- From the Tricontinental to the Global South: Race, Radicalism and Transnational Solidarity by Anne Garland Mahler
Anne Garland Mahler's From the Tricontinental to the Global South: Race, Radicalism and Transnational Solidarity traces the political and aesthetic experience of the Tricontinental movement, which coalesced originally in the 1960s around a global spirit of antisystemic struggles shared by oppressed and disenfranchised groups in the Americas, Asia and Africa. Rather than just focus on the 1966 Tricontinental conference in Cuba that brought together delegates from the so-called Third World (in itself a little-studied moment in Cold War history), the book offers the discourses and practices of "Tricontinentalism" as a broader, critical lens through which to approach theorizations of political resistance into our present day. By analyzing the movement's cultural publications and posters, Nuyorican literature and Cuban dissident film, Garland Mahler argues that the Tricontinental articulated a transnational and horizontal model of resistance by foregrounding it on a non-essentializing discourse of race, where black struggle (in the United States in particular) was used metonymically to allude to all oppressed peoples around the globe. That is, race emerges her not as a phenotypical category but as an inclusive political signifier that created networks of solidarity through affective and ideological, rather than identitarian, affiliations. Today, the book concludes, the Global South imaginary of subaltern resistance as the alliance of all minoritized populations in the world, might be the closest ideological descendant of the Tricontinental.
Central to this approach to political subjectivity is an understanding of power as a global and deterritorialized network that transcends all national, ethnic and linguistic boundaries. From the Tricontinental to the Global South builds this theoretical framework vis-à-vis two different modes of analysis that emerged out of Cold War decolonization movements, borrowing but also drawing distinctions from both: postcolonial theory and network power theory. While these currents have provided models for analyzing subaltern struggle in contemporary society, the author argues that they are limited either by their reinforcing a center-periphery distribution of power (in the case of postcolonialism) or by overlooking the racial inequities perpetuated by neoliberalism (in Hardt and Negri's understanding of empire and multitude). Instead, the Tri-continental provides an alternative "reading praxis" that allows for an analysis of radical and revolutionary cultural production as unmoored from geographic and ethnic determinisms and simultaneously conscious of the struggle for racial equality. In doing so, Garland Mahler frames Tricontinentalism as a mobile lens that can traverse territorial and even temporal boundaries, locating its antecedents in the thought of intellectuals such as Frantz Fanon and its present significance on a South not defined territorially but in its possibility for affective solidarity.
Because From the Tricontinental to the Global South is less concerned with tracing a history of the movement than with employing a Tricontinentalist reading praxis, each of its five chapters is articulated around specific concepts or overarching themes that connect the texts analyzed in that section. At the same time, as these concepts emerge, the author is able to skillfully weave [End Page 261] them together in each subsequent chapter to support the book's broader arguments. Chapter one traces debates around racial justice and anti-imperialism from Cuba to the United States, as a way of locating the roots of Tricontinental thought. Here, and unlike later revolutionary imaginaries of a "raceless society" (articulated by the Comintern and the Castro regime), W.E.B DuBois's foregrounds political subjectivity on the struggle of Afro-descendants but does not limit it in terms of race. Rather, and similarly to Fanon's "the wretched of the Earth," this conceptualization imagines a global network of solidarity where race becomes an ideological and political signifier of anti-imperialism. Chapter two further develops this notion of "metonymic color politics" by examining Santiago Álvarez's 1965 film Now, created as part of the Tricontinental project. Though produced in Cuba by the ICAIC, the revolutionary government's official film institution, Now's montage of images from civil rights struggles in the US Jim Crow South evidences the transnational...