Resuming the tradition of CAS annual lectures held since 2010, this event is a special highlight of our interdisciplinary programme in globalization research in the framework of the research profile “Global Connections and Comparisons”. This year’s lecture will be held by Margaret Stevens, associate professor of history at Essex County College, Newark, USA. In her 2017 book, Red International and Black Caribbean Communists in New York City, Mexico and the West Indies, 1919–1939, she has shed new light on the transnational and transregional history of black radicals in the US and the Caribbean. Investigating the trajectories of peasants and workers of colour, as well as of women, and tracing how these diverse actors shaped and acted in a variety of organizations, she investigates the entanglements between them and the international communist movement of the early twentieth century. In her lecture, she provides fresh insights into how this research may contribute to a multifaceted discussion on the transregionality of radical agendas and global revolutionary struggles.
Too often grouped together, the black radicalism movement has a history wholly separate from the international communist movement of the early twentieth century. In Red International and Black Caribbean Margaret Stevens sets out to correct this enduring misconception. Focusing on the period 1919-39, Stevens explores the political roots of a dozen Communist organizations and parties that were headquartered in New York City, Mexico, and the Caribbean. She describes the inner workings of the Red International—the revolutionary global political network established under the Communist International—in relation to struggles against racial and colonial oppression. In doing so, she also highlights how the significant victories and setbacks of black people fighting against racial oppression developed within the context of the global Communist movement. Challenging dominant accounts, Red International and Black Caribbean debunks the “great men” narrative, emphasizes the role of women in their capacity as laborers, and paints the true struggles of black peasants and workers in Communist parties.