Journal of Transatlantic Studies

, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp 197–207 | Cite as

Introduction: transatlanticism and tricontinentalism

  • Thea Pitman
  • Andy Stafford


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  1. 1.
    María Luisa Puga, Las posibilidades del odio (Mexico City: Siglo XXI, 1978), 276.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    The Tricontinental was first a brief monthly bulletin starting in April 1966, subsequently a bi-monthly journal, published in Spanish, French, English, and sometimes also Italian and Arabic, with an original print-run of 50,000 per issue and truly worldwide distribution. Over its now more than forty-year-long run, it has included articles from such salient figures as Ho Chi Minh, Salvador Allende, Amilcar Cabral, Yasser Arafat, and Thabo Mbeki, as well as Fidel Castro and Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara. See Ulises Estrada and Luis Suárez, eds, Rebelión tricontinental: las voces de los condenados de la tierra de África, Asia y América Latina (Melbourne/Havana/New York: Ocean Press, in association with Ediciones Tricontinental, 2006), for a useful anthology of these articles. An English translation of this anthology - Tricontinental Rebellion: Voices of the Wretched of the Earth from the 1960s to the 1980s - was published in 2008.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Historical data and analysis in this paragraph has been glossed from Vijay Prashad, The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World (New York: The New Press, 2007), 16–30.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Lenin and the Third International had defined anti-colonialism with the formation of the Comintern in 1919 and this was a major moment in the development of anti-colonialism into anti-imperialism’s critique of capitalism and its inherent tendency towards colonial expansion, expropriation and exploitation (Robert J. C. Young, Postcolonialism: An Historical Introduction (Oxford: Blackwell, 2001), 28).Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    However, across the late twenties (first in China) and throughout the 1930s, Communist Parties, including those in France and in her colonies, were diverted, if not dissuaded, from demanding independence for the sake of Stalin and Moscow’s shenanigans in geopolitics, see Marcel Merle, ‘L’Anti-colonialisme’, in Marc Ferro, ed., Le livre noir du colonialisme. XVIe-XXIe siècle: de l’extermination à la repentance (Paris: Laffont, 2003), 815–861.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    This is clear in the way that Prashad structures his book, with the chapter on ‘Havana’ coming at the end of the ‘Quest’ section, and immediately before the beginning of the ‘Pitfalls’ section which starts to chart the demise of Third World solidarity movements.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    The Afro-Asian Conference was held in Bandung in 1955, the Afro-Asian Women’s Conference in Cairo in 1961, and the Non-Aligned Movement Conference in Belgrade in 1961.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    As Jean-Paul Sartre noted in his preface to Fanon’s Les damnés de la terre (1961), at least a part of Fanon’s project was dedicated not to fomenting solidarity of the natives within any given colony, but to creating a broader sense of unity among and agency for ‘ses frères d’Afrique, d’Asie, d’Amerique latine’ (Jean-Paul Sartre, preface to Frantz Fanon, Les damnés de la terre, ed. by Gérard Chaliand (Paris: Gallimard, 1991), 41).Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    See Fernando Solanas and Octavio Getino, ‘Towards a Third Cinema: Notes and Experiences for the Development of a Cinema of Liberation in the Third World’, trans. by Julianne Burton, in Twenty-five Years of the New Latin American Cinema, ed. Michael Chanan (London: Channel Four Television / British Film Institute, 1983), 17–27. First published as ‘Hacia un tercer cine’, Tricontinental, no. 13 (October 1969). Solanas and Getino frame their arguments in the context of ‘a worldwide liberation movement whose moving force is to be found in the Third World countries’ (17), and cite the role of OSPAAAL in producing and distributing revolutionary, anti-imperialist films (22). Further cinematic analysis within a tricontinentalist framework has appeared as Tricontinental’s Le tiers monde en films (Paris: Francois Maspero / La Découverte, 1982).Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Ngũgĩ Wa Thiong’o, quoted and glossed by Debra Castillo, Talking Back: Toward a Latin American Feminist Literary Criticism (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1992), 249. Ngũgĩ’s remarks on the subject were originally made at a conference of literature teachers in Nairobi in 1973 and they were first published in his Writers in Politics (London: Heinemann, 1981), 30–38.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    See William Boelhower’s ‘The Rise of the New Atlantic Studies Matrix’, American Literary History, 20, nos. 1–2 (2008), 83–101, available at, accessed 1 April 2009, for an incisive study of the limitations of traditional Atlantic studies paradigms. A slightly earlier, but equally incisive account of the limitations of the black Atlantic in dialogue with American studies and postcolonialism isCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 11a.
    Fionnghuala Sweeney’s ‘The Black Atlantic, American Studies and the Politics of the Postcolonial’, Comparative American Studies, 4, no. 2 (2006), 115–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 12.
    Paul Gilroy, The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness (London: Verso, 1993).Google Scholar
  14. 13.
    See Alasdair Pettinger, Always Elsewhere: Travels of the Black Atlantic (London: Continuum, 1998), andGoogle Scholar
  15. 13a.
    Alan Rice, Radical Narratives of the Black Atlantic (London: Continuum, 2003).Google Scholar
  16. 14.
    See Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker, The Many-Headed Hydra: The Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic (London: Verso, 2000).Google Scholar
