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UnAfrican Americans: Nineteenth-Century Black Nationalists and the Civilizing Mission

by Tunde Adeleke

Availablecloth$45.00x 978-0-8131-2056-0
216 pages  Pubdate: 06/24/1998  5.5 x 8.5  illus

Though many scholars will acknowledge the Anglo-Saxon character of black American nationalism, few have dealt with the imperialistic ramifications of this connection. Now, Nigerian-born scholar Tunde Adeleke reexamines nineteenth-century black American nationalism, finding not only that it embodied the racist and paternalistic values of Euro-American culture but also that nationalism played an active role in justifying Europe's intrusion into Africa.

Adeleke looks at the life and work of Martin Delany, Alexander Crummell, and Harry McNeal Turner, demonstrating that as supporters of the mission civilisatrice ("civilizing mission") these men helped lay the foundation for the colonization of Africa. By exposing the imperialistic character of nineteenth-century black American nationalism, Adeleke reveals a deep historical and cultural divide between Africa and the black diaspora. Black American nationalists had a clear preference--Euro-America over Africa--and their plans were not designed for the immediate benefit of Africans but to enhance their own fortunes. Arguing that these men held a strong desire for cultural affinity with Europe, Adeleke makes a controversial addition to the ongoing debate concerning the roots of black nationalism and Pan-Africanism.

Tunde Adeleke is associate professor of history and director of Africana Studies at Loyola University.

An interesting treatment of black nationalism in the U.S. -- Booklist

His thesis is certain to stir controvery and cause a rethinking of the African diaspora. -- Choice

An important and pioneering book that will change the way American historians think about nineteenth-century black nationalism. . . . One of the most powerful rethinkings of black American nationalism that has been written in the past thirty years. -- Clarence Walker

The strength of UnAfrican Americans is its author's frank presentation of the anti-African, or civilizationalist, face of its subjects. -- H-NET Book Review

Lays bare, in provocative ways, some of the more troubling aspects of nineteenth-century black nationalism. -- Journal of American History

In this fine exploration of the ‘double consciousness’ of the ‘golden age’ of black American nationalism, historian Tunde Adeleke makes an important contribution to the project to correct the monolithic perception of black nationalism as a counter culture movement fundamentally opposed to racial oppression. -- Journal of Intercultural Studies

Passionate and well written, Adeleke's stunning reexamination of three 19th-century African Americans is bound to be controversial. With fresh lucid prose and wry wit, he brings to light the historic ironies and philosophical hypocrisies that continue to shape African and African American lives. -- Publishers Weekly

He argues 19th century African Americans were no different than Euro-Americans: They wanted to colonize Africa and to establish a black homeland, but if established, this homeland would be based upon European, not African, civilization. -- The Griot