Sunday, 30 October 2016

The Black Jacobins Reader

Sheila Rowbotham recently picked her top ten books of radical history in the Guardian - a fine list, which was topped by C.L.R. James's 1938 classic Marxist history of the Haitian Revolution, The Black Jacobins. As Rowbotham notes:

James, an exploratory Trotskyist who loathed imperialism, racism and class power in equal measure, writes graphically about the 1791 slave rebellion in the French colony of San Domingo (later Haiti) led by Toussaint L’Ouverture. With calls for the French revolutionaries’ liberty and equality to apply to the colonised, they overcame the whites who enslaved them, a Spanish and a British invasion and then the army sent by Napoleon Bonaparte. The memory of this revolt and of its historian have proved resilient. When I mentioned L’Ouverture and James to a Haitian cab driver in New York I was given a free ride!

Back in 2008, to mark the 70th anniversary of the publication of The Black Jacobins, the London Socialist Historians Group organised a one day conference at the Institute for Historical Research, with speakers including Selma James and Darcus Howe (see the programme here), and now almost nine years on, it is nice to finally announce that some of the proceedings from that conference together with other material and contributions from academics and activists have finally been brought together in a volume which is forthcoming with Duke University Press as part of their 'C.L.R. James Archives series', The Black Jacobins Reader - it should hopefully be out early in 2017 and be of interest to all those inspired by Sheila Rowbotham's recommendation and who want to go further than simply reading (or re-reading) The Black Jacobins itself.

Containing a wealth of new scholarship and rare primary documents, The Black Jacobins Reader provides a comprehensive analysis of C. L. R. James's classic history of the Haitian Revolution. In addition to considering the book's literary qualities and its role in James's emergence as a writer and thinker, the contributors discuss its production, context, and enduring importance in relation to debates about decolonization, globalization, postcolonialism, and the emergence of neocolonial modernity. The Reader also includes the reflections of activists and novelists on the book's influence and a transcript of James's 1970 interview with Studs Terkel.

 Contributors. Mumia Abu-Jamal, David Austin, Madison Smartt Bell, Anthony Bogues, John H. Bracey Jr., Rachel Douglas, Laurent Dubois, Claudius K. Fergus, Carolyn E. Fick, Charles Forsdick, Dan Georgakas, Robert A. Hill, Christian Høgsbjerg, Selma James, Pierre Naville, Nick Nesbitt, Aldon Lynn Nielsen, Matthew Quest, David M. Rudder, Bill Schwarz, David Scott, Russell Maroon Shoatz, Matthew J. Smith, Studs Terkel.

Read the Foreword by Robert A Hill here:

Exclusive offer for LSHG members and supporters (in the UK) - 30% discount (£18.19) when you order using code CSF117TBJR
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