Colloquium Speaker: Mae Miller
Visiting Scholar, Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow
Topic: On Safe Harbors, Worlding Education, and Transnational Black Feminist Geographies in the Early Twentieth Century
Abstract: This talk builds upon recent calls to "provincialize North American understandings of race, racism, and Blackness" (Hawthorne 2019, pp. 8) within the field of Black geographies and unsettles conventional masculinist narratives of labor and politics in global port cities. Drawing upon extensive archival research and close readings of understudied memoirs of Black and South Asian radicals, this study foregrounds working class Black women's movements through port districts and their wider roles within anticolonial and anti-racist social movements of the 1920s-1940s. The talk journeys with unnamed African American lodging house keepers who harbored Indian nationalists, shipboard conversations between African American activists and Xhosa nursemaids about race relations in South Africa, an African American domestic worker who worked her way across Asia, and a West African seamstress in London who recruited actresses for a theatrical play about a New Orleans dockworker strike. Their stories reveal complex and shifting processes of racial consciousness in motion and map quiet, yet capacious, modes of transnational solidarity and place-making.