By Shana L. Redmond

About Shana L. Redmond

Shana L. Redmond is Associate Professor of Musicology and African American Studies at UCLA. She is the author of Anthem: Social Movements and the Sound of Solidarity in the African Diaspora (NYU Press, 2014) and the forthcoming Everything Man: The Form and Function of Paul Robeson.


“Diaspora” is a contested term. The African diaspora is, like the nation, an “imagined community” (B. Anderson [1983] 2006) conceived of and performed based on imperfect memories, evidence, and agendas. As the historian Colin Palmer asserts, “In many respects, diasporas are not actual but imaginary and symbolic communities and political constructs; it is we who often call them into being” (2000, 29). Within Black studies literatures, diaspora is mobilized as a method in pursuit of collectives whose histories and cultures were/are otherwise hidden or forcibly taken as part of the development of Western epistemes (formal and informal) and the violences of chattel slavery and colonialism. Variously referred to as “Black,” “African” or a series of national monikers prefixed by a version of “Afro-­,” the actors who called for the African diaspora are loosely tied together by a recognition of indigenous Africa as origin as well as a relation to …

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