The African American Encounter with Japan and China

Black Internationalism in Asia, 1895-1945

By Marc Gallicchio

280 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 16 illus., 1 map , notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-4867-8
    Published: September 2000
  • eBook ISBN: 978-0-8078-6068-7
    Published: June 2003

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Awards & distinctions

2001 Robert H. Ferrell Prize, Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations

In the first book to focus on African American attitudes toward Japan and China, Marc Gallicchio examines the rise and fall of black internationalism in the first half of the twentieth century. This daring new approach to world politics failed in its effort to seek solidarity with the two Asian countries, but it succeeded in rallying black Americans in the struggle for civil rights.

Black internationalism emphasized the role of race or color in world politics and linked the domestic struggle of African Americans with the freedom struggle of emerging nations "of color," such as India and much of Africa. In the early twentieth century, black internationalists, including W. E. B. Du Bois and Marcus Garvey, embraced Japan as a potential champion of the darker races, despite Japan's imperialism in China. After Pearl Harbor, black internationalists reversed their position and identified Nationalist China as an ally in the war against racism.

In the end, black internationalism was unsuccessful as an interpretation of international affairs. The failed quest for alliances with Japan and China, Gallicchio argues, foreshadowed the difficulty black Americans would encounter in seeking redress for American racism in the international arena.

About the Author

Marc Gallicchio, associate professor of history at Villanova University, is author of The Cold War Begins in Asia: American East Asian Policy and the Fall of the Japanese Empire.
For more information about Marc Gallicchio, visit the Author Page.

Reviews

"Provides important information about an understudied aspect of U.S. and African American history and is written in clear, accessible prose."--Journal of American History

"Gallicchio's new study chronicles the black internationalists' long infatuation with Japan and later tilt towards China, and examines how and why their confused search took place in the Asian context . . . . Gallicchio's book is a successful and long-overdue examination of this topic."--International History Review

"Gallicchio makes a significant contribution to this dynamic field of study. . . . This book is an extremely valuable contribution. It extends our understanding of the development of an African-American worldview back into the late 1800s, and its focus on black Americans' perceptions of Asia takes us into virtually uncharted territory. . . . All historians interested in the subject of African Americans and U.S. foreign relations will need seriously to consider Gallicchio's study."--American Historical Review

"Gallicchio has written a fascinating account of African American admiration for Japan, and it is an important contribution to the growing literature on U.S. perceptions of Asia."--Choice

"[This book] will aid students and specialists in international history and is an excellent choice for graduate seminars in social and international history, world politics, foreign-policy analysis, and globalization studies. And if the civil-rights movement is properly introduced, the book will lend itself to use by upper-division undergraduates."--China Review International

"This is a book of major importance. No one, to my knowledge, has examined so thoroughly and thoughtfully African Americans' views of East Asian developments, in particular of Japan's rise as a major power and its challenge to the West. Gallicchio is the first historian who has successfully and persuasively integrated African American history into the history of U.S.-East Asian relations."--Akira Iriye, Harvard University