Walter Rodney | a bookshelf
In his short life, the Guyanese intellectual Walter Rodney emerged as one of the leading thinkers and activists of the anticolonial revolution, leading movements in North America, the African continent, and the Caribbean. In each locale, Rodney found himself a lightning rod for working class Black Power. His deportation catalyzed twentieth-century Jamaica’s most significant rebellion, the 1968 Rodney riots, and his scholarship trained a generation how to think politics at an international scale. In 1980, shortly after founding of the Working People’s Alliance in Guyana, the 38-year-old Rodney was assassinated.
Our latest re-issue of his work - The Groundings with My Brothers - focuses on the international operations of racism and the global meaning of Black Power. Having inspired a generation of revolutionaries, this new edition will re-introduce the book to a new political landscape that it helped shape, with reflections from leading scholar-activists.
In this reading list, his work sits alongside key artists, writers and activists of the Black radical tradition, redrawing the links between Black resistance and anti-capitalism. These powerful texts offer us critical analysis of white supremacy and the myth of a post racial society, and offer new directions for the international social movements of today. Included are contributions from #BlackLivesMatter, W. E. B. Du Bois, Angela Davis and Ta-Nehisi Coates.
On the Verso blog:
Walter Rodney and the Question of Power: in this essay by CLR James, originally published by Race Today in 1983, discusses Rodney's work in relation to the revolutionary seizure of power.
Walter Rodney's legacy: Angela Davis considers the legacy of Walter Rodney and his seminal How Europe Underdeveloped Africa.
Walter Rodney: Pan-Afrikanism, Marxism and the Next Generation, by Kevin Okath
In this classic work published in the heady days of anti-colonial revolution, Groundings with My Brothers follows the global circulation of emancipatory ideas, from the black students of North America to the Rasta counterculture of Jamaica and beyond. The book is striking in its simultaneous ability to survey the wide and heterogeneous international context while remaining anchored in grassroots politics, as Rodney offers us first-hand accounts of mass movement organizing.
How Europe Underdeveloped Africa is an ambitious masterwork of political economy, detailing the impact of slavery and colonialism on the history of international capitalism. In this classic book, Rodney makes the unflinching case that African “mal-development” is not a natural feature of geography, but a direct product of imperial extraction from the continent, a practice that continues up into the present. Meticulously researched, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa remains a relevant study for understanding the so-called “great divergence” between Africa and Europe, just as it remains a prescient resource for grasping the multiplication of global inequality today. In this new edition, Angela Davis offers a striking foreword to the book, exploring its lasting contributions to a revolutionary and feminist practice of anti-imperialism.
A fascinating portrait of life with the Black Panthers in Algiers: a story of liberation and radical politics.
Following the Algerian war for independence and the defeat of France in 1962, Algiers became the liberation capital of the Third World. Elaine Mokhtefi, a young American woman immersed in the struggle and working with leaders of the Algerian Revolution, found a home here. Mokhtefi crossed paths with some of the era’s brightest stars: Frantz Fanon, Stokely Carmichael, Timothy Leary, Ahmed Ben Bella, Jomo Kenyatta, and Eldridge Cleaver. She was instrumental in the establishment of the International Section of the Black Panther Party in Algiers and close at hand as the group became involved in intrigue, murder, and international hijackings. She traveled with the Panthers and organized Cleaver’s clandestine departure for France.
The Heart of the Race is a powerful corrective to a version of Britain’s history from which black women have long been excluded. It reclaims and records black women’s place in that history, documenting their day-to-day struggles, their experiences of education, work and health care, and the personal and political struggles they have waged to preserve a sense of identity and community. First published in 1985 and winner of the Martin Luther King Memorial Prize that year, The Heart of the Race is a testimony to the collective experience of black women in Britain, and their relationship to the British state throughout its long history of slavery, empire and colonialism.
This new edition includes a foreword by Lola Okolosie and an interview with the authors, chaired by Heidi Safia Mirza, focusing on the impact of their book since publication and its continuing relevance today.
With racial justice struggles on the rise, a probing collection considers the past and future of Black radicalism.
Black rebellion has returned. Dramatic protests have risen up in scores of cities and campuses; there is renewed engagement with the history of Black radical movements and thought. Here, key intellectuals—inspired by the new movements and by the seminal work of the scholar Cedric J. Robinson—recall the powerful tradition of Black radicalism while defining new directions for the activists and thinkers it inspires.
With contributions from Greg Burris, Jordan T. Camp, Angela Davis, Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Avery F. Gordon, Stefano Harney, Christina Heatherton, Robin D.G. Kelley, George Lipsitz, Fred Moten, Paul Ortiz, Steven Osuna, Kwame M. Phillips, Shana L. Redmond, Cedric J. Robinson, Elizabeth P. Robinson, Nikhil Pal Singh, Damien M. Sojoyner, Darryl C. Thomas, and Françoise Vergès.
One of America’s most historic political trials is undoubtedly that of Angela Davis. Opening with a letter from James Baldwin to Davis, and including contributions from numerous radicals such as Black Panthers George Jackson, Huey P. Newton, Bobby Seale and Erica Huggins, this book is not only an account of Davis’s incarceration and the struggles surrounding it, but also perhaps the most comprehensive and thorough analysis of the prison system of the United State.
A classic history of the role of Black working-class struggles throughout the twentieth century.
