The Diasporic Dimensions of British Caribbean Federation in the Early Twentieth Century

In: New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids
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  • 1 1University of South Florida. eduke@cas.usf.edu

[Second and third pragraph]While much has been written on the significance of British Caribbean activists in various movements associated with black diaspora politics in the twentieth century, particularly their important roles in Pan-African struggles, little has been written on how the various British Caribbean colonies themselves were envisioned among diaspora activists and within the scope of black diaspora politics. Did such Caribbean activists, especially those interested in and connected to diasporic movements beyond the British Caribbean, and their African American and African counterparts forsake the British West Indies as a focus of political engagement for other lands and causes? If not, what was the place of “West Indian liberation” and nation building in the British Caribbean in relation to black diasporic struggles in the early twentieth century?This article address these questions through an examination of how the idea of a united “West Indian nation” (via a federation or closer union) among British Caribbean colonies was envisioned within black diaspora politics from the turn of the twentieth century through the 1920s, and the ways in which racial consciousness and motivations informed conceptualizations of such a nation among black political activists of the British Caribbean and other parts of the diaspora. This study argues that efforts to create a federationin the Anglophone Caribbean were much more than simply imperial or regional nation-building projects. Instead, federation was also a diasporic, black nation-building endeavor intricately connected to notions of racial unity, racial uplift, and black self-determination.

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