Webinar with Dr. Leslie James
Intellectual histories have been hampered by an over-fixation upon essays, novels and pamphlets where ideas are thought to live. What this has meant for intellectual histories in European colonies, for example, is an assumed absence of intellectual history. This talk discusses strategies for mining genres of the mundane everyday, such as newspapers, office reports, and speeches of trade unionists. How can we pursue methods of intellectual history towards a more encompassing representation of how people forged ideas that responded to their particular situations? I focus on debates across the Atlantic between British West African and Caribbean colonies, arguing that it was often in the realm of the tedious, the prosaic and the routine where transnational dialogue was often activated as a tool for historical and social transformation.
Leslie James is a Senior Lecturer in Global History at Queen Mary University of London. Prior to joining Queen Mary in 2017, she was a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the University of Birmingham, Department of African Studies and Anthropology and a Lecturer in World History at the University of Cambridge. Her broad interests include print cultures, imperial history and the history of anti-imperialism, decolonization, the Cold War, and African and Caribbean history. Her research examines the political and intellectual history of Africa and the African diaspora, with particular interest in black radical discourses and the global and local dimensions of anti-colonial movements in the twentieth century. Her current work focuses on the intellectual debates contained outside of the structures of formal text manuscripts and, rather, in the everyday letters, editorials, and news items of the ephemeral press.
James is the author of several publications such as the book George Padmore and Decolonization from Below: Pan-Africanism, the Cold War, and the End of Empire, 1939-1959 (Palgrave, Cambridge Imperial and Postcolonial Studies Series, 2015) as well as the editor (with E. Leake) Decolonization and the Cold War: Negotiating Independence (Bloomsbury Academic Press, 2015). She is currently working on a book project entitled The Moving Word: West African and Caribbean newspapers and the dialogues of decolonization.
For more information on the speaker: https://www.qmul.ac.uk/history/people/academic-staff/profiles/jamesleslie.html