In this pioneering history, Ron Ramdin traces the roots of Britain’s disadvantaged black working class. From the development of a small black presence in the sixteenth century, through the colonial labour institutions of slavery, indentureship, and trade unionism, Ramdin expertly guides us through the stages of creation for a UK minority whose origins are often overlooked. First published in 1987, this revised edition includes a new introduction reflecting on events over the past four decades.
First published in 1990, Michele Wallace’s Invisibility Blues is widely regarded as a landmark in the history of black feminism. Wallace’s considerations of the black experience in America include recollections of her early life in Harlem; a look at the continued underrepresentation of black voices in politics, media, and culture; and the legacy of such figures as Zora Neale Hurston, Toni Cade Bambara, Toni Morrison,and Alice Walker.
Combining firsthand accounts from activists with the research of scholars and reflections from artists, Policing the Planet traces the global spread of the broken-windows policing strategy, first established in New York City under Police Commissioner William Bratton. It’s a doctrine that has vastly broadened police power the world over—to deadly effect.
With contributions from #BlackLivesMatter cofounder Patrisse Cullors, Ferguson activist and Law Professor Justin Hansford, Director of New York–based Communities United for Police Reform Joo-Hyun Kang, poet Martín Espada, and journalist Anjali Kamat, as well as articles from leading scholars Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Robin D. G. Kelley, Naomi Murakawa, Vijay Prashad, and more, Policing the Planet describes ongoing struggles from New York to Baltimore to Los Angeles, London, San Juan, San Salvador, and beyond.
Highly acclaimed dissection of the “new racism,” from one of the greatest radical black intellectuals of our time.
A powerful challenge to the way we understand the politics of race and the history of anti-racist struggle.
Elizabeth Martínez’s unique Chicana voice has been formed through over thirty years of experience in the movements for civil rights, women’s liberation, and Latina/o empowerment. In De Colores Means All of Us, Martínez presents a radical Latina perspective on race, liberation and identity. She describes the provocative ideas and new movements created by the rapidly expanding US Latina/o community as it confronts intensified exploitation and racism.
Most people assume that racism grows from a perception of human difference: the fact of race gives rise to the practice of racism. Sociologist Karen E. Fields and historian Barbara J. Fields argue otherwise: the practice of racism produces the illusion of race, through what they call “racecraft.” And this phenomenon is intimately entwined with other forms of inequality in American life. So pervasive are the devices of racecraft in American history, economic doctrine, politics, and everyday thinking that the presence of racecraft itself goes unnoticed.
That the promised post-racial age has not dawned, the authors argue, reflects the failure of Americans to develop a legitimate language for thinking about and discussing inequality.
Afrocentrism, Eurocentrism, Caribbean Studies, American Studies. To the forces of cultural nationalism trapped in their respective camps, this bold book sounds a liberating call. There is, Paul Gilroy tells us, a culture that is not specifically African, American, Caribbean, or British, but all of these at once; a black Atlantic culture whose themes and techniques transcend ethnicity and nationality to produce something new and, until now, unremarked. Challenging the practices and assumptions of cultural studies, The Black Atlantic also enriches our understanding of modernism.
A small and beautiful epic of growing up in 1980s Baltimore, from the author of Between the World and Me.
This small and perfectly formed epic follows the lives of boys on the journey to manhood in black America and beyond in 1980s Baltimore, a city on the verge of chaos. These youngsters needed to learn fast, and Ta-Nehisi’s father, Paul, was a fine teacher: a Vietnam vet who rolled with the Black Panthers, an old-school disciplinarian, and an autodidact who launched a publishing company in his basement. The Beautiful Struggle is a moving father-and-son story about the reality that tests us, and the love that saves us.
For twenty-five years, Feminism and Nationalism in the Third World has been an essential primer on the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century history of women’s movements in Asia and the Middle East. In this engaging and well-researched survey, Kumari Jayawardena presents feminism as it originated in the Third World, erupting from the specific struggles of women fighting against colonial power, for education or the vote, for safety, and against poverty and inequality.
The distinguished American civil rights leader, W. E. B. Du Bois first published these fiery essays, sketches, and poems individually nearly 80 years ago in the Atlantic, the Journal of Race Development, and other periodicals. Part essay, part autobiography, Darkwater explicitly addresses significant issues, such as the oppression of women and Eurocentric standards of beauty, the historical rise of the idea of whiteness, and the abridgement of democracy along race, class, and gender lines.
Walter Rodney’s Russian Revolution collects surviving texts from a series of lectures he delivered at the University of Dar es Salaam, an intellectual hub of the independent Third World. It had been his intention to work these into a book, a goal completed posthumously with the editorial aid of Robin D.G. Kelley and Jesse Benjamin. Moving across the historiography of the long Russian Revolution with clarity and insight, Rodney transcends the ideological fault lines of the Cold War. Surveying a broad range of subjects—the Narodniks, social democracy, the October Revolution, civil war, and the challenges of Stalinism—Rodney articulates a distinct viewpoint from the Third World, one that grounds revolutionary theory and history with the people in motion.
The classic analysis of the caste system with an extensive introduction by Arundhati Roy.
Groundbreaking analysis of the birth of racism in America.
In Volume II of The Invention of the White Race, Theodore W. Allen explores the transformation that turned African bond-laborers into slaves and segregated them from their fellow proletarians of European origin.