Addressing a crowded Liberty Hall full of members of the New York Division in the summer of 1920, Marcus Garvey declared, “We are a new people, born out of a new day and new circumstance. We are born out of the bloody war of 1914-1918.” This essay is concerned with the constitution of a new people, attending in particular to the role of images, performance, and practices in the project of political founding. Focusing on the 1920 and 1921 convention, I argue that for the United Negro Improvement Association, political founding was a vehicle through which participants came to understand themselves as constituting the figure of Universal Negro—a figure represented through the convention as a transnational and empowered political subject. Political founding was on this view a process of transforming one’s self-perception, of cognizing oneself as a member of a transnational people politically capable of transforming the prevailing conditions of racial domination.
Professor Getachew will present a short introduction to her pre-circulated paper; this will be followed by brief comments by Professor Jesse Hoffnung-Garskof (University of Michigan) and audience questions.
***NOTE: The link to the pre-circulated paper will be supplied in the Zoom registration confirmation email.***
Adom Getachew is Neubauer Family Assistant Professor of Political Science and the College at the University of Chicago. She is the author of Worldmaking after Empire: The Rise and Fall of Self-Determination (PUP, 2019).