336 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 11 halftones, 3 maps, 3 tables, notes, bibl., index
Caribbean Migrants and the Politics of Race in the Jazz Age
In the generations after emancipation, hundreds of thousands of African-descended working-class men and women left their homes in the British Caribbean to seek opportunity abroad: in the goldfields of Venezuela and the cane fields of Cuba, the canal construction in Panama, and the bustling city streets of Brooklyn. But in the 1920s and 1930s, racist nativism and a brutal cascade of antiblack immigration laws swept the hemisphere. Facing borders and barriers as never before, Afro-Caribbean migrants rethought allegiances of race, class, and empire. In Radical Moves, Lara Putnam takes readers from tin-roof tropical dancehalls to the elegant black-owned ballrooms of Jazz Age Harlem to trace the roots of the black-internationalist and anticolonial movements that would remake the twentieth century.
From Trinidad to 136th Street, these were years of great dreams and righteous demands. Praying or "jazzing," writing letters to the editor or letters home, Caribbean men and women tried on new ideas about the collective. The popular culture of black internationalism they created--from Marcus Garvey's UNIA to "regge" dances, Rastafarianism, and Joe Louis's worldwide fandom--still echoes in the present.
"A major work, one that illuminates a region and shows the surprising commonalities between the experiences of those within the United States and its hemispheric neighbors in the years leading up to World War II. The traces of those commonalities resonate into the present day, like a “regge” dance in Port Limón, for those who learn to listen."
--Los Angeles Review of Books
"A breathtaking tour de force, achieving a brilliantly layered exploration of the significance and complexity of black internationalism in the first decades of the twentieth century. This book will be an instant classic."
--Penny von Eschen, University of Michigan
"Putnam's original and important book is packed with meaningful ethnographic material that is fascinating to read. Her scholarship is outstanding, her methodology highly effective, and her research thorough. Her well-crafted prose and original perspective will appeal to students, scholars, and general audiences alike."
--O. Nigel Bolland, Colgate University
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