Claude McKay : a political portrait in his Jamaican and American contexts 1890-1920.
Claude McKay (1890-1948) is best known as a major figure
of the Harlem Renaissance and a pioneer of Caribbean
literature. He is less well known as a political thinker and
This thesis undertakes three tasks. First, it provides
a detailed presentation of Claude McKay's political ideas and
practices over time. Second, it critically engages with
these. And finally, in the process, debunks and challenges a
number of pervasive misconceptions of McKayfs politics.
Although the analysis covers the period 1890 to 1920, it
nevertheless is based upon the entire corpus of McKay's work
- published and unpublished - from his early writings in
Jamaica to those up to his death in 1948. His preoccupations
and thought are placed within their historical context. The
thesis thus draws upon his non-fiction texts, poetry, novels,
short stories, journalism, unfinished manuscripts and
correspondence. In the process, it demonstrates that McKay
was a major political thinker, that his ideas have remarkable
resonance today, especially in the United States, and that
they are still relevant to contemporary black politics,
particularly to those of the African diaspora.
All in all, the thesis is a contribution to a better
understanding of a remarkable man and outstanding figure of
the African diaspora.