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Globalizing the Harlem Renaissance: Irish, Mexican, and ‘Negro’ renaissances in The Survey, 1919–1929

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 July 2006

Bob Johnson
Department of Social Sciences, New College of Florida, 5700 North Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL 34243, USA E-mail:
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This essay situates the Harlem Renaissance in a world-historical context by building on the global perspective offered by the architect of that renaissance, Alain Locke. It demonstrates that contemporaries like Locke saw the Harlem Renaissance to be a local episode in a broader phenomenon of racial and national renaissance that included post-war developments in Ireland and Mexico. The core argument is that American progressives found in these renaissances three distinct models for defining the proper relationship between race and nation: in the Irish case, a racially homogeneous nation-state premised on a repudiation of the colonizer and his culture; in the Mexican case, a syncretic nation-state based on the cultural and biological fusion of the colonizer and colonized; and in the Harlem case, a pluralist nationstate that held in balance otherwise relatively autonomous races.

2006 London School of Economics and Political Science