Always Elsewhere: Travels of the Black Atlantic



Always Elsewhere: Travels of the Black Atlantic

This edition

"Always Elsewhere: Travels of the Black Atlantic." Ed. Alasdair Pettinger. London: Cassell, 1998. xix+300 pp.

Table of contents

● Sources
● Introduction
● Acknowledgements

Part One: Middle Passages
● George C. Wolfe / Git on Board (1987)
● Ukawsaw Gronniosaw / from "A Narrative . . ." (c. 1770)
● Phillis Wheatley / On being brought from Africa to America (1768)
● Ottobah Cugoano / from "Thoughts and Sentiments . . ." (1787)
● Olaudah Equiano / from "The Interesting Narrative . . ." (1789)
● Mahommah G. Baquaqua / from "Biography . . ." (1854)
● Andrew Salkey / Middle Passage Anancy (1992)

Part Two: Strangers in a Strange Land
● W. E. B. Du Bois / Harvard in Berlin (1892)
● Mary Church Terrell / I Study in Germany (1940)
● C. L. R. James / Letters to Constance Webb (1939)
● Donald Hinds / from "Journey to an Illusion" (1966)
● Eva de Carvalho Chipenda / Brazil: Go and Learn (1996)
● Arthur Nortje / London Impressions (1966)
● Lewis Nkosi / Doing Paris with Breyten (1983)
● Edwige Danticat / from "Breath, Eyes, Memory" (1994)

Part Three: Ethnography in Reverse
● William Wells Brown / from "Three Years in Europe" (1852)
● Frederick Douglass / Letter from Scotland (1846)
● Ida B. Wells / [from] Memories of London (1894)
● A. B. C. Merriman-Labor / The Visible Spirit of the Britons (1909)
● Booker T. Washington / The Man at the Bottom of London (1912)
● C. L. R. James / The Men (1932)
● Richard Wright / from "Pagan Spain" (1957)
● Nicolás Guillén / From New York to Moscow, via Paris (1949)
● John Wickham / Notes from New York (1962)
● John La Rose / A West Indian in Wales (1970)
● Caryl Phillips / In the Falling Snow (1987)

Part Four: Tours of Duty
● W. E. B. Du Bois / The Fields of Battles (1919)
● Addie Hunton / Stray Days (1920)
● Sidney Bechet / First Sight of Europe (1960)
● Bata LoBagola / First Days in USA (1930)
● Hugh Mulzac / from "A Star to Steer By" (1963)
● Nicolás Guillén / A Baseball Player, Machine-Gun Captain (1937)
● James Yates / from "Mississippi to Madrid" (1989)
● Albert Luthuli / [from] Two Journey Abroad (1962)
● Philippa Duke Schuyler / from "Adventures in Black and White" (1960)

Part Five: Africa
● Robert Campbell / Arrival at Lagos (1860)
● Frederick Douglass / A Month in Egypt (1887)
● W. E. B. Du Bois / Africa (1924)
● George S. Schuyler / Monrovia Mooches On (1937)
● Richard Wright / from "Black Power" (1954)
● Gwendolyn Brooks / [from] African Fragment (1972)
● Thadious M. Davis / Double Take at Relais de l'Espadon (1981)

Part Six: Home
● Mary Seacole / from "Wonderful Adventures . . ." (1857)
● Langston Hughes / Happy New Year (1956)
● Andrew Salkey / from "Georgetown Journal" (1972)
● Beryl Gilroy / from "Boy-Sandwich" (1989)
● Zenga Longmore / [from] Carnival Cavalcades: Dominica (1989)
● Sekai Nzena-Shand / Following the Tracks Back (1997)
● Fred D'Aguiar / Home (1993)

● Suggestions for Further Reading
● Bibliography
● Index

About the anthology

● This is a diasporic collection of black writings, rather than an anthology of specifically African American writings, but a not insignificant proportion of its contents is indeed from African American authors.

