This introductory chapter provides an overview of the book's main themes. This book brings together work that focuses on understudied and contemporarily resonant topics—scholarship that illuminates trends in the study of African American diplomacy, attempts to (re)open lines of theoretical inquiry, demonstrates creative use of archival materials, and motivates questions for further research. Topics range from consideration of early diplomatic appointees to assessments of those leaders who have served as policy makers, performers, and cultural ambassadors from the nineteenth century to the present. The chapters are informed by scholarship on African Americans as formal diplomatic appointees, studies of citizen diplomacy, and research that seeks to bring a global context to domestic affairs. The volume synthesizes the extant literature and, in so doing, bridges the scholarly gap between institutional and extra-institutional (i.e., sociocultural) forms of African American diplomacy throughout American history and suggests new directions in historiography.
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