Posted on 24 August 2012
An insightful and wide ranging study of the cultural exchanges between African Americans and the Welsh is this month published by the University of Wales Press
As part of the series Writing Wales in English, Daniel G. Williams’ academic monograph Black Skin, Blue Books: African Americans and Wales, 1845-1945 draws on literary, historical, visual and musical sources to open up new avenues of research in Welsh and African American studies.
A major contribution to the field of Comparative Transatlantic Studies, Williams analyses and compares the ways in which African Americans and the Welsh have defined themselves as minorities within larger nation states (the UK and US). The study is grounded in examples of actual friendships and cultural exchanges between African Americans and the Welsh, such as Paul Robeson’s connections with the socialists of the Welsh mining communities, and novelist Ralph Ellison’s stories about his experiences as a GI stationed in wartime Swansea.
The book offers analyses of key chapters in the making of multicultural Wales and intervenes in key debates within Welsh and African American studies: nationalism and assimilationism; religion and secularism; language and race; cultural identity and political citizenship.
Daniel G. Williams is Senior Lecturer in English and Director of the Richard Burton Centre for the Study of Wales at Swansea University. Recently, he joined the University of Wales Press at the National Eisteddfod to discuss his book alongside other authors with titles in the Writing Wales in English series.
The series, which is edited by Professor M Wynn Thomas, aims to produce a body of scholarly and critical work that reflects the richness and variety of the English-language literature of modern Wales, promoting a better understanding of the literature’s significance, viewed not only as an expression of Welsh culture but also as an instance of modern literatures in English worldwide.