Popular Front Counter-Memories
Book Review

Ehlers, Sarah
http://solidarity-us.org/atc/194/review-ehlers/

Publisher:  Against the Current
Date Written:  01/05/2018
Year Published:  2018  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX23315

Ehlers reviews Anti-Imperialist Modernism: Race and Transnational Culture from the Great Depression to the Cold War by Benjamin Balthaser.

Abstract: 
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Excerpts:

Writing against the grain of a good deal of progressive labor history, and providing a counter-memory to popular imaginations of the Depression-era United States, Benjamin Balthaser's indispensible first book, Anti-Imperialist Modernism: Race and Transnational Culture from the Great Depression to the Cold War, offers an unprecedented history of anti-imperialist activism and cultural production during the interwar period.

Anti-Imperialist Modernism accounts for the complex relationships between movements for racial and ethnic self-determination and the internationalist, cross-racial activism of the Popular Front. It complements new scholarship in left literary studies that has turned concertedly to questions of Black liberation, intersectional feminism and anti-imperialist solidarity.

At the same time, the book demonstrates important relationships between scholarship on literary radicalism and work in fields such as African diaspora studies, Indigenous Studies, and borderlands studies.(1)

Like the Jacob Lawrence silk-screen print Toussaint at Ennery on its cover -a portrayal of the Haitian revolutionary hero in a cubist style- the book also convincingly demonstrates how integral modernist aesthetics are to the historical and conceptual imagining of cultural front anti-imperialism. Through a combination of rigorous historical, theoretical, and textual analysis, Anti-Imperialist Modernism also proves that modernism has "imperialism and its other, colonial liberation … in its DNA."
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