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Pan-Africanism - Origins And Development Of Pan-africanism, Transnational Pan-africanism, Pan-africanism In The Early Twentieth Century

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Overdamped to Peat

Because it refers neither to a single political ideology nor a clearly discernible philosophical tradition, Pan-Africanism is difficult to define. Many scholars avoid defining it, noting that black internationalism has varied drastically according to time and place. Indeed, various conceptions of Pan-Africanism have been aligned with disparate political and theoretical positions, from largely religious to communist to even, Paul Gilroy suggests, fascist forms. Yet, the concept can be said to signify a set of shared assumptions. Pan-Africanist intellectual, cultural, and political movements tend to view all Africans and descendants of Africans as belonging to a single "race" and sharing cultural unity. Pan-Africanism posits a sense of a shared historical fate for Africans in the Americas, West Indies, and, on the continent itself, has centered on the Atlantic trade in slaves, African slavery, and European imperialism.

Cultural and intellectual manifestations of Pan-Africanism have been devoted to recovering or preserving African "traditions" and emphasizing the contributions of Africans and those in the diaspora to the modern world. Pan-Africanists have invariably fought against racial discrimination and for the political rights of Africans and descendants of Africans, have tended to be anti-imperialist, and often espoused a metaphorical or symbolic (if not literal) "return" to Africa.

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