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Geographies of Liberation

The Making of an Afro-Arab Political Imaginary

Alex Lubin

Publication Year: 2014

In this absorbing transnational history, Alex Lubin reveals the vital connections between African American political thought and the people and nations of the Middle East. Spanning the 1850s through the present, and set against a backdrop of major political and cultural shifts around the world, the book demonstrates how international geopolitics, including the ascendance of liberal internationalism, established the conditions within which blacks imagined their freedom and, conversely, the ways in which various Middle Eastern groups have understood and used the African American freedom struggle to shape their own political movements.

Lubin extends the framework of the black freedom struggle beyond the familiar geographies of the Atlantic world and sheds new light on the linked political, social, and intellectual imaginings of African Americans, Palestinians, Arabs, and Israeli Jews. This history of intellectual exchange, Lubin argues, has forged political connections that extend beyond national and racial boundaries.

Published by: The University of North Carolina Press

Series: The John Hope Franklin Series in African American History and Culture

Title Page, Copyright Page

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Contents / List of Illustrations

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pp. vii-ix

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pp. xi-xiii

This project has been profoundly shaped by the multiple geographies in which it has traveled. At the University of New Mexico (UNM) I have been surrounded by colleagues focused on the critical study of the colonial present as well as Albuquerque, a city in which the colonial present is ever visible. The Department of American Studies at UNM has been a productive...

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Introduction: Geographies of Liberation

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pp. 1-17

In his June 4, 2009, address at Cairo University, President Barack Obama occupied a contradictory space. As the president of the United States he was the leader of one of the last remaining great powers, an empire that was, at the time, providing fi nancial and military support to Hosni Mubarak, the authoritarian leader of Egypt whose rule would come to an...

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1. Overlapping Diasporas

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pp. 18-47

In 1907 an African American Baptist minister from Atlanta, W. L Jones, articulated his longing to travel the world in order to connect with ancestry and lost culture. “For a long time,” Jones wrote, “yes fifteen years, I have had a desire to visit the old world.” For Jones, however, the location of the “old world” was ambiguous. Did black Americans belong to the African continent, as the emerging...

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2. From Subject to Citizen: Dusé Mohamed Ali and the Afro-Orient

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pp. 48-77

On May 16, 1918, the British Foreign Offi ce considered the complex matter of Dusé Mohamed Ali’s petition for a British passport. Ali claimed to be an Egyptian national living in London, and in support of his petition he spoke of his “anomalous position in this country regarding the question of nationality.”1 At the time of the petition, Egypt was a British...

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3. Black Marxism and Binationalism

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pp. 78-110

In his 1929 essay, “Marxism and the Negro Question,” the African American intellectual Ralph Bunche argued that black inequality in the United States could only be addressed through the development of a broad interracial class movement that could establish a “dictatorship of the proletariat.” The term “dictatorship of the proletariat” came directly...

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4. The Black Panthers and the PLO: The Politics of Intercommunalism

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pp. 111-141

In his 1975 novel, . . . And Bid Him Sing, David Graham Du Bois, the stepson of W. E. B. Du Bois and son of Shirley Graham Du Bois, focuses on the Afro-Arab politics that emerged within 1960s Cairo, a city in which he lived for twelve years.1 The novel centers on a community of African American expats in Egypt, some of whom are former...

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5. Neoliberalism, Security, and the Afro-Arab International

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pp. 142-171

In 1996 the African American poet June Jordan traveled to Lebanon, where she witnessed sixteen days of Israeli bombardment in Operation Grapes of Wrath. The 1996 war included more than 1,100 Israeli air raids that dropped 25,000 shells.1 Jordan, who had been active in Palestinian solidarity movements since the 1980s, was concerned that Lebanon had been erased from...

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Conclusion: Liberation at the Twilight of the American Era

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pp. 172-175

Geographies of Liberation has mapped part of the Afro-Arab world within the context of changing colonial and national confi gurations. Geopolitical changes throughout the twentieth century brought with them signifi cant transformations in racial belongings and meanings. Within the context of global political change, the contours of the Afro-Arab world transformed. In the late nineteenth...


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pp. 177-202


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pp. 203-223


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pp. 225-233

E-ISBN-13: 9781469615318
E-ISBN-10: 1469615312
Print-ISBN-13: 9781469612881
Print-ISBN-10: 1469612887

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2014

Series Title: The John Hope Franklin Series in African American History and Culture