By Eric D. Duke
“This well-researched and obtainable publication deepens our realizing of early twentieth-century West Indian political tradition and transnational mobilization.”—April Mayes, writer of The Mulatto Republic: classification, Race, and Dominican nationwide Identity
The preliminary push for a federation between British Caribbean colonies may need originated between colonial officers and white elites, however the banner for federation was once fast picked up via Afro-Caribbean activists who observed within the probability of a united West Indian state a method of securing political energy and more.
In Building a state, Eric Duke strikes past the slim view of federation as in simple terms correct to Caribbean and British imperial histories. by means of analyzing aid for federation between many Afro-Caribbean and different black activists out and in of the West Indies, Duke convincingly expands and connects the movement’s heritage squarely into the broader background of political and social activism within the early to mid-twentieth century black diaspora.
Exploring the relationships among the pursuit of Caribbean federation and black diaspora politics, Duke convincingly posits that federation was once greater than a neighborhood exercise; it used to be a diasporic, black nation-building undertaking—with huge help in diaspora facilities equivalent to Harlem and London—deeply immersed in principles of racial harmony, racial uplift, and black self-determination.
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Additional resources for Building a Nation: Caribbean Federation in the Black Diaspora
It was too much to expect that British officials would have operated as truly impartial 14 · Building a Nation arbiters between the contending socio-economic groups. 45 Therefore, well into the twentieth century, Crown Colony government proved to be more of a check to Afro-Caribbean participation in West Indian politics than an impartial arbiter of good government. The racialized justifications of the Crown Colony system were part of a broader ideological debate over the future of the British West Indies.
Despite historical tensions among this group, and differences within their proposals, overall they sought primarily to create a “united Envisioning Caribbean Federation in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries · 31 status quo” aimed at administrative efficiency and greater economic productivity and opportunity. Support for federation, however, was not limited to these proposals. Various local and regional reform associations, most middle-class led and many of which came to be predominantly composed of the vast AfroCaribbean majority in most of the West Indian colonies, also embraced the idea of federation in the early twentieth century.
These efforts most often originated in the metropole and represented imperial efforts to institute efficient government via the streamlining of colonial administration in the region. Such proposals often irritated the local planter-merchant oligarchies, who wished to maintain control of their particular colonies and economic interests through their powerful representative assemblies. Moreover, many of the West Indian colonies competed against each other economically, which created island-based rivalries that tended to undermine regional reform projects.