Marcus Garvey’s Nationalist Discourse: Its Hegelian Origins and Zionist Resonances

Sabrina ZERAR


Marcus Garvey (1887-1940) stands as one of the most prominent figures in the articulation of what is known as the Pan-Africanist movement. Though born in colonial Jamaica, it was in the 1920s America that he assumed the stature as a thinker about the colonial problem. Among his extant writings, The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey, or Africa for the Africans is the one book or collection of articles and speeches which best articulates his post-colonial discourse. This postcolonial thought has of late received the interest of critics like Rupert Lewis (1988), Tony Sewell (1990) and Collin Grant (2008). However, to date, as far as my knowledge goes, these critics have not tried to retrace directly or indirectly he Hegelian contours of his discourse though Hegel is known to have provided, inadvertently it must be said, the method for overturning the power relations for most postcolonial theorists. Nor have they, always according to the best of my knowledge, sought to explain how Garvey came to pattern the black man’s quest for national self-determination on Zionism. It is the purpose of the following article to do just that, i.e. show that Garvey’s imagined national state is patterned on Hegelian and Zionist templates. To this end I shall appeal to discourse analysis and historicist criticism as critical movements giving importance to both text and context.


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