Patriotism and Black Internationalism

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This article asks if the politics of patriotism and Black internationalism are compatible. Focusing on the activism of Paul Robeson, it traces how Black radicals responded to anticommunist harassment by re-imagining the United States in ways that accounted for the global racial and imperial forces that structured the nation from its founding. Robeson vocally confronted the politics of ‘un-Americanism’ by calling for a fundamental transformation of the nation and its self-professed ideals. This meant challenging narrow definitions of patriotism as advanced by the nation-state, while at the same time connecting demands for full American citizenship to transnational struggles for Black/anticolonial liberation. As historians, we need to be attentive to the ways in which Black activists navigated their global and national allegiances, which acknowledging how the politics of patriotism could be reworked to push for civil and human rights across national borders.
Original languageEnglish
JournalModern American History
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 May 2023


  • Black Internationalism
  • Anticommunism
  • Patriotism
  • Robeson
  • Cold War
  • Black Freedom Struggle

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