Claude McKay, Home to Harlem, and Jazz Internationalism
The first chapter concentrates on the fiction of Claude McKay, which explicitly locates jazz expression within intellectual debates about black internationalism. Beginning with consideration of McKay’s Marxist theorizing of black music, this chapter emphasizes the cultural politics of McKay’s first novel, Home to Harlem, which represents “Jazz Age” Harlem as a site of African diasporic interculturalism. Banjo, which had an enormous influence on the Francophone négritude movement in West Africa and the Caribbean, similarly defines Marseilles as an international site of displaced black migrant workers whose common language is the blues and jazz. As novels that reconsider the cultural politics of the Harlem Renaissance from a radical black internationalist perspective, Home to Harlem and Banjo interrogate the commercialization of black cultural expression as they explore the critical possibilities of jazz for the marginalized perspectives of black workers, including cultural workers.
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