The Red and the Black

The Russian Revolution and the Black Atlantic

Edited by David Featherstone and Christian Høgsbjerg

The Red and the Black


  • Hardcover
  • Paperback

Book Information

  • Format: eBook
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-4432-4
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Published Date: August 2021
  • BIC Category: SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / Cultural, PHILOSOPHY / Social, HISTORY / Social History, Historical Geography, Humanities / 20th century history: c 1900 to c 2000, Humanities / African history, Humanities / Social & political philosophy, Humanities / Social & cultural history, Modern History, History, Social & cultural history, HISTORY / Historical Geography
  • Series: Racism, Resistance and Social Change


The Russian Revolution of 1917 was not just a world-historical event in its own right, but also struck powerful blows against racism and imperialism, and so inspired many black radicals internationally. This edited collection explores the implications of the creation of the Soviet Union and the Communist International for black and colonial liberation struggles across the African diaspora. It examines the critical intellectual influence of Marxism and Bolshevism on the current of revolutionary 'black internationalism' and analyses how 'Red October' was viewed within the contested articulations of different struggles against racism and colonialism.

Challenging European-centred understandings of the Russian Revolution and the global left, The Red and the Black offers new insights on the relations between Communism, various lefts and anti-colonialisms across the Black Atlantic - including Garveyism and various other strands of Pan-Africanism. The volume makes a major and original intellectual contribution by making the relations between the Russian Revolution and the Black Atlantic central to debates on questions relating to racism, resistance and social change.


'This ideologically diverse collection is uniformly well-written and exceedingly informative. The inescapable and unavoidable conclusion it renders is that the Russian Revolution of 1917 delivered a mighty blow against colonialism, imperialism and forms of apartheid alike. Simultaneously, by implication it blazes the trail and illuminates the way forward for those seeking to create a better world.'
Gerald Horne, author of Paul Robeson: The Artist as Revolutionary

Featherstone and Høgsbjerg must be credited with putting together a fantastic edited collection which makes both an important contribution to keeping alive, and shedding new light on, herstories and histories of Black radical rebellion. In doing so, they have further reminded us of the struggles that have, in different ways, been central to the Black Lives Matter movement in recent times, as well as wider transnational (and interconnected) opposition to neo-imperialism.'
Stephen D. Ashe, University of Durham, Ethnic and Racial Studies


Introduction: Red October and the Black Atlantic - David Featherstone and Christian Høgsbjerg

Part I Racism, resistance and revolution
1 Claude McKay's Bolshevization in London - Winston James
2 From Russian colonies to Black America . and back: Lenin and Langston Hughes - Matthieu Renault
3 African American literature in the Soviet Union, 1917-1930s: contacts, translations, criticism and editorial policy - Olga Panova

Part II Spreading the Revolution Across the Black Atlantic
4 Bolshevism and African American agency in the African American Radical Press, 1917-24 - Cathy Bergin
5 International Communist trade union organisations and the call to black toilers in the interwar Atlantic world - Holger Weiss
6 Firebrands, trade unionists and Marxists: the shadow of the Russian Revolution, the colonial state and radicalism in Guyana, 1917-57- Nigel Westmaas
7 Racialising the Caribbean Basin: the Communist racial agenda for the American hemisphere, 1931-35- Sandra Pujals
8 The Left Book Club and its associates: The transnational circulation of socialist ideas in an Atlantic network- Matheus Cardoso da Silva

Part III Africa, the Soviet Union and the Cold War
9 The beginning of the Cold War in the Gold Coast? - Marika Sherwood
10 Decolonisation and the Cold War: African student elites in the USSR, 1955-64 - Harold D. Weaver
11 'Peoples' Friendship' in the Cold War: the Patrice Lumumba Peoples' Friendship University - Rachel Rubin
Afterword: A Black journey of Red hope - Maxim Matusevich


David Featherstone is a Reader in Human Geography in the School of Geographical & Earth Sciences at the University of Glasgow

Christian Høgsbjerg is a Senior Lecturer in Critical History and Politics in the School of Humanities at the University of Brighton

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