Anti-Imperialist Modernism: Race and Transnational Radical by Benjamin Balthaser

By Benjamin Balthaser

Anti-Imperialist Modernism excavates how U.S. cross-border, multi-ethnic anti-imperialist pursuits at mid-century formed what we comprehend as cultural modernism and the old interval of the good melancholy. The publication demonstrates how U.S. multiethnic cultural activities, positioned in political events, small journals, hard work unions, and struggles for racial liberation, helped build a typical feel of overseas cohesion that critiqued principles of nationalism and essentialized racial identification. The ebook hence strikes past debts that experience tended to view the pre-war “Popular entrance” via tropes of nationwide belonging or an abandonment of the cosmopolitanism of past a long time. striking archival learn brings to gentle the ways that a transnational imaginative and prescient of modernism and modernity used to be formed via anti-colonial networks of North/South unity. Chapters learn farmworker photographers in California’s important valley, a Nez Perce highbrow touring to the Soviet Union, imaginations of the Haitian Revolution, the reminiscence of the U.S.–Mexico warfare, and U.S. radical writers touring to Cuba. The final bankruptcy examines how the chilly battle foreclosed those routine inside a nationalist framework, while activists and intellectuals needed to suppress the transnational nature in their activities, frequently rewriting the cultural prior to comply to a patriotic narrative of nationwide belonging.

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For Hughes, traveling to Cuba culminates in a process that at once reaffirms his diasporic sense of racial identity—­he sees the world through “negro eyes”—­yet also destabilizes his faith in American-­centered black nationalism. 100 In chapter 2 I consider how the large volume of texts in the 1930s and 1940s on the Haitian Revolution and the global protests over the imprisonment of Haitian novelist Jacques Roumain became a way to reorient, literally and figuratively, a modernist aesthetic that was formed on the backs of African bodies.

S. colonial project. Herbst equally reconceives of her “American” identity, writing in Rope of Gold about how a “Mid-­Western farm girl” could see 34 • Anti-Imperalist Modernism that the same processes of capital accumulation that removed Native Americans and entrapped Cubans in poverty also ended up foreclosing her parents’ farm. Rather than see Cuba as a site that she must “save” as an Anglo-­ American, she emerges with a narrative of self-­reflexive mutuality and solidarity. For Hughes, traveling to Cuba culminates in a process that at once reaffirms his diasporic sense of racial identity—­he sees the world through “negro eyes”—­yet also destabilizes his faith in American-­centered black nationalism.

L. R. James’s The Black Jacobins or Carlos Bulosan’s America Is in the Heart as “modernist” within this frame, as both narrate the conflict/contact of race, Introduction • 21 nation, and empire through the transformative subjectivity of a hybrid voice. In literary history, the shift from modernism to postmodernism marked the Popular Front as a sort of interregnum, an unfortunate gap in the cultural order between avant-­gardes. Dominated by “social realism,” the Popular Front was regarded by several generations of critics as a return to the 19th-­ century verities of realism, including its middlebrow sensibility, its positivism, its reification of capitalist social relations—­despite its ostensible social critique—­and its frequently linear, transparent narrative form.

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