-century France and the United States, focusing on questions of race, rights and gender. Sarah C. Dunstan is Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at Queen Mary University London.


    • Winner, 2022 J. Russell Major Prize, American Historical Association

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