Building a Nation:
Caribbean Federation in the Black Diaspora

Eric D. Duke

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"Remarkable, impressive. Duke makes a double contribution to historical scholarship: to the historiography of federalism in the Caribbean and to the historiography of political dissent, activism, and solidarity within Caribbean diaspora."--Winston James, author of Holding Aloft the Banner of Ethiopia: Caribbean Radicalism in Early Twentieth-Century America

"This well-researched and accessible book deepens our understanding of early twentieth-century West Indian political culture and transnational mobilization."--April Mayes, author of The Mulatto Republic: Class, Race, and Dominican National Identity


The initial push for a federation among British Caribbean colonies might have originated among colonial officials and white elites, but the banner for federation was quickly picked up by Afro-Caribbean activists who saw in the possibility of a united West Indian nation a means of securing political power and more.

In Building a Nation, Eric Duke moves beyond the narrow view of federation as only relevant to Caribbean and British imperial histories. By examining support for federation among many Afro-Caribbean and other black activists in and out of the West Indies, Duke convincingly expands and connects the movement's history squarely into the wider history of political and social activism in the early to mid-twentieth century black diaspora.

Exploring the relationships between the pursuit of Caribbean federation and black diaspora politics, Duke convincingly posits that federation was more than a regional endeavor; it was a diasporic, black nation-building undertaking--with broad support in diaspora centers such as Harlem and London--deeply immersed in ideas of racial unity, racial uplift, and black self-determination.

Eric D. Duke is associate professor in the Department of African American Studies, Africana Women's Studies, and History at Clark Atlanta University. He is coeditor of Extending the Diaspora: New Histories of Black People.
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