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September 08 , 2010

W. E. B. Du Bois on Asia

Crossing the World Color Line


After Japan's defeat of Russia in the 1904 territorial war, W. E. B. Du Bois declared, "The Color Line in civilization has been crossed in modern times as it was in the great past. The awakening of the yellow races is certain. That the awakening of the brown and black races will follow in time, no unprejudiced student of history can doubt."

Du Bois's lifelong certitude that Asia would play a central role in determining the fates of races, nations, and world systems of power has not until now been made fully available. W. E. B. Du Bois on Asia captures in unprecedented detail Du Bois's first-person experiences of and responses to Indian nationalism, the war between China and Japan, the life of Mahatma Gandhi, colonialism in Malaysia and Burma, and the promise of China's Communist Revolution. It also provides critical understanding of Du Bois's obsession with the eternal relationship between Asia and Africa dating from antiquity to the postcolonial era.

The Du Bois of this collection emerges as a forerunner of postcolonialist thought, a lifelong internationalist, and the most important African American reader of Asia's place in the making of the modern world.

Bill V. Mullen is professor of English at the University of Texas at San Antonio. He is the author of Afro-Orientalism and Popular Fronts: Chicago and African American Cultural Politics, 1935-1946. Cathryn Watson is a graduate research assistant at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

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