Publisher's description

● "An anthology of personal accounts of inter-continental journeys by Africans and people of African descent, this selection ranges from early slave narratives to jet-age tourism, and covers a variety of voices and experiences: missionaries; social explorers; abolitionists; migrants; political leaders in exile; touring musicians; students; campaigners; and conference delegates. Its sources include letters, speeches, memoirs, autobiographies, travel books, anthropology and relevant poetry and fiction. The book's focus is on the experience of travel, migration and exile, which makes the African diaspora what it is" (publisher's website)

Anthology editor(s)' discourse

● About the editor (from the "African Intellectual Mobilities" conference [2015] materials and from the Edinburgh UP website): "Alasdair Pettinger studied at the Universities of Birmingham and Essex, completing his PhD in Literature in 1988 while working as a civil servant in London. Since 1992, he has been based in Glasgow, working at the Scottish Music Centre and pursuing his academic interests as an independent scholar. He has held visiting research fellowships at the University of Central Lancashire (2000), Nottingham Trent University (2004-2007) and the University of Liverpool (2010-2013)." "He is the editor of the anthology "Always Elsewhere: Travels of the Black Atlantic" (1998) and serves on the editorial board of "Studies in Travel Writing" as well as curating its website. He has published numerous articles that reflect his overlapping interests in travel literature, the cultures of slavery and abolitionism, and representations of Haiti. His current projects [ca. 2015] include a study of Frederick Douglass’ visit to Scotland in the 1840s and a history of the word voodoo in English." (See his book "Frederick Douglass and Scotland, 1846: Living an Antislavery Life." Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 2020.)

Reviews and notices of anthology

● Ravi Shenoy. "Library Journal"
"This anthology of 50 travel pieces by African American, Caribbean, and African writers spans the the last three centuries. Among the writers included are Frederick Douglass, Richard Wright, Phillis Wheatley, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Edwidge Danticat. The book is divided by theme: the Middle Passage, the upheavals of migration and exile, impressions of Europe, journeys to Africa, official tours, and the concept of home. Each selection is preceded by a brief biography, and a bibliography and suggestions for further reading are included. The collection is to be commended for its sheer variety, featuring voices at at once lively (Sekai Nenza-Shand, "Following the Tracks Back"), acerbic (George C. Wolfe, "Git on Board"), and intimate (C.L.R. James, "Letters to Constance Webb") but never boring. Recommended for all collections" (from publisher's website).

● Remmington, Janet, and Nicklas Hållén, "Africa Travels, Africa Writes. Notes on African Intellectual Mobilities." "Africa in Words" 26 Feb. 2015.
Report on a colloquium on "African Intellectual Mobilities" at the U of York, UK, featuring Alasdair Pettinger (as keynote presenter) and the terrain his anthology maps.

Commentary on anthology

● Totten, Gary. "Southernizing Travel in the Black Atlantic: Booker T. Washington's 'The Man Farthest Down'." "MELUS" 32.2 (2007): 107-31. JSTOR.
Totten notes Pettinger's reluctance to try to frame or foist a "theory" of black travel writing onto the works he collects in his anthology, arguing against any effort to identify an essential or characteristic set of features of such writings (e.g. as distinct from white travel writing). Pettinger thinks the diversity of such works precludes such an effort.

● Evans, Lucy. "'The Black Atlantic': Exploring Gilroy's Legacy." "Atlantic Studies" 6.2 (2009): 255-68.
Evans suggests that Pettinger's anthology "demonstrates only a superficial engagement" with Gilroy's work: "Pettinger is interested less in Gilroy's discussion of modernity than in how the term 'black Atlantic' can be useful as a way of theorising diasporic identities. He makes it clear that essays in the volume do not interpret the term 'literally' in a way which would restrict it to the movements of black people, but instead apply it to all 'journeys that begin or end elsewhere.' With his decision to include studies of Australia, Japan and India, Pettinger disputes the idea that the black Atlantic is either limited to the geographical boundaries of the Atlantic or 'a uniquely "Black" phenomenon.' Through this dual challenge to the structure of Gilroy's black Atlantic model, Pettinger in effect erases the term he claims to be endorsing" (258).

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Stranger in the Village: Two Centuries of African-American Travel Writing See also Bibliographic Resource