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Becoming African in AmericaRace and Nation in the Early Black Atlantic, 1760-1830$
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James Sidbury

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195320107

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195320107.001.0001

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Toward a Transformed Africa

Toward a Transformed Africa

“African” Writers and the Autobiographical Turn

(p.39) 2 Toward a Transformed Africa
Becoming African in America

James Sidbury (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter traces the black discourse on African identity that Wheatley and Sancho unknowingly initiated into the first generation of slave autobiographers. Most of the men who wrote these narratives had lived in African villages or in slave communities in the plantation regions of America, experiences foreign to both Wheatley and Sancho. Perhaps as a result, when they asserted African identities in their narratives, they confronted ethnic division more directly. The most celebrated among them was Equiano, who used that confrontation to develop a mythic vision of an African unity that predated the ethnic division that haunted Africa in the age of the slave trade. He and Cugoano, his collaborator, sought a way to recreate the unity among sub-Saharan Africans that they perceived to have been broken in postbiblical times.

Keywords:   African identity, black discourse, Wheatley, Sancho, Equiano, Cugoano, sub-Saharan Africans

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