In Africa in the Indian Imagination Antoinette Burton reframes our understanding of the postcolonial Afro-Asian solidarity that emerged from the 1955 Bandung conference. Afro-Asian solidarity is best understood, Burton contends, by using friction as a lens to expose the racial, class, gender, sexuality, caste, and political tensions throughout the postcolonial global South. Focusing on India's imagined relationship with Africa, Burton historicizes Africa's role in the emergence of a coherent postcolonial Indian identity. She shows how—despite Bandung's rhetoric of equality and brotherhood—Indian identity echoed colonial racial hierarchies in its subordination of Africans and blackness. Underscoring Indian anxiety over Africa and challenging the narratives and dearly held assumptions that presume a sentimentalized, nostalgic, and fraternal history of Afro-Asian solidarity, Burton demonstrates the continued need for anti-heroic, vexed, and fractious postcolonial critique.
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Antoinette Burton is Professor of History and Catherine C. and Bruce A. Bastian Professor of Global and Transnational Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She has written and edited many books, including Ten Books That Shaped the British Empire: Creating an Imperial Commons, Postcolonial Studies and Beyond, and A Primer for Teaching World History: Ten Design Principles, all also published by Duke University Press.
Isabel Hofmeyr is Professor of African Literature at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg and the author of Gandhi's Printing Press: Experiments in Slow Reading.
"Reflecting Antoinette Burton's fearlessness, scholarly dexterity, and shining brilliance, Africa in the Indian Imagination is an impressive achievement. Burton raises important questions on how to approach historical evidence in the writing of imperial histories, while providing a rich, nuanced, and deep account of the tense relations between Indians and Africans as they emerged from colonial relations. A vital book." (Renisa Mawani, author of Colonial Proximities: Crossracial Encounters and Juridical Truths in British Columbia, 1871–1921)
"In Africa in the Indian Imagination imperial historian Antoinette Burton turns her acute moral and analytical attentions to how twentieth-century Indian nationalists used Africa and Africans as reference points for imagining an independent identity. Africa in the Indian Imagination consolidates and extends Burton’s fine skills as postcolonial diagnostician and adds important conceptual devices to the toolbox of geopolitical historiography, not least 'solidarity through friction,' 'tense and tender relations,' and 'postcolonial citation' itself. Powerfully acting on its own injunction to provincialize empire by crossing postcolonial with feminist critique, Burton’s bold and important study redraws the map of inter-cultural relations and trans-nationalist collaboration in the twentieth century." (Elleke Boehmer, Professor of World Literature in English, University of Oxford)
"A highly stimulating study of the (dis)continuities of colonial discourses of race and gender into the framework of transnational solidarity inspired by the Bandung spirit. . . . Burton’s book offers a major contribution to our understanding of how India imagined Africa (and, consequently, itself as an independent nation state) and raises the important challenge of re-thinking and complicating the postcolonial histories of Afro-Asian connections." (Luca Raimondi African Studies Quarterly 2017-06-01)
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