The Comintern and the Liberation of Africa and the African Diaspora 1919-1939

Hakim Adi is currently Reader in the History of Africa and the African Diaspora at the University of Chichester in England. He is the author of West Africans in Britain 1900-1960: Nationalism, Pan-Africanism and Communism (London, 1998). He has written widely on Pan-Africanism and the modern political history of the African Diaspora, especially on Africans in Britain, and has also written three books for children. He has just completed a major study on the Comintern and the ‘Negro Question’ entitled Pan-Africanism and Communism: The Communist International, Africa and the Diaspora, 1919-1939, which will be published by Africa World Press in 2013.

From its founding in 1919 the Comintern established itself as perhaps the only international organisation opposed not only to the existing political order but also to all forms of racism and white supremacy. One significant part of its activities was concerned with the ‘Negro Question,’ as matters relating to Africa and the Diaspora where then called. The Comintern took an uncompromising stance against colonialism in Africa and the Caribbean and urged the communist parties in the US, Cuba, South Africa and other countries to take up this question fro solution and support the right of self-determination for those of African descent, whether they constituted minorities or the majority of the population.

Key activists from Africa and from the Diaspora in the US, the Caribbean, France and Britain were drawn to the Comintern, even when they remained critical of individual communist parties. These ‘Black Bolsheviks’ also played a significant role in developing the Comintern’s Pan-Africanist approach to the ‘Negro Question.’

This paper aims to provide and overview of the Comintern’s approach to the liberation of Africa and the African Diaspora, and its limitations, during the inter-war period.

Samedi 27 octobre
13h15 – 15h
Anthropôle, salle 5081
Panel – Histoire en lutte: L’Union soviétique et l’Internationale communiste dans les années 20

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