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The Age of Garvey:
How a Jamaican Activist Created a Mass Movement and Changed Global Black Politics
Adam Ewing

Winner of the 2015 Stuart L. Bernath Book Prize, Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations

Paperback | 2016 | $27.95 | £22.95 | ISBN: 9780691173832
320 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4
Hardcover | 2014 | $37.50 | £31.95 | ISBN: 9780691157795
320 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4 | 22 halftones. 7 maps
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New Books in African American Studies, interview with author

Jamaican activist Marcus Garvey (1887–1940) organized the Universal Negro Improvement Association in Harlem in 1917. By the early 1920s, his program of African liberation and racial uplift had attracted millions of supporters, both in the United States and abroad. The Age of Garvey presents an expansive global history of the movement that came to be known as Garveyism. Offering a groundbreaking new interpretation of global black politics between the First and Second World Wars, Adam Ewing charts Garveyism's emergence, its remarkable global transmission, and its influence in the responses among African descendants to white supremacy and colonial rule in Africa, the Caribbean, and the United States.

Delving into the organizing work and political approach of Garvey and his followers, Ewing shows that Garveyism emerged from a rich tradition of pan-African politics that had established, by the First World War, lines of communication among black intellectuals on both sides of the Atlantic. Garvey’s legacy was to reengineer this tradition as a vibrant and multifaceted mass politics. Ewing looks at the people who enabled Garveyism’s global spread, including labor activists in the Caribbean and Central America, community organizers in the urban and rural United States, millennial religious revivalists in central and southern Africa, welfare associations and independent church activists in Malawi and Zambia, and an emerging generation of Kikuyu leadership in central Kenya. Moving away from the images of quixotic business schemes and repatriation efforts, The Age of Garvey demonstrates the consequences of Garveyism’s international presence and provides a dynamic and unified framework for understanding the movement, during the interwar years and beyond.

Adam Ewing is assistant professor of African American studies at Virginia Commonwealth University.


"This remarkable book has moved completely away from the stereotyping of Garvey's Africa program as an escapist ‘back to Africa' movement. Ewing has enhanced the study of the Garvey movement conceptually and empirically by tracing the networks and pathways of African Garveyism."--Rupert Lewis, New West Indian Guide

"The Age of Garvey is ambitious in its scope and argument, both of which are made clear by the book's title. Ewing succeeds in making the case for the worldwide nature and significance of Garveyism, bringing to bear his own meticulous original research in Africa, all of the relevant scholarship that is available, and his learned understanding of diversity within the global diaspora. It is hard to imagine a more coherent and informed presentation of this extremely complex and elusive subject."--Mary G. Rolinson, Nova Religio


"At last, an account of Garveyism worthy of its historic influence. Taking a unique approach to the twentieth century's first black power movement, Ewing shows how Garveyism became a dynamic force in the politics of the interwar years. His superlative book bridges the genres of intellectual, social, and cultural history to serve as a model for the study of transnationalism."--Vincent Brown, author of The Reaper's Garden

"The Age of Garvey takes a movement remembered as rigid and fleeting and brilliantly demonstrates its flexibility and longevity. The first to map Garvey's sweeping influence on three continents, this book captures how Garveyism functioned less as an ideology than as a method of organizing, making black diasporic consciousness both possible and desirable. We can never go back to thinking about the Garvey movement or black politics the same way again."--N. D. B. Connolly, author of A World More Concrete

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Table of Contents:

Acknowledgments ix
Introduction 1
Part One: The Rise and Fall of Marcus Garvey 13
Chapter One The Education of Marcus Mosiah Garvey 15
Chapter Two The Center Cannot Hold 45
Chapter Three Africa for the Africans! 76
Chapter Four "The Silent Work That Must Be Done" 107
Part Two: The Age of Garvey 127
Chapter Five The Tide of Preparation 129
Chapter Six Broadcast on the Winds 160
Chapter Seven The Visible Horizon 186
Chapter Eight Muigwithania (The Reconciler) 212
Afterword 238
Abbreviations 243
Notes 245
Index 299


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