Publications arising

We are delighted to announce that some of the proceedings of this conference are being published in two volumes with Manchester University Press as part of their new series Racism, Resistance and Social Change – any queries about these forthcoming publications please contact the editors – thanks.

The Red and the Black

The Russian Revolution of 1917 was not just a world-historical event in its own right, but also struck powerful blows against racism and imperialism, and so inspired many black radicals internationally. This edited collection explores the implications of the creation of the Soviet Union and the Communist International for black and colonial liberation struggles across the African diaspora. The volume challenges European-centred understandings of the Russian Revolution and the global left and enables new insights on the relations between Communism and various black radical traditions – including Garveyism and various other strands of Pan-Africanism. The volume then makes a major and original intellectual contribution by making the relations between the Russian Revolution and the Black Atlantic central to debates on questions relating to racism, resistance and social change in ways which are politically and theoretically generative.

‘This ideologically diverse collection is uniformly well-written and exceedingly informative. The inescapable and unavoidable conclusion it renders is that the Russian Revolution of 1917 delivered a mighty blow against colonialism, imperialism and forms of apartheid alike. Simultaneously, by implication it blazes the trail and illuminates the way forward for those seeking to create a better world.’
Gerald Horne, author of Paul Robeson: The Artist as Revolutionary


Introduction: Red October and the Black Atlantic – David Featherstone and Christian Høgsbjerg

Part I Racism, resistance and revolution
1 Claude McKay’s Bolshevization in London – Winston James
2 From Russian colonies to Black America . and back: Lenin and Langston Hughes – Matthieu Renault
3 African American literature in the Soviet Union, 1917-1930s: Contacts, translations, criticism and editorial policy – Olga Panova

Part II Spreading the Revolution Across the Black Atlantic
4 Bolshevism and African American agency in the African American Radical Press, 1917-1924 – Cathy Bergin
5 International Communist Trade Union Organisations and the call to Black toilers in the interwar Atlantic world – Holger Weiss
6 Firebrands, trade unionists and marxists: The shadow of the Russian Revolution, the colonial state, and radicalism in Guyana, 1917-1957- Nigel Westmaas
7 Racializing the Caribbean Basin: The communist racial agenda for the American hemisphere, 1931-1935- Sandra Pujals
8 The Left Book Club and its associates: The transnational circulation of socialist ideas in an Atlantic network- Matheus Cardoso da Silva

Part III Africa, the Soviet Union and the Cold War
9 The beginning of the Cold War in the Gold Coast? – Marika Sherwood
10 Decolonization and the Cold War: African student elites in the USSR, 1955-1964 – Harold D. Weaver
11 ‘People’s Friendship’ in the Cold War: The Patrice Lumumba People’s Friendship University – Rachel Rubin
Afterword: A Black Journey of Red Hope – Maxim Matusevich

Watch the London online book launch on 18 October 2021 with Winston James, Olga Panova and the editors here

Passcode: !H.YbYB8

There is also a second volume, Revolutionary Lives of the Red and Black Atlantic since 1917, published in April 2022 edited by David Featherstone, Christian Høgsbjerg and Alan Rice as part of the same series.

This volume explores the life histories of a wide range of radical figures whose political activity in relation to the black liberation struggle was catalysed or profoundly shaped by the global impact and legacy of the Russian Revolution of 1917. Detailed engagements with the political trajectories of figures including C.L.R. James, Paul Robeson, Walter Rodney and Grace P. Campbell opens up a set of diverse perspectives and engagements with different articulations of black internationalisms in the wake of the Russian Revolution. This enables a focus on the different and contested terms on which these relations were shaped, negotiated and lived. Such a biographical approach brings a vivid and distinctive lens to bear on how racialized social and political worlds were negotiated and experienced, and also on historic black radical engagements with left political movements and organising.


