2017, Sat, Dec 16

Kodwo Eshun: ‘The Colony is a Prison’: Richard Wright’s Political Diagnostics on the ‘Redemption of Africa’ in the Gold Coast

Although the first unpublished draft for Richard Wright’s Black Power: A Record of Reactions in A Land of Pathos (1953) is catalogued by Yale’s Beinecke Library as a ‘travel journal,’ the expansive text in fact entails a theoretical discussion of the enthusiasms and antipathies mobilized by Kwame Nkrumah’s Convention Peoples Party throughout Ghana's Gold Coast. This first draft complicates and arguably improves upon the final published version of Black Power. Wright’s text situates the project of self-government in the Gold Coast within the wider project of the ‘redemption of Africa,’ the implications of which rethink the vocabularies and structures of linkages between totalitarianism, nationalism, modernization, anti-communism, chieftaincy, citizenship, and colonialism. Eshun takes up some of the unpublished draft’s speculations and relates Wright’s thought to positions of the Cold War culture that were debated throughout the political geographies of mid-century modernism.

Part of the conference Freedom in the Bush of Ghosts