  17. 15.
    Gilroy, at least, has now been translated into several foreign languages, including Portuguese and French.Google Scholar
  18. 16.
    See Jeremy Adelman, Sovereignty and Revolution in the Iberian Atlantic (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007), andGoogle Scholar
  19. 16a.
    Stuart Schwartz, All Can Be Saved: Religious Tolerance and Salvation in the Iberian Atlantic World (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2008).Google Scholar
  20. 17.
    See Nancy Priscilla Smith Naro, Roger Sansi Roca, and David H. Treece, eds, Cultures of the Lusophone Black Atlantic (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007).Google Scholar
  21. 18.
    See Bill Marshall, The French Atlantic: Travels in Culture and History (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2009) andCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 18a.
    Christopher Miller’s The French Atlantic Triangle: Literature and Culture of the Slave Trade (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2008).Google Scholar
  23. 19.
    It should also be noted that in the volumes on the Iberian Atlantic the focus still tends to fall on the binary relations between the Iberian peninsula and Spanish America rather than on any triangular relationship that includes Africa.Google Scholar
  24. 20.
    Puga, Las posibilidades del odio, 276. The quotation is actually taken from the words of a Mexican writer character in this novel who is trying to make conversation with a young Kenyan woman, although Puga, elsewhere, did identify this endeavour as being her own (Puga quoted in Erna Pfeiffer, ‘El enfoque tercermundista en Las posibilidades del odio de Maria Luisa Puga’, VIII Simposio Internacional de Literatura del Mundo Hispánico, ed. Juana Alcira Arancibia (Quito, Ecuador: Universidad San Francisco de Quito / Instituto Literario y Cultural Hispánico, 1992), 182). Another Mexican writer, Alberto Ruy-Sánchez has also endeavoured to perform a similar task, comparing and linking North African Arab culture with that of Mexico, in his fictional work (see Rachid Mamuoni, interview withGoogle Scholar
  25. 20a.
    Alberto Ruy-Sánchez, ‘Alberto Ruy Sanchez, le romancier mexicain envôuté par Mogador’, Le Matin du Sahara, 8 February 2008, reproduced in Ruy-Sánchez’s blog, Cuaderno abierto, 16 March 2008,, accessed 14 May 2009; see alsoGoogle Scholar
  26. 20b.
    Alberto Ruy-Sánchez, ‘Identites fugitives’, trans. by Joani Hocquenghem, Critique, no. 742 (March 2009), 166–78).Google Scholar
  27. 21.
    Edouard Glissant, one notes, argues against the notion of ‘filling holes with knowledge’ in his conceptualisation of Caribbean circulation, and conversely for a more superficial and suggestive approach to the field (quoted in Boelhower, ‘The Rise of the New Atlantic Studies Matrix’).Google Scholar
  28. 22.
    Technically, in the terminology of historian David Armitage, our remit is both ‘circum-Atlantic’ - i.e. the Atlantic unit as a whole - as well as ‘trans-Atlantic’ - i.e. taking a comparative approach. Nevertheless, we find the term ‘circum-Atlantic’ somewhat ungainly and feel that the semantic field of ‘transatlantic’ adequately covers the range of phenomena we wish to encompass here (David Armitage, ‘Three Concepts of Atlantic History’, in David Armitage and Michael J. Braddick, eds, The British Atlantic World, 1500–1800 (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002), 11–27; glossed inGoogle Scholar
  29. 22a.
    Alison Games, ‘Atlantic History: Definitions, Challenges, and Opportunities’, American Historical Review, 111, no. 3 (2006), 741–457, accessed at, on 2 April 2009).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 23.
    Conference on Activating the Past: Latin America in the Black Atlantic, held at the University of California, Los Angeles, 23–24 April, 2005; panel on ‘Latin America, the Other “Black Atlantic”’, at the American Comparative Literature Association conference, Puebla, Mexico, 19–22 April 2007.Google Scholar
  31. 24.
    Ineke Phaf-Rheinberger and Tiago Oliveira Pinto, eds, AfricAmericas: Itineraries, Dialogues, and Sounds (Frankfurt-am-Main: Iberoamericana/Vervuert, 2005).Google Scholar
  32. 25.
    One notes the historical anomaly of Bollig’s contribution in this sense, although the value of its critique of earlier attempts to view and relate to the transatlantic ‘Other’ helps to contextualise the high hopes of tricontinentalism, and chimes well with some of the less optimistic studies of the legacy of tricontinentalism and transatlantic contact in general included in this volume.Google Scholar
  33. 26.
    Games, Atlantic History’; quoted in Boelhower, ‘The Rise of the New Atlantic Studies Matrix’.Google Scholar
  34. 27.
    In this endeavour, we acknowledge the ground-breaking role played by such critical studies as Robin Fiddian, ed., Postcolonial Perspectives on the Cultures of Latin America and Lusophone Africa (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2000)Google Scholar
  35. 27a.
    John & McLeod, ed., Routledge Companion to Postcolonial Studies (London: Routledge, 2007), andGoogle Scholar
  36. 27b.
    Charles Forsdick and David Murphy, eds, Postcolonial Thought in the francophone World (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2009). We should also like to thank Robin Fiddian for his initial advice regarding the project and his suggestion of the name of one our contributors, and Charles Forsdick for his contribution to the ‘Parallel Lines, Parallel Lives?’ symposium. John McLeod’s valuable contribution to this project is, of course, published in the pages that follow.Google Scholar
  37. 28.
    The Department has since changed its name to that of ‘Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies’.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Board of Transatlantic Studies 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thea Pitman
    • 1
  • Andy Stafford
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American StudiesUniversity of LeedsUK
  2. 2.Department of FrenchUniversity of LeedsUK

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