Introduction: A galaxy of stars to steer by – David Featherstone, Christian Høgsbjerg and Alan Rice

I – Black Bolshevism
1 Hubert Henry Harrison: Black radicalism and the Colored International – Brian Kwoba
2 Wilfred Domingo under investigation: the ‘Negro menace’ of 1919 – Peter Hulme
3 Cyril Briggs: guns, bombs, spooks and writing the revolution – Jak Peake
4 Gendering the Black radical tradition: Grace P. Campbell’s role in the formation of a radical feminist tradition in African American intellectual culture – Lydia Lindsey

II – Interwar intersections of Red and Black
5 Clements Kadalie, the ICU and the transformation of Communism in Southern Africa, 1917-31 – Henry Dee
6 Pan-Africanism and Marxism in interwar France: the case of Lamine Senghor – David Murphy
7 Black Americans in Russia: Ira Aldridge and Paul Robeson – Lisa Merrill and Theresa Saxon

III – Politics and Poetics
8 Raya Dunayevskaya: the embodiment of the Red/Black Atlantic in theory and practice – Chris Gilligan and Nigel Niles
9 European Marxist or Black intellectual? C.L.R. James and the advancement of Marxism beyond Russian-Leninism – Tennyson S. D. Joseph
10 Poetry and Walter Rodney’sThe Unfinished Revolution- David Austin
11 ‘Hard Facts’: Amiri Baraka and Marxism-Leninism in the 1970s – David Grundy

Afterword – Hakim Adi


‘This luminous collection brings several revolutionary lives to its pages to show us how these figures both experienced and shaped the world around them. The legendary figures whose stories are told here, many of them central to the black radical tradition, emerged at the intersection of the “Red” and “Black” Atlantics. Their lives and struggles offer us rich visions of possibilities and solidarities beyond the confines of the nation-state which are needed now more than ever. This book is an invaluable resource for such hopes and dreams.’
Priyamvada Gopal, Professor of Postcolonial Studies, University of Cambridge

Many thanks to all

Many thanks to all the participants, presenters, performers, keynote speakers and the organisers who made this such a brilliant event!  We will add details of any publications arising from this conference to this website in time, but for now here are some photos from the event below (and with thanks to Lubaina Himid and Ken Olende for some of the photos – and with apologies for the poor quality of the others).


A poetry reading from Olga Tabichnikova


Margaret Stevens launching her new book ‘Red International and Black Caribbean’


Songs of significance from David Rovics

Winston James speaking on ‘The Russian Revolution and the Black Radical Imagination’

Harold D Weaver speaking on African students in the USSR

Marika Sherwood on the origins of the Cold War in the Gold Coast


Cathy Bergin on ‘Bolshevism and the African American Radical Press’


Dub poetry from Linton Kwesi Johnson

Lydia Lindsey speaking on Grace P Campbell

Hakim Adi speaking on ‘Pan-Africanism and Communism’

Tayo Aluko performing the songs of Paul Robeson


Theresa Saxon and Lisa Merrill on Paul Robeson and the USSR

The final plenary panel – Winston James, Fionnghuala Sweeney, Alan Rice and Maxim Matusevich

Registration open!

Dear all,

We would like to inform you that the registration website for the conference is now up and running – and we are very happy to confirm that alongside keynote addresses from Prof Winston James (University of California, Irvine), Dr Cathy Bergin (University of Brighton) and Prof Hakim Adi (University of Chichester), there will also be special performances from Linton Kwesi Johnson, Tayo Aluko and David Rovics.

The registration website is here: and on IBAR website:

For advice on accommodation in Preston near the University please see this link:

We would also like to take this opportunity inform people that, thanks to funding from the Lipman-Miliband Trust, we have a number of bursaries for postgraduate students. If you know students who would like to participate please let them know that they can apply for a bursary to cover the cost of two-night accommodation and conference fee, up to £300. The deadline for applying is 22 September 2017. This offer is valid for all post-graduate students in the UK and from abroad. Please send your applications to Izabella Penier –

People can download a copy of the provisional programme of the event via this link:

New keynote speakers announced

The Red and the Black – The Russian Revolution and the Black Atlantic

Conference to be held at the Institute for Black Atlantic Research (IBAR), University of Central Lancashire, Preston, 13-15 October 2017, to mark the centenary of the Russian Revolution.

As well as a keynote address from Professor Winston James, University of California, Irvine, we are delighted to add that there will be two other keynote speakers at the conference:

Professor Hakim Adi, University of Chichester – author of Pan-Africanism and Communism: The Communist International, Africa and the Diaspora, 1919-1939 (Africa World Press, 2013)


Dr. Cathy Bergin, University of Brighton – author of ‘Bitter with the Past but Sweet with the Dream’: Communism in the African American Imaginary (Haymarket, 2016) and editor of African American Anti-Colonial Texts 1917-1937 (Edinburgh University Press, 2016).

