Race Women Internationalists explores how a group of Caribbean and African American women in the early and mid-twentieth century traveled the world to fight colonialism, fascism, sexism, and racism. Based on newspaper articles, speeches, and creative fiction and adopting a comparative perspective, the book brings together the entangled lives of three notable but overlooked women: American Eslanda Robeson, Martinican Paulette Nardal, and Jamaican Una Marson. It explores how, between the 1920s and the 1960s, the trio participated in global freedom struggles by traveling; building networks in feminist, student, black-led, anticolonial, and antifascist organizations; and forging alliances with key leaders. This made them race women internationalists—figures who engaged with a variety of interconnected internationalisms to challenge various forms of inequality facing people of African descent across the diaspora and the continent.
Imaobong D. Umoren is Assistant Professor of International History of Gender at the London School of Economics.
"With Race Women Internationalists, Imaobong D. Umoren has given us a work of great originality, insight, and brilliance. This is a model of meticulous transnational scholarship that focuses not on a singular individual, but on a network of three committed, cosmopolitan intellectuals/activists—Eslanda Robeson, Paulette Nardal, and Una Marson—who together represent an even larger group of women who complicate received notions of black thought and activism. In so doing, Umoren highlights categories of analysis including travel, writing, and friendship, which enrich our understanding of these women and will certainly enhance future studies as well."—Farah Jasmine Griffin, author of Harlem Nocturne: Women Artists and Progressive Politics During World War II
"Race Women Internationalists is fresh, innovative, and timely in its ambition and approach. Imaobong D. Umoren pioneers a model that blends the biographical, political, intellectual, and cultural. Black international studies will be the book’s great beneficiary."—Barbara D. Savage, Segal Professor of American Social Thought, Africana Studies, University of Pennsylvania
“Race Women Internationalists is a fascinating work that deepens our understanding of how Una Marson, Paulette Nardal, and Eslanda Robeson contributed to and shaped the various movements with which they engaged. Imaobong D. Umoren reveals the full extent of Robeson's work with the United Nations, Nardal’s networks with the women’s assembly, and Marson’s time in the United States during the turmoil of the Second Reconstruction.”—Dawn-Marie Gibson, author of The Nation of Islam, Louis Farrakhan, and the Men Who Follow Him
"Race Women Internationalists makes an important contribution to our understanding of black women as intellectuals and knowledge producers in the twentieth century. Focusing on the lives of exceptional women long overshadowed by the men they helped, Imaobong D. Umoren builds on important work by Jeanne Theoharis, Brittney C. Cooper, and Keisha Blain, which shows us how, and why, brilliant women are often hidden in plain sight."—Kate Dossett, author of Bridging Race Divides: Black Nationalism, Feminism, and Integration in the United States, 1896–1935