The first slaves imported to America did not see themselves as "African" but rather as members of ethnic groups such as the Temne, Igbo, or Yoruban. In Becoming African in America, James Sidbury reveals how an African identity emerged in the late eighteenth-century Atlantic world, tracing the development of "African" from a degrading term connoting savage people to a word that was a source of pride and unity for the diverse victims of the Atlantic slave
In this wide-ranging work, Sidbury first examines the work of black writers - such as Ignatius Sancho in England and Phillis Wheatley in America - who created a narrative of African identity that took its meaning from the diaspora, a narrative that began with enslavement and the experience of the Middle Passage, allowing people of various ethnic backgrounds to become "African" by virtue of sharing the oppression of slavery. He looks at political activists who worked within the emerging
antislavery moment in England and North America in the 1780s and 1790s; he describes the rise of the African church movement in various cities - most notably, the establishment of the African Methodist Episcopal Church as an independent denomination-and the efforts of wealthy sea captain Paul Cuffe to
initiate a black-controlled emigration movement that would forge ties between Sierra Leone and blacks in North America; and he examines in detail the efforts of blacks to emigrate to Africa, founding Sierra Leone and Liberia.
Elegantly written and astutely reasoned, Becoming African in America weaves together intellectual, social, cultural, religious, and political threads into an important contribution to African American history, one that fundamentally revises our picture of the rich and complicated roots of African nationalist thought in the U.S. and the black Atlantic.
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Number of pages: 304
Weight: 430 g
Dimensions: 234 x 156 x 18 mm
...a fine and welcome addition to the literature on the history of the African diaspora and the black Atlantic world...the book...will serve as a generative source for further research and inquiry. There can be no greater tribute to a person's scholarship, nor any greater reward. * Michael A. Gomez, African History *
Taking us on a journey that stretches from New York and Philadelphia to Nova Scotia and Sierra Leon, Jim Sidbury tells an elegant tale of how several generations of thinkers shaped, pursued, and transformed the idea of Africa. In the process, he provides a deeply engaging, and deeply human, portrait of intellectuals and communities in motion and in struggle. * Laurent Dubois, Duke University *
The most sophisticated, best researched, and subtly argued book yet on the complex story of how Africans became African Americans in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. This is a genuinely Atlantic book in its scope and importance. * David W. Blight, author of A Slave No More *
An outstanding, detailed survey emerges which blendsrich source writings with a history of ethnic identity development. * The Bookwatch *