‘Companionship of Minds’: Nancy Cunard and the Anglophone Caribbean Press in the 1930s and 1940s

CLACS Caribbean Studies Seminar Series

Speaker: Anna Girling (Institute of English Studies, University of London)

Nancy Cunard is an important yet often overlooked figure in the histories of early twentieth-century transatlantic anti-colonialism and anti-racism. Described by Brent Hayes Edwards as a ‘“living network” of black internationalist connections and alliances’, Cunard is nevertheless largely absent from the histories of interwar internationalism. Key to any recalibration – of Cunard’s own work and literary and political reputation, and too of these internationalist histories – is Cunard’s large body of international interwar journalism. 

This talk will draw on my ongoing research into Cunard’s interwar journalism using the British Library’s holdings of Caribbean newspapers. I will discuss the ways in which Cunard’s life and work was reported on by newspapers in Jamaica, Trinidad, and Barbados in the 1930s – and the discussions about race, censorship, and colonialism which this reporting enabled. I will also give an overview of Cunard’s own writings from and about the Caribbean during the 1930s and 1940s. These writings encapsulate the 1930s political shift from radical anti-colonialism and anti-racism to Popular Front anti-fascism – but also demonstrate Cunard’s continual work in forging and fostering internationalist links and solidarities.

Event date: 18 April 2023

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