Decolonization and anti-racism
A reading list of key books on the history of anti-colonial resistance and movements for liberation, featuring Priyamvada Gopal's Insurgent Empire, Nick Estes's Our History is the Future, and Walter Rodney's Groundings with My Brothers.
Insurgent Empire shows how Britain’s enslaved and colonial subjects were active agents in their own liberation. What is more, they shaped British ideas of freedom and emancipation back in the United Kingdom.
Read an excerpt from Insurgent Empire here.
How two centuries of Indigenous resistance created the movement proclaiming “Water is life”. In Our History Is the Future, Nick Estes traces traditions of Indigenous resistance that led to the #NoDAPL movement. At once a work of history, a manifesto, and an intergenerational story of resistance.
Marcus Garvey, Amy Jacques Garvey, Claude McKay, Claudia Jones, C.L.R. James, Stokely Carmichael—the roster of immigrants from the Caribbean who have had a profound impact on the development of radical politics in the United States is a long one. In this magisterial work, Winston James focuses on the twentieth century’s first wave of inspirational writers and activists from the Caribbean and their contribution to political dissidence in America.
In 2011, Myanmar embarked in a democratic transition from a brutal military rule that culminated four years later, when the first free election in decades saw a landslide for the party of celebrated Nobel Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi. Yet, even as the international community was celebrating a new dawn, old wars were raging in the northern borderlands. A crisis was emerging in western Arakan state where the regime intensified its oppression of the vulnerable Muslim Rohingya community.
The Dispossessed tells the story of a twenty-four-year-old Salvadoran man, Arnovis, whose family’s search for safety shows how the United States—in concert with other Western nations—has gutted asylum protections for the world’s most vulnerable. Packed with information and reflection, The Dispossessed is more than a human portrait of those who cross borders—it is an urgent and persuasive case for sharing the country we call home.
It is twenty-five years since the 1994 genocide of the Tutsi of Rwanda when in the course of three terrible months more than 1 million people were murdered. In the intervening years a pernicious campaign has been waged by the perpetrators to deny this crime, with attempts to falsify history and blame the victims for their fate. Facts are reversed, fake news promulgated, and phoney science given credence.
Democracy is not necessarily progressive, and will only be if we make it so. What Mondon and Winter call “reactionary democracy” is the use of the concept of democracy and its associated understanding of the power to the people (demos cratos) for reactionary ends. The resurgence of racism, populism and the far right is not the result of popular demands, it is the logical conclusion of manipulation by the elite of the working class to push reactionary ideas.
The UK government proudly calls the aim of its immigration policy to be the creation of a “hostile environment,” while refugees drown in the Mediterranean and Britain votes to leave the EU against claims that “swarms”of migrants are entering Britain. Meanwhile, study after study confirms that immigration is not damaging the UK’s economy, nor putting a strain on public services, but immigration is blamed for all of Britain’s ills. Yet concerns about immigration are deemed “legitimate” across the political spectrum, with few exceptions. How did we get here?
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.
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.
A collection of incisive critiques of contemporary Marxism, of post-colonial development and of the Eurocentric assessment of imperialism.
A passionately urgent call for all of us to unlearn imperialism and repair the violent world we share. In this theoretical tour-de-force, renowned scholar Ariella Aïsha Azoulay calls on us to recognize the imperial foundations of knowledge and to refuse its strictures and its many violences.
A fascinating portrait of life with the Black Panthers in Algiers: a story of liberation and radical politics.
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 States.
A powerful challenge to the way we understand the politics of race and the history of anti-racist struggle. Whether class or race is the more important factor in modern politics is a question right at the heart of recent history’s most contentious debates. Among groups who should readily find common ground, there is little agreement. To escape this deadlock, Asad Haider turns to the rich legacies of the black freedom struggle.
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.
With racial justice struggles on the rise, a probing collection considers the past and future of Black radicalism.
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.
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.
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.
Many in the United States, including Barack Obama, have called for a “post-racial” politics; yet race still divides the country politically, economically, and socially. In this highly acclaimed work, Manning Marable rejects both liberal inclusionist strategies and the separatist politics of the likes of Louis Farrakhan. Looking back at African-American politics and the fight against racism of the recent past, he argues powerfully for a “transformationist” strategy that retains a distinctive black cultural identity but draws together all the poor and exploited in a united struggle against oppression.
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.
In the age of runaway inequality and Black Lives matter, there is an emerging consensus that our society has failed to redress racial disparities. But who is the culprit?
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.
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.
A dissection of the racism that has deformed a century of border policy.
Charting the different modes of domination that engender specific regimes of race and the strategies of anti-colonial resistance they entail, the book powerfully argues for cross-racial solidarities that respect these historical differences.
Until the political ferment of the Long Sixties, there were no Asian Americans. There were only isolated communities of mostly Chinese, Japanese, and Filipinos lumped together as “Orientals.” Serve the People tells the story of the social and cultural movement that knit these disparate communities into a political identity, the history of how—and why—the double consciousness of Asian America came to be.
The modernity of racism and its relationship to contemporary capitalism.