In Search of Brightest Africa: Reimagining the Dark Continent in American Culture, 1884-1936
In the decades between the Berlin Conference that partitioned Africa and the opening of the African Hall at the American Museum of Natural History, Americans in several fields and from many backgrounds argued that Africa had something to teach them. Jeannette Eileen Jones traces the history of the idea of Africa with an eye to recovering the emergence of a belief in “Brightest Africa”—a tradition that runs through American cultural and intellectual history with equal force to its “Dark Continent” counterpart.
Jones skillfully weaves disparate strands of turn-of-the-century society and culture to expose a vivid trend of cultural engagement that involved both critique and activism. Filmmakers spoke out against the depiction of “savage” Africa in the mass media while also initiating a countertradition of ethnographic documentaries. Early environmentalists celebrated Africa as a pristine continent while lamenting that its unsullied landscape was “vanishing.” New Negro political thinkers also wanted to “save” Africa but saw its fragility in terms of imperiled human promise. Jones illuminates both the optimism about Africa underlying these concerns and the racist and colonial interests these agents often nevertheless served. The book contributes to a growing literature on the ongoing role of global exchange in shaping the African American experience as well as debates about the cultural place of Africa in American thought.
What people are saying - Write a review
We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.
African Americans African Blood Brotherhood African descent African Expedition African Hall Akeley’s American Museum AMNH animals argued Belgian Berlin Conference Blyden Bois Brightest Africa British cannibalism Carl Akeley century Chicago Christian civilization Collection colonial Congo Free Congo Reform Association Congolese Congress criticism cultural Dark Continent Darkest Africa despite diaspora East Africa elephant Elliot empire Ethiopia ethnographic European exhibit fauna ﬁght ﬁlm ﬁnancial ﬁnd ﬁrst Garvey’s gorilla Harlem hunting Ibid images of Africa imperialism imperialist inﬂuence Ingagi intellectual King Leopold Liberia Lowie mammals manhood Marcus Garvey Martin Johnson missionaries Museum of Natural narrative National native Natural History naturalists Negro oﬂicials Osborn Pan—Africanism Pan—Africanist picture political President Pygmies race racial reﬂected region Roosevelt sacriﬁce safari savages save Africa scenes scientiﬁc signiﬁcance speciﬁcally specimens Stanley Stanley’s Tarzan taxidermy tion UNIA United Washington Western white Americans white man’s wild wildlife women York Age zoological