Revolutionary Pan-Africanism Against Racial Capitalism: Lessons for Our Present Moment
Charisse Burden-Stelly, PhD
Layla Brown, PhD
Saturday, November 20, 10 AM EDT
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During World War I, the Marxist revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg proclaimed that humanity had two choices: socialism or barbarism. Her provocation might be restated for the Black/African World and for our current conditions as: revolutionary Pan-Africanism or racial capitalism. As leaders like Kwame Nkrumah, Shirley Graham Du Bois, Abdias do Nascimento, Argelia Laya, and Walter Rodney understood, the intersection of African liberation and socialism—in other words, revolutionary Pan-Africanism—offers the most viable defense against coloniality, Western imperialism, capitalist exploitation, and the subjection of peoples on the darker side of the color-line. The linking up of African struggles, movements, and resources wherever they manifest is a centuries-old political project that has deep resonances for the manifold crises we face today, from climate change to economic suffering to perpetual war.
Our seminar will define, examine, and think with revolutionary Pan-Africanism through a set of questions including: What are the benefits and difficulties of Pan-African organizing in a world that is simultaneously fragmented and deeply integrated? How do we understand the relationships between race and class, or racism and capitalism, and their articulations with gender, to reach a better understanding of our current moment? What thinkers, activists, organizers, scholars, and institution builders have offered up models for robust approaches to revolutionary Pan-Africanism? And, what texts can guide us in understanding the theoretical, ideological, material, and organizational dimensions of revolutionary Pan-Africanism?
We will explore a range of sources, from historical speeches and writings by key thinkers including Kwame Ture and Amilcar Cabral, to more contemporary histories of Pan-Africanism and racial capitalism by Hakim Adi, Layla Brown, and Charisse Burden-Stelly.
Facilitators: Dr. Charisse Burden-Stelly is the 2021-2022 Visiting Scholar in the Race and Capitalism Project at the University of Chicago and an Assistant Professor of Africana Studies and Political Science at Carleton College. She is the co-author, with Gerald Horne, of W.E.B. Du Bois: A Life in American History and the co-host with Dr. Layla Brown, of The Last Dope Intellectual podcast.
Dr. Layla Brown is a 2021 – 2022 Senior Research Fellow at the Käte Hamburger Kolleg / Center for Global Cooperation Research and an Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology & Africana Studies at Northeastern University. Her most recent publication “The Pandemic of Racial Capitalism: Another World is Possible” can be found in From the European South: A Transdisciplinary Journal of Postcolonial Humanities. She is also the co-host of The Last Dope Intellectual podcast with Dr. Charisse Burden-Stelly.
The seminar will be approximately 3.5 hours long with the following format:
● Introduction + Seminar Overview (30min)
● Video Clip + Discussion (30min)
● Define Revolutionary Pan-Africanism (20min)
● Break (10min)
● Breakouts w/small group discussion + generate report back (45min)
● Revolutionary Pan-Africanism Today (15min)
● Break (10min)
● Large Group Discussion (30min)
● Wrap-Up (15-20min)
Reading and media (available at Eventbrite on registration):
● Burden-Stelly, “Modern US Racial Capitalism: Some Theoretical Insights”
● Brown-Vincent, “The Pandemic of Racial Capitalism: Another World is Possible”
● Adi, Hakim, Pan-Africanism: A History, Introduction, ch. 4 and excerpt from ch. 7
● Cabral, Amilcar, “The Weapon of Theory”
● Touré, Sekou, “Sekou Touré’s Speech to the Congress”
● Kwame Nkrumah, Axioms of Kwame Nkrumah, “African Unity” and “Socialism”
● Chatoyer, Onyesonwu, “What is Revolutionary Pan-Africanism,”
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