Afro-Asian Solidarity in the Twentieth Century

Endorsed by the OAH-JAAS Japan Historians' Collaborative Committee and WHA

Saturday, April 1, 2023, 8:45 AM - 10:15 AM

Type: Roundtable Discussion

Tags: African American; Asian American; Race


The scholarship on the connections between Afro-Asian activists has grown over the last 25 years into a distinct field. Gathering together leading scholars on the topic, this roundtable discussion will explore the impact of Afro-Asian solidarity on twentieth century United States history. How do these collaborations alter understandings of international politics and culture during the Interwar period, the Cold War, and up to the present day? The panelists will also consider the future directions for research in the field. 

Session Participants

Chair: Shaun Armstead, Rutgers University-New Brunswick/The Carter G. Woodson Institute at UVA
Shaun Armstead is a doctoral student at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, studying women’s transnational activism in the post-World War II era. Her dissertation, tentatively titled Toward a Universal Human Family: Third World Women Activists and Their Visions for a New World Order, 1945-1985,” focuses on Third World women’s efforts to secure global peace through freeing the world of racism and sexism from the founding conference of the United Nations until the end of the UN International Women’s Decade. Focusing on African American, Sri Lankan, and Indian women, Shaun examines their visions of and actions for creating a new world order. In centering these actors, she hopes to contribute to work seeking to produce nuanced understandings of Third World women’s internationalism before the late twentieth century. Central considerations to Shaun’s research include understanding why these women initially saw hope and possibility in extending their activism to a global dimension, and the geopolitical forces that constricted that international terrain as decolonization movements and the Cold War swept the globe. She received her BA in History from Auburn University in 2015 and is presently a graduate fellow at the Rutgers Center for Historical Analysis.

Panelist: Yuichiro Onishi, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Yuichiro Onishi is Associate Professor of African American & African Studies and Asian American Studies at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. Currently, he chairs the Department of African American & African Studies. He is the author of Transpacific Antiracism (NYU Press 2013) and co-editor of Transpacific Correspondence (Palgrave 2019). His work has appeared in American Quarterly and several anthologies, most recently Citizens of the World: A History of W. E. B. Du Bois's Late Career and Legacy, edited by Phillip Luke Sinitiere (Northwestern University Press 2019).

Panelist: Nico Slate, Carnegie Mellon University
Nico Slate is Professor in the Department of History at Carnegie Mellon University. His research examines struggles against racism and imperialism in the United States and India. He is the author of Colored Cosmopolitanism: The Shared Struggle for Freedom in the United States and India (Harvard University Press, 2012); The Prism of Race: W.E.B. Du Bois, Langston Hughes, Paul Robeson and the Colored World of Cedric Dover (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014); Gandhi's Search for the Perfect Diet: Eating With the World In Mind (University of Washington Press, 2019); and Lord Cornwallis Is Dead: The Struggle for Democracy in the United States and India (Harvard University Press, 2019). He is also the editor of Black Power Beyond Borders (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).

Panelist: Robyn C. Spencer, Brooklyn College
Robyn Spencer is a historian whose research centers on social protest after World War II, urban and working-class radicalism, and gender. She teaches survey and seminar courses on African American Heritage, Civil rights and Black Power and Black women’s history in the US as an Associate Professor of History at Lehman College, City University of New York. She is part of the corsortial faculty in the History Department at the CUNY Graduate Center and is an affiliate faculty  with the American Studies Program and the Women and Gender Studies Program. In 2018-2019 she was Visiting Endowed Chair in Women and Gender Studies and Visiting Associate Professor of History at Brooklyn College (BC). At BC she created “Challenging Erasures: Reinscribing Black women’s history in New York,” an interdisciplinary series that engages the campus in the collective examination of race and gender as it intersects around issues of gentrification and displacement; police violence and historical memory; radical grassroots organizing; and artistic production.

Panelist: Judy T. Wu, University of California, Irvine
Judy Tzu-Chun Wu is a professor of Asian American Studies at the University of California, Irvine and the director of the Humanities Center.  She received her Ph.D. in U.S. History from Stanford University and previously taught at Ohio State University. She authored Dr. Mom Chung of the Fair-Haired Bastards: the Life of a Wartime Celebrity (University of California Press, 2005) and Radicals on the Road: Internationalism, Orientalism, and Feminism during the Vietnam Era (Cornell University Press, 2013). Her forthcoming book, Fierce and Fearless: Patsy Takemoto Mink, First Woman of Color in Congress (New York University Press, 2022), is a collaboration with political scientist Gwendolyn Mink. Wu is currently working on a book that focuses on Asian American and Pacific Islander Women who attended the 1977 National Women's Conference and co-editing Unequal Sisters, 5th edition with Routledge Press. She is a co-editor of Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1600-2000 (Alexander Street Press). She also serves on the editorial committee for the University of California Press and as a series editor for the U.S. in the World Series with Cornell University Press. She is the co-president of the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians.