Khary Oronde Polk

Aug 19, 2020

Contagions of Empire

Scientific Racism, Sexuality, and Black Military Workers Abroad, 1898-1948

University of North Carolina Press 2020

Khary Oronde Polk is the author of Contagions of Empire: Scientific Racism, Sexuality, and Black Military Workers Abroad, 1898-1948, published by the University of North Carolina Press in 2020. Contagions of Empire examines the shifting views of Black military workers through the first half of the 20th century, as the U.S. increased its global empire and warfare. At once viewed as both contagious and immune, Black workers attempted to navigate the complex pathways that were left open in the military, even as they were seen as simultaneously integral and threatening to both the U.S. military and nation state. Polk’s work shows not just how scientific racism developed during this period and how U.S. militarism expanded, but how the Black community responded at each step.

Khary Oronde Polk is an Associate Professor of Black Studies and Sexuality, Women’s and Gender Studies at Amherst College.

Derek Litvak is a Ph.D. student in the department of history at the University of Maryland.

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Derek Litvak

Derek Litvak is a PhD candidate at the University of Maryland—College Park. His dissertation, "The Specter of Black Citizens: Race, Slavery, and Citizenship in the Early United States," examines how citizenship was used to both bolster the institution of slavery and exclude Black Americans from the body politic.

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