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Fighting Words

Fifteen Books that Shaped the Postcolonial World


Edited By Dominic Davies, Erica Lombard and Benjamin Mountford

Can a book change the world? If books were integral to the creation of the imperial global order, what role have they played in resisting that order throughout the twentieth century? To what extent have theories and movements of anti-imperial and anticolonial resistance across the planet been shaped by books as they are read across the world?

Fighting Words responds to these questions by examining how the book as a cultural form has fuelled resistance to empire in the long twentieth century. Through fifteen case studies that bring together literary, historical and book historical perspectives, this collection explores the ways in which books have circulated anti-imperial ideas, as they themselves have circulated as objects and commodities within regional, national and transnational networks. What emerges is a complex portrait of the vital and multifaceted role played by the book in both the formation and the form of anticolonial resistance, and the development of the postcolonial world.

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Chapter 2: Anna Julia Cooper’s A Voice from the South (1892): Black Feminism and Human Rights (Imaobong Umoren)


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2 Anna Julia Cooper’s A Voice from the South (1892): Black Feminism and Human Rights


Born in Raleigh, North Carolina, the daughter of an enslaved black woman and her white master, Anna Julia Cooper broke the conventions of her day to become a prominent educator, orator and author. In 1892, she published her black feminist magnum opus, A Voice from the South. The text, however, is not only important for its black feminism. It is also significant for Cooper’s reflections and ideas relating to imperialism, race, rights, slavery and suffrage in the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa. This chapter explores the many ways in which it occupies a unique position as not only a piece of black feminism but also a text that promoted human rights.

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