In Search of Brightest Africa: Reimagining the Dark Continent in American Culture, 1884-1936

In Search of Brightest Africa: Reimagining the Dark Continent in American Culture, 1884-1936

by Jeannette Jones
     
 

ISBN-10: 0820333204

ISBN-13: 9780820333205

Pub. Date: 07/15/2010

Publisher: University of Georgia Press

In the decades between the Berlin Conference that partitioned Africa and the opening of the African Hall at the American Museum of Natural History, Americans in several fields and from many backgrounds argued that Africa had something to teach them. Jeannette Eileen Jones traces the history of the idea of Africa with an eye to recovering the emergence of a belief

Overview

In the decades between the Berlin Conference that partitioned Africa and the opening of the African Hall at the American Museum of Natural History, Americans in several fields and from many backgrounds argued that Africa had something to teach them. Jeannette Eileen Jones traces the history of the idea of Africa with an eye to recovering the emergence of a belief in “Brightest Africa”—a tradition that runs through American cultural and intellectual history with equal force to its “Dark Continent” counterpart.

Jones skillfully weaves disparate strands of turn-of-the-century society and culture to expose a vivid trend of cultural engagement that involved both critique and activism. Filmmakers spoke out against the depiction of “savage” Africa in the mass media while also initiating a countertradition of ethnographic documentaries. Early environmentalists celebrated Africa as a pristine continent while lamenting that its unsullied landscape was “vanishing.” New Negro political thinkers also wanted to “save” Africa but saw its fragility in terms of imperiled human promise. Jones illuminates both the optimism about Africa underlying these concerns and the racist and colonial interests these agents often nevertheless served. The book contributes to a growing literature on the ongoing role of global exchange in shaping the African American experience as well as debates about the cultural place of Africa in American thought.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780820333205
Publisher:
University of Georgia Press
Publication date:
07/15/2010
Series:
Race in the Atlantic World, 1700-1900 Series
Pages:
260
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)

Table of Contents


Contents
Preface: What Is Africa to Me?
Acknowledgments
Introduction: In Search of Brightest Africa
One. A Cry from Africa: Victorians, New Women, New Negroes, and Moderns Confront the Dark Continent
Two. To Bunco a Yankee: America and the Congo Question
Three. Written on the Wall: Pan-African Dreams of African Empires and Republics
Four. To Capture a Vanishing World: Naturalist-Environmentalist Discourses and Displays of Africa
Five. Reel Africa: American Filmmaking and Criticism in Defense of Africa
Conclusion: The Wonders of Africa Brought to America
Chronology of Events
Notes
Bibliography
Index

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