Plus there will be special performances from Linton Kwesi Johnson (invited),  David Rovics and now also Tayo Aluko

We hope to have a provisional programme and details of registration ready soon.


Black Russians – The Red Experience

Many thanks to all who have submitted proposals for ‘The Red and the Black’ – while we are in the process of putting together a provisional programme for the conference and giving more details about the event, registration and so on, in the meantime here is a trailer for what looks like a fascinating forthcoming documentary ‘Black Russians – The Red Experience’.

CfP: The Red and the Black

Institute For Black Atlantic Research

Call for Papers: The Red and the Black – The Russian Revolution and the Black Atlantic

Conference to be held at the Institute for Black Atlantic Research (IBAR), University of Central Lancashire, Preston, 13-15 October 2017, to mark the centenary of the Russian Revolution.

Keynote speaker: Professor Winston James, University of California, Irvine.

With special performances from Linton Kwesi Johnson, Tayo Aluko and David Rovics

Image result for claude mckay comintern

Claude McKay addressing the Fourth Congress of the Comintern, Moscow in 1922.

Every Negro who lays claim to leadership should make a study of Bolshevism and explain its meaning to the coloured masses. It is the greatest and most scientific idea afloat in the world today…’
Claude McKay, 1919.

The Russian Revolution was not only one of the most critical events of the twentieth century in its own right but an inspirational event across the ‘black Atlantic’ as a blow against racism and imperialism.  For colonial subjects of European empires internationally as well as black Americans, the Russian Revolution promised the hope of a world without oppression and exploitation.   This conference aims to build on the growing scholarship and literature in this area  (for example, African American Anti-Colonial Thought, 1917-1937 edited by Cathy Bergin; Blacks, Reds and Russians: Sojourners in Search of the Soviet Promise by Joy Gleason Carew; Framing a Radical African Atlantic: African American Agency, West African Intellectuals and the International Trade Union Committee of Negro Workers by Holger Weiss; Pan-Africanism and Communism: The Communist International, Africa and the Diaspora, 1919-1939 by Hakim Adi) to explore the impact the revolutionary events in Russia during 1917 made across the African diaspora and the subsequent critical intellectual influence of Marxism and Bolshevism on the current of revolutionary ‘black internationalism’ in its aftermath.  We are also interested in exploring how the leaders of the Russian Revolution viewed Africans and people of African descent – the so-called ‘Negro Question’ in Communist discourse.

Submission guidelines:

We are interested in thinking about the relationship between the Russian Revolution and the ‘black Atlantic’, so proposals of papers particularly relating to thinking through how the Russian Revolution fits with the category of the black Atlantic – and Atlantic history and Atlantic studies more broadly – would be particularly welcome.  We would welcome proposals of papers around the following suggested themes, or anything else that was suitable:

  • ‘Race’ and the Russian Revolution
  • ‘The Black Bolsheviks’ – Russians of African descent during the revolution
  • ‘The Negro Question’ – Marxism, Bolshevism and Black Internationalism
  • The African Blood Brotherhood, Claude McKay and the Communist International
  • The ‘Red Atlantic’ – Colonial seafarers and Communism
  • The impact of the Russian Revolution in colonial Africa
  • The impact of the Russian Revolution on the colonial Caribbean
  • The impact of the Russian Revolution on Black America (including Marcus Garvey and Garveyism)
  • The impact of the Russian Revolution on black colonial subjects in Europe
  • Pan-Africanism and Communism
  • Intersections of black Communists with Asian radicals such as M N Roy
  • The gendered politics of Bolshevism and black internationalism
  • Intellectual Consequences – how did the Russian Revolution challenge traditional understandings of history and theories of social change more broadly among black intellectuals?
  • The legacy of Cedric J. Robinson and reflections on ‘Black Marxism’ and ‘the black radical tradition’.
  • Reactions to the Russian Revolution and its legacies in Black Atlantic Visual Arts and Literature and Performance – e.g. Langston Hughes, Claude McKay and Paul Robeson

Please send proposals for papers of no more than 250 words by 31 Jan 2017 to any or all of the organisers of this conference –

Alan Rice – /

David Featherstone /

Christian Høgsbjerg /

Olga Tabachnikova