Antoinette Burton, "Africa in the Indian Imagination: Race and the Politics of Postcolonial Citation" (Duke UP, 2016)


In Africa in the Indian Imagination: Race and the Politics of Postcolonial Citation (Duke UP,  2016), Antoinette Burton reframes our understanding of the postcolonial Afro-Asian solidarity that emerged from the 1955 Bandung conference. Afro-Asian solidarity is best understood, Burton contends, by using friction as a lens to expose the racial, class, gender, sexuality, caste, and political tensions throughout the postcolonial global South. Focusing on India's imagined relationship with Africa, Burton historicizes Africa's role in the emergence of a coherent postcolonial Indian identity. She shows how—despite Bandung's rhetoric of equality and brotherhood—Indian identity echoed colonial racial hierarchies in its subordination of Africans and Blackness. Underscoring Indian anxiety over Africa and challenging the narratives and dearly held assumptions that presume a sentimentalized, nostalgic, and fraternal history of Afro-Asian solidarity, Burton demonstrates the continued need for anti-heroic, vexed, and fractious postcolonial critique.

Antoinette Burton is a historian of 19th and 20th century Britain and its empire, with a specialty in colonial India and an ongoing interest in Australasia and Africa. She is Professor of History and Catherine C. and Bruce A. Bastian Professor of Global and Transnational Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She has written and edited many books, including Animalia: An Anti-Imperial Bestiary for Our Times, The Trouble with Empire: Challenges to Modern British Imperialism, The Postcolonial Careers of Santha Rama Rau, and Dwelling in the Archive: Women Writing House, Home, and History in Late Colonial India.

Micheal Rumore is a PhD candidate at the Graduate Center, City University of New York. His work focuses on the Indian Ocean as an African diasporic site. He can be reached at

Zifeng Liu is a PhD candidate in the Africana Studies and Research Center at Cornell University. His dissertation examines Black left feminism and Mao’s China.

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