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Escape from New YorkThe New Negro Renaissance beyond Harlem$
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Davarian L. Baldwin and Minkah Makalani

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780816677382

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816677382.001.0001

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Underground to Harlem: Rumblings and Clickety-Clacks of Diaspora

Underground to Harlem: Rumblings and Clickety-Clacks of Diaspora

(p.415) 18 Underground to Harlem: Rumblings and Clickety-Clacks of Diaspora
Escape from New York

Mark Anthony Neal

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter focuses on Harlem as a way to rethink African diaspora. In his book In Search of the Black Fantastic: Politics and Popular Culture in the Post-Civil Rights Era, political scientist Richard Iton wrestles with notions of black diaspora. Pushing aside concepts of diaspora that privilege the transatlantic slave trade and a rupture with Africa, on one hand, and, on the other, a seemingly inherent desire to reclaim Africa, through what Iton calls the “cycle of retaining, redeeming, refusing and retrieving” Africa, we might think of Harlem and the renaissance that called it home as a productive site of diaspora, as opposed to yet another jump-off for thinking of diaspora as a homelessness from Africa. Harlem is not only a site of becoming and coming together but also a site of departure and expansion, thus reflecting the tension between roots and routes that has always animated black life across the globe. Some argue that the refocusing of the New Negro era away from “home” is tantamount to an apocalyptic vision of the Harlem Renaissance.

Keywords:   African diaspora, Richard Iton, Africa, New Negro, Harlem Renaissance

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