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The Practice of Diaspora

The Practice of Diaspora

Literature, Translation, and the Rise of Black Internationalism

Brent Hayes Edwards

ISBN 9780674011038

Publication date: 07/10/2003

A pathbreaking work of scholarship that will reshape our understanding of the Harlem Renaissance, The Practice of Diaspora revisits black transnational culture in the 1920s and 1930s, paying particular attention to links between intellectuals in New York and their Francophone counterparts in Paris. Brent Edwards suggests that diaspora is less a historical condition than a set of practices: the claims, correspondences, and collaborations through which black intellectuals pursue a variety of international alliances.

Edwards elucidates the workings of diaspora by tracking the wealth of black transnational print culture between the world wars, exploring the connections and exchanges among New York–based publications (such as Opportunity, The Negro World, and The Crisis) and newspapers in Paris (such as Les Continents, La Voix des Nègres, and L'Etudiant noir). In reading a remarkably diverse archive--the works of writers and editors from Langston Hughes, René Maran, and Claude McKay to Paulette Nardal, Alain Locke, W. E. B. Du Bois, George Padmore, and Tiemoko Garan Kouyaté--The Practice of Diaspora takes account of the highly divergent ways of imagining race beyond the barriers of nation and language. In doing so, it reveals the importance of translation, arguing that the politics of diaspora are legible above all in efforts at negotiating difference among populations of African descent throughout the world.


  • There are any number of quite impressive issues and approaches in Brent Edwards's The Practice of Diaspora. Seemingly familiar, apparently over-played, categories are archivally reworked--or else finely spun out--into webs of instructive relationship. A good and timely work, as much for its particulars on (post-)coloniality and writing "race" as for Edwards's legitime defense of diaspora. The conceptual and socio-historical fluency with which this work re-positions Paris and its noirs is especially welcome. Recall of this sort has been somewhat overdue.

    —Lemuel A. Johnson, Professor of English at the University of Michigan


  • 2004, Winner of the John Hope Franklin Publication Prize
  • 2004, Winner of the Gilbert Chinard Prize


  • Brent Hayes Edwards is Professor in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University.

Book Details

  • 408 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press

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