‘Writers in a common cause’? Militant Pan-Africanist Print Culture in Imperial Britain

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapterpeer-review


This essay will examine how black radicals who rallied around the black Trinidadian socialist George Padmore, who was the key organising spirit behind the historic Fifth Pan-African Congress in Manchester in 1945 conference, forged an anti-imperialist print culture of periodicals such as International African Opinion and books in order to help build the Pan-Africanist movement in the inter-war period. Scholars have contextualised the publishing and self-publishing efforts of the tiny group of militant Pan-Africanists in late imperial Britain who came together in organisations such as the International African Service Bureau within a wider transnational public sphere and a discourse of ‘black internationalism’. For Carol Polsgrove for example, these black radicals – including Jomo Kenyatta, Peter Abrahams and C.L.R. James - were first and foremost a community of ‘writers in a common cause’. As she suggests, ‘let us at least consider the possibility that they spent so much time and energy on writing not only in the hope that it would have its effect but also because they wanted, simply, to write and be published’. This essay will critically engage with Polsgrove’s evocative argument, which perhaps invites parallels with such contemporaneous anti-colonialist ‘writers’ communities’ such as the founders of Negritude among the Francophone Pan-Africanists in 1930’s Paris, or perhaps the Progressive Writers’ Movement in South Asia. It aims to situate militant Pan-Africanist print culture within a wider anti-imperialist print culture in imperial Britain, and examine some of the material aspects of the production and circulation of periodicals such as International African Opinion.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Bloomsbury Handbook of Postcolonial Print Cultures
EditorsToral Gajarawala, Neelam Srivastava, Rajeswari Sunder Rajan, Jack Webb
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781350261778
ISBN (Print)9781350261754
Publication statusPublished - 30 Aug 2023


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