Radical Moves: Caribbean Migrants and the Politics of Race in the Jazz Age

Radical Moves: Caribbean Migrants and the Politics of Race in the Jazz Age

by Lara Putnam


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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.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780807872857
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date: 01/07/2013
Edition description: 1
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Lara Putnam is associate professor of history at the University of Pittsburgh and author of The Company They Kept: Migrants and the Politics of Gender in Caribbean Costa Rica, 1870-1960.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi

Note on Sources xiii

Introduction 1

1 Migrants' Routes, Ties, and Role in Empire, 1850S-1920S 21

2 Spirits of a Mobile World: Worship, Protection, and Threat at Home and Abroad, 1900S-1930S 49

3 Alien Everywhere: Immigrant Exclusion and Populist Bargains, 1920S-1930S 82

4 The Transnational Black Press and Questions of the Collective, 1920S-1930S 123

5 The Weekly Regge: Cosmopolitan Music and Race-Conscious Moves in a "World a Jazz" 1910S-1930S 153

6 The Politics of Return and Fractures of Rule in the British Caribbean, 1930-1940 196

Conclusion 230

Notes 241

Bibliography 287

Index 315

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From the Publisher

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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