Inter-area/Border Crossing

Organized Panel Session

3 - Speculative Lineages: The Erotic Politics of Afro-Indian Internationalism in W.E.B. Dubois’s Dark Princess

Saturday, July 7
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
Location: Marigold, New Building

The First Universal Races Congress convened in London in 1911 to forge anti-racist and anti-imperialist solidarities transnationally. Representatives from all over the world gathered to debate and dismantle the prevailing taxonomies of race and scientific racism emerging from western colonialism. Attending was African-American author and activist, W.E.B. Dubois, who espoused a particularly idealistic and optimistic view of what the elite conference could accomplish in creating the conditions for interracial solidarity. Dubois’s work, which often espoused an ideological merger between Pan-Africanism and Pan-Asianism, re-imagined racial formations that could emerge outside the confines of territory, land, and the nation.


 


Inflamed by the conference's coalitional promise, Dubois imagined merged Asian and Black futurities, crafting a utopic vision for a mixed-race world in his novel Dark Princess(1928). Set against thinly-veiled political events of the early 20th century, including the Congress, Dark Princess tells the story of a political and erotic alliance between its African-American male protagonist and an Indian princess, whose affair traverses the terrains of racism and labor politics in the USA and the struggle for autonomous rule in India.


 


Tracing the erotic politics of solidarity between blackness and brownness in Dark Princess, I explore Dubois’s speculative genealogies of racial identity, as they move across and find passage through borders, histories, and bodies. However, despite the utopic logic of interracial romance, I ask how Dubois’s location of racialization in heterosexuality, re-inscribes onto black and brown bodies, the notions of pureness and contamination, autonomy and power, slavery and royalty, that anti-imperialism sought to undo.

Pavithra Prasad

California State University, Northridge, United States

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3 - Speculative Lineages: The Erotic Politics of Afro-Indian Internationalism in W.E.B. Dubois’s Dark Princess



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