Table of Contents
2. Theoretical background
3. Perspectives on Pan-Africanism in The Atlantic Sound
List of Works Cited
In the seminar we briefly touched the topic Pan-Africanism. Furthermore, we worked with The Atlantic Sound by Caryl Phillips. I would like to connect these topics and show that we can find perspectives on Pan-Africanism in The Atlantic Sound.
The theoretical background on Pan-Africanism and the diaspora is added upfront. I highlight how the diaspora shaped the concept of Pan-Africanism. To connect the given theory with the book I describe the structure of the book and introduce the author and his background. In The Atlantic Sound, Phillips retraces the journey his parents took, from the Caribbean to Britain by boat when he was an infant. I primarily focus on the chapter Homeward Bound. Phillips struggles with the idea of home due to his diasporan identity. I explain the significance of the sea in The Atlantic Sound and how it is connected to the idea of (returning) home and diasporan identities. Then, I take a closer look at the two characters Dr. Abdallah and Dr. Lee. They arouse the readers' interest through their diverse opinions on topics related to Pan-Africanism. I explain how the history of slavery shaped the ideas of identity and belonging to a certain geographical place. Further, I give an insight into the discussion on the responsibility of slave forts. In the end, I summarize the main findings and give an outlook on further possibilities of thematic discussion. This paper helps the reader to understand Pan-Africanism and how Phillips deals with topics regarding this theory in The Atlantic Sound.
2. Theoretical background
The following chapter forms the theoretical basis for the work. The terms Diaspora and Pan
Africanism are explained, and the author of The Atlantic Sound Caryl Phillips is introduced.
The word Diaspora has its origin in the Latin word “diaspeirein” meaning disperse. Accordingly, the term African Diaspora refers to the dispersal of African people outside of the African continent. They settled far from their ancestral homelands, for example in Europe or South America, either by choice or through force. Most of the people who belong to the African Diaspora are descendants from family members who were taken into slavery. Additionally, there are several voluntary immigrants and asylum seekers. Diasporan people are often confronted with the question of their cultural identity. They are torn between assimilation and the conservation of their own ethnic language or religion. Further, they often suffer from exclusion. Since the late twentieth century, the term Diaspora is used in relation to a minority ethnic group or a religious group. Originally, it referred to the Jews living outside Palestine or modern Israel (Introduction to the African Diaspora). The concept of the African Diaspora overlaps with the concept of Pan-Africanism. The Pan-African Movement is an attempt to create a union for all people of African descent whether they live inside or outside of Africa (The Pan-African Movement). It further desires the political and psychological liberation of all Africans. Pan-Africanism consists of many forms of expression and is not only a movement to unify people, but also a strategy for social solidarity and cultural, political, and economic emancipation (Mathews 1516). Mathews states that Pan-Africanism historically consists of four key themes “[...] a clear expression of the pride and achievement of Africans, the idea of returning to Africa, the liberation from colonialism and all forms of oppression and the promotion of African unity as a primary objective in the struggle for liberation from European colonialism” (16). The Pan-Africanist ideals developed in the late nineteenth century. The members criticized the effects of European colonization, the exploitation of the African continent and racism against African people. The African Association was formed in London by Henry Silvester-Williams in 1897. It functions as an institution which encourages Pan-African unity, especially throughout the British colonies. In 1900, the first Pan-African meeting with various black leaders, representing different countries of the African Diaspora, was held. During this, the word “Pan-African” was added to the lexicon of international affairs. Five Pan-African Congresses were held between 1900-1945. The members fought for visibility and protection of people of African descent, the independence of states like Haiti and Libera raised international awareness of racism and colonization (Adejumobi).